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Yamaha R1 Sports Motorbike Review

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Yamaha R1 - on track
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MCN overall verdict rating is 5

This is like no in-line-four cylinder sportsbike ever produced. It’s simply sensational.  The Yamaha R1’s ultra-short-stroke engine has a cross-plane crankshaft, with its crank pins set at 90° and has irregular firing intervals, which is technology lifted directly from Valentino Rossi’s factory YZR-M1. At a standstill the motor spins up like a two-stroke and on the move the R1’s ability to accelerate, no matter where you are in the revs is astonishing. Thanks to the clever engine design it grunts off corners like a V-twin, while giving superb feel through the rear tyre, and howls along straights like the mad, bad in-line-four it really is. Best of all it sounds just like Rossi’s M1 at full chat. Watch the Yamaha R1 video test.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

In addition to its new cross plane crankshaft, (all other in-line-fours have a 180° flat plane crank) the Yamaha R1’s engine now has the shortest stroke of any 1000 as well as the previous R1: 2007/8 R1: 77 x 53.6mm, 2009 R1: 78 x 52.2mm. That would normally make for a peaky power delivery, but new crank and firing order fill in the low and mid-range grunt. Peak power remains the same as before, but torque is up by 2ftlb. Power: 179bhp@12,500rpm. Torque: 85ftlb@10,000rpm. The most noticeable difference compared to previous R1s is how quickly it accelerates out of corners.

As before, the motor has forged aluminium pistons, fracture-split conrods, ceramic composite plated cylinders, titanium inlet valves and exhaust and a slipper clutch. The piggy back generator has been moved down to the end of crank to make room for the new, lower fuel tank.

The fuel injection system, featuring electronically controlled variable length inlet trumpets, now has shower injectors in upper airbox like the Yamaha R6. The fly-by-wire throttle system is modified to give better control of air intake volume.

Mounted on the right switchgear, the new D-mode system lets you chose, via the fly-by-wire throttle, three levels of throttle response: A, B and standard. The engine makes the same power in each mode (unlike the GSX-R’s which cuts power in its power modes). On A mode, the throttles open 30% faster between quarter and half throttle and 30% slower for B mode.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Compared to the previous Yamaha R1, the ’09 model is sharper steering but still retains the familiar Yamaha neutral feel. The R1’s twin-spar deltabox frame and swingarm, made up of die-cast and pressed sheets of aluminium has the balance and dimensions similar to the factory M1. It’s now stronger and weaker in all the right areas, like more flex in steering head area for better front end feel and more rigidity in swingarm pivot for control.

The engine is mounted 9° steeper and 8.2mm further forward than before, putting more weight on the front end. Weight distribution is now 52.4%, 47.6% front to rear. The riding position is more compact (bars are 10mm closer to rider, the seat 7.6mm further forward and pegs 10mm forward). The wheelbase is down 5mm to 1415mm.

An R6-type magnesium subframe, shorter titanium end cans and a shorter, lower fuel tank improve mass-centralisation. Footrests are now two-way adjustable, 155mm up and 3mm back.

43mm upside down forks now have independent damping, compression in left, rebound in right leg. Yamaha says this improves the damping response. As the forks are connected by the yokes and wheel spindle it’s all one unit, so is still balanced out properly. The rear shock has a new bottom link set-up and a new hydraulic preload adjuster. The steering damper is now speed sensitive, controlled electronically

The ’09 Yamaha R1 carries the same six-piston caliper (but on different design carriers) and 310mm disc set-up as the previous model Discs are slightly lighter than before. The master cylinder lever ratio is improved and lightened by 25g and the lever shape itself is new. The rear tyre profile is up from 50 to 55-section for better side grip.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

The Yamaha R1 has it all: projector headlights with electronically-controlled internal reflectors to change them from high to low beam, ride-by-wire throttles, variable-length inlet trumpets, fully adjustable suspension, slipper clutch, six-piston brake calipers, variable power maps, lots of titanium parts (like exhaust and inlet valves), adjustable footpegs, the list goes on. Compare and buy products for the Yamaha R1 in the MCN Shop.

