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’15 Yamaha YZF-R1


Days will go by, even weeks and months, and then one year in the future you get to ride the latest of the most amazing bikes OEMs can throw at you – 2015 has been outstanding! But wait, I’m not done yet, personally I think I’ve been on one of those bikes, and in this case the all new Yamaha YZF-R1!

My first superbike was an R1, bought from the very same guy who gave me this R1 to test for three days. It brought back good memories, exhilarating feelings, and the endless temptation to go fast!

From the moment I stepped up to this amazing machine, I felt at home, a blast from the past knocking on my heart telling me “Let’s GO!” But before I do, allow me to give you a quick, no pun intended, run-down.

Almost two decades on from the unveiling of the original R1 that transformed the bike world, Yamaha raises the bar once again, and in one brief moment the world of motorcycling changes forever.

Everything is different, except the name.

2015R1-1Right from the beginning of the project it was agreed that this totally new high performance pure sport motorcycle would be developed from scratch without any restrictions. They were able to create a fundamentally different motorcycle that offers overwhelming performance with ultimate controllability. Built without compromise, the new R1 is ready to transform the bike world and showcase Yamaha’s vision for the future.

A newly designed crossplane crankshaft is at the very heart of the new 998cc inline 4-cylinder engine. By contributing towards the strong linear torque output, this technology gives a truly connected 1:1 relationship between the throttle and rear tyre – as well as an intuitive character that enables the R1 rider to exploit the high power output of the new YZF-R1 to its full potential.

The successful crossplane concept was originally developed for our MotoGP bikes with input from Valentino Rossi, and the next generation R1 continues to benefit from this innovative technology.

The crossplane engine’s uneven 270° – 180° – 90° – 180° firing sequence gives each piston and con rod its own individual and separate movement to create a stronger low to mid-range pulse – and this race-bred engine is also characterized by its exceptional exhaust growl.

Using advanced technology first seen on our YZR-M1 MotoGP machines, the new engine benefits from a range of features that are designed to increase air intake volume while at the same time reduce power losses. The use of this cutting-edge technology in every area of the new engine’s design and construction has succeeded in achieving a maximum power output (without ram air pressurization) of 200PS.

Engine Highlights:

  • New 998cc crossplane in-line 4-cylinder, 4-valve engine
  • Highly efficient cylinder head and valve design
  • Lightweight forged aluminium pistons
  • New rocker arm valve drive mechanism
  • High volume 10.5 litre airbox intake system
  • Advanced 2-directional fuel injectors
  • Lightweight titanium 4-2-1 exhaust system
  • Compact and lightweight assist and slipper clutch
  • High-efficiency lubrication system

Lightweight Deltabox frame
The 2015 R1 features a newly designed aluminium Deltabox frame that has been developed to deliver a high level of precision handling performance.

Featuring gravity cast components that are welded together to form a single structural unit, the compact aluminium main frame offers an idealized balance of strength and rigidity. The new Deltabox frame is equipped with a high specification upward truss type aluminium swingarm that is manufactured from a mixture of gravity cast, forged and two-piece shell structure components to create a strong and lightweight structure.

Significant weight reductions have been achieved with the use of a magnesium rear frame, and the left-right asymmetric design of the main Deltabox structure also contributes towards weight reduction and overall compactness.

A bike’s overall weight is one element affecting the handling character, and to gain maximum advantage from this low weight, Yamaha’s designers have focused on concentrating weight as close to the bike’s centre as possible.

While weight is a ‘headline’ feature, the compact dimensions of the new chassis also play an integral role in shaping the highly focused race-bred character of the R1. With a short 1,405mm wheelbase, this next generation R-series flagship has clearly been developed with circuit riding as the primary focus.

To put it in context, the new R1’s wheelbase is 10mm shorter than on the current model, and the new 570mm long swinging arm is 15mm shorter. Both the caster and fork offset are the same as the current R1 and for increased front-end feel the front axle diameter is increased by 3mm to 25mm.

