The Best of the Best: Part III
The Super Bowl
Longtime readers of MO will notice the absence of Chuck Graves from Part III of Best of the Best.
After he helped us pick the Yamaha YZF-R1 winner in Part I, he got sponsored to run a Yamaha Formula Extreme team using, you guessed it, a YZF-R1. As such, Chuck declined to vote in this test. (Since Part Two, Open Twins didn't have an R1, we allowed him to flog the twins a bit.)
However, when it came time to pick a winner between the R1 and the SPS, Chuck didn't stay idle, he had other plans.
While Roland Sands, Editor Plummer, and the rest headed out on the track without Chuckie, he rolled out his secret weapon: A fully-prepared, AMA Formula Extreme Graves Motorsports Yamaha R1. In racing there's something known as a "B" bike.
On the chance that an engine blows up or your rider wads (always a possibility), you need a backup. Chuck brought his fire-breathing, YZF-R1 back-up bike to play on the track.
At the time of this testing (August, 1998), the AMA season was in full swing, so we didn't get a change to throw a leg over the "A" bike.
It wasn't worth the risk for Graves, which was a shame and a blow to our collective "we don't crash" egos, but Chuck another reason for bringing the backup bike:
It was a lightly modified R1.
Outfitted with Chuck's eponymously-named exhaust system, larger carburetors, and the most attention to details spent on the chassis -- Ohlins shock and forks, AP Lockheed brakes, magnesium wheels, Graves' reverse-pattern shift linkage (a big help on the track.)
This bike represented what you could do with an R1 and the extra 13 grand or so you'd have otherwise spent on a 996.
Handling was flawless, without a wiggle or wobble -- the progressive steering dampener, like some aftermarket dirtbike units, was a welcome addition.
The Twins and the stock R1 were great, but on this day Chuck was King of the Streets on his YZF-R1 race bike.
Chuck set outright fastest lap of the day on his R1 racebike, though his fastest streetbike time was on the Ducati. Roland was a half second off, Editor Plummer putzed around two seconds off the pace.