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  • July 20, 2015
  • Max Klein and Dirck Edge
  • Dito Milian & Chris Rubino
  • 71 Comments

2015 Yamaha YZF-R1: MD Ride Review

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After Ed’s reports from the R1 press launch (you can find his final report here), we procured a standard R1 (not the M model and its electrically controlled Öhlins suspension) for further testing. Here are the results.

Perspective of Max Klein, Roadracer

The 2015 YZF-R1 is absolutely, positively, unnecessary. It is excess incarnate. Its primary function when ridden on the street is revenue generation for local law enforcement.

I want one, all to myself.

The 16-valve, 998cc liquid cooled inline 4 puts out just shy of 200 horsepower and spins up to a taint-tickling 14,000 rpm redline. It’s a crossplane motor like the previous model, but about 18 horsepower more powerful and 9 pounds lighter. A larger bore allows for bigger pistons and correspondingly larger 33mm intake and 26.5mm exhaust valves, with a reduced stroke (down 1.3 to 50.9 mm) that helps boost peak torque up to 82.9 ft/lb. Those bigger valves are kept in check by finger-followers instead of the bucket tappets of the past. So how did they get the motor lighter with all these bigger bits in place? Titanium con-rods, titanium valves, magnesium covers, and some sort of engineering wizardry that brought the width of the motor down about an inch and a half, that’s how.

All of that power is brought to the rear wheel through a 6-speed gearbox and slipper clutch. While the motor is pretty damn impressive it is going to take more than just a slipper clutch to keep the average rider from sending themselves into low earth orbit. Thanks to some high-tech acronyms, YCC-T and YCC-I (Chip Controlled Throttle and Chip Controlled Intake), the R1 lets you be as mild or wild as you wish. This fly by wire system gives you four levels of power delivery.

Level four makes you work to get power out of the bike. You have to give it a good twist to get going and power delivery is extremely smooth and slow. On the other end of the spectrum, power mode one is like having an extra shot of espresso with your cocaine. Things get a little twitchy and all the power comes at you pretty fast.

In addition to the fly-by-wire and slipper clutch, Yamaha added a six axis electronic nanny to monitor pitch, roll, and yaw and feeds that information to a security blanket of wheelie control, traction control and slide control. To add to the fun, the R1 also has a launch control and very sophisticated ABS. All of the electronics are adjustable via knobs and buttons near both handgrips and the pretty trick TFT monitor displays your changes.

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Fiddling with the display on this motorcycle is almost as much fun as riding it. Ok, maybe not, but it is damn impressive. I mean, it is so awesome that there is a display simulator on Yamaha’s website that lets you play make believe after you give the bike back … Not that I do that or anything. It has separate street and track settings, allowing you to adjust the display to your riding cirumstances.

The street display gives you the option of viewing temperature, trip miles, and fuel consumption in addition to your gear position, MPH, and a trick little accelerometer that shows your brake pressure as well as front to back pitch. The track mode adjusts the tachometer so it begins at 8k RPM and gives you a much larger gear position indicator. Both modes show you what level each of your electronic aids are at.

Let me expand on that electronics package, or as Yamaha refers to it the “six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit”. The IMU monitors how the bike is moving up, down, left, right, forward, and backward all at 125 calculations per second. It was honed on the giant stones of Rossi and Lorenzo from Yamaha’s MotoGP program, and it behaves like you would expect something that was developed on the world stage should. Flawlessly.

Lift Control System

The Lift Control System keeps track of the front to rear pitch and modulates the power output to keep the front tire on (or at least close to) the ground under hard acceleration. It has a total of four settings one of those being off.

Launch Control

This feature works hand in hand with the Lift Control to give you the most out of your race starts or stoplight to stoplight drag races by limiting the RPM output to 10,000rpm with the throttle at the stop. Don’t worry, once you get going you get the extra rpm’s back.

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Slide Control System

This is a first for a production motorcycle. SCS limits the amount of available throttle if a slide is detected under heavy lean. Like the wheelie control it has four levels of adjustment including off, or as I refer to it “eventual highside”.

Variable Traction Control System – 

Traction control works by measuring the difference between the front and rear wheel speeds as well as the lean angle of the machine under hard acceleration. It takes over where the slide control leaves off as you are applying power at corner exit, and gives you 10 levels of adjustment.