Yamaha YZF-R1 (2009-2011)

Detail Value
New price £13,399
Dealer used prices
£6,510 (2009) - £9,220 (2011)
Private used prices
£6,450 (2009) - £8,290 (2011)
  View full used price info
Engine size 998 cc
Power 179 bhp
Top speed 182 mph
Insurance group 17 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Engine rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Equipment rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 5 rating is 4.5

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Yamaha R1s tend to be bomb-proof, even when raced and there’s no reason to suspect this one will be any different; in fact, the crank design helps the engine to spin more smoothly at high rpm. Build quality is right up there with the best.

Value

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

For the first time in its history the Yamaha R1 touches the ten-grand mark. It’s a lot of cash, but when you think that the original was £9199 in 1998, we’ve actually had it very good for a very long time. Also, when you think how close the Yamaha R1 is now to a MotoGP machine, you’ll realise it’s a lot of bike for the money. Find a Yamaha R1 for sale

Insurance

Insurance group: 17 of 17

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Model History

1998 - The original, and some still say the best, R1 launched.
2000 – 250 detail changes including sharper styling and a 2kg reduction in weight. 2002 – New generation R1 launched, completely new model 
2004 – Another generation R1, now featuring underseat exhausts, which is still a key styling feature today. 
2006 – Minor updates, including a slight power and torque hike.
2006 - £13,999 limited edition R1-SP launched.
2007 – Next generation R1 launched featuring a four instead of five-valve head, a ride-by-wire throttle, variable inlet trumpets and a slipper clutch.
2009 – R1 launched, featuring cross-plane crank engine and irregular firing intervals. 

Other Versions

None

Specifications

Top speed 182 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.38 secs
Max power 179 bhp
Max torque 85 ft-lb
Weight 206 kg
Seat height 835 mm
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Average fuel consumption 40 mpg
Tank range 160 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 17 of 17
Engine size 998 cc
Engine specification 16-valve, in-line-four
Frame Twin spar aluminium
Front suspension adjustment Fully adjustable
Rear suspension adjustment Fully adjustable
Front brakes 2 x 310mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 17 in
Rear tyre size 190/55 17 in

See all Yamaha R1 motorcycles for sale

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£3,691

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19017 miles

£4,991

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19253 miles

£4,995

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£3,391

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22507 miles

£2,991

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4.5(23 reviews)

  • price too high

    david gray

    Great Yarmouth ,

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Engine

    I've only test rode it for 3 days and cannot quite adapt to the engine I think people who have ridden a ducati or bmw would get on it and go quicker than those of us who've only ridden in line 4's. the looks are... in the eye of the beholder good from the front not so good from the rear but from any angle you can see this bike means business. it's power delivery is set up to allow for earlier power out of bends but 3 days was not long enough to build enough faith in it to do so. the handling is awesome on a par with the k9 suzuki. The engine cannot compete with the blades in the midrange but wins everywhere else. It might be different after an aftermarket exhaust system is fitted but you might lose the superb exhaust sound. a great bike but at £11,400 I cannot justify it. Probably the first bike since eu3 regulations came in... to challenge the k6 gixxer 1000

    15 October 2009

  • 1000 miles reached

    LJay

    Average rating rating is 5

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    BAD ASS MOTORBIKE! I don't think any bike i've ever sat on was as nutz as the R1 in A MODE... it's a fly killer on the motorway...

    29 September 2009

  • 09 R1

    outkast

    Average rating rating is 5

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    Engine

    This bike is fantastic, the engine is so smooth and just sounds great.The riding position is also great but it gets hot for your legs if stuck in traffic.Might need a rad guard too.I did 700 miles in two days and could still walk when i got off, so the riding position isn't bad. It's a bit stiff out the box and will need some tweaking to sort it. Tyres are a let down, yamaha should have put something else onto the flagship bike. At ten grand plus it's not cheap but worth the outlay in my opinion. Love it, especially in black.

