New fully-adjustable KYB rear shock and 43mm upside forks have been developed for the new R1, the front wheel spindle is 3mm bigger for extra rigidity and for the first time the Yamaha has cast magnesium wheels.
The machine is smaller, more compact 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.
The riding position mirrors the M1 MotoGP bike’s. The seat is flatter, roomier and the fuel tank narrower, with cut-outs for your knees to help you get locked-in.
the peg position has been raised and moved back slightly
There’s still a decent amount of legroom for taller riders, but the peg position has been raised and moved back slightly for a more aggressive riding position. Clip-ons are still low and pulled-in Jarno Saarinen-style. Thankfully the fashion for tiny low screens is a thing of the past and the new R1 has a decent bubble to tuck under, just like a proper race bike.
Engine power, delivery and electronic control are all light years ahead of the previous R1, but so is the handling. Yamaha has shrunk it into the size of a supersports bike and if it didn’t have any stickers giving the game away, you’d believe it was an R6.
As well as being agile, there’s loads of front and rear feel and it turns smoothly on the brakes. Full lean stability is great, but the bars can get a bit flappy when the front goes light over bumps at full throttle, so Michael Dunlop might want a steering damper fitted for the TT later this year.
The new shorter-stroke, higher compression crossplane crank motor is smaller, has lighter internals and makes 197bhp – up 18bhp, with slightly less (2ftlb) of torque.
It has a new cylinder head with reshaped intake ports, titanium conrods and exhaust, lightweight forged ali pistons with diamond-like carbon (DLC) gudgeon pins, bigger valves with a DLC rocker arm valve train, a 24% larger airbox and new lightweight assist-slipper clutch.
It’s not the smooth, cuddly R1 of old
It’s an aggressive engine and peakier than before. It’s lost some of the creamy, flat power that made the R1 so easy to ride and accelerate so cleanly from apex to exit.
It’s not the smooth, cuddly R1 of old, it’s an unashamedly aggressive, angry, fighty race-focussed superbike. It’s lost some of its low-end grunt, but it’s been replaced by a top end punch so brutal it’s hard to hold on to it in full attack mode.
As you’d expect from Yamaha built quality is excellent, the paintwork lush and deep. The mechanical and electronics all work with a satisfying precision.
It may not be the bargain superbike it once was and it’s more expensive than its Japanese rivals, but it’s cheaper than the best of the big-hitters from Europe: the Aprilia, BMW and Ducati.
The 2015 model starts from £16,499, but you can find used Yamaha R1s for sale from £8,500 upwards.
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Although it doesn’t have Brembos or Ohlins, the R1 comes with all the 2015 must-have bells, whistles and electronic rider aids. There’s anti-wheelie, a quickshifter (but no auto-blipper, like the 2015 BMW S1000RR and Ducati 1299 Panigale), variable riding modes, anti-wheelie and traction control and slide control.
Using its six-way Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) internal gyro, the Yamaha not only detects the difference in front and rear wheel speeds, it can sense how the bike is leaning, pitching and accelerating, too. So it’ll catch a slide at full lean, or let you drift the rear out of corners.
As well as looking after traction control and anti-slide, the IMU also controls the linked braking system, ABS and the the semi-active electronic Ohlins suspension on the M version.
You can actually hold a rear wheel drift to the point it will snap back into line
The list of electronic aids goes on, but the digital highlight is Yamaha’s new Slide Control System (SCS), developed in MotoGP and only fitted to Rossi and Jorge’s bike in 2012. It’s so effective you can actually hold a rear wheel drift to the point it will snap back into line when you shut off and brake for the next bend.
Within a few laps riding on track, the SCS gives you the confidence to square-off corners like a pro-racer without fear of it launching you. The only thing is you’ll need to be careful jumping on a non-electronic 1000 after riding the R1 and doing the same – you’ll highside yourself into oblivion.