R1 in jeopardy | Yamaha say superbike line-up will not be updated for Euro5+ regulation

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The future sale of road going Yamaha R1 and R1M superbikes in Europe looks to be in doubt, with the Japanese manufacturer announcing they will not be updating the duo to meet Euro5+ emissions regulations.

“Yamaha Motor Group have taken the decision not to develop an EU5+ version of the R1 or R1M instead focussing on other mid-term business and product strategies that will provide future opportunities,” an official spokesperson said.

First launched back in 1998, the R1 family has achieved something of a cult status in the UK, taking five British Superbike (BSB) championship titles during its lifetime, and capturing the imagination of multiple generations of sportsbike fans.

Cornering on the 2020-on Yamaha R1M

However, the market has now changed, and where superbikes were once a dominant force, an aging demographic and a more speed conscious society have led to a decline in sales.

Both versions received their last major update ahead of 2020, becoming Euro5 compliant with a dusting of subtle upgrades to the chassis and engine – plus alterations to the styling and electronics package.

The last major update came in 2015 though, when Yamaha stepped into the rapidly evolving superbike arms race with a heavily revised proposition. Gaining a look that largely remains today, it was now smaller, sharper, and stuffed with electronic rider aids for the first time.

2020-on Yamaha R1M parked in a pitlane

This included slide control – with the R1 now openly aimed more at track than road riders. It made an impressive 190bhp on MCN’s dyno and took victory in that year’s Superbike of the Year shootout.

Future sales

Although it’s still unclear whether Yamaha will continue to sell remaining stock the £18,810 standard R1 and £24,660 R1M under derogation, the fact that it will no longer be road homologated doesn’t necessarily mean it will disappear from Europe altogether.

2018 Yamaha R1M cornering on a road

The reason we say this is because although their smaller four-cylinder R6 supersport bike wasn’t updated for Euro5 in 2021, but can still be purchased new as a track only R6 Race for £13,000.

As such, it continues to dominate world and domestic 600 racing, despite no longer leaving UK and European dealers as a road bike.

History could well repeat itself for the larger R1 too – providing race and trackday customers with a superbike option, potentially now called the R1 Race.

After all, the manufacture have made no mention of discontinuation and so will likely continue to sell the bikes to other markets with less stringent emissions regulations. MCN will bring you more on this story as it unfolds.