There seems to be much doom and gloom in the motorcycle industry surrounding the state of sportbikes these days. We keep hearing about dropping sales and shifting consumer interest, which will combine to turn the sportbike as we know it into a museum piece one day, gone the way of the Dodo bird.
During the media launch of Yamaha’s significantly updated R6 at Thunderhill Raceway, the bikes were fitted with the GYTR Communication Control Unit (CCU) first available on the high-end YZF-R1M. This electronic device logs data incorporated from a GPS sending unit and the bike’s ECU that allows riders to analyze braking, throttle position, gear indication, as well as other data that can be helpful in evaluating performance of both bike and rider.
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 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!
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:
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.
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.