Unified Brake System and Anti-lock Braking System

The R1’s UBS and ABS systems use the IMU lean sensing to help modulate your braking if you get a little too stabby or trail brake too deep. They also automatically apply some rear brake for you when you use the front, but not the other way around.

For suspension on the standard R1 we tested, Yamaha went with fully adjustable 43mm inverted KYB forks up front and a 4 way adjustable KYB shock with a remote reservoir in the rear. All of the bouncy bits have 4.7 inches of travel and had no issues getting dialed in with a 200 pound rider on board.

When I picked the bike up, the first thing that stood out to me was the GIGANTIC catalytic converter. Visually, it is the only wart on an otherwise beautiful, if not intimidating, looking machine. Everything about the styling says “I am going to give you the ride of your life…Bring a change of underpants”. I did my normal shakedown run through the Oakland hills and it did not feel like a 441 pound machine, even just sitting on it. When I stopped to take a picture up at “The Wall” I made some friends.

“Whoa, New R1?” asked the guy with the Aussie accent, “How long have you had it?”

When I replied “Fifteen minutes” he just smiled.

“So, can I ride it?” joked his buddy.

“Oi!” piped up the Aussie accent, “He said he had it for 15 minutes, you might as well have asked if he had a sister you could date.”

I took a picture or two, posted them on Facebook, and rode off. I was home about a half hour later and had no fewer than 20 missed calls, texts, emails, and instant messages from friends.
“When are we going riding” said one.

“Now seems like a great time to show you how to wheelie” said another.

“When can I ride it?” said 18 more.

Clearly I was going to need a stick to beat away all of the attention this machine was going to give me.

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I rode it to work a couple of days and quickly realized that this machine has no business being on the street. You can get a speeding ticket on any freeway in America in 1st gear, 2nd could earn you jail time, and third is more than capable of tearing up your license permanently. I don’t know what good 5th, and 6th gears are for other than using them for fuel economy. Sure, you can commute on the thing, but I would suggest making sure that you are not in the twitchy power mode number one in stop and go traffic. Don’t ask me how I know.

After a couple of commutes I brought the beast to Thunderhill Raceway Park to see what it was capable of. Within 5 minutes of rolling out of the van I had a small crowd asking me questions and offering to swap bikes with me. That never happened with the SV650.

I rolled it out in the first session at a fairly modest pace to get the suspension dialed in and to make sure that the stock tires were at an appropriate pressure. I left all of the electronic aids in their most restrictive settings and rolled around in power mode three. Wheelie control kept the front tire firmly planted on the pavement even over the turn nine rise. Slide control and traction control only allowed minimal lean angle before it took away power, and it gave it back just as gently as it took it away.

Later in the day I uncorked the “Snarl One” and ran it with all of the electronics one notch away from off.

Holy shit.

Remember how I had no actual use for 5th or 6th gear on the street? Same goes for the track. I glanced down at the speedo with 4th gear pinned and was in excess of 150mph. The power came on instantly and predictably which made me very glad that the brakes were as good as they are. They do not shudder, click, or otherwise provide any if the typical distracting ABS feedback, they just slowed me down better and later than any other bike I have ridden.

My most recent track time has been racing Ninja 250’s so my muscle memory was a bit on the “ham fisted” side of things. Because of this, the slide control was something I used on a fairly regular basis, quickly followed by traction control. Any time the bike noticed that the rear wheel was trying to overtake the front, it would prevent me from adding more throttle. Once I took away a little lean angle, it gave me back control of the go stick.

Where earlier in the day the wheelie control kept the front planted, it would stay lofted about a foot over turn nine after I toned the electronics down. The difference between triggering these aids in the first session was how much more the bike would let me do before it stepped in, patted me on the head and said “Hey buddy, let me scrub a little speed for you”. Once I started to stand it up, the power came on much more aggressively. The whole day felt like Mary Poppins was riding pillion.

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Flawless.

