Ad closing in seconds....

YAMAHA R1 (2004-2006) Review

Published: 20 August 2018

A superb focus on the dark art of riding extremely fast

Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding

A superb focus on the dark art of riding extremely fast

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

It’s hard to fault the clinical, precise and devastatingly fast 2004 Yamaha R1. Its chassis can cope with all kinds of road surfaces and demolishes tight hairpins at any track.

But it does demand skill and rivals like the Honda CBR1000RR and Suzuki GSX-R1000 are simply less work. For purists, the Yamaha R1 still has something unique; a superb focus on the dark art of riding extremely fast.

MCN MODEL GUIDES

The 2004 R1 was the first motorcycle to claim a 1:1 power to weight ratio. By tilting the cylinders forwards 40°, Yamaha also found room to run a new frame over the top of the motor, creating a straight line from the headstock to the swingarm pivot point for a 200% increase in rigidity.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The only weakness with the Yamaha R1's Deltabox chassis is that it needs a bit more effort and more precision, to get the very best from it at the track, compared to the incredibly adroit GSX-R1000.

It's as if the mass of the Yamaha R1 is carried a fraction higher than on the Suzuki, something which is addressed in later versions with a mass centralisation project.

The 2004 R1 also got upgraded brakes over its predecessor with a radial design 

Engine 5 out of 5

The Yamaha R1's 20-valve four-cylinder motor makes more power than 90% of all road riders can cope with, and delivers it in one long, ever increasing howl of delight.

This is the last iteration of the R1 to use the 20-valve setup before the 16-valve 2007 version and then the MotoGP-inspired cross plane crank 2009 edition.

The nifty gearbox helps the fun, plus the fuel injection is excellent, too.

The Yamaha R1 SP version has a slipper clutch and another 3bhp if you really, really need it.

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5

The 2004 Yamaha R1 has lush paintwork, beautiful alloy cycle parts and is very well put together. Apart from the odd clutch niggle (it has a tall first gear) the Yamaha R1 has an excellent reputation for long life and can do seriously high miles, not that many owners care to rack them up.

Nick Sanders has been around the world on a Yamaha R1, dodging cattle chicanes and all sorts, so it can handle anything you throw at it.

Insurance, running costs & value 5 out of 5

The Yamaha R1 was the UK's top seller in 2004, but in 2005 the Suzuki GSX-R1000 arrived and things have been tougher for the Yamaha R1 since. Good deals can be had so shop around. 

Special editions? The Kenny Roberts yellow and black painted model Yamaha R1s will possibly be collectable in the future. It's only worth considering the high spec SP model if you have the spare dosh and track time to enjoy it, as depreciation will be harsh. 

Find a Yamaha R1 for sale.

Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

The Yamaha YZF-R1 has all the sports bits you need, plus a handy clock on the dash, high rpm warning light and a token pillion.

The mirrors aren't too narrow, but the seat is higher than the Honda CBR1000RR or Suzuki GSX-R1000. The Yamaha YZF-R1's OE Dunlop tyres don't suit some riders either, but they'll be shredded after your first track day anyway.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2004
Year discontinued 2006
Original price -
Used price £3,800 to £6,300
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £88
Annual service cost £300
Performance
Max power 165 bhp
Max torque 78 ft-lb
Top speed 175 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.4 secs
Average fuel consumption 38 mpg
Tank range 130 miles
Specification
Engine size 998cc
Engine type 20v transverse four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 173kg
Front suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Rear suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Front brake Twin 320mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17 in
Rear tyre size 190/50 x 17 in

History & Versions

Model history

Yamaha launched the original R1 in 1998 to go up against the fastest sportsbikes of the day, the Honda Fireblade and Ducati 916. In 2000 it recieved detail changes including sharper styling and a 2kg weight reduction.

The 2002 version was a new model which featured fuel injection, angular styling and a new chassis. This model lasted just two years before being superceded in 2004 by a new version with underseat pipes, a new chassis, braced swingarm and more power.

This version of the R1 recieved a few changes in 2006 including a longer wheelbase and a limited edition SP version was made available with Ohlins suspension, Marchesini wheels and a slipper clutch.

In 2007, Yamaha scrapped their five valves per cyclinder engine format in favour of a four-valve head version. The bike got more power, ride-by-wire, electronically-controlled inlet trumpets and a new chassis and styling.