YZR-M1 type forced air intake
The new large capacity 10.5 litre airbox is force-fed with pressurized fresh air, enabling the Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake (YCC-I) to run at optimal efficiency. Air enters the centrally located intake that sits between the two ‘hidden’ LED headlights and runs through the steering pipe, just as it does on the YZR-M1 MotoGP bike. Manufactured from plastic resin reinforced with glass fibre, this lightweight forced air intake system underlines the significant technology transfer taking place between the factory racing bikes and the new R1.

Track-developed front and rear suspension
The fully adjustable front and rear suspension systems have been developed by KYB in association with Yamaha for precision handling and effective power delivery on the circuit and highway use. The 43mm upside down forks give 120mm of wheel movement, and together with the large diameter 25mm front axle, the R1’s front end gives excellent damping characteristics with a predictable and planted feeling during braking and cornering.

ABS with Unified Brake System for increased control
For the first time on any supersport class Yamaha, the new R1 is equipped with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and also Yamaha’s Unified Brake System. These advanced braking systems are designed to allow the rider to achieve high levels of controllability in different circuit or road situations.

With the Unified Brake System, operation of the front brake also generates a corresponding braking force at the rear, and when the rider operates both the front and rear brakes, the Unified Brake System controls the balance of braking force that is applied to each brake.

In each case the distribution of braking force is based on input from the 6-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)*, which takes into account such factors as banking angle and machine attitude. The only situation where the Unified Brake System has no control is when only the rear brake is operated by the rider.

R1-wheelCast magnesium wheels
The 2015 R1 is equipped with magnesium wheels, featuring a star shaped 10-spoke design. The new cast magnesium wheels represent a weight saving of nearly 900g compared to a conventional alloy design.

Race-developed 17-litre aluminium fuel tank
Weighing 1.6kg less than an equivalent steel design, the R1’s newly designed 17-litre aluminium fuel tank features a deeply indented knee area, allowing the rider to tuck in close to the bike. As well as giving an efficient and secure riding position that helps to reduce drag, the race-developed tank design gives a high level of rider/machine unity by offering support during braking and cornering.

Dual 320mm front discs with new monoblock callipers
The high-specification front brakes utilize two 320mm diameter front discs that are equipped with newly designed monoblock 4-piston callipers and stainless steel hoses – as well as a newly designed brake lever. This sophisticated system delivers outstanding braking performance with high levels of feel and accurate feedback – and its lightweight design reduces the inertial moment around the front wheel axle to contribute towards lighter handling characteristics.

The compact rear brake system uses a 220mm diameter disc with a single piston pin-slide calliper.

R1-frontYZR-M1 inspired cowling and windscreen with full LED lights
By using aerodynamic analysis to create a more efficient shape, Yamaha’s designers have succeeded in producing a cowl and screen that deliver a reduction of 8% in wind resistance. Not by chance, its central air intake and high windscreen have a strong resemblance to the YZR-M1, and its high aerodynamic efficiency helps to deliver lower lap times on the circuit.

The two new small diameter LED headlights are positioned on either side of the central air intake, and are located much lower than on other supersport models – and because of their compact design they appear to be virtually hidden in the new front cowl, giving the R1 a unique ‘face’ that expresses its racing pedigree.

One other striking feature is the use of linear position lights that are located within the front cowl. The narrow and straight lines of these twin LED position lights come on when the ignition is activated, and they give the R1 a truly unique frontal expression. When the ignition is turned off, the LED position lights gradually lose their luminosity.

