Thursday, November 1, 2012

Yamaha R1

electronics package could be better too as we didn’t find Yamaha’s D-SMS adjustable throttle map system to be very useful. This piece of electronics allows the rider to adjust the sensitivity of the throttle. By default the engine is in ‘Standard’ mode. ‘A’ mode increases the sensitivity of the throttle and ‘B’ decreases it. Our testers preferred ‘Standard’ or ‘B’ mode as ‘A’ mode made the engine feel like it surged too aggressively during delicate throttle situations like moments after hitting the apex of corners. We understand that the objective is to offer options to the riders but we would prefer to have more useful options than the R1 maps offer.

“The Yamaha feels okay… It’s actually pretty similar to the other Japanese bikes ergonomically,” states Gauger. “The dash is easy to read and the riding position isn’t cramped, I just didn’t really like how wide it felt. It was also sort of heavy too, which made it a bit more-tricky to manhandle during low-speed corners and maneuvering it in parking lots.”

A tall first gear makes escaping stop lights on the Yamaha YZF-R1 harder than you’d expect from a liter bike. It requires a fair amount of clutch slippage to get it rolling and that made it difficult to get a perfect launch during drag strip testing. Fortunately the clutch lever action is light and offers good feel which offsets the fact that you have to really drag it to get a good launch. The rest of the drivetrain components including the six-speed transmission, final drive gearing (17/47) and slipper clutch were all rated highly and tied the Honda for second-highest honors.

In our acceleration tests the Yamaha registered a 0-to-60 time of 3.08 seconds which put it last along with the hard-to-launch 1198. Granted both those bikes and the RC8R all took more than three seconds to reach 60 mph. At the drag strip it finished the quarter mile in 10.38 seconds at 139.3 mph, which once again had it languishing near the back of the pack along with the Italian and Austrian Twins. We attributed to its modest engine power output paired with excessive weight and tall first gear to this showing. It gearing was very good for the track this time around, but it hurt the Yamaha in head-to-head performance tests.

Our Dynojet 250i revealed that the R1’s engine, despite being the most popular in terms of exciting the rider’s senses, ranked toward the back of the class in outright power. At 5000 rpm it’s cranking out the lowest amount of torque before eventually catching up with the Kawasaki, BMW and Suzuki for a moment. Shortly thereafter it belts out its peak torque of 75.65 ft-lb at 9000 rpm and then it begins to taper off. The Yamaha R1 does finish ahead of the high-strung ZX-10R in the torque battle but it doesn’t have the same horsepower to make up for it that the Ninja does. The horsepower curve mimics the Kawasaki at lower rpms but it eventually peters out early with its second-lowest in class total of 152.13 hp at 11,800 rpm. Only the 1198 makes less power but again, keep in mind that the 1198, RC8R, CBR, GSX-R and R1 are only five horsepower apart. It’s the pesky Ninja and S1000RR that make the rest of the field seem feeble with their 163 and 183 horsepower figures respectively. Like we mentioned already, what the R1 lacks in outright performance it sure makes up in personality.

In Yamaha’s defense it is operating with the second-quietest exhaust note of 79 dB as measured at idle and the quietest tune of 94 dB at half of max rpm (6750). Many of our testers were raving about how awesome the engine sounds with its guttural roar more related to that of a small-block V8 than a sport bike. Equally as pleasant is how well balanced the engine is, virtually devoid of annoying vibration except at very low rpm, the R1 never makes your hand go numb because of unwanted vibes.

Perhaps it was our heavy throttle hand, but the R1 registered the worst fuel mileage of the test and even finished behind the 200cc larger Twins. We recorded a 28.6 mpg average which equates to a range of 137.2 miles. For comparison the GSX-R was the second-worst Four-Cylinder and it registered 33.9 mpg. The ZX with its small fuel tank and average fuel economy offers the next lowest range at 154 miles, 17-more than the R1. Again, it’s hard to stay off the throttle on the Yamaha though – that engine just sounds so damn good that we would be willing to give up a few mpg just to hear it howl.

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