There are no major changes to the power delivery, chassis and engine of this latest 2012 version of the YZF-R1
. Nevertheless, there is a new upper fork ‘T’ (inspired by MotoGP’s M1), footpegs with more grip, stiffer rear suspension, reshaped muffler end caps and a slightly more aggressive styling to the front fairing.
The new YZF-R1 also features a very limited-edition red and white livery to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary as a top-level competitor. Some of Yamaha’s greatest riders have sported these classic colors which harken back to its glory days.
A big surprise
Aside from the new features described above, you can also add the new traction control suite - the newsworthy innovation which has revolutionized this category for the past few years now. Yamaha’s renowned anti-slip system manages the electronically controlled throttle, fuel injection and ignition to optimize wheel spin and forward drive should the rider have an untimely rush of adrenalin.
Yamaha adds to the three drive modes which were already available, thereby offering 18 settings with 6 TCS positions - Position 6 being the best for wet surfaces and Positions 1 to 3 designed for ideal conditions and ultra-grip tires. Furthermore, TCS can be deactivated completely. TCS buttons are located on the left handlebar with the yellow indicator light on the LCD dash showing the selected setting.
With its 180 hp engine and plenty of torque thanks to its crossplane crank, the TCS system is a must have…especially for serious acceleration on circuit bends or during a lively burst of speed turning on a gravel-strewn country road.
This R1 is demanding
|Yamaha’s renowned anti-slip system manages the electronically controlled throttle, fuel injection and ignition to optimize wheel spin and forward drive should the rider have an untimely rush of adrenalin. (Photo: France Ouellet)
Physical in tight spots, and rock-solid in exiting turns at high speed, the R1 is the total package for the long haul, offering a very smooth ride. As for power, it’s hard to move towards easier handling without sacrificing performance on this bike which features one of the most complete mid- to full-size engines ever built by Yamaha.
Despite the throaty grunt in low gear and mesmerizing rumble in higher gear, you should learn how to ride this bike at a lower gear as compared to other in-line 4-cylinders available on the market. When it comes to track racing, the R1 is the standard production bike that comes closest to the sensation of riding a Grand Prix racer. And thanks to the new TCS system, this is now truer than ever.
By taking advantage of the torque and power (readily available between 6,500 and 12,500 rpm) and conditional on keeping the front wheel on the ground plus plenty of rear tire grip as managed by the TCS, the YZF-R1 boasts acceleration right up there with racing bikes.
|Physical in tight spots, and rock-solid in exiting turns at high speed, the R1 is the total package for the long haul, offering a very smooth ride. (Photo: France Ouellet)
Stiff and demanding, but also highly responsive, you need to be precise when riding the R1. The slightest error going into a turn and you’ll feel the effects all the way around the bend. The rider needs to be exact and constantly on alert. Even on the straight and hardly working the throttle, its power and speed are truly intoxicating, accompanied by the staggering thrust of the torque. Plus, the added power delivered by the crossplane crankshaft helps the engine stay on top of those exhilarating exits out of the turns.
Somehow, at the end of a straight line of braking at more than 200 km/h, the bike stays stable, thanks to an exemplary braking system. Powerful and measured and with a nice feel from the lever (and despite the absence of a brake line restrainer), this braking system surpasses all others made by any of the Japanese manufacturers.
It’s the wide open spaces for this baby
|Somehow, at the end of a straight line of braking at more than 200 km/h, the bike stays stable, thanks to an exemplary braking system. (Photo: France Ouellet)
For city riding, the seating position which is derived from race bikes, is not one of the most comfortable. On the other hand, once you hit the wide open spaces on a winding road, you soon understand why it’s made this way. For everyday riding, the TCS traction control system provides re-assuring safety, especially on dirt or degraded roads or when tires are still not well warmed up. TCS is an advantage that nobody, no matter how experienced, can afford to miss out on. Like a guardian angel watching over you, the TCS sets you back on the right track, whenever you become too excessive.
Highly effective and totally unique, this is the chosen motorcycle of American racer, Josh Hayes, the two-time AMA champion. The only one in the category to have a direct link with its GP colleague, this bike is a noteworthy candidate for greatness. Difficult to tame on the road and to unleash on the track, the R1 morphs into one of the fastest and certainly one of the most exhilarating bikes to ride when it finally surrenders to your will.
Efficient engine and mesmerizing rumble
Excellent braking system
Traction Control System
Weight and handling
Over the top for regular road cruising