YAMAHA R1 (2015 - 2019) Review

At a glance

Owners reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £130
Power: 197 bhp
Seat height: Tall (33.66 in / 855 mm)
Weight: Medium (439 lbs / 199 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £10,000 - £16,700

Overall rating

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

Inspired by the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1, the 2015 Yamaha 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.

Yamaha created a superbike to beat the best of its European rivals. The BMW S1000RR and Ducati 1299 Panigale weren't going to have it all their own way and had to work to keep up with the R1.

Think of the Yamaha as being the size of a 600, with the power delivery of a turbo-charged 1000, all reined in by the most sophisticated electronic rider aids of any current road bike and you’d be some way there.

Yamaha R1 on track

The R1 has much in common with its MotoGP racing cousin and has the same riding position, face and engine position as the 2011 YZR-M1 MotoGP bike. It even has forged magnesium wheels as standard.

Yamaha hasn’t just moved the R1 story along, it has created a tool for racers and serious trackday riders that will rival the best of its European rivals for the first time. It’s rapid, handles superbly and has race-ready electronics (unless you’re a BSB rider and you’ll have to take them all off).

Ride quality & brakes

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

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.

Engine

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

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.

Reliability & build quality

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

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. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.  

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

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.

Specs

Engine size 998cc
Engine type 16v, inline four
Frame type Twin spar aluminium
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 855mm
Bike weight 199kg
Front suspension 43mm KYB forks with adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Single KYB rear shock with adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs with four-piston calipers.
Rear brake 220mm single disc with twin-piston caliper.
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £130
New price -
Used price £10,000 - £16,700
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term -

Top speed & performance

Max power 197 bhp
Max torque 83 ft-lb
Top speed 186 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model 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

If the R1 wasn’t impressive enough, there’s the special edition R1M. Semi-active electronic Ohlins gives it an extra layer of sophistication, grip, control, confidence over the standard R1 and it’s nothing short of race-bike-sensational around Eastern Creek.

Add to this extra performance the carbon goodies, datalogger, the Yamaha Racing Experience and the sheer exclusivity of it and it’s one special machine.

Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA R1 (2015 - 2019)

6 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA R1 (2015 - 2019) 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 (2015 - 2019)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Equipment: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £130
5 out of 5 R we 1?
26 December 2018 by Ian Higson

Version: Standard

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £130

Not a sexy Italian to look at but after having an sexy Italian I'd rather have this questionable looking Jap any day. All the good shit of a v twin and inline four all in one.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

After a MV Agusta F4 the R1 is heaven to ride round town and even go a long way. Comfortable for a sportsbike easy ride about town.

Engine 5 out of 5

Smooth power delivery and different modes allow for every riding situation. Mimicking the v twin with non of the draw backs i.e. nearly being thrown over the handle bars with engine braking. Lots of torque delivered like Domino's deliver pizza.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

As with all Jap birds quality and reliability come hand in hand.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Sport tyres, they just don't last on the roads. I got some real good feel and mileage from Pilot Road Fives. Great value for money tyres.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Electronics suite is so refined with glossy TFT colour dash and easy to use menus performance comes easy. Auto blip up the gear box not down but who cares. Launch control on the road ? ABS system not bad neither. Want more buy the R1M.

Buying experience: Bought brand spank from Chorley Yamaha in Lancashire good price on my part ex and for the new bike.

5 out of 5
06 July 2016 by Harald Karlsson

Year: 2015

Very good performance. Nice styling. Low weight. All required electronics. Not comfortable for long distances. Luggage not possible. A perfect sports bike that I can recommend.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5
06 February 2016 by Sean

Year: 2015

GREAT BIKE ESPECIALLY ON THE TRACK

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 the best one
27 January 2016 by Ruben

Year: 2015

It's the best bike I ride in my life.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5
08 July 2015 by Pedro

Year: 2015

I'm a freaking Rossi when I'm on this machine, I can almost do no wrong. Awesome

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

It is so tune able! Fits me perfectly.

Engine 5 out of 5

Powerhouse and smooth at the same time.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Perfection

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

Motor, design, chassis, electronics...

4 out of 5 R1 -2015
09 June 2015 by r1man

Year: 2015

Brilliant handling. Good brakes(do not expect top quality Brembo like feel) I find the seating comfortable 5 7 here. MPG is quite poor. Only 1000miles on the clock might improve slightly. Mirrors are already lose,wobbling al over the place. I will check with the dealer, was reading some owners got them replaced under warranty. Slightly on/off throttle response below 4k (either mode) also lack of grunt at lower revs 3-7k. Very predictable power delivery from 7-12k. All together I would say does not worth the monies over the previous model or an older 14 plate gixxer with some added electronics still a lot cheaper.

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

Only 1000 miles done.

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
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