1996 Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace

Fireblade on Steroids

Page 2
So is the Thunderace king of sport bikes? For many it is. The combination of awesome mid-range grunt, with excellent handling and braking as well as a good roomy riding position make it the best all-round hyper-sports package available (for a comparison of six open-class bikes, check our 1995 Open Sportbike Shootout). At the same time the Fireblade and the new GSXR will continue to sell well, but mostly to those more sharply focused on the sports label and not interested in any compromises in their demand for street racers. Yamaha, however, might have taken the first step in sewing up the sports market once and for all. With the YZF750 reportedly due for an upgrade in '97, the Ace has given them the freedom to produce a street racer that will have headbangers the world over queuing up to buy. Judging by the achievements of the Ace design team, that bike will be stunning.


Manufacturer: Yamaha 
Model: 1996 YZF1000R Thunderace
Price: $15,750 (Holland), $15,999 (Australia) 
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC 5-valve, parallel 4-cylinder
Bore x stroke: 75.5 x 56.0 mm.
Displacement: 1002 cc
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Carburetion: Mikuni BDSR38/4
Transmission: 5-speed
Claimed power: 145 HP (106.7kW) @ 10,000 rpm
Claimed torque: 11 kg/m (108.3Nm) @ 8500 rpm
Wheelbase: 1430 mm
Seat Height: 790 mm
Fuel Capacity: 20 L
Claimed dry Weight: 198 Kg. (436 lbs)
Riding Impressions:

1. Colin MacKellar, Dutch Desk
I found the Ace to be really at home on the Autobahn, cruising along at two-miles-a-minute without fuss. The riding position is quite aggressive with low handlebars that put quite a lot of weight on my arms, but making it easy to crouch behind the roomy bubble of the fairing. When I left the suburbs and started to blow out some of the cobwebs, the bike's only serious flaw manifested itself: From about 4500 rpm there is serious vibration that varies in intensity through the rev range from a vague tremor through the bars to a resonance bad enough to blur the mirrors. This was particularly annoying on the freeway as the outside mirror was unusable at speeds just above the legal maximum, making it especially tricky to watch out for the cops in their dayglo Porsches!

There are many facets to the excitement of riding bikes and every rider will attach a different level of importance to each of them. For me, the critical characteristic of a bike is its ability to flip-flop through a fast set of bends -- exhilarating when you get it right. In the past, this has been the domain of the sports middleweights, their light steering making squid territory a joy to visit. The times are changing and the Ace, and a couple of rivals, can blitz a set of bends with the best of them. Combine this with an engine that has such a strong mid-range power delivery and we may be looking at the perfect bike. Next time I come to trade bikes, the Ace will definitely be on the short list.

2. Ken Edwards, Australian Desk
Yamaha's new flagship was a bike I have been looking forward to. You see, the YZF750 was already one of the best handling production bikes around (and I own one). The advertising states that the 1000 can do a standing quarter mile in 10 seconds flat and has a power-to-weight ratio of 0.73 hp per kilo. I rode out onto the road with all this in mind. Bike felt comfortable, the switch gear fell readily to hand. Now was the time to see this baby grunt. And grunt it did! Pulling cleanly from two grand with real power kicking in at 3500 rpm, I let the bike have its head, and with little effort had the front wheel soaring. Does this thing go or what? Yee harrr!!

Overall this is one of the best motorcycles I have sampled. It is more than able to be punted hard with the go fast crowd and for the first time on a liter class bike, is not left wanting in the corners. Additionally, I found it comfortable on a long ride. Value for money is great as the bike can take on so many roles and can perform admirably in all of them. Yamaha is on to a winner here, and I'm seriously considering trading in the old 1995 YZF750 on an Ace (providing the minister of finance -- my better half -- allows it!)

3. Nigel Wines, Guest Tester (Australian Racing Commentator)
It was with some trepidation that I climbed aboard the new Yamaha YZF1000. The bike's reputation had preceded it; I knew it would be fast - but just how fast? Indescribable. The power came on strong from 2000 rpm, progressed to a wicked, arm wrenching rush about 5000 rpm from there to 9000 rpm took off like the space shuttle - the 11,500 rpm redline was on a different planet.

Handling and brakes are as you'd expect for such a horny bike. The light weight of the bike came through and it was quite nimble in the Cotter Twisties. I did find the front suspension a bit stiff probably because of the newness of the bike, and it needed a set up more suited to me. Still, it was a bit disconcerting to have the front wheel shaking its head over some of the bumps when you have a bit of power on; I had to get out of the seat a few times. The YZF1000 is a bike that only skilled, competent, experienced riders can enjoy -- anything less, and you'll just scare yourself silly. Or worse. If you haven't got experience on big bikes and raced a bit, go for something else.

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