A major change came in 2009, when the engine was changed for a crossplane crank design to create more grunt lower down the range. This version also got a new chassis and styling and had detail changes including six-stage traction control in 2012.

Other versions

Yamaha YZF-R1 SP:  A limited edition semi race spec variant, with fuel injection tweaks, special Ohlins suspension, top end work to squeeze another 3bhp from the motor and matt black paint.

Owners' Reviews

18 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA R1 (2004-2006) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your YAMAHA R1 (2004-2006)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.9 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.8 out of 5
Engine 4.9 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.8 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.7 out of 5
Equipment 4.1 out of 5
5 out of 5

Great choice

13 June 2018 by Paul May

12 months ago I upgraded from 09' ZXR and what a bike. Takes off like a missile but far less scary than I imagined the jump upto 1000cc would be. The engine runs so smooth and there's more than enough power on tap when needed. I'm 6ft 3 and only occasionally get some aches in the knees, but it is minor and almost unavoidable on most sportsbikes. Handles great and for a bigger rider the standover height and extra width from a 600 is much welcomed. Only downside is no gear indicator or fuel gauge (25-30miles on fuel light), but I have gotten used to that and rarely bothers me now. Always the chance to add aftermarket. Usually get 130 miles to a tank, which is acceptable. Great bike, don't see why I would spend 5k more for a newer version when this is old school mechanical mania. The paint finish is superb also.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Only because you can always upgrade brakes, but more than up to job as standard.
Engine
5 out of 5
Reliable missile
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
For a sportsbike the running costs are about standard
Equipment
3 out of 5
Lack of gear indicator/fuel gauge
5 out of 5

Outstanding

02 February 2018 by Yamaluke

Fast, but also real easy to ride slow and not nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be before I bought it. Looks beautiful and is now 14 years old and still looks great. Top build quality, kudos to Yamaha

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Shreds tyres as all litre bikes do. 3000 out of a rear is ok.
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
Warp factor 10
5 out of 5

12 April 2017 by bodgesoc

Just thought I would comment about the reliability. I bought mine brand new in 2004 and it now has 110,000 miles on the clock. Original clutch, exhaust, rear shock, wheel bearings, head bearings. It still doesn't burn any oil between changes (at the specified interval) and goes out in the fast group at track days where it is still a very fast bike.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

R1 as a first bike

29 May 2015 by Chris Nicol

My first bike after passing my Direct access test. Having only ridden 2 stroke 125s before this, I was quite nervous about owning an R1 but I needn't have been, it's so easy to ride! Its confidence inspiring and everyone who told me an R1 as a first bike was a bad idea is wrong, Its fast yes, but very stable and planted.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Excellent brakes and very comfortable for what it is. My bike has upgraded brake lines so cant comment on how the stock brakes would feel.
Engine
5 out of 5
Brilliant engine with loads of grunt and a howling scream of an exhaust note at high revs
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
No problems yet, paint finish is still gorgeous even after 10 years
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
Pretty basic but the clocks have a gorgeous blue glow at night which is nice. Could do with a fuel gauge!
Buying experience

Bought from Frasers of Gloucester, lovely people and a great service.

5 out of 5

Best in price range by a mile

11 April 2014 by Tomenski

The only reason I sold this bike was that is was cheaper for me to buy a new bike with the upgrades I wanted than to do the upgrades on this bike. This bike never had a single problem the whole time I had it and it looks so good for its age still one of the best looking bikes ever made. You cannot get a better bike than this for the 4k mark and to top it you need to spend around 6k like I did. You could get the same year fireblade but its a bit boring and ugly in comparison... After riding newer bikes and getting back on it, it did feel a little bit manual and slightly hard to turn but very sturdy and the build quality is amazing. I can't stress enough if your budget is in and around the 4k mark look no further

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Stop reading, go buy one!

