Long term update: New vs old R1

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My 2015 R1 is such a departure from the old crossplane model, Yamaha could’ve got away with giving it a different name. But what would owners of 2009’s first-generation crossplane crank R1 make of this smaller, more powerful and electronically-advanced machine? To find out, I invited two of them to Rockingham to ride my R1.

Shaun Pleasants, 48
Crossplane crank R1: 2013.
Flashed ECU, Leo Vince exhaust, carbon-fibre extras, Michelin Pilot Power tyres

Shaun on the new R1: “It’s brilliant. The handling, suspension, quickshifter and electronics are all fantastic. I’m 6ft 3in and there’s plenty of room for me and it’s not too cramped. Straight away you feel the extra power over mine and the electronics give you so much confidence in the turns. 

“It feels really planted and within a couple of laps I even got my left knee down, which I never do. I wasn’t sure on the headlights at first, but it looks better in the flesh. I’m definitely in the market for one now.”

Dean Brett, 25
Crossplane crank R1: 2011.
Yamaha Tech 3 replica with Dream Machine paintwork. Bridgestone T30 tyres and Akrapovic pipes

Dean on the new R1: “It feels like a supersport 600: very light, easy to throw around and confidence-inspiring. It’s got power and midrange, but I love the way it’s balanced, the way it turns-in and the stability on the brakes. You can pull crazy lean angles and trail-brake going into corners. The extra 20bhp it has over my bike makes a hell of a difference and it’s lighter, too. The gearbox and quickshifter are really responsive.

“I like the old-school superbikes without electronics, but the rider aids on the new R1 are brilliant. I felt the traction control come in a couple of times, which gives you confidence. I was thinking of changing bikes in two years, so this could be the next one.” 

And what do I think of the old-model R1? Both of these older Yamahas still feel tight, fast and sound great with their race pipes. Coming back from the new-generation R1, the old machine is slightly roomier and has more low-down and midrange torque, so they make more sense on the road. But the power fizzles out around 10,000rpm, just where the new R1 gets going. One thing’s for sure, I’d take the comfy seat from the old bike, over my plank any day.