The R1's racetrack orientation is apparent in most situations where you're not riding aggressively. Although there's plenty of room for taller riders (especially with the footpegs set in the 15mm lower of two positions), the seat padding is racetrack firm, as are the overall spring and damping rates at both ends. Even softened up in an attempt to handle the imperfections of urban pavement, the Yamaha's suspension still retained a compression damping harshness that would send a jolt back to the rider over bumps, and combined with the stiff ride of the new OEM-spec Dunlop D210 Sportmax tires (more on that later) made traveling over rough tarmac a sometimes sketchy proposition. Another commuting aspect of the R1 that hasn't changed is the heat emanating from the underseat exhaust; expect to get your thighs roasted medium rare in traffic.
Despite the new secondary injectors in each throttle body delivering more fuel at high rpms, the crossplane-crankshaft engine is no thirstier than its predecessor. Our test unit averaged 31 mpg, although it would dip down into the 26-29 mpg range when ridden aggressively, and even though the low fuel light was fairly optimistic (coming on with almost one gallon still left in the 4.8-gallon tank), it still meant that overall range is limited to about 150-160 miles depending on your riding style. Wind protection from the low-cut windscreen and slender fairing was surprisingly good, and the mirrors provide a decent rearward view.
The crossplane-crank engine is incredibly smooth at any situation other than the aforementioned lower-rpm lugging scenario. There's no buildup of high-frequency vibration as the rpms rise, and the engine's silky demeanor and gruff exhaust note can be deceptive at times, making you think that you're turning lower rpm than you really are…until you sneak a glance at the tach or the shift light begins blinking in your face.
The different firing order...
The different firing order of the crossplane crankshaft necessitates different routing for the header pipes and collectors of the exhaust. Exhaust system is all titanium construction.
The new R1’s dash layout is...
The new R1’s dash layout is laid out much better compared to the previous model, with a more compact setup that includes a better-positioned shift light. Damping is separately handled with each Soqi fork leg; compression adjuster is on the top of the left fork, rebound on the right.
The R1’s seat has been moved...
The R1’s seat has been moved forward almost 8mm to bring the rider closer to the front for better weight distribution. Padding is racetrack firm, but wide and supportive.
R Is For The Real Thing
It's difficult to describe just how mesmerizing the R1's power is when the Yamaha is given the whip coming off a corner. There's all the in-your-face acceleration that you'd expect from a 1000cc inline four, but with a sense of controllability and feel that transcends all the conventional characteristics of that engine configuration. Throttle response is immediate and precise (in the standard mode of the Yamaha D-Mode system) without that fierce and razor-sharp edge that can threaten to upset the tires and chassis in midcorner, meaning you can feed in more throttle and not have to guess what you'll get in return. It's like a form of traction control directly connected to your brain that can still allow monster drives off corner exits without pulling back power and torque.
We actually found the more aggressive A mode to be a bit too forceful while canyon-carving. The first 10 percent of throttle movement seems to yield what feels like 40 percent throttle in the same space, requiring an extremely delicate hand on the throttle to avoid upsetting the steering and forcing you off your intended line. To tell you the truth, we weren't that fond of A mode on the racetrack in the slower corners, either, and that was with sticky DOT race tires and much wider pavement to work with; on the confining and unknown lanes of public roads, it became an exercise in concentration that quickly got tiresome.
There's plenty of good steam available from 5000 rpm on up, with a distinct—but not abrupt or hard-hitting—jump in power around 9000 rpm, meaning you can utilize the engine's torque to keep corner momentum high. Acceleration remains strong and linear on up to well into the five-digit rpm range, with the off-tone YZR-M1 MotoGP exhaust note singing a song like no other. Who said inline fours can't have character or charisma?