With each revamp that Yamaha performs on its machines you go through the specs sheet and at one moment you end up saying that there isn’t any way to make the product any better. But, usually after two years you’ll be surprised to find out that they’ve pulled it through very nicely again. So you start wondering which key opens the front door of the liter class each and every year for this manufacturer. An appropriate answer would be innovation as new systems are continuously being developed and implemented by Yamaha on its machines. The new R1 is probably the best example.
Although Yamaha never said it straight, it has always had troubles in achieving that perfect balance between the awesome amount of power produced by R1’s engine and the way that it was delivered to the rear wheel. Pretty surprisingly, that is. That was a very well-known fact so if you’d be searching for the most aggressive supersport bike out there, this was the recommendation on everyone’s mouths.
In order to have the engine deliver more linear power and the bike to remain a favorite of its class, Yamaha engineers turned their eyes to MotoGP machines. They implement crossplane crankshaft technology involving high-tech uneven firing interval. The technology puts each connecting rod 90° from the next, with an uneven firing interval of 270°- 180°- 90°- 180°. This eliminates unneeded inertial crankshaft torque allowing compression torque to be built smoothly and so the engine to deliver linear power when accelerated hard. It would be like riding on top of a V-Twin at low revs and on a mighty inline four at high revs.
Being completely reengineered, the engine features a host of changes that are meant to keep pace with the new technology: the coupling-type balancer rotating in the opposite direction as the crankshaft, new forged aluminum pistons, lightweight titanium intake valves, and a forced air intake system. This last increases intake efficiency by using the natural airflow airing riding to pressurize the air in the air cleaner box. More air into the engine means more power and that can only be good with the new technologies that smoothen out the ride while making the bike more competitive than ever before on the race track.
From race track motorcycles, Yamaha inspires to add the Chip Controlled Throttle to the fuel-injected engine and the fly-by-wire technology for awesome throttle response at all engine rpm. Also, featuring Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake, the bike’s engine delivers broadened power.
Another ingenious new system, Yamaha’s D-MODE variable throttle control, lets riders choose their riding mode. Riding in “A” mode means you’re in for more low-to-mid range grunt while “B” mode helps you when working gently with the throttle. “C” means you haven’t selected any of the previous modes. Easy to activate, the variable throttle control makes the R1 an easier bike to ride.
The chassis also contributes to that as it features new everything. The best of it is that it features standard electronic steering damper. The aluminum frame itself is a piece of engineering, combining CF die-cast magnesium, contributing to awesome mass centralization while the smart, MotoGP-inspired SOQI front forks share tasks to its arms. So compression damping to the left fork, rebound damping to the right fork. They still move together so you get maximum efficiency with minimum effort.
At the rear end, the new SOQI rear shock also achieves maximum performance thanks to the new bottom linkage working closely with the rest of the chassis.
Goodies such as the gear position indicator make life on board more interesting and complete the new instruments panel.
Yamaha has always suffered from Honda’s CBR 1000RR influence and as a 2009 model year, this ads “ABS” to its designation. Being radically revised for 2008, next year’s CBR wasn’t modified for high speed down the straight line, but for fast cornering. Engineers did that by adding a C-ABS braking system which results in instant improved lap times and more rider confidence.
After seeing the long list of modifications and additions on the 2009 Yamaha R1, we tend to believe that history does repeat itself as the FZR1000 was always more of a speed machine, while Tadao Baba’s Fireblade was a tactical winner with fewer horses.
Suzuki and Kawasaki continue to successfully sell the GSX-R1000 and ZX-10R as 2008 model years, but we’re still waiting for them to present their 2009 lineups and become even stronger contenders in the liter class.
Yamaha marks the big 2009 revision by totally redesigning the bike into a slightly less aggressive, still sharp, but more mysterious looking product. Why is that? Well, Honda decided to go for the smooth design in 2009 (what, did you think that the R1 is the only one that is restyled?) and Yamaha was also well ahead with the drawing board to do any changes, and the bike looked really good, so here it is.
The 2009 R1 sleek appearance given by the side fairing is slightly counteracted by the projector-type bulbs featuring round lenses and being mounted as close to the bike’s nose as possible. This makes room for the repositioned ram air ducts and also leaves the front end looking damn…interesting.
On the sides, the fairing is smooth and provides impeccable air flow. Earlier Yamaha R1 models would have featured a sharper design, but this simple one proved more effective after all.
Also interesting on the 2009 R1 is the shape of the gas tank, which is developed using 3-D simulation analysis technology and the production process is called press-forming. The tank has also a practical role as its elongated shape allows it to be positioned well within the frame and contribute to a lower and more concentrated center of gravity.
Ten years from now, when we’ll be completing the history of Yamaha’s top supersport motorcycle, we surely won’t forget to mention the wicked looking colors of the 2009 model year: Raven/Candy Red, Pearl White/Rapid Red (the colors of the first R1), Cadmium Yellow and Team Yamaha Blue/White.
What we won’t mention is that they had a fair influence on the MSRP. Painted in the first three color schemes, the suggested retail price is no more or less than $12,490, while the now insipid Yamaha Blue and White is 100 bucks cheaper.
Available from January 2009, the new Yamaha R1 is practically a racing bike with headlights and mirrors. It is the result of Yamaha people’s wise way of interpreting the information from past years and knowing what to do to make it even better. Of course, the Yamaha M1 MotoGP bike was the source of inspiration, but what is even greater is that while bikers start riding such highly-evolved motorcycles on the streets, ways are being found to take them further. It will never stop and the best thing is that nobody wants it to.
Engine and Transmission
Type: liquid-cooled 4-stroke DOHC 16 valves (titanium valves)
Bore x Stroke: 78.0mm X 52.2mm
Compression Ratio: 12.7:1
Carburetion: Fuel Injection with YCC-T and YCC-I
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: 6-speed w/multi-plate slipper clutch
Primary Reduction Ratio: 65/43 (1.512)
Secondary Reduction Ratio: 47/17 (2.765)
Gear Ratio - 1st Gear: 38/15 (2.533)
Gear Ratio - 2nd Gear: 33/16 (2.063)
Gear Ratio - 3rd Gear: 37/21 (1.762)
Gear Ratio - 4th Gear: 35/23 (1.522)
Gear Ratio - 5th Gear: 30/22 (1.364)
Gear Ratio - 6th Gear: 33/26 (1.269)
Final Drive: #530 O-ring chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension/Front: 43mm inverted fork; fully adjustable, 4.7-in travel
Suspension/Rear: Single shock w/piggyback reservoir; 2-way adjustable, 4.7-in travel
Brakes/Front: Dual 310mm disc; radial-mount forged 6-piston calipers
Brakes/Rear: 220mm disc; single-piston caliper
Tires/Front: 120/70ZR17M/C 58W
Tires/Rear: 190/55ZR17M/C 75W
Length: 81.1 in
Width: 28.1 in
Height: 44.5 in
Seat Height: 32.8 in
Wheelbase: 55.7 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 24.0°
Trail: 4.0 in
Fuel Capacity: 4.8 gal
Wet Weight: 454 lb