Chassis Highlights:

  • Newly designed asymmetric aluminium Deltabox frame
  • Compact and short wheelbase design
  • 199kg wet weight / 179kg dry weight
  • Magnesium rear frame with aluminium truss-type swingarm
  • Race-developed aluminium 17-litre fuel tank
  • KYB 43mm front forks with 120mm travel
  • Bottom-link type Monocross rear suspension
  • Lightweight cast-magnesium wheels
  • ABS with Yamaha Unified Brake System
  • Unique new front face with LED position lights and compact LED headlights
  • Wide seat with race-developed fuel tank for optimal riding position
  • Mirrors with integral front flashers

6-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)
Developed exclusively for the new R1, this 6-axis IMU consists of three gyro sensors that measures machine pitch, roll and yaw, as well as three G-sensors that transmits data on forward/backward, left/right and up/down acceleration. By constantly analysing this data 125 times per second, the IMU is able to establish the R1’s position and behaviour – including lean angle, slide speed and pitching rate. Data is then sent via a CAN system (Controller Area Network) to the ECU that makes real time calculations and instantly adjusts the R1’s various electronic control systems in order to achieve optimum performance with high levels of controllability.

For the first time ever, racers and track riders have access to a race-ready production motorcycle that, through the use of the advanced electronic control systems described in the next section, enables every rider to attain their full potential on the track.

R1-simulatorGive the Simulator a try:

New banking angle sensitive Traction Control System (TCS)
TCS is able to optimize the drive force to the rear tyre by monitoring the difference in speed between the front and rear wheels, and if it detects that rear wheel traction is being lost, the ECU adjusts the throttle valve opening, fuelling and ignition timing accordingly.

The R1’s newly developed TCS takes the concept to the next level by using additional data relating to the bike’s banking angle when calculating the optimum rear wheel control settings. For example, when the R1 is cornering at a high banking angle, the IMU’s sensors will activate the TCS to a higher level of control than when the motorcycle is upright – allowing the R1 rider to achieve optimum performance on a circuit, or whether powering out of a corner or accelerating in a straight line.

Slide Control System (SCS)
Using data from the revolutionary new 6-axis IMU, Yamaha’s patented Slide Control System (SCS) is designed to limit sideward movement of the rear tyre by adjusting the engine’s output to an optimal level via the ECU when a slide is detected. This advanced new system works in association with the new banking angle sensitive TCS, and this high level of electronic control enables riders raise their game.

Front LIFt control system (LIF)
The third weapon in the R1’s control armoury is its LIFt control system (LIF) that has been developed to control front wheel lift when accelerating hard. Once again, this use of this electronic control system has been made possible by the installation of the 6-axis IMU, and, the new LIF helps achieve a higher level of machine control for reduced lap times.

Launch Control System (LCS)
For fast, smooth and efficient starts, the Launch Control System (LCS) restricts engine rpm to below 10,000rpm even at full throttle. This control system also uses information from the TCS and LIF systems in order to maintain an optimum level of engine output when accelerating away from the start line, allowing the rider to concentrate fully on the crucial first few seconds of any race.

Quick Shift System (QSS)
Racers and track day riders will benefit greatly from the 6-axis IMU, TCS, SCS, LIF and LCS – and another significant piece of electronic control technology that is designed to reaffirm the R1’s race ready specification is its Quick Shift System (QSS). A sensor on the shift lever rod detects when the rider is upshifting, and the QSS sends data to the ECU that cuts drive torque to the engaged gear for swifter gear shifting.

Power mode selection (PWR)
The newly developed Power mode selection (PWR) gives the professional racer and track day rider the option to choose from a selection of four different adjustable running modes. This new PWR system is a further development of the proven Yamaha D-MODE system, and the four different control maps regulate the R1’s throttle valve opening in relation to the throttle position.

Yamaha Ride Control system (YRC)
The new R1 comes with a Yamaha Ride Control system (YRC). The YRC offers 4 grouped presets for quick and simple ‘one-click’ selection of all electronic controls through easy handlebar switches. In the YRC each of the control modes can be freely adjusted into new combinations based on user preferences and riding environment.

Street or Track
In ‘Street’ mode the display features items such as gear position, while the tachometer bar display uses different colours as the revs increase, allowing the rider to instantly comprehend the data. Other items available in ‘Street’ mode include odometer, trip meters, real-time fuel efficiency, average fuel efficiency and amount of fuel consumed. Icons at the top and bottom of the display also show whether specific control functions such as the TCS and SCS are switched on, and which power mode is selected.