    11 September 2009

  • Growing BIG

    LJay

    Average rating rating is 5

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    You know what... I really hate people who say the R1 is UGLY. I love the look of it! I have become BIKESEXUAL!!!

    20 August 2009

  • After the R6...

    LJay

    Average rating rating is 5

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    Engine

    I brought an R6 two months ago and got a full acrapovic system on it, but two days ago when I went to my local dealer. I saw the R1. I didn't like the look of it, but I brought it knowing it'll be faster then anything I can imagine. I've done just over 100 miles so far and it's not runned in yet but it's still fast. I love the 3 stage remaps (I haven't used A Mode yet which gives you the full 182ps) comparing to my R6 which was 140ps Anyways after ridding it, It looks much more beautiful now. It's grown on me. LOVE IT!

    20 August 2009

  • 1000 miles on........

    Deano750

    Average rating rating is 5

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    Engine

    Had my R1 now for a little under a month and love it! Took it to the 2009TT to run it in and serviced by Road and Track who supplied Rossi's R1 for his lap of the circuit while he was over there. This bike is awesome!! And the difference it makes switching from the Standard setting to 'A' blows your mind and transforms the bike into a race bred missile. I still have memories of laughing under my crash hat at just how fast this bike accelerated and was in it's element riding around mountain section of the circuit. The amount of torque it produces coming out of corners made it feel like a twin, but then once you're tucked behind the screen and blipping through the gears it's back to the four banger missile it's always been with an extra kick. Since being back from the Isle of Mann I've fitted some Yoshimira Tri-Oval cans to it which makes the R1 sound like a caged animal. The only gripe I have which isn't a huge one is that it's not brilliant for a pillion and that Renntec still haven't made a grab rail for it? So if anyone has a 2009 R1 and live around Bournemouth, then would you loan Renntec your bike for the week as they need one to design the new rail. I would, but I'm over 400 miles away?? Over-all, this is the bike to have and wipes the floor with ALL other bikes at the moment!

    29 June 2009

  • R1

    gixercarl

    Deepest Darkest England plotting against BMW , Ducati Superbikes cheating

    Average rating rating is 5

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    right done 500 miles on mine now, takes a bit of getting used to but this is what i think of it, th handling riding postions and brakes on this bike are faultless, the clever bit id the power it has the smooothest power ever in the right places, as you open the throttle you have massive linear power, but friendly and usable it now makes my old gixer k5 feel like a prehestoric monster, but after that the power is usable and controlled and less than my best mates fireblade, it is a masterpiece of useable control, i have loved IL4's all my life but i could not go back to one again after this, if you want a top handling bike, if you want banzie top endy power then buy a gixer or a blade, but in the real world we all like to open the throttle and get smooth power and that is where this yam wins my mates blade feels like a vespa as you open the throttle compared to the R1 but then gets stronger as the revs build,i finally have found a 1000 superbike that has the lot,controlable power everywhere,perfect handling, superb controls,brakes and riding position is good, you need to change tyres mine has dunlop gp racer

    10 April 2009

  • Rode one..Awesome!!

    stu_sp2

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Well fellas, my mate picked his up at the weekend, and i can say honestly...its superb, flick it to "A" mode and let rip, its like nothing i've ever ridden and i've ridden triple and owned an SP2 so have had a good experience of many different motors. It takes a while to get used to it, many may not like it when first on board, but like with any change, you need to give it time and get used to it.The noise is spot on, but again if all you've ever ridden is IL4's you may get off it and think "it sounds and feels a bit lumpy/rough" cant wait to see if the other manufacturers are brave enough to do summat different..now then, where's my cheque book!!

