Yamaha is pulling no punches about making its flagship, liter-class sportbike a serious track weapon, not an all-purpose machine. The 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 is a giant leap forward for the Japanese brand.
Released simultaneously today at the EICMA show in Italy, and in Los Angeles, the all-new R1 is something special.
While the previous iteration of the R1 was designed with more of a street focus, this new R1 is all about taking it back to the track. The test riders who threw a leg over this new R1 included four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes and MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi.
With World Superbike rules increasingly limiting the modifications that can be made to the streetbikes that the racebikes are based on, we had to ask if the up-spec R1M was really developed to put Yamaha back at the front of the World Superbike grid. Unfortunately, the Yamaha types would only respond to such questions with an enigmatic grin....
The 2015 R1's Deltabox frame is all new, composed of aluminum, and makes for a 10 mm overall shorter wheelbase. The fuel tank is aluminum too, which Yamaha claims is 3.5 pounds lighter than the steel one from the previous models.
The wheels are now magnesium, as is the new subframe, which shaves 1.9 pounds of unsprung weight and reduces inertial momentum by 4 percent up front and 11 percent in the rear.
The front suspension is now adjustable for preload, rebound, and compression from the top of the KYB 43 mm fork, and the KYB rear shock allows for preload adjustments, as well as compression and rebound adjustments for both high and low speeds.
The 998 cc engine is all new, though it still uses the inline four-cylinder cross-plane crankshaft model. The new engine is slightly more over-square, with a bore and stroke of 79 mm by 50.9 mm (from 78 mm x 52.2 mm). Yamaha hasn't released power figures yet, but rumors put it north of 200 horsepower.
Overall, the new engine is nine pounds lighter than the previous model, and an inch and a half narrower at the crank. I got a chance to sit on it at the unveiling in Los Angeles and can attest to it feeling much smaller and narrower than the previous iteration (which was a massive motorcycle).
The new R1 comes with an absolutely incredible electronics package (assuming the deliverables meet the claims). I know we joked about Ducati's Apple-like presentation earlier today, but if I had to guess which bike was built by Apple, it would be the R1. You'll have to bear with me through all of the acronyms and names a bit, but I think you'll like what they've come up with.
Yamaha Ride Control (YRC)
Power Mode (PWR) is the R1's version of fuel maps, which allow the rider to choose between four different settings that modify the throttle valve opening rate based on the degree the throttle grip is open. The idea being you can have them correlate directly (50 percent open gives you 50 percent throttle) or some variation of more throttle at a smaller opening (race settings) or less throttle at a larger opening (low-traction conditions).
Rider Adaptive Technology (which for some reason wasn't given the acronym RAT) involves pairing Yamaha's Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) with a host of electronic rider aides. The IMU measures six axes of movement and includes both a gyro sensor and an accelerometer to measure position and acceleration in all three directions: fore-aft, up-down, and left-right.
The IMU system is part of what helps tell electronic rider aids what to do. The 10-setting Traction Control System (TCS) calculates and manages the speed differential between the front and rear wheel while taking lean angle into account.
The four-setting Slide Control System (SCS) is taken directly from the M1 MotoGP bike and adjusts engine power if a slide is detected.
The four-setting Lift Control System (LIF) measures the front-to-rear pitching rate and helps keep the front end down under hard acceleration.
Three-setting Launch Control System (LCS) limits the engine to 10,000 rpm while the bike is at standstill, even with the throttle wide open, and makes sure the engine output is at optimum levels in conjunction with the TCS and LIF systems.
Finally, the three-setting Quick Shift System (QSS) detects movement in the shifter to briefly cut engine output for upshifts without the rider having to use the clutch or close the throttle.
All of these systems are how you keep from exploding into flames. Yes, I know that was a lot, and no, we're not done yet.
The ABS system on the new R1 now includes a Unified Braking System (UBS), which lightly activates the rear brake when the front brake is applied harshly. Yamaha claims the UBS system works with information from the Inertial Measurement Unit to help dictate how much rear brake is applied, based on the lean angle and available traction.
The entire Yamaha Ride Control System has four customizeable presets, allowing the user to set each system specifically in each varying preset, allowing for four totally customizable electronic rider setups.
The new Yamaha R1 uses an all-new TFT screen, which toggles between and street and track mode. Street mode shows you your more common data points, such as speed, revs, and odometer, while track mode focuses more on lap times, best lap, and last lap, etc.
The 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1M takes all of that to the next level. It has all of the things you'd expect from a high-spec version (carbon fiber fairings and fender, aluminum fuel tank, polished swingarm, special badging) and adds Ohlins Electronic Racing Suspension and the new Communication Control Unit Rider Machine Interface System.
The Ohlins Electronic Racing Suspension system takes information from the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) 125 times per second and then controls the front and rear compression and rebound damping accordingly. It comes with three pre-set levels of intervention, as well as three rider presets, allowing for further customization for rider preference.
The new Communication Control Unit Rider Machine Interface System is composed of a GPS antenna and data logger which measures and records things like engine rpm, throttle position, speed, fuel consumption, braking pressure, and coolant temperature, while also recording your physical position and track times. It connects to your phone or tablet via wifi and sends all of that info to Yamaha's Telemetry Recording and Analysis Controller (Y-TRAC) which lets you look at all of the measured fields on an overlay of the track and tinker with the electronic rider aids. Seriously.
The 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M will go on sale in February of 2015 for $16,490 and $21,990 respectively.