One area where many of us feel the Yamaha R1 could use some improvement is braking. Not so much with respect to power-the four-pad, six-piston/radial-mount calipers biting on 310mm stainless steel discs have the capability to bleed off speed as quickly as other bikes. It's more in the feel and feedback department where the Yamaha's brakes are lacking. Especially as the speeds pick up when racetrack tarmac comes into play; the R1's brakes' feel and response can only be described as wooden, with a response curve that's neither linear nor progressive. High effort at the lever may get you good stopping power, but the numb feedback doesn't let you know exactly how much power you're using.
Galfer USA Performance Braking Systems-who have been working with the Makita Rockstar Yoshimura Suzuki team in AMA Pro roadracing competition for over 10 years-heard our complaints, and sent us a set of its Superbike Wave rotors, G1003 race brake pads, and stainless steel braided brake lines to try out. Any brake system that can withstand the punishment that former riders Ben Spies (three-time AMA Superbike champion, '09 World Superbike Champion, and current MotoGP rookie sensation) and Mat Mladin (seven-time AMA Superbike champion) can dish out is definitely worth a look in our opinion.
The Galfer Superbike Wave rotors are made from a "proprietary 420 high carbon stainless steel" according to Galfer, which has increased memory retention during heat cycles, meaning that the metal will always stay the same shape during manufacture; this provides much better consistency of product during its lifespan. The discs are precisely cut by laser, which eliminates the metal stress that occurs with conventional stamped discs that can lead to cracking. The Galfer Wave rotors also not only have the "wave cut" on the outer edge, but also on the inner edge as well, which Galfer claims equalizes heat transfer and dissipates it much faster. The rotors are then cryogenically treated (frozen to extremely low temperatures in a special process) for greater durability and performance.
The Superbike Wave rotors for the R1 weighed a total of 5.44 pounds, versus the stock rotor assembly's 5.80 pounds. Not exactly an earth-shattering drop in weight, although it should be pointed out that not only is unsprung weight loss exponentially more important, but also that the loss is rotating weight, which makes a difference at speed. Installation was quick and easy (you need to be sure to mount each disc so that the "waves" alternate from each side, i.e., do not mount them in identical positions).
Break-in time for the Galfer brakes was moderate, requiring around 50 miles of progressively hard use before they were fully bedded in. Once they were broken in, however, their performance was superb, offering up slightly more power than stock with a world of a difference in feel, progressiveness, and feedback. No longer would you charge into a corner and wonder exactly how much more lever pressure you could get away with before the tire would begin to lock up; the Galfers provided enough feel to allow you to explore the wider performance envelope with confidence. Initial bite was strong, but not as crisp as you usually get with sintered metal pads. The harder you worked the Galfers and the hotter they got, the better they seemed to work. The Superbike Wave rotors and G1003 pad compound is intended for track use and not recommended for the street, so that performance during very hard use is to be expected; but we also rode with them on the street, and found their performance to be adequate in those conditions as well (although we can't vouch for their effectiveness in the rain). Galfer will be sending us a 1375 compound that they feel will work better in street use, and we'll let you know the results.
The Superbike Wave rotors retail for $987.00 for a pair of 5.0mm-thick units; some Superbike teams are using thicker 6.0mm and even 6.5mm discs, with price going up accordingly. The Superbike rotors have a free lifetime cleaning service, meaning you can send them back once per racing season to have Galfer sandblast them and re-install new floating buttons at no charge if needed. The G1003 brake pads for the six-piston R1 caliper retail for $120, although regular four-piston caliper models only cost $85.00. The regular stainless steel brake line kit retails for $98.00 for the front pair, $54.00 for the rear. For more information, log onto www.galferusa.com.
With the advent of honeycomb catalyzers in nearly every current sportbike's stock OEM exhaust in order to clean up emissions, many manufacturers have chosen to fit them inside the under-engine collectors that are common on many sportbikes today. The Yamaha R1 with its underseat exhaust, however, has its catalyzer built inline with the exhaust collector just underneath the right footpeg. Thus many aftermarket exhaust manufacturers have now developed "3/4" slip-on exhausts that replace the stock piping all the way down past the catalyzer. Yoshimura R&D; was one of the first to come out with this new type of slip-on exhaust, and we decided to give one a try.
The stock R1 mufflers and much of the piping are made from titanium, so they are surprisingly light for OEM pieces. The Yoshimura R-77 3/4 slip-on unit we were supplied with was the carbon muffler/carbon end cap version, with stainless steel piping for the rest of the exhaust. The stock components that were replaced by the Yoshimura exhaust (mufflers, brackets, muffler piping and collector with catalyzer) weighed a total of 18.84 pounds; the complete Yoshimura system weighs 14.12 pounds, equating to a total weight loss of 4.72 pounds. When the OE manufacturer uses titanium in its stock componentry, it's hard to cut weight.
Mounting up the Yoshimura exhaust on the R1 is a bit more time-consuming than the average under-engine pipe, because there are a lot of brackets and supports attached to the rear subframe hidden beneath the tailsection bodywork that requires the removal of said bodywork. This necessitates some patience and a careful hand, as there is some wiring attached to the brake light that is difficult to get to, and the bodywork must be worked around the rear subframe to be removed. Once the brackets and piping for the Yoshimura exhaust was lined up, installation went pretty smoothly. The stainless steel tubing uses slip-fit junctions and spring retainers, so a little muscle is required to get everything to fit properly, but nothing out of the ordinary. An O2 attachment bung for the stock O2 sensor is supplied with the collector. Our only concern was that the plastic heat guard on the right footpeg lost one of its attachment points in the transition to the new exhaust, and even though a nice metal heatshield for the upper portion of the exhaust is supplied, we were a little worried about the stock plastic guard moving and getting melted on the hot exhaust. We never had a problem after several months of use, but we'd probably fabricate something to fasten it securely.
The R-77 provided a major boost in low-end and midrange power, with as much as 10 horsepower more from 5000 to 6000 rpm. This translates to a much more fun R1 on the street, with a much livelier acceleration from a stop that doesn't require so much clutch slip to overcome the seriously tall first gear. The gains aren't as much as the rpm rises toward the top, with slightly more than one horsepower over stock; but the midrange boost is worth it in our opinion, along with the exhaust note that brings visions of the YZR-M1 MotoGP machine at full song.
The R-77 is also supplied with small bolt-in inserts for the muffler openings that quell a lot of the exhaust's loudness. Interestingly, they not only quiet the exhaust note, they also provide a bump in midrange power over the exhaust with the inserts removed. Without the inserts, top-end power increases by about 1.5 horsepower, but the midrange gains get chopped significantly. We left them in, as the extra loudness wasn't worth that small of a top-end gain that you'll rarely ever use.
The R-77 3/4 carbon slip-on is a bit pricey at a $1349 retail (the stainless muffler and end cap version is $1059), but most exhausts of this type are around this price range, and we were happy with the midrange power boost. For more information, log onto www.yoshimura-rd.com or call (909) 627-9249. -K.K.