I’ve never been a Yamaha man. I don’t hate them, but growing up we always had Honda’s, Yamaha’s natural enemy. I can remember riding YZ’s in the 90’s and I just plain didn’t like them, so that probably didn’t help. Then there was the time my father bought an FZ1. My family saw this as sacrilege and we nearly banished him never to return. There was a gathering and we decided to keep him…just. But after seeing the new R1, it’s the first Yamaha that’s made me forget my past. And after riding one, it’s the first Yamaha I’ve considered buying (gasp!).
I stopped by Northstar Yamaha with the intention of just having a look. One minute later I’d agreed to test ride the new R1! All credit to the salesmen there for being friendly and so willing to give me a test ride, it’s refreshing to see.
First things first, I really like the new, funky styling that Yamaha have gone with. The bike looks fast sitting still. Its compact, narrow and a bike you would be proud to ride. Looks aren’t important to some people, but I’m a vain bitch and like my bikes to look good!
I gave the bike a once over and familiarized myself with everything. The first thing you will notice when you turn the key is the dash. It’s amazing. The new dash is a full LCD set up and is nothing short of fancy, and it’s easy to use. To change the electronic settings there is a switch on the left hand side of the bars and a dial on the right. Overall it’s simple and intuitive. The bike has 4 maps, each customizable for wheelie control, slide control, power delivery, quick shift and launch control. My one complaint was that the scroll was hard to press in. I’m not sure if this was a one off issue with the demo bike or a common trait.
Firing the bike up, you are met with a raspy, grunty sound. Though the R1 is an inline 4, the firing order makes it sound like the bastard love child of an inline four and v-twin. It doesn’t sound as good as an Aprilia V4, but it’s not far off. Taking off, the first thing I noticed is the bike is definitely more comfortable than my ZX10R. It is wider around the tank/mid-section and has a slightly longer reach to the bars, but after a hundred metres or so this was not an issue.
Straight away we got onto an on ramp and I opened the taps. Woohooo, this thing boogies. The engine had me grinning like a 14 year old who just saw boobs. The mid-range is great and it just keeps building in the top end. The quick shifter was also faultless. I decided to do some roll-ons and was a bit annoyed to find the throttle response is a bit on/off/snatchy if applying the throttle from nothing. When underway it is great though. I flicked through the engine maps. B mode was slightly smoother and C mode a bit too doughy for my tastes so decided to just keep it on the raciest setting, A mode. Full power! Cruising at about 60kph I was able to detect a slight surge, nothing alarming but it was there nonetheless. The engine sounds very tasty under power, but it is a little muted for my tastes. I would definitely look at putting an aftermarket pipe on. The electronics were unobtrusive and seamless.
Jumping on the brakes, they are fantastic (especially compared to mine). They require minimal effort and have great power, a definite highlight for me.
The suspension is certainly firm, but this is a sports bike after all. The handling is fantastic. It is stable for days yet oh so nimble. In a slow, twisty section we rode through the on/off throttle was a nuisance, but the handling was faultless.
When we rode through a tunnel, the dash changed colour making it easier to read – something very cool. My nerd boner got very large at this time.
All in all, I had a ball on the bike. It ticks so many boxes and the only issue I could find is the slightly on/off throttle. I was told that there is already a flash tune to get rid of this. But the fact is if I’m paying $25000 for a bike, it’s a bit of a kick in the nuts to then fork out another $450. The only other concerns I can think of is the fuel economy, tank size and tyre longevity. The Bridgestone RS10 tyres stick like shit to a shovel but the shop already replaced the first set…at 800km’s. In regards to the fuel ecomomy, the mileage on the dash read 21.7litres/100km!
Overall the new R1 really impressed me. It looks great, goes hard and handles like it’s on rails.
Keep it OnTheBackWheel!