The only negative thing I have to say about this bike (besides the bulbous catalytic converter) is that it is woefully uncomfortable for my aging back to deal with outside of the track. I was hyper aware of every bump in the road and after my 20 minute commute I pretty much hated life. At the track however, I had no issues staying out for a full session all day long. I also noticed that if I was smooth I could come to a complete stop without triggering the brake light. It appears that when the bike I was riding was assembled the brake light switch might have been pinched, so I don’t think it is a flaw that will affect the whole model.

Perspective of Dirck Edge, MD Editor –

Plenty of reporting on the new R1 on MD already, but I wanted to add a few of my own thoughts after riding the bike on the street. After letting Max test the bike, I was pretty impressed with the lean angles he was carrying, because the tires seemed to be scrubbed all the way to the edges. Within an hour of taking the bike out for the first time for a photo session with Chris (see the next photo), I understood just how easy it was to carry corner speed on this amazing motorcycle. Without trying too hard, that first session showed the R1 confidently leaned past the edge of both the front and rear tire on numerous photos.

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This isn’t just a testament to the Bridgestone RS10 radials installed by Yamaha as the stock rubber for the R1, although they did offer outstanding grip and feedback. The whole package gave me the confidence to explore the edges of the tires on the street even though I was largely unfamiliar with the bike.

I knew the electronics were there to help bail me out, if needed, but it was the way the R1 delivered its power that made the biggest difference. Of course, this is a ridiculously fast motorcycle for street use, but something about the “crossplane crank” engine design delivers a connected feeling between the throttle and the rear contact patch superior to any other inline-four superbike I have ridden.

Despite a dramatic increase in peak horsepower this year, the new R1 retains a very stout, and usable mid-range. As the horsepower wars escalate, manufacturers are pushing the powerband further and further up the tach, and some of them are sacrificing much of the powerband street riders need. Not Yamaha.

This bike is winning shootout after shootout for good reason. The whole package is refined and effective, and the sophisticated electronics/IMU systems flat work. You can dial in the type of ride you want or are comfortable with, even taking baby steps towards less traction and wheelie control as you improve your skills. Of course, this isn’t really a bike for pure beginners who are unable to wrap their head around the velocity the new R1 can build in short order, but a rider with a reasonable skill set can find the R1 a great platform on which to build those skills, either on the track or on the street. If this is the style of motorcycle you are looking for, i.e., a street legal superbike, go ahead and put the R1 down on your short list.

Max Klein writes and rides for San Francisco-based CityBike magazine, and shoots photos under the moniker of Oxymoron Photography.

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71 Comments

  1. Norm G. says:

    re: “When I stopped to take a picture up at “The Wall” I made some friends.”

    what did they do, rebuild it…? heard it fell down the hill shortly after I last sat down.

    I know I know, I gotta lose some weight. quit looking at my gut, i’m workin’ on it…!

  2. Grover says:

    Kind of reminds me of the release of the Honda CBR900RR. There were all kinds of stories floating about of how fast it was and how many riders were dying because they couldn’t handle it. That was with only 128 hp in the first edition. We’ve come a long way and this YAMAHA will have to try a lot harder to kill us as the babysitter is coming along for the ride.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Kind of reminds me of the release of the Honda CBR900RR.”

      with the mirrors folded back (pics 2 and 7) reminds me of “Chappie”.

  3. Jim says:

    “taint-tickling”, great I won’t be able to get my wife off it.

  4. TimC says:

    “Bring a change of underpants” Pretty sure we’re not talking about #1 or #2 here

  5. Jeremy in TX says:

    Interesting how this bike – probably the most controllable sport bike north of 120hp available – has elicited so much discussion about “crossing the line” with regards to the performance available to the average Joes and Jills of the world. Here is my take on it.

    I have to disagree with everyone who thinks that this is too much for a street bike. 98% of you including myself would be whining incessantly if we were forced to ride a bike that provided “just enough”. These machines are capable of more than you SHOULD use on the street the vast majority of the time, no doubt, but the bike is not the problem.

    Asshats. That is the problem. And whether they are piloting a Ninja 300 , R1 or a Pinto, they are behaving like complete asshats.

