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Monster Yamaha flexes its muscle

2007-02-23 10:25

Tor Sagen

Yamaha R1

At the very first ride on the motorway with the '07 R1 everything went so fast that my adrenaline hungry brain didn't understand that even spaceship Romeo 1 needs fuel to fly!

The range at warp-like speeds is 209km and that is a hard learned fact. Luckily it's only 177kg to push with no fuel, which is slightly heavier than last year's model due to Euro 3 requirements. Not that you'd notice as both power and torque has been increased too.

The new chassis makes the R1 rock solid. On the road this gives an immense sense of safety and coupled with a very agile and responsive steering geometry the R1 is a dream to ride on fast motorways.

Through the fully adjustable suspension I can feel every movement from the grippy Pirelli Corsa tyres. A few times I went sideways but all I needed to do was to keep feeding the fly-by-wire throttle until the Pirelli's found grip on the very slippery tarmac I spent much time on.

It was so slippery one day on the motorway that the rear wheel started spinning up in sixth gear. That's not everyday stuff and tells a tale both about how slippery it was but also about how powerful the new R1 is. In sixth gear at motorway speeds the new and bigger ram-air starts having an effect.

Yamaha is claiming 141kW with ram-air and that is huge power for a Euro 3 compliant motorcycle. The acceleration is instant even in top gear and we are soon flying low.

The '07 R1 sounds louder than I had expected. The underseat exhaust might be placed ideally for listening to the engine notes coming out the back. The seating position is sporty and high (835mm) but not as extreme as the R6.

As a roadbike the R1 is a good deal better than the R6 in several areas. Slightly better at ergonomics, much better midrange and the variable intake allows for the best of both worlds in a much cheaper package than let's say the MV F4.

Best of both worlds because the system allows for a strong midrange punch with long intake funnels before varying to a shorter intake length above 10 000 r/min to boost top-end power. And what a boost.

The top speed acceleration is absolutely massive and the last 3 000 revs are supremely superior to most motorcycles. When the white light on the instrument panel starts flashing you are quickly running out of revs and your left foot needs to react super quickly to avoid the rev limiter.

The six speed gear box is as good as it always was. My left foot was never ever left high and dry with false neutrals or resistance gearing up or down the box. Gearing down fast has now been made easier than ever with a new slipper clutch that feels better than any other slipper clutch I have ever tried.

This inspires confidence and saves both the rear tyre and chain and sprockets from unnecessary tear and wear. But the main reason for a slipper clutch is of course to allow you to enter the hairpin corners on a racetrack with the front wheel preferably in front of the rear tyre in a composed manner.

And no one has done it better so far than Yamaha. Chip controlled inlet and throttle and this slipper clutch are all MotoGP M1 technology dripping down. The 2007 Yamaha R1 is so rich in high tech features as a cause of this.

Contributing to these positive effects is the new aluminium hybrid asymmetric swingarm. It has been widened a bit to accommodate world superbike teams and the need for a 200mm rear tyre from time to time.

Yamaha have also developed its Deltabox frame, as a matter of fact it is brand new for the '07 bike. More flex for extreme lean suspension have been added-Also directly from Rossi and Edwards escapades in MotoGP.

On rotten British roads I can't honestly say that I have experienced that extra flex, but I can give evidence that the '07 R1 is a damn good sportsbike that handles like a dream.

The 2007 Yamaha R1 retails for R122 000.


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