Actually the first minute or so of this vid is a great graphic presentation of the Yamaha “Crossplane” crankshaft it introduced in its 2009 R1. Crossplane is a cool marketing word for a four-cylinder crank that scatters its four pistons equidistantly around its 360 degrees – each one 90 degrees apart – instead of everybody else’s flat, or 180-degree crank, where two pistons are at top dead center while the other two are at bottom dead center.
It’s been a couple years since we posted our Top 10 Honda Sportbikes list. There always exists subjectivity in such a list, but since the Honda topic was generally well-received, revisiting the idea, this time showcasing Yamaha sportbikes, seemed apropos. Like the Honda list, we’re keeping this one limited to street-legal models available stateside (except one, sue us).
In spite of protestations from various peanut gallery season-ticket holders who claim disinterest, our mostly annual Superbike Comparison remains MO’s single biggest deal of the year when it comes to clicks and comments. Apparently, many people who don’t have much interest in owning any of these motorcycles are still really interested in riding them vicariously, which is fine by the MO staff; we’re willing to make the sacrifice, for a few weeks anyway. Whether you lust after one or not, it only makes sense to be interested in them, since this is where the new performance stuff turns up first, as motorcycles, like everything else, grow more sophisticated.
From the unchained environment of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where performance is the sole consideration for victory in our 2015 Six-Way Superbike Track Shootout, we move to the confines of public roadways to determine which superbike renders the best street-legal exhibition. As tight as our track test results were, the street shootout was just as close with a half-percent separating second from first place. If the MO offices were located in Florida, I’d demand a recount.
Rejoice, sportbike fans, as 2015 is bound to go down as the year of the liter-class superbike. After riding this latest crop of superbikes at their individual intros, your respective MO editors all came back gushing, proclaiming the bike they just finished riding is a viable contender for top honors in the class. Of course, with statements like that, pitting them all together and settling the score was the natural thing to do. And here for you now, we bring you the epic showdown you’ve long been waiting for, pitting five all-new or significantly revised superbikes on the racetrack against the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, winner of our 2012 Japanese Literbike Shootout. Stay tuned next week for our street impressions.
By the time you read this, I will be off the clock and lost somewhere on an island, away on a much needed vacation, just the wife and me. The destination? Japan. I’m not bringing my helmet with me, and my only interaction with a motorcycle will be if I bump into one while darting from sushi joint to ramen house. Airplanes, bullet trains and our own two feet will be our method of travel this time around. It’s a little ironic in a way; me being in the middle of a country that has contributed so much to motorcycling, yet choosing to remove myself from two wheels as much as possible. Sometimes, however, the best way to recharge the batteries is to get away from it all. Luckily, there’s more to me than just motorcycles.
In preparation of our upcoming 2015 Superbike Shootout we came across this similar gem posted a decade ago. From then to now we find similarities in the entrants as well as the editors, such as Yamaha’s R1 and Sean Alexander. In terms of performance, things have, of course, progressed far beyond what these four machines possessed – mostly in the realm of electronics. “You don’t have a 6-axis gyro, TC, slide, lift and launch control,” asks the 2015 of its predecessor.
I felt as giddy as a kid at Christmas when I heard Yamaha’s new R1 was prepped and readied for MO’s home-soil evaluation. We already knew it was ready to challenge the best of the best – our Troy Siahaan came back from its launch raving about how the R1 is resetting the bar in the stupefyingly magnificent superbike class – but I was anxious to find out for myself just how impressive it is.
In case it wasn’t clear from my 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and R1M First Ride Review, I’m a big fan of both bikes. The complete revamp of Yamaha’s flagship sportbike was a dramatic move, but the incorporation of electronics and technologies directly from MotoGP has made the new R1 duo incredibly impressive machines. Traction control, lift control, slide control, among many others, are just a few of the rider aids seen on the new R1, with development work assisted by none other than Valentino Rossi and Josh Hayes. In fact, the slide control feature is a technology that was only first seen on Rossi’s M1 MotoGP bike in 2012!
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.
Michael Schumacher, the legendary Formula 1 driver and erstwhile motorcycle racer who suffered a severe head injury in a freak skiing accident nearly a year ago, remains paralyzed and is unable to speak, according to Philippe Streiff, a close friend of the seven-time world champion.