For 2007, the R1 brings its traditional strong arsenal -
awesome performance and stunning good looks - and receives a technology
infusion and sharper styling to remain at the top of the literbike pack.
We've sat on it, and so we're confident in saying that R1 fans are going to
have wet dreams about this latest and greatest.
The first item to note is that Yamaha has dropped its signature
five-valve-per-cylinder design in favor of a typical four-valve layout.
Yamaha tells us the five-valve arrangement limited the combustion chamber
shape in this current world of more compact setups, and it must be true if
the tuning-fork company has shelved its unique 5-valve technology first seen
in the 1984 FZ750. Instead of three 23.5mm intake valves, the new R1 uses
two 31mm poppets (largest in class), and are now made of lightweight
titanium. Its pair of 25mm steel exhaust valves is similar in size to last
year. The more compact combustion chamber has bumped the compression ratio
from 12.4 to 12.7:1.
Below the cylinder head lies a bottom end not significantly changed. It uses
the same bore and stroke (77.0 x 53.6mm), already the most oversquare in the
class, so the redline remains at 13,750 rpm, still the highest among
four-cylinder literbikes. New con rods are beefier at the big end for
It's at the intake side where the R1 gets tricky. "The One" now receives the
YCC-T fly-by-wire throttle control first seen last year on the little
brother R6. However, the R1's system now reads changes in parameters at a
faster rate of 1000 times a second.
But that's not even the big news. This new R1 brings a performance feature
heretofore unseen on a production motorcycle. It's Yamaha Chip Controlled
Intake (YCC-I), Yamaha-speak for variable-length intake trumpets. At lower
revs, the intake snorkels are set at a height of 140mm for strong torque
production. Once the motor is at higher rpm, the trumpets drop down to a
height of 65mm for maximum power when screaming for vengeance (a reference
for Judas Priest fans...).
The result, says Yamaha, is an increase of low, mid and top-end power over
last year's high-strung motor. Its claimed 178 horsepower (without ram-air
effect) is a boost of five ponies at its 12,500-rpm peak. Expect to see
nearly 155 horsies at the rear wheel when we run it on the dyno. More
importantly, its powerband should be much more robust than the peaky 2004-06
The new exhaust system, still with dual underseat canisters, is built
largely from titanium and features dual catalyzers and an EXUP valve to meet
Euro 3 and 2008 EPA emissions standards. The slipper clutch from last year's
high-dollar LE model is now standard. Surprisingly, there are no plans to
produce an Öhlins-equipped LE for 2007, making last year's
limited-production bike even more collectible. The addition of the slipper
clutch and catalyzers is expected to add a couple of pounds to the new bike,
likely making it the heaviest literbike of the superbike group.
The new R1's frame looks similar to the previous model but has different
flex characteristics. The cast parts are now more rigid, but the extruded
bits have a certain degree of flex built into them for greater feel and
feedback when leaned over in corners. Reinforcing ribs have been added to
the steering head area while a cross-member between the frame rails has been
eliminated. Chassis geometry has remained mostly constant, utilizing the
same 24-degree rake and 55.7-inch wheelbase as before. Trail is up slightly
from 97mm to 102mm.
A new swingarm has its torsional rigidity increased by 30% while lateral
rigidity is decreased marginally, plus its pivot position has been raised by
3mm. Yamaha says this has resulted in better turn-in response and more grip
under acceleration, something the World Superbike race teams have struggled
with in past years. There's now more room for larger-diameter race tires
that, depending on brands, could sometimes not have enough clearance with
the previous model.
Guiding the R1's sleek nose is a new 43mm fork that has larger-diameter
pistons (20mm to 24mm) and new aluminum rods. Yamaha says the new design
reduces cavitation and offers improved damping. The inner tube wall
thickness has been reduced for a small weight saving, while the axle bracket
has been beefed up. A new rear shock with separate high- and low-speed
compression damping has a progressive rate that is said to be plush over
small bumps but stiff enough over big whoops.
Yamaha has upped the ante in the braking department by going to a pair of
six-piston calipers up front. These smaller pistons allow a greater portion
of the outer brake rotor to be used, so the disc's diameter has been reduced
by 10mm to 310mm, which may result in slightly quicker turning response.