    Asshats winding up on the streets is what we need to mitigate, not halo-model motorcycles that can be appreciated and enjoyed by mature riders. Stricter licensing requirements and tiered licensing is what we need. Of course, all that does is train the asshat. It does not cure him/her of asshattiness. Then you just have to decide what is worse: having said asshat pilot around a 440 lb motorcycle or a 5000lb+ passenger vehicle. Because he/she will end up with one or the other no matter which motorcycles you ban or which horsepower threshold you regulate to.

    • mg3 says:

      Well said Jeremy. You can’t fly an airplane without going through a rigorous licensing and training process that is designed to make sure that lives are not lost, both in the air and on the ground. I think that certain land-based vehicles, probably determined by something like their power to weight ratio, should require an advanced certification license to register with the DMV. (loan it to someone else and you are responsible for the damage they might do) That extra requirement ($$, time, hassles) would probably be enough to deter a lot of the young ‘asshats’. Today, with zero down payments, low interest rates, etc., we’re practically handing this hardware out like candy to a baby.

    • Blackcayman says:

      Hip Hip Hooray!!!

    • TF says:

      The occasional display of natural selection is the price we pay for freedom. Otherwise, the obvious questions are how much is too much and who makes those decisions?

    • todd says:

      When a “mature rider” is appreciating (or attempting to appreciate) the performance of bikes like these, what makes him any different than an “Asshat”?

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        The way he/she behaves around others and where that person attempts to tap into that performance.

        Some owners will never attempt to really tap into the performance threshold, but they can still appreciate it nonetheless. There is a gorgeous, handmade and painted copper plate displayed on a shelf across from me right now. I don’t eat breakfast on it, yet I can still appreciate it.

  6. tigen says:

    This article is too gushing and not objective enough. Come on now. It seems to be all about “wowie wow a literbike is so fast”.

    “You can get a speeding ticket on any freeway in America in 1st gear, 2nd could earn you jail time, and third is more than capable of tearing up your license permanently. I don’t know what good 5th, and 6th gears are for other than using them for fuel economy”

    All of that is true for most liter bikes from the last decade or probably more.

    “about the “crossplane crank” engine design delivers a connected feeling between the throttle and the rear contact patch superior to any other inline-four superbike I have ridden”

    Facepalm. Of course a “connected feeling” is about the crossplane crank design, right? You can just tell right? Can’t be anything to do with the suspension or tires now could it? No, crossplane crossplane because crossplane sounds cool.

  7. Hot Dog says:

    It’d be garage candy for me. As beautiful as it is, it’s a bit over the top. I’d love to ride one, I’m glad a person can buy something like this but wretched be such sweet excess.

  8. xLaYN says:

    Seems like the comments gravitated towards the “killing machine” area.
    I do also think this machine has a lot of power and share the idea that this is a track tool mostly (and sure you can get one for the street if you want it).
    Besides that, that first photo makes the bike look diminutive (either that or Dirck is very tall).
    On the one before the last one where Dirck is riding on the edge of the tire it’s evident that still there is clearance between the road and the pegs… I wonder what’s the profile of a tire to actually make the pegs drag…. and what speed you have to be riding at.
    And as Blackcayman mention, with the actual state of art a 600 is the new old 1000.

  9. Provologna says:

    Dirk is possibly a little larger than the average sport bike rider, but still, that bike looks positively tiny for an open class sport bike. Size-wise it reminds me of the 80s glory days for Honda and Yamaha 400cc multi-cylinder full-fairing sport bikes, which they never exported to the US.

    The regular R1 looks good, but the M race spec even better. Strangely, I think the little 300cc Yamaha sport bike looks even better than the regular R1.

    The fastest growing market in caged vehicles is the sub-compact luxury/performance SUV. We can only dream what would be like a 400cc triple or four-cylinder sport bike with technology similar to this open class mega-monster. I wonder if a case can be made for such bike, even from a profit perspective. Even 600cc sport bikes have been over kill for many years, from my old timer’s view anyway.

    Speedo readouts for WERA modern open class Supersports and Superbikes indicated 170+mph at Miller Motorsports Racetrack. I don’t know about other readers, but just thinking about impact at such speeds terrifies me (granted, I responded to vehicle wrecks for a living, and witnessed multiple fatal street bike wreck…I was never certified to declare a death, but I know well the different appearance between a corpse and the living). I wonder if a rip-roaring 400cc mult-cylinder is more to my liking, with apex speeds and braking force likely exceeding the 1k bikes.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “I wonder if a rip-roaring 400cc mult-cylinder is more to my liking, with apex speeds and braking force likely exceeding the 1k bikes.”

