Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ben Spies' Yamaha R1 riding impression

Mark Cernicky of Cycle World had an opportunity to test ride 2009 World Superbikes champ Ben Spies’ Yamaha R1 racebike, at the Autodromo do Algarve circuit in Portimão, Portugal. Here are some excerpts from what he has to say about the championship winning bike:

Standing in Spies' pit, I couldn't take my eyes off his blue, black and white R1. The Italian-milk-backed bike is beautiful, with carbon-fiber bodywork, Brembo Monobloc brakes and Öhlins suspension among its alluring attributes.

As I chugged down pit lane, the engine sounded like it was broken, with a lot of rattling near my ankles. Turns out, it was just exhaust back pressure reverberating through the large mid-pipe routed right behind the rearsets. I changed gears and rolled open the throttle to begin my first lap around the 2.9-mile, 15-turn circuit. Escalating engine revs were accompanied by a marvellous sound from the Akrapovic muffler.

Magneti Marelli electronics, common to many front-running Superbikes, allow wide-open shift action that, in this particular case, was remarkably positive. Corner exits were never slowed by electronic interruptions that might upset the chassis. Maybe my 30-plus laps around the circuit helped me to push my limits on this bike but the edge of control was more recognizable than on, say, Ruben Xaus' factory BMW S1000RR.

From my perspective, Spies' R1 wasn't the fastest machine down Algarve's long front straightaway, but its crossplane-crankshaft engine had more torque than I ever imagined could be derived from an inline-four. Compared with the Yamaha of Noriyuki Haga that I rode last year in Portugal, Spies' R1 felt less front-end biased. With more weight focused over the rear of the bike, Spies' bike felt light and lively up front. That, combined with light steering-damper resistance, allowed the Yamaha to shake its head under hard acceleration, reminding me to keep a loose grip on the bars and plenty of weight over the front tire. Feedback while braking was amazing and I could make aggressive steering inputs with pinpoint accuracy…

For the full story and video, please visit Cycle World

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