Wheels are unchanged this year, though the buns they wear have. Longtime
supplier Dunlop is replaced by Pirelli's Diablo Corsa rubber, though only on
Styling-wise, Yamaha seems to have been hesitant to draw a clean-sheet
design and instead offers a mix of old R1 combined with some of the
wonderful style of the popular R6 in the side fairing and fuel tank. Yamaha
says the R1 now has improved aerodynamics and better intake flow, and the
layered cowling creates a vacuum to draw hot air away from the engine.
Instrumentation is also new, with a prominent tach displaying giant numbers
for quick assimilation of information.
* Light, powerful and packed with trickle-down MotoGP
technology, the YZF-R1 is the most advanced Open-class production motorcycle
* The YZF-R1 uses the YCC-T fly-by-wire throttle system for flawless
response under all conditions.
* Inline four-cylinder engine is the most powerful, tractable R1 powerplant
ever, thanks partially to the world’s ﬁrst electronic variable-length intake
* Slipper-type back torque-limiting clutch greatly facilitates
braking/downshifting from high speed.
* Aluminum Deltabox frame and swingarm take Open-class handling to the next
* Six-piston radial-mount front brake calipers and 310mm discs generate the
kind of braking power a bike like the R1 requires.
07 R1 vs 09 R1
Independent, same-dyno tests conducted by England's
Performance Bikes magazine have shown that the 2009 Yamaha R1 makes less power
and torque than the 2007 model both outright and in the midrange. The new bike
also weighs 4kg (9lbs) more. Progress?
PB found that the 2009 R1 made 156hp and 76lb/ft of torque at the wheel (Yamaha
claims 182bhp and 85lb/ft at the crank). While measured horsepower can differ
between dynometers and with variations in elevation and temperature, the same
dyno, just days apart, recorded 162hp and 78lb/ft for the 2007 R1. That might
not sound like a huge difference, but consider that the only place the new R1
makes more power than the old is below 4,700rpm, where it makes about 5hp more.
But in the midrange, at 5,500 and 8,000rpm, the old bike is up 9hp.
Yamaha don't quote an official dry weight for the 2009 R1, preferring instead to
quote it wet -- 206kg. While, on the surface, that could appear to be in the
spirit of openness, it is, in fact, concealing. Dry weights are just that, no
oil, no gas, no radiator fluid, nothing; therefore they're more transparent than
wet weights, which can sometimes be quoted as a full tank or a half tank of
fuel, with the overall capacity of those tanks not taken into account. While the
wet weight is, as a customer, the way you'll find the bike, dry weights make
comparisons easier. The 2009 R1 weighs 177kg or 390lbs (dry); the 2007 R1 weighs
173kg or 381lbs (dry).
The new R1 isn't supposed to be all about power though, it's supposed to be the
inline-four that, like a V4 or V-Twin, puts traction and ease-of-use first. We
never had a problem getting the power down on the old one, in fact finding it,
along with the 2005 GSX-R1000, very easy to exploit. Well, as easy-to-exploit as
a liter bike gets.
PB goes on to report that the 2009 bike uses a more track-oriented riding
position as standard than the 2007, meaning it'll be less comfortable on the
Is a 6hp difference, less midrange and slightly more weight worth getting worked
up about? In the world of liter bike dominance it could be, in-class sales
success has been decided on less. In fact, more prescient questions would be:
Has Yamaha done a good enough job selling the crossplane crankshaft to the
public to make up for these deficiencies? In this economy, should you spend
$12,390 on the new R1 or save thousands by buying on the slightly faster, better
looking previous generation?
Apparently -- at least according to the Internet,
source of all the answers to all the questions in the world -- people, like fine
wines, mellow with age. A variety of studies -- some as recent as June 2006 --
indicate that older folk are much better at dealing with negative emotions and
generally have a better handle on their emotional roller coaster then their
younger, whippersnapper counterparts.
Think about it for a minute. What's the image
that many of us have when we think of our elders? Perhaps we conjure some old
geezer casually sipping coffee or iced tea on a porch swing with nothing better
to do than watch the world pass by their house. For me, the perfect example of
this might have been my own grandparents. For well over twenty years that we
shared our lives together I rarely, if ever, saw them get their feathers ruffled
about much of anything. They always seemed happy and easy going. Heck, I even
witnessed the change in my own dad. A man that was once a stern, headstrong,
willful person had become someone who didn't sweat the little things anymore,
and was often more inclined to respond with a tempered remark than to bark out
his irrefutable edict.
