YAMAHA R1 (2012 - 2014) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Power: 158 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.9 in / 835 mm)
Weight: Medium (454 lbs / 206 kg)


New N/A
Used £7,900 - £8,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Not much has changed with the 2012 Yamaha R1 - remaining largely the same as the 2009 version. The big news was it gained a six-stage traction control system, incorporating anti-wheelie in its two most intrusive levels. It also got a restyled nose, a slotted YZR-M1-style (the firm's MotoGP bike) top yoke and a longer, softer rear shock.

The changes weren’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 from this period.

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.

Considering buying a used one? Don't miss our expert guide to second hand Yamaha R1s!

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Compared to many of today’s 600-sized hardcore 1000s, the R1 is big and heavy, partly down to the large crank and balancer shaft, which is needed due to the bike's irregular firing order. the engine also produces plenty of inertia, which makes the steering feel slow and predicatble and unlike a modern-day litre bike.

Alongside this, the bike came with 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. Compared to the BMW S1000RR of the day, the R1 didn't feel as powerful, however the crossplane crank motor means plenty of grunt low-down, making it a much better road bike than many of its rivals - not to mention offering the best soundtrack, too.

It’s very easy to ride fast or slow and is very comfy too, with the most legroom of any of the 1000s of the day. Plenty of engine braking from its V4-like characteristics also mean it was easy to back in to corners, too.


Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

With its crossplane crank and irregular firing order layout, the 998cc inline-four-cylinder engine is almost vibe-free, despite its rumbling exhaust note and 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.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Build quality and reliability is top notch, but R1s have particularly grabby clutches and owners do pick up on it as a let-down of the bike.

That said, 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. You can see more about the bike below:

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The cost of the Yamaha YZF-R1 rose from £9999 to nearly £14,000 in the three years leading up to this model, making it the most expensive Japanese superbike money could buy (at the time).

A price-tag similar to European exotica

It was a price-tag that placed it firmly 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.

This price has only increased since then, with a 2018 standard bike costing £16,499 and the more exclusive R1M costing £20,199.


5 out of 5 (5/5)

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.

Continued development

Since then, the R1 has gone on to adopt a fully-adjustable KYB rear shock and 43mm upside forks. The front wheel spindle is also now 3mm bigger for extra rigidity and for the first time the Yamaha has cast magnesium wheels.

The machine is also smaller, more compact than older R1s and feels more like an R6 flicking in and out of the corners. Electronically-assisted linked brakes (and ABS) provide superb stopping power and for the first time the R1 has steel braided lines, but it doesn’t have the initial bite of a good Brembo set-up.


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

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 32 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost -
New price -
Used price £7,900 - £8,500
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 158 bhp
Max torque 78.33 ft-lb
Top speed 185 mph
1/4 mile acceleration 10.45 secs
Tank range 130 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

The Yamaha R1 has been around for 20 years now. Below is a run-down of this iconic superbike's 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.
  • 2015 – Inspired by Yamaha’s 2011 YZR-M1 Grand Prix bike, the latest R1 is smaller, lighter, nimbler and more powerful than ever and boasts a host of electronic riding aids, including a MotoGP-inspired slide control system. The firm also produced a more expensive M version, which you can read more about below.

Other versions

The latest version of the Yamaha R1 was also produced as a higher-spec special edition R1M, which takes the standard road bike and adds Ohlins electronic suspension, plenty of carbon-fibre, a data-logger and access to the Yamaha Racing Experience. The latest version of the M also features a quick-shifter and auto-blipper.

Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA R1 (2012 - 2014)

5 owners have 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.

Review your YAMAHA R1 (2012 - 2014)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Equipment: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
5 out of 5
15 January 2021 by Crossplaneboi

Version: 50th anniversary

Year: 2012

Hands down one of the best bikes money can buy. Forget about the exotics such as ducati and BMWs. This bike requires real skill to tame it and once you've tamed it, you're ready for anything that the road throws at you.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

My god. The monstrous dual 6 piston brakes up front makes sure that you stop anytime, everytime. But, I'd suggest changing the master pump to an aftermarket one such as Brembo RCS19 Corsa Corta. It removes brake fade and the initial bite is stronger. No problems doing one finger stoppies!

Engine 5 out of 5

2 engines in 1. WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE? Amazing soundtrack in the high rpms and it'll sure bound to attract many curious onlookers.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

What can you expect from a japanese superbike? Reliability is top notch. But like others said, stock clutches are a tad flimsy. I'd suggest potential or current owners to switch it to a graves clutch kit. The bite and feel is so much better. Other than that, I couldn't find anymore faults on this piece of amazing machine.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Litre bikes are always expensive to service but I'm not complaining. Take care of it and it'll take care of you.

Equipment 5 out of 5

TC and power modes are good enough. No ABS but who needs it anyway? Like i said, it requires real skills to tame this beast.

5 out of 5 Beast monster
07 July 2020 by Doms

Year: 2012

Great bike I've had other bikes 09 1098 11 gsxr 1000 and this is by far a better all around bike

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5

I will say the best improvement I could have made on the bike was flashing the ecu with CaT eliminator and yoshi exhaust.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 Forget the Statistics, Reviews and the Latest BS - This is an Iconic Superbike.
20 May 2019 by CWLONDON

Version: MotoGP 50th "Limited Edition"

Year: 2012

My 8th liter bike and my FAVORITE after three Triumph Daytonas, an early R1, a Ducati 1098 and two BMW S1000RRs. With no ABS, it demands some skill and respect but otherwise fast, comfortable and so charismatic. Best sounding bike on the road - who needs a V4 when you can buy an R1!

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

The brakes are a bit wooden - and took some time getting used to vs. the monstrous Brembos on my Ducati 1098 and two S1000RRs. Perhaps I don't understand a good vs bad clutch but the clutch seems fine to me.

Engine 5 out of 5

Just amazing. And the SOUND! Best sounding bike on the road.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Starts up every time. Never an issue with anything.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

The mono seat cowl is a must. After the OEM tires, enjoying cheapo Metzelers just fine.

4 out of 5
15 July 2017 by Marty Smith

Year: 2013

This bike would be a solid 5 out of 5, for the road, if the clutch wasn't such a pig.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Excellent ride and braking. Corners extremely well, and pulls up on a dime. The comfort level is a big plus, too. It's a bigger bike, and will fit a larger rider better than the others.

Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Radial brakes, TC, 3 power modes....What's not to like....except for the clutch. I know i'm harping on about it, but the clutch is terrible. The engine is fantastic. The ergonomics are great. People go on about its weight, and that it's not as good, on the track, as other bikes, but it's wonderful to ride, and feels planted.

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!!!

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
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