Yamaha has just pulled the wraps off not one but two all-new YZF-R1 superbikes—and all we can say is “Wow!” Conjuring a spectacle the likes of which we haven’t seen in motorcycle industry since the good old days of the mid-2000s, Yamaha filled an empty warehouse with a stadium-rock worthy smoke and light show and employed the combined talents of MotoGP World Champions Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes, and Yamaha Motor Corporation President and CEO Hiroyuki Yanagi to make a clear statement that they are ready to re-enter the superbike arms race with both barrels blazing.
It’s been a long time—six years, to be exact— since the current, Crossplane-powered R1 debuted, but even a quick glance at the spec sheet of this new model proves the tuning fork folks haven’t been sitting on their hands for the all that time. Instead they’ve been working hard to adapt technology right from Rossi and Lorenzo’s race-winning YZR-M1 MotoGP racebikes to the next-generation R1 street platform.
To start, the new R1 looks like the spitting image of the M1 racer, with the same central ram-air duct and LED headlights “hidden” beneath the fairing’s leading edge for a very unique, racetrack-refugee look. Underneath the all-new bodywork is the latest version of Yamaha’s CP4 Crossplane inline four with a shorter-stroke crankshaft, a higher, 13.0:1 compression ratio, larger valves, the first fraction-split titanium connecting rods on any production bike, lighter forged pistons, a new rocker-arm valve train, and many other detail changes to produce a claimed crankshaft output of more than 190 horsepower.
More impressive is the all-new electronics package, now one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated in the sportbike space. Promising “total 3D controllability,” the new systems are driven by a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) consisting of 3 gyro sensors to monitor pitch, roll, and yaw, along with three separate accelerometers that measure fore/aft, left/right, and up/down accelerations. By analyzing this data 125 times per second to precisely track lean angle, slide speed, and pitch rate, the IMU informs slide control, traction control, wheelie control, launch control, race ABS, and more.
The frame geometry is similar to before but the asymmetrical Deltabox frame has been completely redesigned for a different rigidity balance, and now fit with a magnesium subframe to save weight. Magnesium wheels save more pounds, contributing to a claimed wet weight of just 438 pounds, very competitive for the class. Also competitive is the MSRP of the standard YZF-R1: just $16,490!
But wait! That’s not all! In addition to the base-model YZF-R1, Yamaha will also offer a limited number (500 in America) of extra-exotic YZF-R1Ms that offer all of the above plus semi-active Ohlins electronic suspension, carbon-fiber bodywork, an aluminum fuel tank, and a GPS-enabled Communication Control Unit (CCU) that enables comprehensive data logging capabilities and an unprecedented amount of rider adjustability of the various Yamaha Ride Control systems and settings via wireless connection and an Android app running on a phone or tablet. This is genuine, real-deal MotoGP technology for the street. Be like Rossi and Lorenzo, for $21,990.