With Yamaha's new R1 grabbing all the attention recently it may be a little easy to forget how good the previous model was. However, when we first road tested the Yamaha YZF R1 six long years ago in 2009, it was a revolutionary new machine. It rode like no other in line four had ever ridden.
Coming to the market in 2009 was, perhaps, a little unfortunate. The global economy had begun to creak and the bike never really sold in the numbers that it deserved to. It was, after all, a Moto GP derived sports bike for the road.
The boffins at Yamaha had taken the technology from the motor in Rossi’s YZF M1 and replicated it in the, then, new bike. They built an ultra short stroke engine with a cross plane crankshaft. The wonderful irregular firing intervals were a result of its 90 degree mounted pins.
2009 Yamaha YZF R1 - The Real World
What this meant in the real world was a bike, that in spite of having an in line four engine, pulled out of the corners like a vtwin and sounded like one too. Once out on the main straight the thing produced bucketful’s of seemingly endless power like a modern one-litre bike should.
Yamaha did all this while still staying true to the idea and feel that is a Yamaha YZF R1. The bike handles, stops and turns like an older R1 only better and for a now six year old bike to still put out 179 bhp says it all.
The bike also featured a slipper clutch as standard as well as a ride by wire throttle which speaks directly the bikes ECU from where the fuelling is controlled. It would be a shame to own one of these and not venture to a local trackday. To make this easier the bike has fully adjustable suspension and a set of six pot calipers as well as adjustable footpegs.
2009 Yamaha YZF R1 - Moving On
Over the following years production changed somewhat with a six-stage traction control system being added to the machine as well as three riding modes. At this point BMW had launched the S1000RR which looked after all that wheelying and twitchy rear wheel nonsense as had several other manufacturers. The 2009 to 2011 Yamaha YZF R1's were one of the last big and hairy sports bikes which offered huge power without any kind of electronic safety net for the rider.
We really liked the way the swing arm on this Yamaha YZF R1 was braced under the unit, the layered fairing and the LED lights. The finish on the bike was also wonderful with details such as the silk paint finish on the fairing and the bolts on the engine casings, which gave the machine an urgent, single purpose, look. This was a bike made for going very fast everywhere it went.
For more on bike like this see Megabikes.