Yamaha’s carefully considered response to the CBR900RR took a while getting here, but when it did it achieved immediate supremacy via 150 claimed crankshaft horsepower from its 20-valve inline-Four and a great reduction in mass from the previous YZF1000R. At the same time, a huge increase in overall compactness resulted from fresh thinking including stacking the transmission input and output shafts, and the original R1’s sleek, predatory bodywork and beautiful brushed alloy frame make it one of the prettiest Japanese sportbikes of all time in many eyes. This one really ushered in the current era of full-on 1000cc pure sportbikes, an arms escalation that continues today.

Our take on the last of the first-gen R1s, the 2000 R1, is here.