The Jamie James R1 takes a stock bike and turns it into a thing of rare beauty by adding on the finest components available.
A couple of years ago, MCUSA correspondent Neale Bayly got a chance to ride a Yamaha R1 that was fettled by none other than former AMA Superbike champ Jamie James. The Jamie James Productions R1 was a fantastic-if-pricey limited-run bike, and now the affable Cajun is at it again with the latest edition of the JJP-R1. Once again, Sir Neale provides the evocative ride report.
Flicking effortlessly left and right, occasionally feeling my knee puck touching down, I am absolutely in the groove. Powering out of the turns with the front wheel skimming the tarmac, I am easily able to control how much the front wheel lifts, before rolling off, touching the front brake lever and diving into the next corner.
Somewhere in the middle of the world-famous Tail of the Dragon, I am about as close to motorcycle nirvana as I can get. Taking a quick look at the digital speedo on the short straights, the fact there are three numbers on the readout means we are traveling. There is absolutely no stress behind the bars, though, as this is one machine that could most definitely take a whole lot more than I am throwing at it.
Riding the new Jamie James Productions R1 at speed is an experience that for once in my life I am having trouble figuring how to put into words. How can I explain why this bike costs close to twenty grand more than a stock R1?
Ten minutes later, sitting at the Deals Gap Motorcycle resort, the answer to my problem presents itself in the shape of a local hero riding a race-replica Honda. Race fans will be familiar with former AMA Superbike champ Jamie James and his tuner Doug Crawford, but not this guy.
While chatting about my findings, the newly arrived super hero is busily telling anyone in ear shot how wonderful he is. Moments later, he is challenging Jamie with the question, “So, what’s so special about this bike?”
Watching Doug’s eyes roll and marveling at Jamie’s patience as he attempts to explain the much-modified ’05 JJP-R1, it becomes immediately clear how to explain one of the most amazing motorcycles ever built for the street.
Ripping around the asphalt at or near triple-digit speeds brought our correspondent about as close to motorcycle nirvana as is humanly possible.
Strolling off to make some notes, I wonder if our race-replica riding friend has watched any motorcycle racing lately, or if the names Troy Corser or Colin Edwards mean anything to him. With three World Superbike Championships between them, the first thing both of them would do if they saw Jamie would be to shake his hand, as it is not too many years since they were battling him on the racetracks of America. And, had it not been for Jamie having a mechanical breakdown during the last race of the season in 1994, Troy Corser would not have an American Superbike Championship. Although Jamie would just say, “That’s racing.”
Parked up with a bunch of other sportbikes, I have got to admit the JJP-R1 is extremely understated. No wild, graphic paint job, no chrome, no go-faster stickers, mirrored windshields or neon light kits. Just an extremely clean, purposeful R1 with some serious looking hardware, and a fascinating paint scheme that seems to change color in every different light situation. Cooked up by the Cajun crazies, they called the color, “Boiled Crawfish,” after Jamie’s famous claw on his old race helmet.
Look closely at the bodywork and you will see a small tuning fork on the gas tank. The words Yamaha are boldly added to the lower fairing, but you have to look pretty close to see the Jamie James Productions’ logo on the tailpiece and front fairing. There is also a small claw and R1 logo on the front fairing, as well as color matched air scoops, but that’s it for decals.
As with all of Jamie’s bikes, Ohlins is responsible for the fork, shock and steering damper. The rear shock is a fully adjustable unit with a remote hydraulic pre-load adjuster and the provision for tuning high- and low-speed compression damping independently. The fork is Ohlins Road and Track with Superbike internals, and ride in a custom JJP aircraft aluminum triple clamp with adjustable JJP bars attached. Look closely at the triple clamp and you will see a crawfish claw etched in the top. Jamie chose a spring rate of 9.5 as the best compromise for street riding, but for more aggressive or heavier riders this can easily be changed. I weigh 180 pounds and found the settings just perfect and just in awe of the way the bike reacts to bumps. Basically it is like throwing a huge rock into a pond and watching the ripples gradually dying away. With the Ohlins suspension, the splash of the rock hitting the water would represent the bump, but where the ripples would represent the stock suspensions reaction, the pond would immediately be smooth with the Ohlins.
The Jamie James R1 boasts a nice jump of midrange power and weighs in 30 pounds lighter than a stocker.
The Ohlins steering damper, located inside the fairing, is responsible for keeping the handlebars right where they should be every time the front wheel leaves the ground or comes back into contact with it. What can I say here? I have never ridden a bike on the road that can so viciously rip the front wheel off the tarmac. Out on a quiet stretch of road along a nearby lake I got on it hard in second gear. Immediately sending the bike into a near balance-point wheelie, I rolled off a little to bring the front wheel down before nailing it to feel all the available horsepower. Shift light blinking at me 200 rpm short of the 13,700 redline, I went for third and felt the front wheel lightly bump the floor. It had been off the deck for the whole length of second gear, and re-acquainting itself with terra firma at around 120 mph didn’t even so much as send a twitch or shimmy through the bars.
