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Yamaha R1 Sports Motorbike Review

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2012 Yamaha R1
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

Not much has changed with the 2012 R1, but the big news is it now has a six-stage traction control system, incorporating anti-wheelie in its two most intrusive levels. It also has a restyled nose, a slotted YZR-M1-style top yoke and a longer, softer rear shock. The changes aren’t enough to compete with the new-generation of hardcore superbikes, like the BMW S1000RR, Aprilia RSV4 and Kawasaki ZX-10R on-track, but the Yamaha is arguably a better road bike. It’s smooth, grunty, fast, roomy and comfortable and now has the added safety of traction control, which works superbly. It’s expensive, which is why we’ve downgraded it down from five, to four stars.


MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 5

With its crossplane crank and irregular firing order layout, the 998cc inline-four-cylinder engine is almost vibe-free, despite its rumbling exhaust note, has the linear power delivery of an electric motor, the grunt of a V-twin and the free-wheeling engine braking of a two-stroke. It’s a riot of contradictions and it seems you either gel with it or you don’t. It doesn’t have masses of power at high rpm and its speed comes from its acceleration out of corners and the ease in which you can get on the throttle, even on full-lean. Try and rev the R1 like a conventional inline four and it feels painfully slow. In most occasions you need to ride a gear higher than you think and use the engine’s low-down power to go fast. In saying that, it has a very tall first gear, so you can use the bottom gear more than you would normally.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4

Compared to many of today’s 600-sized hardcore 1000s, the R1 is big and heavy. It has a conservative suspension set-up and average sports tyres, too. Fit some sticky rubber and dial in the suspension to make it steer quicker and the R1 is insanely fast. It can hold its own at tight tracks against any of its rivals, but struggles with speed along long straights. It’s very easy to ride fast or slow and is very comfy too, with the most legroom of any of the 1000s.


MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4

The new traction control system is based on Yamaha’s MotoGP bike, albeit a far simpler, less adjustable version. It doesn’t have an internal gryo, just sensors to keep an eye on front and rear wheel speed, but it works remarkably well. It’s very intrusive in the highest of its six settings, so it’s perfect for tricky conditions – it stops wheelies, too. For track riding, you can turn the traction control down, via buttons on the left handlebar (like the Aprilia RSV4 APRC), and the system won’t get in the way of fast riding, only chiming in to help you when things get really out of shape. The R1 also has three electronic riding modes, radial brakes, adjustable suspension, ride-by-wire and electronic, variable height inlet trumpets.

Yamaha YZF-R1 (2012-2014)

Detail Value
New price £12,399
Dealer used prices
£8,760 (2012) - £10,670 (2014)
Private used prices
£7,990 (2012) - £9,600 (2014)
  View full used price info
Engine size 998 cc
Power 157.75 bhp
Top speed 185 mph
Insurance group 17 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4
Engine rating is 5 rating is 5
Ride & Handling rating is 5 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 5 rating is 4
Quality & Reliability rating is 5 rating is 5
Value rating is 3 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 5

Build quality and reliability is top notch, but R1s have particularly grabby clutches, which seems to be normal. MCN has run a crossplane crank R1 on its long term test fleet since 2009 and it’s clocked up over 40,000-miles with no problems.


MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

The cost of the R1 has risen from £9999 to nearly £14,000 in the past three years, making it the most expensive Japanese superbike. It’s now in the ballpark of European exotica. You could argue that we’ve had it too good for too long, if you consider the R1 was nine grand when it was first released in 1998, and this is how much a performance bike like this should really cost. 


Insurance group: 17 of 17

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Model History

1998 – Original R1 launched
2000 – Detail changes including 2kg less weight and sharper styling.
2002 – New model with shaper lines, new chassis and fuel-injection.
2004 – First underseat pipe R1, new chassis, braced swingarm, more power.
2006 – Minor updates including longer wheelbase. Limited edition SP introduced, with Ohlins, Marchesini wheels and a slipper clutch.
2007 – New model with four-valve head, more power, fly-by-wire, variable length electronic inlet stacks, new chassis and styling.
2009 – Cross plane crank R1 released with irregular firing order like the factory YZR-M1 MotoGP bike. R1 wins WSB (Ben Spies) and BSB (Leon Camier) championship.
2011 – R1 wins BSB (Tommy Hill ) championship.
2012 – Updated cross plane plank R1 with minor tweaks and traction control.


Other Versions



Top speed 185 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.45 secs
Max power 157.75 bhp
Max torque 78.33 ft-lb
Weight 206 kg
Seat height 835 mm
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Average fuel consumption 32 mpg
Tank range 130 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 17 of 17
Engine size 998 cc
Engine specification 16v, inline-four-cylinder
Frame Twin spar aluminium frame and double-sided aluminium swingarm.
Front suspension adjustment Fully-adjustable 43mm upside down forks
Rear suspension adjustment Single shock, fully-adjustable
Front brakes 2 x 310mm discs with six-piston calipers
Rear brake 220mm single disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

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31600 miles



17480 miles



38500 miles






16400 miles


Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(1 review)

  • Great Sport Bike


    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Ride and Handling
    Quality and Reliabilty

    If you like riding long distance on a sport bike, this is the bike you should be looking for. Fast, comfy & roomy!!!

    04 January 2013


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R1 price


Lucky you, here in Denmark a new R1 is priced around 53000 $

I paid 15000 $ for my -04 2months ago, new price is set by, factory salesprice plus 25 % tax, plus an addicional whopping 180% to the state.

In comparison the danish price for the cheapest 883 Sportster is 29000 $

16 October 2013 06:44



R1 Price in Taiwan

well, good news to all of you guys. a 2012 R1 here in Taiwan costs around $22,000 USD. and a 50th anniversary version of 2012 R1 costs around $25,000 USD, or slightly more. thanks to the stupid Taiwanese tariff and all sorts of governmental examinations and regulations. hope this information make you feel that your bikes are very cheap and happy with it.

31 July 2013 21:28



CBRJGWRR, just to let you know that here in Canada, a new 2012 R1 would cost $12400 + taxes and a Ducati Panigale 1199 base model would cost at least $20000 + taxes and you would have to add $1000 for ABS.
A Ducati Panigale 1199 S would cost $24000 + taxes and the R model would be $31000 + taxes.
Minimum $7600 + taxes more to get a Ducati 1199 Panigale base model!!!!.

29 January 2013 21:02



I find no other jap bike (and perhaps not even ita one) sounds soooo goood as this one does. And if I want to buy it for street/road, then pacman53's comment would totally sell it to me.   'comfy'. I know it may sound redicilous, but .. here in shops Speed Tripple R and R1 are same price, and even though Speed tripple comes with Ohlins and brembo, for the price I would choose the R1 (2012). And i think R1 looks better too

14 January 2013 09:36



2012 R1

If you like riding long distance on a sport bike, this is the bike you should be looking for. Fast, comfy & roomy!!!

05 January 2013 15:22

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