      I’d have to wonder if such a bike would be that much different than the 600cc class bikes, other than a lot slower. I can’t imagine much more in the way of weight savings over a 600 if the intention is to maintain a full-size motorcycle. Most of that extra tech is there to control power. Why bother with the expense of “similar technology” on a 400cc sport bike if you only have 65hp on tap?

      • Blackcayman says:

        Bingo!

      • Provologna says:

        Good points.

        At the same rate of hp/liter, a 400cc I-4 makes 81hp, about the same as a late 70s Suzuki GS1000.

        2015 R1 439 lbs
        2015 R6 417 lbs
        Imaginary 400cc estimate 390 lbs (160 lbs less than a GS1000, similar to a pillion passenger)

        Reciprocating weight on the 400cc would be considerably less than the R6, for significant advantage in transition cornering modes, plus narrower, plus less weight.

        Less money for insurance, tires, maybe gas, chains, etc. MSRP would not be much different if at all.

  10. Scottie says:

    I ride a Yamaha (Star) cruiser so I’m a fan of Yamaha. We’ve benefited from the sport bike by getting high quality and technology such as the EXUP valve and aluminum frame. However, I know I couldn’t handle an R1.

  11. red says:

    Totally out of my league but I always admire awesomeness.

  12. Jamo says:

    But is it comfortable?

  13. Ed says:

    How do all the electronic stop the idiot behind you, surfing their smart phone, from pancaking you into the back of the SUV in front of you? (I’m not in Cali)

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I didn’t see that claim in Yamaha’s brochure. Since nothing short of Star Trek technology will prevent the situation you mention, how is that relevant?

    • Blackcayman says:

      Ed, take it to the track if THAT is the limiting factor for you.

      although there are no guarantees in life – especially on a motorcycle.

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: How do all the electronic stop the idiot behind you, surfing their smart phone, from pancaking you into the back of the SUV in front of you?

      A: starter interlock.

      blocks you from ever leaving the garage on any 2-wheeled conveyance.

  14. Gutterslob says:

    Build me a naked based on this thing, Yamaha. PLEASE!!

    • todd says:

      Just buy it and unscrew the fairing.

      • Blackcayman says:

        Don’t forget your LSL Handlebar Conversion Kit!

      • Gutterslob says:

        But then it’d look like a Ducati naked, plumbing and wiring all over the place. The Japanese tend to clean and tuck away those bits pretty well when they build naked versions of sportsbikes. Downside is that they tend to neuter the engine and add unwanted weight in the process. :-/

  15. PN says:

    It’s enjoyable to read about bikes like the R1 with all their fantastic tech and speed, but I wouldn’t care to own one. It’s too fast for today’s lousy roads and driving environment. I would have more fun riding a Ninja 300 to the best of my ability.

    • MGNorge says:

      I’d have to agree. Yeah, it’s said year after year with each new bump in power upward but I mean really! Still, passion sells motorcycles and if this gets the juices flowing then it’s good for the model and motorcycling in general. However, it’s so over the top it doesn’t really interest me and I’m even a gadget junkie. With so many settings and functions of control for this or that I’d always be wondering if I’d gotten them “right”? I’m more interested nowadays in just going and smelling the breezes. A bike like this is akin to driving an F1 car to work. Cool, but too “out there” for me.

      • Blackcayman says:

        Cheers!

        and no where in their comments do they have any desire to limit the availability of this bike to the market.

  16. dingerjunkie says:

    Okay…may be an old, tired record, but I’m gonna play it.

    I’d like half of this motorcycle, please. If this literbike can pull 150 in 4th, then give me the 500 built to this standard/quality that can pull 75 in 4th. Give me the tech, the sensation of being a hero on the bike…and let me do it at a scale that is real-world useable.

    • Blackcayman says:

      the “ONLY” reason this bike exists, is because they develop it for racing and racing sells motorcycles.

