Long term update: R1’s been a blast

My time with my brilliant R1 is almost over. Summer’s all but a distant memory and those scorching days riding through Europe and blasting around racetracks seem a lifetime away.

But I’ve still been able to pile on the miles, thanks to the mild autumn. The roads have been mostly slime-free and I’ve even had the odd, unseasonal November fly squish on my visor.

I’m still discovering cool things about my R1. The shorter nights have revealed how those little LED headlights flood the roads with dazzling white light, and the brilliant traction control has been worth its weight in gold on the odd occasion the roads have been greasy.

Of course, we all know electronics can save you when you’re riding hard. But most wheelspins on a big bike actually happen at low rpm in a tall gear – even more so when you’re just riding lazily and not paying attention.

I could’ve hugged the electronics on a damp ride home from work recently. The traction control stopped a fifth gear wheelspin getting out of hand over an innocuous mid-corner crest. The back wheel came back into line before I’d even realised there was a problem.

But it’s not the comfiest of bikes. Laid-out like Rossi’s 2011 YZR-M1, the seat is hard and the bars are low, but on the plus side the riding position is nice and roomy. There’s no discomfort for a journey’s first tank of fuel (around 80-130 miles), but after that the R1 turns the thumbscrews on your wrists and bum. In the summer I rode, in one hit, from Ramsgate to Carcassonne and I was broken after the 705-mile journey.

Sore body parts aside, the more time I spend with my R1, the more I appreciate its beauty, the robust build quality and flawless paintwork. I’m in awe of its compact, muscular stance and I’m almost as happy cleaning it as I am thrashing the gonads off it on track.

After seven months and 7000 miles, the R1 is still as good as new. There are a few stone chips on the nose, but they’re dotted on the silver racing numberplate sticker, so you could always peel it off and stick on a new one. The black trim on top of the dash has bubbled-up in the sunshine, too, but Yamaha said they’ll replace it under warranty, so no problem there.

Last month I took the R1 into Webbs Peterborough for its £199, 6000-mile service. They changed the oil, serviced the brakes, checked the fluid and gave the bike a good going over. I also got that all-important stamp in the service book, which, of course, adds to your bike’s provenance and makes it easier to sell when you’re done with it.

The R1 hasn’t used any oil, or chewed through brake pads this summer. The only chink in its armour is the brakes. They lack feel, power and on track they fade under hard use – the worst of all worlds. The clutch bite is all over the place, too.

As well as the superb Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP fast road/trackday tyres the Yamaha comes on, I’ve also tried Metzeler’s new Racetec RR K3, which are even grippier and instil extra confidence. But they’re surprisingly durable, too. The rear lasted over 3500 miles and the front has done 5100 miles and counting. It still looks good.

This has been the first sportsbike I’ve lived with since 2011 and I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with it after a few years of riding super-nakeds. To be honest the R1 is so good it’s wasted on the road and it doesn’t give you the buzz it should, unless you’re doing silly speeds. But there’s no question it’s the ultimate trackday bike right now.

My dream bike would probably have the character of the R1 with the stance of a super-naked. Mmm… hello MT-10!

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Michael Neeves

By Michael Neeves

MCN Chief Road Tester, club racer, airmiles millionaire.