10 September 2011 by snapple

Have had 10 months now and covered about 7K and 7 thousand happy miles they have been. Coming off a K2 GSXR 600 I was a little scepticle... no need, insurance wise it was 50 pounds more a YEAR! and performance wise it has taken my riding to another level... Very Very easy to ride, docile around town and not particularly wristy either, power isn't massive low down but starts moving from about 5K and goes completely f**king nuts after about 11K.. hold on tight (to the bike and your licence!).. bike is incredibly planted and the confidence in corners is great and did I mention the lean?? it will lean for Japan and then some!...Ridden in a hot French Summer, sub zero English commute and terrential rain, have never felt so safe/planted on a bike.. oh yeah and it may be a 7 year old design but still looks smoking and always draws positive comments. Ok Bad Bits/niggles (cos all bikes have them).. Fairing Panels are very thin/flimsy and though I hate to say it do feel cheap. Gearbox is a little cluncky and you do get the odd false neutral especially when upshifting when gunning it. (Guess I was spoilt with suzi gearboxes for to long!). Other than she's a beauty and a beast.... but the thing is YOU decide... first Yamaha for me and very impressed.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

sublime

28 April 2009 by incognito96

Having come from a cbr600f,the R1 makes it feel anaemic,it does everything better,the thing what is striking is the fact it makes you feel more alive,it will potter about or give it your 100% and it will laugh at you and say is that all you got kind of thing.I was reserved about owning one,but looks and performance you can,t fault it.I havn,t ridden every bike but the R1 has that sublime don,t mess with me look and feeling about it.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

2004 R1

19 June 2008 by weatie

I had a 2004 R1 purchased brand new at launch. Was first Jap 1000cc has had V-twins before. Have to say it was a good bike, but was not impressed with the build qaulity Panels were too flimsy and felt cheap. Was forever fighting to keep the front down when nailing it. Bike looked good though. Until I binned it at 12 weeks old, resulting in it being a write off as plastics just fell apart and forks bent. Went a gixer 750 K4 after and that felt loads better as was solid build quality and much more useable.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Nice

19 April 2007 by geriatric

Thats it the 04 R1 is nice. An R1 should not be nice. I had a 98 model that was wicked, in all senses of the word. My 04 was nice. I toured long distances- covered 20,000 miles im less than two years. No where near as grunty as the 98 but faster and easier to ride. The only bad bit is that tyre choice is critical. Get the wrong ones (Corsa III) and the steering gets very very heavy at low speed and the back end slides into corners. Just chopped it in for a new one - much better. This one has got the fire back. It took Yamaha 9 years repeat the feeling of the original R1 but they have got it just about right

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

do you need any better?

21 March 2007 by awoo

chopped in my Aprilia last July for a new Laguna Seca coloured 2006 model. A month later i went over to France on it. i have now finally found a bike that inspires me with confidence even in pouring rain. the feedback is fantastic and the stability at both high and low speed is the best i have experienced. Build quality is excellent and the feel good factor it gives me every time i ride has been worth every penny, with more than enough performance for any average road rider and after all looking good is part of riding this type of hypersports bike and this R1 has got what it takes! this bike is so good that i dont see myself parting with it for a long time to come.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Awesome road bike.

04 October 2006 by tjcarr70

The R1 has to be the best litre bike you can buy for the road. Having access to fireblades, gixers and a ZX10, the R1 simply blows me away with its ability. The riding position is superb. If you found a blade uncomfortable, then try one of these. Its also the best looking superbike out there. The downside is that the clutch plates fused together and needed soaking over night, and the bike plays up in hot weather especially around town. The gear change can be a little clunky at times also. People have moaned about the lack of torque with this incarnation of the R1, I found it helps when putting the power down out of corners. Strengths: Looks, handling, riding position, comfort. Looks. Build quality. Parts available. Weaknesses: Tyre wear, gear selection, bikes popularity.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Best looking Jap bike around in the yellow

17 July 2006 by clowrie

Traded in by 2004 blade for the 2006 R1 - The R1 is better built in terms of quality and feels better to ride. Only issue I have has is with vibration early on and this went after about 1,200 miles. Better than the blade around town, but not as good on the track (for me anyway - less stability at the front). Strengths: Looks, build quality and it's high rev grin factor. Weaknesses: Still vibrates more than a honda between 3 and 5 K.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Have spent the last 5 years riding a Mille so my comparison is against that

25 February 2006 by iq4u

Having just moved from an Aprilia RSV Mille I have to say that the one thing that I notice most is the real lack of performance at lower revs. The Mille would just leave it standing. The seat height is lower than the Mille which is good for me & the riding poition is much more comfortable. I had found the gear box clunky & many false neutrals but this has become alot better as it is getting run in. You can really feel that is a lot lighter & it tips into corners so easily. The Mille had to be wrestled in comparison (& I thought the Mille was good). Considering it is February, cold damp & I'm on a new bike, it gives me a lot of confidence on braking & cornering. Strengths: Looks, sound of exhaust, weight, higher rev performance. Weaknesses: Really weak performance at lower revs, poorly positioned foot pegs, they are exactly in the path of where my legs want to be when stationary on the bike. Non adjustable clutch lever. Clunky gear box.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 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
-
5 out of 5