      A 500cc twin wouldn’t ever be exactly half of this performance. Norm and the engineers can explain the details…

      That being said, pick any 3-5 year old 600cc race replica and you’ll have pretty close to what your asking for – while spending about 5 grand.

      A re-gearing will give you the snap in 4th you’re looking for, you just have to sacrifice 140 on the salt flats.

      • Dave says:

        Re:”A re-gearing will give you the snap in 4th you’re looking for”

        Or you could just use 3rd and retail 6th as a reasonably comfortable cruising gear. 😉

      • dingerjunkie says:

        The period equivalent I can think of was Kawasaki and the EX500, build by pretty much cutting two cylinders off of the 1000 Ninja. From what I remember from dyno charts in the magazines, the power output was nearly exactly half of the literbike, with nearly identical profiles to the torque and horsepower curves.

        The “retooled 600” would still have the weight and width of a four cylinder, and gearing down like that makes first gear effectively useless from what I’ve experienced.

        Sure the 650 Ninja is nice, but it is not “half of a superbike” with today’s tech level…my money will be waiting.

        • Dave says:

          Put that money in a long term growth fund, because you’ll be waiting for roughly forever. The market does not demand a mild powered bike with all of the tech to manage a lot of power hanging on it, nor are there enough sport bikes selling to chop up the assortment with a bunch of choices.

        • xLaYN says:

          with you, in fact two different approaches can be taken…
          take 1 cylinder from a 600 to make a 450 triple and half cylinders from a 1000 for a twin, this way you could use pistons, head and valves design….
          the thing is… the result would be far away from the 6200USD CBR500R to become more of a 9500-10000USD CBR500RR because you don’t want a steel frame but aluminum, superbike signature swing arm not a plain square box ol good steel one… adjustable suspensions… FI, Ram Air, etc.
          so while technically it can be done… the price to power relationship is still better on the already existing 600 and 1000.
          and second… laws… I guess they would fall outside of the existing categories for countries with tiered licensing systems… and if you have to choose between one of the previous options and the 1.5k more expensive and more powerful and 10% heavier 600 you would probably choose the 600.
          would I want one? yes. but everyday Joe wants a 1000GSXR so in japan that’s what they would build.

  17. Austin ZZR1200 says:

    Most desirable sport bike in a decade. Another reason to play the lottery (stupid tax). Want it.

  18. VFRMarc says:

    Agree, agree, agree with all the comments about excess. I’m 74 YO, but GD it, I’d still like to ride one!

  19. Will Parker says:

    Yea I wouldn’t ride on the street anyway, too much risk and no repect for riders..however, if I lived close to a track, I’d want an R1. Just instal the Circuit ECU, get a slip on pipe and rip off that ridiculous cat converter and i would feel like Rossi..

  20. Tom K. says:

    With all the other electronics, how hard would it be to put some kind of accelerometer/axis detection/GPS system on it, that would know the second it gets wadded up, likely hidden in the underbrush a hundred yards off some canyon curve; and call and direct the paramedics to the crash site? Because that’s what would be needed if I owned it. It’s beautiful, but my limits were exceeded many generations ago. Hats-off to the guys that can actually operate one of these with some semblance of safety.

    • Home Skillet says:

      Easily done. But, people would squawk about an invasion of privacy.

    • Fastship says:

      Here in the (hated) EU it will be mandatory from October for all new vehicles to have a system called eCall which calls emergency services when the system detects a crash. it will add ~£100 to the cost of a vehicle and can also allow for the tracking of the vehicle. It will be made tamper proof and part of the MOT pass. The EU hopes to make the geolocation data available to insurance company’s and recovery firms.

      We are told this is “for our own good”…

      • Eric says:

        Love how the latest electronics allow the commoner to ride as fast as many professional racers of just a few years ago. Hate the thought of trying to keep them working outside the dealership and the potential for the same electronics to be used by governments to keep tabs on us.

        Fascism is only a couple short steps away from socialism. Many an individual right has been trampled ‘for the greater good’.

        • Dave says:

          None of these electronic aids will make an average rider go faster. You still have to decide when to brake and how to turn.

          And the tin-foil hat stuff is a little much, eh? If you pay taxes, the government knows who you are and how to find you. Oh, and fascism and socialism are completely different. You should look them up..

