The Yamaha YZF-R1 has been around for five generations and with the acclaim it has achieved for the House of Iwata, the R1 has become synonymous with Yamaha’s ethos of constantly pursuing excellence to the highest degree. So with the latest R1 just hitting the market, Yamaha/ decided to bring back the five project leaders, each of whom are largely responsible for the design and development of the five different versions of the R1.

Kunihiko Miwa is one of the five project leaders and he deserves a special place in our hearts for bringing the first YZF-R1 in the market back in 1998. Six years later in 2004, it was Yoshikazu Koike’s turn to elevate the R1’s status relative to its competitors. Then, in 2007, Mokoto Shimamoto took the helm as the project leader for the third-generation YZF-R1M, followed by Toyoshi Nishida in 2009 for the fourth-generation model. It was during Nishida’s time as the project leader for the YZF-R1 that Yamaha finally decided to infuse the bike with its very one MotoGP-inspired engine.

The fourth generation YZF-R1 is considered as arguably the most successful generation of any R1 bike, at least until the latest iteration, the 2015 model, showed up. Hideki Fujiwara is the project leader for the current generation of the YZF-R1 and in his own words, the newest version of the YZF-R1 is filled with technology derived and developed for use in MotoGP.

In the seven years that it has been around, the Yamaha YZF-R1 has become one of the most popular superbikes in the market today. A big part of the credit goes to Yamaha for pursuing to make the most out of these models, but also to the project managers of each successsful generation of the superbike. Without the creative minds of these people, the YZF-R1 may not have existed in the first place.

We oewe them our gratitude and an two minutes of our time to watch the video.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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