Alright, maybe you don't think of yourself as old
or getting old, but Yamaha's research about their venerable, standard-setting
liter bike says that R1 owners or prospective buyers are, in short, a more
mature lot. Feel better about yourself now?
According to Yamaha the liter-bike crowd is
comprised almost entirely of boys (97 percent), are on average 33 years old,
have 13 years riding experience, ride approximately 7,300 miles per year, and
first-time buyers make up a very small percentage -- less than 10 percent -- of
sportbikes displacing 1,000cc. We could also extrapolate from Yamaha's number
crunching that the liter-bike owner is probably wiser, and not just older. It
seems that 1,000cc junkies are "...more focused on commuting, less on touring
and slightly more focused on track riding..." as compared to the industry
average. Specifically of the R1, Yamaha claims that owners get in 13 percent
more track time than the "industry average" and are far more interested in the
handling traits of their motorcycle(s) than they are in adding more power.
Are any of these descriptors hitting close to
home? After hearing these stats on the typical liter bike rider/owner, I
reasoned that Yamaha most certainly had sent a team of Men in Blue (MIB) to
chart my every move. Speaking for myself, I fit the liter bike rider mold pretty
So, if the typical big-bore sportbike guy is in
his mid-thirties, likes to take it to the track a little more than his neighbor
after commuting all week so he can sort out the handling on his heavily-ridden
machine, what do you suppose that says about what Yamaha did with the 2007 R1?
To put us in the know, Yamaha invited a cadre of
journos to the current home of the US MotoGP, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in
Monterey, CA. It was here that we would see if we could discern if all this new
techno wizardry had dramatically improved the R1 or simply brought it on par
with the competition.
Earlier this fall Yamaha revealed what's behind the
all-new R1. This year the bike came with some acronyms, but not enough to rival
say, a BMW touring bike with all the options. We covered the meat of what this
new-fangled technology does in the September unveiling of the bike, but it bears
covering again in detail.
If you haven't heard, Yamaha made some pretty big
news when they broke a long-standing tradition and did away with their
time-honored five-valve layout. The two remaining titanium intake valves
increased in size to 31mm from three 23.5mm bits, while the two steel exhaust
valves keep their '06 dimensions of 25mm. Valve angles have also changed to
match the new head. The single intake's angle is now 11.5 degrees while the
exhaust is now 12.5 degrees. The 2006 model's two intake side valve angles were
15.75 degrees with the center valve angle -- remember it was a five-valve head
-- at 8.75 degrees and the exhaust angle was 11 degrees. Speaking of valves,
lift was also raised on both the intake and exhaust cams, from 7.6 to 9.2mm and
7.5 to 8.3mm respectively.
The end result is a cylinder head that has a
greater intake volume thanks in part to a high-lift cam profile, and a
compression ratio that was bumped from 12.4:1 to 12.7:1. This has allegedly
improved combustion efficiency, and power across the low, mid and top ends, and
thanks to a smoother combustion chamber and re-shaped pistons -- specifically
designed with the new head in mind -- the R1's cleaner-burning power plant can
meet stringent 2008 emissions standards. We know how much you worry about
Oddly enough, bore and stroke is unchanged from
77mm by 53.6mm. But in order to deal with the increased power from the new head,
the connecting rods were strengthened by adding more material in all the right
New head aside, the R1's other large overhaul was
in fueling and all that it entails. More big numbers pop up when we look at the
throttle bodies. Though they still have the same 45mm bore, they no longer use a
measly four injector holes, but a whopping 12 holes are employed to improve
atomization. But adding more holes is about as low-tech as improving the fueling
gets. Borrowing from its little brother, the R6, the 2007 R1 now utilizes YCC-T
or Yamaha Chip Controlled - Throttle. Some people just like to call it throttle
by wire. Simply put, it's a system comprised of an accelerator position sensor (APS),
throttle position sensor (TPS) and opening and closing throttle "wires." With
the 32-bit Denso ECU calculating throttle grip position and throttle valve
opening every one thousandth of a second, a tiny motor performs the actual work
of opening and closing the throttle. For those of you paralyzed with fear after
watching the Matrix trilogy, the rider can still close the throttle
"mechanically" by wire if electricity is interrupted.
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