          • Fastship says:

            They share a common root with a common philosophy being the opposite of individualism.

            You would make serfs of us all.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            “None of these electronic aids will make an average rider go faster”

            I am 100% absolutely convinced that you are incorrect. Yes, you still have to decide when to brake and how to turn, but even those skills can be sharpened with today’s electronics. These bikes do an amazing job at revealing your faults as a rider without making you pay the penalty. You quickly learn how much later and deeper you can brake or how to find tune your throttle hand.

            While the electronics admittedly can’t teach a rider anything about body positioning or compensate for utter stupidity, they provide an excellent tool for learning and sharpening just about everything else. Anyone who holds the opinion that electronics won’t make the average rider any faster has clearly never really experienced what these bikes can do.

          • Blackcayman says:

            “None of these electronic aids will make an average rider go faster”.

            When you are leaned over exiting the corner you can give it more gas knowing the back end isn’t coming around. THAT will make the average rider faster.

            It’s painfully simple.

  21. Blackcayman says:

    Since the first moment I saw the blue and light grey R1, I was in lust. I’m a sucker for sportbikes especially in dark blue (like my 2012 GSX-R750).

    It’s way more power and performance than all but racers and insane people need but that’s kind of the point. It’s a street legal Superbike and like what was said above, everyone knows it.

    My copy of Motorcyclist Magazine is sitting on my desk with the Superbike Comparo waiting patiently inside for my eyes to lovingly peruse. IMHO, the Ducati has the most lust worthy design, the BMW has the most ponies, the Aprilia has the exotic racing V4 and then the Yamaha has the best all around package.

    You just couldn’t go wrong. Choose the one that “calls” to you.

    Reading this just stokes the fire…

    That’s why we come here!

    Thanks for a great site with great reviews and photos.

    Cheers

    • mg3 says:

      Now hold on a second there young feller. I am going to get old and farty here for a moment, so bear with me, cause this is just plain ridiculous. 200 HP, on the street? That will outrun an F-15 till takeoff! This is not why ‘I’ come here. As Alvie Singer used to say I have a very low tolerance for death! What happens when the first couple dozen ‘unbreakable’ newbies go out and fly it into the side of a bridge, or into anything that’s not going 180 mph in the same direction they are going? Not your problem? Think again man. And what if that unfortunate behavior causes some old fart (like me) to have a freaking heart attack (as I almost did) when the speeding bullet just misses the side of their bike or car (as one did mine)? Sorry folks, but that kind of power should not be ‘street legal’. Not in this world. Buy it for the track if you must, but please keep it out of the hands of street riders. Just my opinion I guess, but I’ve been riding for a long time and I have pretty much seen it all – good and bad and ugly!

      • Blackcayman says:

        I’m 51

        but thanks for the “Young Feller” shout out.

        So lobby for tiered licensing then…… I sold powersports as a GSM for 2 years and talked a lot of first timers out of a GSX-R600 as their first bike, consequently selling a lot of SV650s – I know the reasons and agree.

        The older I get, the more Libertarian I get though.

        So after reading your comment, I agree to a smaller “we” in my comments.

        • Blackcayman says:

          mg3

          A couple of weeks ago a 20-something husband and father traded up from an S1000RR to a brand new Panigale 1299. He went wide on a two lane road and headed a Ford F350. He died the first day on his new bike.

          He wasn’t an “unbreakable – newbie”. He had ridden liter bikes, had done track days.

          He was riding is group of sportbikes and he carried too much speed into a corner. Was he showing off the new Ducati? We don’t know. It is tragic and so sad, for him and more especially for his wife and children he left behind.

          Just because he did, it shouldn’t be the reason no one else can get one.

          • mg3 says:

            That is a sad story indeed. My heart goes out to the wife and kids. I hate the nanny state as much as anyone, but I have to draw the line somewhere. These are public roads, shared by everyone from skilled drivers with perfect 20/20 vision, to half blind older people, to drunks, druggies, and various kinds of psychos. There are potholes, sand, all kinds of debris. I narrowly missed what looked like half of a dashboard from a car the other night.

            Also, that unfortunate fellow you mentioned might have been very experienced, with track time too, but he was still as you said just in his 20’s, way too young to have developed that ‘sixth sense’ that all of us older riders know about. It’s kind of why we’re ‘older riders’ after all.

