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RideFast Magazine April 2020 issue

  • Text
  • Tyre
  • Racing
  • Tyres
  • Rider
  • Yamaha
  • Ducati
  • Bikes
  • Honda
  • April
  • Ridefast

The world rejoiced last

The world rejoiced last year when Yamaha announced a new R1, and why not? The last one, launched in 2015, turned out very well indeed. That inline crossplane motor was such a hit in the 2009 model, but now joined the 200hp club, the space alien electronics package organisation and the robot styling guild. That model won everything. Literally, go look at superbike racing results, and you will see R1s everywhere. Except for World Superbikes, of course, but that might be down to Yamaha spending all their racing budget on Rossi in MotoGP, and because they didn’t have Johnny Rea. This new one is going to be excellent, we thought last year with wide eyes and drool running down our shirts. Even more so, when they unveiled it to show new, extra-robot angry eyes and flaring, LED nostrils. It should be good! Sadly, while new the looks showed promise, the list of new features did not. All it did show is a new top-end of the motor, slightly updated suspension and more bits of electronics. That was disappointing, especially given that since the last R1 was launched in 2015, Ducati has moved to a completely different engine format, Honda has redone their Fireblade twice, Suzuki has launched a new bike and so has Aprilia. Yamaha is looking a little behind the times. The motor gets new fingerfollow rocker arms, new cam profiles, a new cylinder head and new fuel injectors. The result of these updates is that the horsepower output of the Yamaha R1 goes from 197hp on the previous model to 197hp on this new one. That seems like an awful lot of work for zero more horsepower. If I were a Yamaha executive, I’d be pissed. The chassis gets the same frame, swingarm, tailpiece, wheels and brakes. The only difference on this model is that the innards of the KYB suspension have been altered. The new front end, apart from bold new looks, offers 5.3% better aerodynamics, according to Yamaha. The electronics show some promise – there are now seven adjustable functions, including two different ABS modes and variable engine braking that’s adjustable via a mobile phone. They’ve also removed the throttle cables because they were kinda pointless given the ride-by-wire throttle the R1 has been using since 2009. The electronics chuck some much-needed value in the new R1 pot, given that they’ve not expanded the horsepower stable nor put much effort into the chassis. This goodwill is undone slightly by the weight of the new R1 that, after 5 years of hard work and dedication, goes from 199kg to 203kg. Right, so obviously this machine is a complete rightoff, you might think. Honestly, what was Yamaha thinking? As you would expect, it feels exactly the same on track as the last model, and that should be the final nail in any new motorcycle’s the coffin… …except the R1. Think back to the beginning of this article where we pointed out that the 2015 R1 was really rather good. Even better than initial reviews suggested. The problem with the R1, and the way that crossplane, in-line four makes power, is that it doesn’t necessarily feel fast. The BMW, the Honda and the Ducati buck and weave under their intense acceleration, meanwhile the R1 stays relatively calm and smooth. What this does is give a false impression that the bike is slow. We are guessing that it might be, especially on long straights; however, all straights end in a corner, and here is where the R1 shines. The BMW tips in on a dime, the Hondas can be ridden hard on the front, the Ducati is disqualified for doing everything well and the Aprilia just wants to be your friend. With these jolly fellows patting you on the back and giving you the thumbs up, the R1 gives you drill-sergeant wallop and says: “try harder!” It needs a good chunk of muscle to tip it in. It will resist you, fight your input and do everything in its power to stay upright, but it will also reward you for your efforts. Once it is in the corner, you will not find a more stable machine than this. Lean it as far as you want with as much speed as you can muster and it will be happy to comply. That crossplane happily massages your ego when you begin rolling on, grunting forcefully but in control. Here we have the genius of the R1’s layout – an in-line four will be Shaun on the R1 ahead of Rob on the Aprilia - both showing off just how well these bikes handle, especially with very grippy Pirelli rubber on. “That crossplane happily massages your ego when you begin rolling on, grunting forcefully but in control. Here we have the genius of the R1’s layout – an inline four will be more challenging to turn in than a V-four, but it will also be more stable and therefore more comfortable to ride.” The new yamaha R1 carries on the same old tradition as the model before - a real track weapon! more challenging to turn in than a V-four, but it will also be more stable and therefore more comfortable to ride. The crossplane will gather speed within a corner much like a screamer but without the upsetting theatrics. It all gives the rider a sense of calm and confidence, and, theoretically, more speed. Some downfalls – like BMW, Yamaha uses a no-name brand of brakes, except the effect is the opposite to the Beemer. Where the German stops faster than Newton could predict but has minimal feel, the R1 has tons 46 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE APRIL 2020 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE APRIL 2020 47