Top Yamaha man hints at road-going M1
A leading Yamaha development engineer is suggesting that the four-stroke YZR-M1 GP bike will spawn a road-going replica which could eclipse the R1.
Ichiro Yoda has led the M1 project since last April. And it is he who has let slip that Yamaha’s race engineers are already working closely with its production bike designers and that a full-on M1 replica is on the cards.
Such a bike could appear in two or three years time, effectively as a range-topping successor to the R1, possibly retaining the " M1 " designation to give a close link to the racer.
The idea has yet to get the green light from Yamaha bosses, so specification is far from set.
But Yoda said he fully expected some of the technology his Japanese engineers developed for the race bike would filter through to Yamaha's production models saying: "We already have a strong link with designers working on Yamaha's production bikes. Our engineers working on both engine and chassis design have frequent discussions with the production engineers to swop ideas and information. Under these conditions we are already involved in part in the development stage of production bikes. At the same time, we might consider producing M1 replica bikes at some stage in the future. Obviously we will want to see success on the track first of all. "
For years factories have ploughed millions into two-stroke development with the technology carrying no significance for road bikes.
But that is all set to change under the new four-stroke GP rules, and Yamaha could be one of the first to cash in.
The YZR-M1 uses a similar in-line four cylinder engine with five valves per cylinder and that configuration copies the one used on Yamaha's R1 and R6 production models.
Yoda added: "I personally believe that we can create something new and exciting for a new generation of race fans and at the same time we can stimulate our production bike development. Motorcycle sales is, of course, Yamaha's core business and if what we do in racing has a positive impact on that business then that is good for all of us."
Chris Waldron, Group General manager of Yamaha dealer George White, MCN dealer of the year, reckons buyers would be prepared to spend a fortune to get their hands on an M1 replica. He said: " If they made it limited and specialised, like the R7, I am sure it would sell. It would be great to have. We sold R7’s for £22,000 when they first appeared, the money is there as long as it is kept exclusive. "
Yamaha is certainly leaving no stone unturned in its bid to win the first combined four and two-stroke world championship.
Yoda confirmed that at a recent test in Phillip Island, Australia, Yamaha had five different versions of the M1 for Biaggi, Checa and test rider John Kocinski to evaluate. That included the riders having four different types of chassis that are modifications of the YZR500 chassis.
Yoda said: "We've been trying different stiffness ratios and different geometry, but the idea is to get down to one chassis for the start of the season, then maybe we'll build another halfway through."
By the time Biaggi and Checa are back on track again later this month in Jerez, the M1 will be fitted with a second-generation motor.
Yoda said the new motor will have an increase in power – quite a feat considering the firm already claims 200bhp at 14,500rpm for the original M1 engine.
It is likely though a new electronic engine-braking control system will be a key new feature.
Yoda confirmed Yamaha had been dyno testing the system at the Hamamatsu factory, but the firm has not released any details about how it works.
It could be an advanced, electronic version of the slipper clutches already used on WSB bikes, or a computer-controlled decompression system.
THERE’S MORE ON THIS IN MCN OUT ON WEDNESDAY JANUARY 16, 2002