R1 goes track only! Yamaha confirm bikes will remain in Europe despite not meeting Euro5+

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Yamaha have announced they will not be updating the R1 and R1M superbike duo to meet Euro5+ emissions regulations, but will continue to sell a track only version from 2025 in Europe.

“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 confirmed to MCN on Wednesday, 21 February.

This was followed up a day later by a statement from Yamaha Racing, reading: “Global production of the R1 will continue in the future, as will the development program that has seen the bike secure world titles in both WorldSBK and EWC.”

Tucked in on track on the 2024 Yamaha R1

Although it’s still unclear whether Yamaha UK will sell remaining road stock of the £18,810 standard R1 and £24,660 R1M under derogation (which allows manufacturers to register limited numbers of non-conforming models), the R1 won’t be disappearing from Europe completely.

The statement continued: “This is why from 2025, considering the challenge of meeting the Euro5+ homologation requirements, in Europe the R1 will be made available with specifications aimed exclusively at track use, as was done previously with the R6.”

Whether this will be the standard model, or higher spec R1M, or both also remains unclear at this time.

1998 and 2018 Yamaha R1 models together

History lesson

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

However, the market has now changed, and where superbikes were once a dominant force, an aging demographic and 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.

Cornering on the 2024 Yamaha R1M

The last major update came in 2015 though, when Yamaha stepped into the rapidly evolving superbike arms race brought on by the BMW S1000RR and early large V-twin Ducati Panigales, 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.

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.

Nothing new

The Yamaha R1s aren’t the first set of superbikes to be taken off sale as a consequence of tightening emissions targets. Back in 2022, Suzuki GB’s Director of Motorcycles Paul de Lusignan confirmed the iconic GSX-R1000 would be discontinued in Europe.

2024 Yamaha R1 front end

“As the current GSX-R1000R does not meet Euro5 emissions regulations these will be the last models on sale in the UK of this generation GSX-R1000,” he said at the time.

Whether more manufacturers will follow suit remains to be seen, however the fact that Honda have given their CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP a major overhaul for 2024 – including split throttle bodies, suspension revisions, a lighter crank and lighter titanium con rods – gives hope for the class.

As does data released by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) at the end of 2023, which showed sales of ‘road sport’ motorcycles were up by 3.9% compared with 2022 – rising from 8704 to 9042 sales across all brands.

2024 Yamaha R1M cornering

That said, this figure includes sports touring machines, with the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX being the best performer in the final month of that year. 

A new beginning

This isn’t to say that Yamaha are walking away from sportsbikes altogether though, with industry insiders hinting that a three-cylinder R9 model is in the works to replace the R6 in World Supersport.

Kervin Bos, who is the Team Manager at Yamaha Ten Kate Racing – winners of the 2021 and 2022 WSS titles with Dominique Aegerter – spoke to MCN in late January 2024 and confirmed the switch, however stated details currently remain scarce.

Cornering on the 2020-on Yamaha R1M

“Everything is really unclear. The only information that we have is basically on the racing model,” he said. “The racing model is already in heavy development, and many things are already happening about that.”

According to Bos, an R9 development racer has already appeared for testing at Misano in Italy, further confirming our suspicions that the eventual racer will be based on the existing MT-09 package.

Whether this will spawn a road bike is yet to be seen, with Yamaha unprepared to comment on the rumours.