Yamaha’s not letting Honda get away with calling itself a technology leader for 2009 - the new ‘Blade might pack a fully electronic brake-by-wire combined ABS system, but the 2009 R1 boasts all the juicy technology from previous years - variable length air intakes, fly-by-wire YCCT electronically managed throttle inputs and the like - plus a completely redesigned engine, frame, chassis and bodywork.
The big news is that next year’s R1 will be the first of the big superbikes to experiment with an uneven firing order, which has been a big talking point in MotoGP since the first days of the 990cc engines. The R1’s unevenly spaced crank falls short of the famous “big bang” or “long bang” configurations, settling instead on a 270-180-90-180 firing order that leaves a traction-friendly gap between power pulses and leaves the rider, so Yamaha says, with the most direct and confident connection yet between the throttle and the rear wheel.
Yamaha’s clearly keen to associate the new R1 with the YZF-M1 MotoGP missile piloted by Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, James Toseland and Colin Edwards - the high-velocity foursome were the stars of the R1 launch in Vegas, and Edwards has starred in Yamaha’s technically-focused promo video for the bike. At idle, the bike clearly sounds like a racer - “hear that?” asks Edwards, “It’s like music.”
The top-end power of previous models remains, with Yamaha claiming 182 horsepower before the high-speed ram air kicks in. But the firing order and variable length intake trumpets should also combine to pack a stronger low-end wallop than before. The short-stroke engine has the widest bore of any R1, which should help both to limit rotational forces from the crank that impede quick cornering transitions, and help the engine rev incredibly quickly.
The aluminium Deltabox frame and swingarm are entirely new, with a focus on optimal rigidity, light weight and a short wheelbase for precise, feather light handling. The centre of gravity has been slightly lowered through the position of the engine, and the fuel tank has grown to 18 litres, which will be appreciated by road riders.
The R1’s fly-by-wire throttle system is able to set ignition timing separately for each cylinder, and a secondary set of fuel injectors kick in at high revs to deliver fuel more evenly as the engine spins up.
Like the big GSX-Rs and Benelli TnTs of recent years, the new R1 has switchable power delivery modes - standard for all-round action, B mode for nannas and A mode for harder, sharper power delivery when tenths are at stake on the racetrack. The 2008 model’s slipper clutch remains, and in defiance of the current stubby underslung muffler trend, the big twin exhausts exit under the seat, so pillions can expect to continue to have their buttocks roasted.
Suspension-wise the 2009 R1 keeps its high/low speed adjustable compression damping on the shock, as well as preload and rebound, and the 43mm KYB forks now handle damping separately as on earlier model FZ1s - one fork controls the compression damping, the other the rebound. The system makes adjustment much simpler.
The R1 has always been the sharpest looking of the litrebikes, and the 2009 version should be no exception. The reshaped fairing keeps the hawk-like beak of previous models and complements it with large triangular panels for aeros. The frame is magnificent in black, or the sharp red that’s available with the white R1 as pictured. She’s a sharp looker all right.
At US$12,390 for the blue, or US$12,490 for the white, yellow and black versions, the R1 will likely remain the most expensive of the big four Japanese superbikes - but that’s to be expected given the hugely advanced technology it incorporates. See the Yamaha 2009 YZF-R1 minisite for all the details and specs, and in the meanwhile, enjoy these positively pornographic photos.leave a response, or trackback from your own site.