            Don’t want to see any bike ‘banned’. But somehow we need to get a grip on the kinds of hardware that wind up out on the street. Remember, it’s not even just about the young rider who died, he could have taken out the driver of the pickup too. Not impossible at all. Maybe some kind of ‘advanced rider’ classification could be required to register certain vehicles. I don’t know.

      • Dave says:

        Sport bikes have been “too fast” for the street since they broke 100hp. Tough to tell if the much better tires, suspension, and brakes cause more or fewer crashes. I am certain that no more people will crash bikes now than they had before. For $4-5k one can pick up a nice older GSXR, ZX-7 or 9 or even an older R1 and kill themselves just as easily as on this thing. Survival is all about what’s inside your helmet.

        • Lenz says:

          I’m more about the bike than it’s relevance to street usage.

          This is one highly engineered and electronically augmented beastie – it would be a pleasure to ride on a smooth surfaced track and really experience the bike’s potential. The trickle down effect of race developed technology into “road” bikes is now a reality.

          The resilience, durability and eventually redundant complexity of all these electronic inputs is the unanswered question for the future.

      • Vince says:

        The trick to keeping this type of bike sane on the street is doing track days. Then you realize speeding on the street is pointless . I own this bike , I’m 52 , I’ve been riding for 36 years and I’ve owned virtually every type of bike out there. This is my 3rd r1 . I’m overjoyed Yamaha built this. It’s everything I had hoped for and more. Also the BMW S 1000rr makes at least 10 hp more on all the dyno tests so it’s not like this bike is the highest output little bike ever made. Do track days , no more speeding tickets. Btw I put 30000 miles on my 09 cross-plane.

        • Vince says:

          ‘Liter’ bike not ‘little’ bike…

          Cheers

        • mickey says:

          Vince I agree, unfortunately this is a street bike with headlight, taillight, turn signals and mirrors and on the street amongst us is where the vast majority of these bikes will see action, piloted by some who can handle that kind of power and by some who can’t. A couple years ago a guy on an R-1 with a girl on the back, passed me so fast on the Dragon I thought surely he would wad it up and I would find him in the woods a mile or two up the road. He obviously had skills and I had to wonder if someone had those kind of skills, why they wouldn’t take it to the relative safety of a track, rather than on a US Highway full of cars, trucks, slow moving motorcycles, animals, gravel, and all manner of death traps on a public road, not to mention a free ride to jail if they got caught riding like that? Some people tempt fate and live, the others leave behind loved ones or kill a completely innocent stranger.

          • Lenz says:

            Sadly Mickey you’re very likely to be just as dead if you get it wrong on a public road at 130kph as you are at 230kph – it’s just the body part radius that increases.

            Motorcycles have always tempted fate – it’s just such an addictive buzz to grab a big handful of throttle – CAVEAT EMPTOR (buyer beware) has many subtle levels

          • Vince says:

            I love the commentors on this site( as well as this website). A very thoughtful bunch!

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “Some people tempt fate and live, the others leave behind loved ones or kill a completely innocent stranger.”

            you can’t fix stupid.

        • Blackcayman says:

          Vince gets it…

          There is a sublime exhilaration in unleashing a sportbike down the long straightaway…accelerating right up to the first braking marker (or a little before – we’re not racing after all) and then grabbing a fist full of front brake for turn 1. Carrying speed through turn after turn on the track is sport riding at its very best. It’s what these bikes were designed to do.

          If you haven’t done a track day and you own a standard or a sportbike – you are missing out. No intersections, no police, no speed limits, no cell phone using SUV drivers – just you and the bike and you gain confidence lap after lap. You will never be the same. One can get a LOT of satisfaction, even in just a few track days a year.

          Once you’ve unleashed it at the track, you have no need and “almost” no desire to unleash it on the street. Why would so many motorcyclists voluntarily limit what their fellow motorcyclists ride? Just because you don’t want one – you want to discourage the manufacturers to not make them or even worse hope that the government will outlaw them or limit the horsepower?

          You do your thing – and let the rest of us do ours.

          And that’s all I have to say about that now…