Fast, Brutal and beautiful

08 February 2006 by vegnomeat

I had reservations about taking on 170 BHP, I needn't have as unless you are a freakin nut case it is a pretty docile bike. Set the rev warning light to 6k revs and change up when you see it. Even limiting the revs to 6k this bike is awesome, the low down grunt is exceptional and for most riding you can keep it in 6th, it really is that good. The "turn in" is true sports bike, a gentle nudge and it simply goes where you point it. The instruments are clear and concise and the switches intuitive and easy to use with a firm feel. I traded up from a CBR600 and for the first mile of riding I couldn't stop thinking what have I done! The riding position can only be described as "tough", tough on the neck, the wrists and the back. It's only above 50 mph that the airflow lifts your body up in to a comfortable position and takes some of the strain away. With a seat height of 830mm it's probably the highest seat on a sportsbike today. I fitted an Alpha Technik link arm that lowers it by 30mm. Strengths: Torque, lots of it and it's also a beautiful piece of engineering. Weaknesses: It may be the most comfortable superbike bit that doesn't say much, try before you buy.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Awesome bike, you won't need any more performance than this (unless you need a frontal lobothomy)

10 March 2005 by andrewsmithr1

This is simply the coolest bike on the planet!!Precision engineering like a swiss watch (forget your dukes etc), with gorgeous looks and sound (have you seen that ugly gixer end can ?), and with all the performance and character you will ever need (boring blades go home)- what more could you ask for ? Having previously owned R6, R1, Blade, Boxer Cup Replika etc etc this new generation R1 is the dogs. Pure music from the induction roar (first time on an R1) will keep you grinning. Gearbox is also so slick, clutchless changes smoother than with clutch. If you haven't tried one yet - you must, and you will be sold, if not then it's time to hang up the leathers and get a new pipe and slippers.  Strengths: 1/ Performance, performance, performance. 2/ Looks, looks, looks. 3/ Sound, sound, sound 4/ Cool, cool, cool.  Weaknesses: 1/ Pillion provision poor (rather tall leggy wife to accommodate occasionally). 2/ No good for touring. 3/ Flat below 4500 rpm 4/ Yamaha sports screen means more wind protection but more wrist pressure.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

What a RIDE!!

04 July 2004 by red devil 998s

I sold a 2001 RI (had a 98 modle as well) for a Ducati 998s last May. I had listened to the rave reviews about Ducati and went for it. The bike looked fantastic (body off Baywatch) but; rideability and reliability (face of Crimwatch). I rode the new 2004 R1 50 yds and wondered 'what have I been doing'........ Strengths: The immense power delivery is remarkable, progressively smooth. Light to handle with possitive road connection, good brakes!! Weaknesses: Leave it somewhere dodgy and it will disapear!! and add-ons (carbon etc) difficult to get hold of.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

A red 2004 R1, meta alarm and datatagged, otherwise standard.

17 June 2004 by Sughrat

Fantastic bike, I love R1s and had a 2002 model, this one is so much sharper, better looking and sounding. Beautiful. Strengths: Handling, throttle response, engine smoothness, brakes, looks and sound (again!). Weaknesses: Bars vibrate and riding position hurts my back.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Yamaha YZF-R1 2004 Lava red

09 June 2004 by weatie

Purchased the bike about six weeks ago to replace my 2002 Aprilia RSVR. It has totally altered my riding style and I feel so much more confident. I was really concerned about purchasing a bike with so much power as thought it would be a handful, but this R1 is a tame beast being able to ride it hard is not a problem. I have covered 1600 miles now and enjoyed ever mile of it and cannot stop grinning from ear to ear. THIS R1 IS WHAT RIDING A MOTORBIKE IS ALL ABOUT. If you're thinking of purchasing one don't think just do it you will not be disapointed. Strengths: The shear power and grin factor with this bike, along with the excellent handling. Weaknesses: The underseat exhaust is awesome but gives an extreme amount of heat and on a hot day it becomes unbearable.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-

Photo Gallery

  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding
All related reviews
All YAMAHA R1 for sale