YAMAHA R1 (2012-2014) Review

Published: 07 November 2011

"Not much has changed with the 2012 R1, but the big news is it now has a six-stage traction control system"

2012 Yamaha R1

"Not much has changed with the 2012 R1, but the big news is it now has a six-stage traction control system"

  • At a glance
  • 998cc  -  157.75 bhp
  • 32 mpg  -  130 miles range
  • Medium seat height (835mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

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.

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

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.

Engine 5 out of 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.

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 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.

Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5

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 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 5 out of 5

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.

Owners' Reviews

1 owner has reviewed their YAMAHA R1 (2012-2014) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Great Sport Bike

04 January 2013 by pacman53

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

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 1 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2012
Year discontinued 2014
Original price £12,399
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 157.75 bhp
Max torque 78.33 ft-lb
Top speed 185 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.45 secs
Average fuel consumption 32 mpg
Tank range 130 miles
Specification
Engine size 998cc
Engine type 16v, inline-four-cylinder
Frame type Twin spar aluminium frame and double-sided aluminium swingarm.
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 206kg
Front suspension Fully-adjustable 43mm upside down forks
Rear suspension Single shock, fully-adjustable
Front brake 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

History & Versions

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

None

Photo Gallery

  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
  • 2012 Yamaha R1
All related reviews
All related bikes for sale