This week’s Church feature continues the Yamaha R1 love I started last Sunday with the Y2K Yamaha R1 and the all-new 2015 R1 and R1M posted Friday. Here, we have the first ride review of the 2002 R1, provided to us (with a fee) from one Sir Roger Daily after another freelancer bailed and left MO high and dry. Details aside, this piece was chosen this week because of the impression it left on the author. Yamaha clearly toiled to make this bike better than before and the result was a supremely confident street bike that could also earn its keep on track. After reading this, click on the R1 and R1M link above and you’ll understand the change in direction Yamaha has made in 2015.
Cresting the hill coming onto the front straight at Sydney Motorsport Park (better known as Eastern Creek Raceway), the throttle is wide open in second gear. As I click into third, the front comes up, rests at a neutral position about a foot off the ground, then gently returns to Earth moments later. All the while, the throttle was resting on the stop. Drive never felt interrupted, and despite the roughly 200 horses packed inside the new 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1, there was never a fear of being too liberal with the throttle. That’s when I knew Yamaha has just raised the bar. A lot has changed since the original R1 was introduced in 1998, and with the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and R1M, never has the line between MotoGP and lil ’ol me been so blurred. That’s not just a Yamaha marketing tagline, either. Valentino Rossi himself (along with American Superbike champ, Josh Hayes) had a significant role in developing the R1, with the aim to incorporate the most sophisticated level of electronics on a production sportbike. These are just a few examples:
On Friday, yours truly will be among the first journalists in the world to throw a leg over the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 at the Sydney Motorsport Park (formerly Eastern Creek Raceway) in Australia. Yamaha’s flagship sportbike is littered with tech derived from MotoGP and as such is one of the most hotly anticipated motorcycles of 2015. In fact, the MO crew equates the buzz surrounding this new R1 as being similar to when the first R1 was released 17 years ago. That’s the test we wanted to bring you for this week’s Church feature, but that story seems to have been lost once MO ownership changed hands several years ago. Instead, our review of the 2000 Yamaha YZF-R1 will have to suffice. A slightly more polished version of the original, the 2000 R1 loses none of the edge that made the original so wild. So while a trip back in time to the original R1 would have been nice, this 2000 edition should be equally as entertaining/informative. Here to bring you the deets, come along with Brent “Minime” Avis as he rides the R1 in Spain.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the 2015 model year. With so many new models coming from almost every manufacturer, it’s hard not to be excited. And of all those new models slated to arrive within the coming months, this week’s Top 10 lists the ones your MO crew are most anxious to ride.
We last left you hanging November 1 with Part I of our Evan Steel Performance-built 2000 Yamaha R1 project bike, wherein ESP took our hard-knock $1,500 Craigslist R1 and turned the old girl into, if not quite a beauty, a liter-bike packing enough performance to run with a much younger crowd. A little cylinder head work and a little bump-up in compression, a little crankshaft lightening, a little expert Dynojet carb-kitting and Akrapovic race-pipeage – nothing really radical, in other words – and here’s what we’ve come up with.
Four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes turned pro in 1996. So, he’s been around the AMA Roadracing paddock long enough to have experienced the good times of American roadracing before the DMG debacle and the global financial collapse. Given that experience and the fact that he’s the reigning Superbike champ, we buttonholed him at the Yamaha Champions Induction to find out his thoughts on the ongoing changes to his racing series now that MotoAmerica has taken over the reins. Hayes’ answers reflect his experience and his hopes for the role he will play in the near and distant future.
If you’re like us, then you must be salivating over the 2015 literbike prospects. With no less than eight new bleeding-edge sportbikes on the table from both European and Japanese marques, the bar is being raised in the quest for track domination or, in the case of the Kawasaki H2 and H2R, simply having the rider experience intense acceleration like they’ve never felt before. However, there’s an interesting trend in the method in which each manufacturer is going about upping the literbike ante. More and more, a greater emphasis is placed on technology and electronics rather than hardware. Sure, hardware isn’t being ignored, but with today’s bikes making so much power, being able to harness it effectively is of utmost importance.
Rules are rules when it comes to racing, but Yamaha’s new YZF-R1 – the star of EICMA 2014 for some of us – doesn’t have to follow any of them. Things get coy when you ask how much horsepower a factory Superbike makes, and Yamaha USA doesn’t even care to divulge horsepower numbers for an off-the-shelf R1. Its European counterparts, though, make no bones about it: 200 PS, they say, which is about 197 crankshaft horsepower in a 439-pound package that looks a lot like the one Vale rides.
For as much buzz as the Kawasaki Ninja H2 is drawing, arguably the real show stopper seen during EICMA 2014 comes from the Yamaha booth and the new R1 and R1M. Derived directly from the M1 MotoGP machine Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi pilot, Yamaha said bluntly the R1 was designed for the track first, street second. The Crossplane crank inline-Four is back, but that architecture is about the only thing retained from the previous R1.
We knew there were a couple new R1s coming, we reported about them in our Top 10 Bikes To See At EICMA, and here they officially are: The new YZF-R1 and limited-edition YZF-R1M. Yamaha says the two R1 models will have as big an impact on sportbikes as the original R1 had nearly two decades ago. Hyperbole we’ll examine later, but there’s certainly a lot to be excited about with these new liter class weapons. Electronics is the name of the performance game nowadays and the R1 is awash in electrons. Like Ducati’s Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) reported earlier this morning, and similar in concept to the system first seen on KTM’s 1190 Adventure, Yamaha is now boasting one of its own. The six-axis IMU is responsible for banking-sensitive Traction Control, as well as Slide Control, and Anti-Wheelie Control. The 2015 R1 also boasts a quickshifter, Launch Control, ABS, and a Unified Braking System.
I bought my $1,500 mongrel 2000 Yamaha R1 during a sad period of my life when people weren’t giving me new motorcycles every week or two, and I needed a project I could ride. A couple years later, I bumped into Evan Steel ( evansteelperformance), who trained under the great Kaz Yoshima of Ontario Moto-Tech fame, and worked with Jeremy Toye at Lee’s Cycles in San Diego for some time. A few years ago, Evan and business partner/ fellow moto-wiz Phil Allison (Toye’s ex-Superbike mechanic) set off to open their own shop in Tucson, Arizona, where they love the warmth. More recently, Evan has been off in Italy tuning Aaron Yates’s EBR World Superbike, yet another thankless task … Before all the EBR stuff transpired, though, Evan said I should drop off my old R1 at his shop so he could build a beast like the first-gen R1 he and Kaz and Phil built for multi-time Willow Springs Champ Curtis Adams back in the Formula USA days. Why not? By then, people were giving me new bikes again, thank God.
EICMA, the biggest motorcycle show of the year, is just around the corner. Hosted in Milan, EICMA is the international stage where the major (and some minor) manufacturers will reveal their new models. This week’s Top 10 is all about bikes we’re excited to see at the show. Truth be told, there are more than 10 bikes to choose from – Husqvarna’s three street models, and a possible KTM 1050 Adventure, are just a few which barely missed the cut. That said, the 10 we’ve gathered here have us truly excited for the year to come in motorcycling. Keep it here starting November 3, as the MO team brings you all the action from EICMA as it happens.
I’m often asked which motorcycle is my favorite, which is actually impossible to answer without a for-what-purpose addendum. But during a conversation last week, an acquaintance put a different spin on the question by asking: Which motorcycles are most memorable to you?