Traction control raises new Yamaha R1's game

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The addition of traction control – which Yamaha says is the same system as used on the YZR-M1 MotoGP racer – makes the 2012 R1 a better road and track bike. But MCN’s world first track test also revealed it has not managed to leapfrog its superbike rivals.

This isn’t surprising – there are very few changes to Yamaha’s flagship superbike, due in dealers early next year at an expected £13,899. The R1 gets styling tweaks, new LED riding lights, a new slotted top yoke and minor alterations to the rear shock.

It’s also powered by the same 998cc inline four-cylinder engine, with its unique crossplane crank layout and uneven firing order. But let’s not forget that in heavily modified form the latest Yamaha R1 has won two BSB titles (Camier in ’09 and now Hill), the WSB Championship with Spies (’09) and various domestic superbike crowns.

Its main strengths, which are its grunt and sublime feel for grip on the throttle, don’t show up on paper. It appears to lack power compared to its rivals (it struggles to hit 155bhp at the rear wheel) and is nothing special in a straight line either. That doesn’t stop it lapping a track as fast as the best of them, though.

Read the full test and explanation of the 2012 R1 changes in this week’s MCN, on sale now.

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