    07 April 2009

  • Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Picked up my new R1 09 model on Friday. What an awesome bike and still running in at the moment, cant wait to get the 1000 miles done so i can really see what a beast the bike is.

    02 April 2009

  • 2009 R1

    gixercarl

    Deepest Darkest England plotting against BMW , Ducati Superbikes cheating

    Average rating rating is 5

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    before i start all these new 1000 are amazing bikes,my best mate owns a 2008 blade and it is one amazing bit of kit,so no one is a loser here, just bought the new R1 and it is a very very good bike, going to change my style a bit, diffent approach to a corner required, but the ride power delivery handling, equipment for the money is awesome and with a set of akropovic race cans its actually narrower at the back than 06 R1 here is to a great 09 for all blade and R1 owners because we are all lucky to own such awesome machines,

    14 March 2009

Discuss this

Add your comment
markva4

markva4says

cross crank heaven

I have had 4 previous R1s from 2000.

I have just bought a White cross crank R1 and what a fantastic bike.

I have read some reviews moaning about this and that what a load of bull.

I read the reviews before I bought and MCN were the only true speakers.

This R1 is the best ever.

Gorgeous addictive engine, very comfortable and F-A-S-T-

In my opinion the white with red frame is the best colour combination especially coupled with a full Akrapovic with carbon cans.

No vibration just a well built bike.

"A" Mode is bonkers - B mode drops power and makes the bike more suited to wet conditions.

WARNING - If you test ride one of these you will be buying it that's how good they are.

23 August 2014 17:36

markva4

markva4says

cross crank heaven

I have had 4 previous R1s from 2000.

I have just bought a White cross crank R1 and what a fantastic bike.

I have read some reviews moaning about this and that what a load of bull.

I read the reviews before I bought and MCN were the only true speakers.

This R1 is the best ever.

Gorgeous addictive engine, very comfortable and F-A-S-T-

In my opinion the white with red frame is the best colour combination especially coupled with a full Akrapovic with carbon cans.

No vibration just a well built bike.

"A" Mode is bonkers - B mode drops power and makes the bike more suited to wet conditions.

WARNING - If you test ride one of these you will be buying it that's how good they are.

23 August 2014 17:36

markva4

markva4says

cross crank heaven

I have had 4 previous R1s from 2000.

I have just bought a White cross crank R1 and what a fantastic bike.

I have read some reviews moaning about this and that what a load of bull.

I read the reviews before I bought and MCN were the only true speakers.

This R1 is the best ever.

Gorgeous addictive engine, very comfortable and F-A-S-T-

In my opinion the white with red frame is the best colour combination especially coupled with a full Akrapovic with carbon cans.

No vibration just a well built bike.

"A" Mode is bonkers - B mode drops power and makes the bike more suited to wet conditions.

WARNING - If you test ride one of these you will be buying it that's how good they are.

23 August 2014 17:35

markva4

markva4says

I have had 4 previous R1s from 2000.

I have just bought a White cross crank R1 and what a fantastic bike.

I have read some reviews moaning about this and that what a load of bull.

I read the reviews before I bought and MCN were the only true speakers.

This R1 is the best ever.

Gorgeous addictive engine, very comfortable and F-A-S-T-

In my opinion the white with red frame is the best colour combination especially coupled with a full Akrapovic with carbon cans.

No vibration just a well built bike.

"A" Mode is bonkers - B mode drops power and makes the bike more suited to wet conditions.

WARNING - If you test ride one of these you will be buying it that's how good they are.

23 August 2014 17:35

kwackanacki

User's Badge

kwackanackisays

R1

Had a blade and a ZX10, if you have owned a LC350 you will know that Yams have a soul and the others don't also the R looks like its doing 150 stood still - take the blanket off during winter, sit in the chair and open a tin one - better than crimbo TV any day - well apart from the bike battles on Eurosport.

Roll on spring.

31 December 2010 18:44

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