In ‘Track’ mode the display shows specific information with a high degree of clarity, such as lap number, lap times and a stopwatch function. The bar type tachometer display starts at 8000rpm and runs to the red line, and the gear position indicator is prominently displayed to the right of the panel. For easy post-race analysis, each display has a memory function that enables lap by lap analysis.

Electronic Controls Highlights:

  • Highly sophisticated Electronic Control Unit
  • 6-axis IMU for 3-dimensional motion detection
  • Constantly monitors bike position and behaviour
  • Measures lean angle, slide speed and pitching rate
  • Gyro sensor for pitch, roll and yaw
  • G-sensor measures front/rear, up/down and right/left motion
  • Banking angle sensitive Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Rear wheel Slide Control System (SCS)
  • Front LIFt control system (LIF)
  • Launch Control System (LCS)
  • Quick Shift System (QSS)
  • Adjustable 4-position PWR power mode selection system
  • Yamaha Ride Control (YRC) function
  • Selectable ‘Street’ and ‘Track’ modes showing different data
  • Optional Communication Control Unit (CCU) with data logging and Wi-Fi set up

A side view expression
One of the most striking design features of the new R1 is the compact surface area when viewed from the side. The use of a low set fuel tank and a short nosed, low-set front cowling – combined with a large open space under the seat – form a silhouette that is markedly smaller than the current model. Other significant design features that accentuate the R1’s light and compact side view are its short 1,405mm wheelbase, as well as the use of the centrally-located mid-ship muffler.

The overall feeling of lightness is also enhanced by the new cowling’s ‘cross-layered wing’ design that has layers of bodywork smoothly interlocking with each other. There are also large outlets in the side cowl and under-cowl that expose various elements of the engine and inner aerodynamics to accentuate both the lightness of the new R1 and its high-tech design.

DNA with rider-machine unity
Achieving rider-machine unity is crucial for success on the race circuit, and every element of the body design has been developed with this goal at the forefront of our designers’ minds. The low-set fuel tank with its highly indented knee pockets enables the rider to sit ‘in’ the new R1 and take full control – and the wide seat gives greater freedom of movement during cornering and braking.

A ‘headlight-less’ look
One of the most revolutionary design features on the new R1 is its radical new face with a unique ‘headlight-less’ look. In place of the usual twin headlights, this front cowl is equipped with thin and straight LED position lights, while the compact new LED headlights are located within the leading edge of the side cowling.

Aerodynamic and lightweight
Wherever any external component sits in the airflow – such as mirrors and tail – they have been designed to be aerodynamically efficient, and this not only helps to reduce drag, it also reinforces the feeling of speed and lightness of the new R1. Special attention has been paid to the design of the rear cowl so that it draws air into the machine, and other features – such as engine covers, footrests and the ABS sensor cover – feature lightweight ribbed designs that reinforce the R1’s powerful image and reduce weight.

Race Blu
Racing Red


Every serious rider is always looking for total control; and with total control comes higher cornering speeds, lower lap times, increased levels of excitement and reduced rider stress.

The all-new YZF-R1 comes with the most advanced technology improvements ever seen on a production motorcycle, and accordingly it offers you the chance to attain true potential.

No longer is mechanical superiority enough to stay at the top. The digital era has arrived, and with its total 3D controllability, the new YZF-R1 makes the impossible possible. You R1 …


With gratitude to Henry vd Merwe at RBS Yamaha for supplying this amazing machine, and to Shaun Joffe for prepping it for me, resulting in 3 days I’ll never forget.

69 St. Johns Avenue, Pinetown, KZN

Hein Jonker

Editor & Chief Instructor of Bike Talk SA. Senior Instructor for Honda SA On-Road Academy in KZN & Exhibition Rider for Harley-Davidson SA

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