The Yamaha R1 is no longer cutting-edge stuff - bikes like the Panigale and RSV4 have left it trailing in their wake. But The One can still just about hold its own...
Here at Faster and Faster, we quite like the Yamaha R1 and to be honest, we feel a bit sad that the bike has fallen behind its European competition in recent years. The Panigale, S1000RR and RSV4 have moved the litre-class superbike game to a different league, but is the R1 really a dinosaur? Umm… maybe not.
Bike journalist Roland Brown recently tested the 2012 Yamaha R1 around the Isle of Man – a daunting 60km of endlessly twisting mountain roads that are a serious challenge for even the best bikes and riders. Here are some excerpts from what he had to say about the R1:
Its riding position is roomy, with relatively high, flat clip-ons and plenty of legroom. Its fairing is wide and protective, its mirrors superbly clear, its suspension compliant and comfortable. Added to that was the unique growl and feel of the crossplane crankshaft – more like a V4 than an inline-four and enhanced in this bike’s case by a pair of gorgeous sounding Akrapovic exhaust cans.
I loved the Yamaha from the moment I set off. On the island, the R1 impressed with its character and all-around ability as much as its pure performance. That crossplane engine is gloriously grunty, firing out of turns from 6,000rpm or below. And with 180bhp to call on, it had heaps of top-end grunt too – easily enough to make it truly fast and scary when blasting up the mountain.
Where the R1 was less happy was in tighter turns such as the Ramsey hairpin, where its abrupt low-rev throttle response made it difficult to control. At least it has an effective traction control system. The Yamaha’s electronic set-up also includes three power modes, but one is very sharp and the softer ‘B’ mode blunts performance too much – I didn’t bother much with that. And thanks to the mostly cold and wet weather, I didn’t have to worry about the engine’s heat, which would have been an annoyance on a hot day.
The Yamaha’s other slight drawback is that it’s a little tall and ungainly, its handling on stock settings geared more towards stability than quick steering. Its wheelbase is the longest [of all litre-class four-cylinder superbikes], its seat is the highest and then there’s the lofty mass of that underseat exhaust system. It still handles very well though and has plenty of potential for fine-tuning. Firming up front and rear damping by a couple of clicks made a noticeable difference, improving control at the expense of comfort.
The R1’s six-pot Sumitomo front calipers gave plenty of stopping power, too, although it’s a shame Yamaha don’t offer an ABS option. Perhaps part of the reason for that is price, which is higher than that of the other [comparable] four-cylinder bikes.
It’s expensive for a Japanese four, but you do get something special with this R1. It has a unique style, engine character and MotoGP connection. And for a 180bhp super-sports missile, it makes an excellent sports-tourer.
Story source: BIKE India