The forward thrust of the JJP-R1 is deceptive. Sounding ver y similar the Graves R1 we got to hammer around Willow Springs a couple of months ago, the bike makes a very distinctive noise due to the revised cam timing. As with the previous JJP-R1, the engine has been pulled and the head sent away to Robert Reeves for some serious treatment. Receiving a full radius valve job, the combustion chambers are cleaned up and the valves relieved for better flow. A Yamaha race kit head gasket is used, but everything underneath is bone stock. Jamie reckons there is a small increase in compression, but not enough to stop the bike from running on pump gas or sacrifice reliability.
On the local dyno at altitude, the bike produced an extra 15 horsepower and 17.5% more torque. Responsible for a big chunk of this power increase is an Akrapovic pipe and Power Commander. As one of the most visually stimulating pieces of hardware on the JJP-R1, the titanium pipes exit under the seat into a pair of carbon fiber cans. And that is the extent of the engine modifications, as Jamie wants the bike to remain street-able with a mile-wide powerband. And a mile-wide powerband it has. Making good strong power from as low as 4000 rpm, the bike just keeps pulling harder and harder all the way to redline, and you better be hanging on.
The Ohlins steering damper, located inside the fairing, is responsible for keeping the handlebars right where they should be every time the front wheel leaves the ground or comes back into contact with it.
Complimenting the extra power, the bike has also lost somewhere close to 30 pounds in weight. The Akrapovic pipe contributes to this particular part of the Atkins plan, as do the stunning Blackstone Tek carbon fiber wheels. Saving about 5 pounds per wheel, they do more to alter the characteristics of the JJPR1 than any other component. There is no denying, as light as it is, the stock R1 is still a literbike and requires some muscle to transition back and forward in the tight stuff. Even on racetrack settings and race compound tires, the R1 takes more turning effort than the ZX-10R or the GSX-R1000.
Not so with the Cajun rendition of the beast. Turning effort is radically decreased, and running hard along the Dragon with its 318 turns in 11 miles, there is probably no other place in the world where this is going to be more noticeable. The bike just tips in and lifts back up with little more than a thought, and the difference is almost as radical as riding a Superbike with 16.5 inch rims after riding one with stock 17-inchers.
While on the subject of radical, just take a look at the brake setup and take a deep breath. There is absolutely no need for any more brakes on the street, and I can’t think of too many people who would need more on the track. The way these things send the digital speedometer numbers back to zero is like being smacked between the eyes with a length of two-by-four. Performing a few quick stops from speed, I made a mental note to start doing push ups and checked the inside of my helmet to make sure I didn’t have a nosebleed. Sourced from GP Tech, the AP Racing system uses two master cylinders and dual radial-mount pistons to push the brake fluid through Goodridge lines to the four-piston calipers. These clamp down on 320mm full floating rotors and use race-compound Ferodo pads.
Sure you’d have to get another mortgage to buy it, but the JJP-R1 will get grab the attention of beautiful women who instinctively want to pose on it.
What is so cool about this system is, one master cylinder and one piston work on each disc, which means in the event of brake failure you are still going to have one disc working. Also, you can adjust the lever to your required hand position, and set how hard or soft you want the initial travel. Essentially making it an adjustable 17mm-20mm setup, all the way soft would be the same as having a 17mm piston, and hard would be the 20mm. Very trick stuff. Out back, a stock R1 caliper and pads squeeze a Wave rotor, with a good bit of lever travel before lock up.
Attached to the rear wheel, a Vortex sprocket carries a 520 Regina chain, and Doug tells me the bike is running stock gearing. He also reels off some of the other parts used on the bike: windscreen; carbon fiber side panels and front and rear fenders; STM slipper clutch from Lockhart Phillips; rear-sets; titanium brake bolts; and brake light banjo from GP Tech. Just listening to him go through the grocery list of parts makes me realize just how much thought and preparation have gone into this motorcycle.
Doug tells me he sourced the BPD quick-shift system from Mat Mladin’s former crew chief Ammar Bazzaz. It’s one of my favorite parts of the bike. Requiring nothing more than a tap of your foot to select the next cog, it makes short shifting up through the gears an absolute pleasure. At full throttle and high revs all you do is hit the shifter, and for perfect changes at lower rpm roll off the throttle a tad before making your shift. Just adding to the ease with which the JJP-R1 devours the tarmac, it is going straight to the top of my “gotta have one” list.
Out under the hot North Carolina sun among the many sportbikes enjoying the Dragon as I put my notebook away, Jamie is still getting his ear bent. With an American Superbike championship, two Supersport titles, two Suzuki Cup championships and a reputation as one of America’s hardest riding road racers, to meet Jamie you would never know. Quietly spoken, and incredibly modest about his incredible achievements, Jamie lets his results on the track and the motorcycles he builds do the talking for him.
The reason the JJPR1 is so enjoyable to ride is the certain knowledge that you are at the controls of the finest equipment available.
Our new race-replica hero, on the other hand, is obviously a legend in his own mind and more than willing to share his greatness with anyone in earshot. His stock machine with bold “look at me” graphics shows that he probably couldn’t appreciate a quietly understated machine like the JJP-R1: A machine that has been built to satisfy the true performance motorcycle connoisseur who simply won’t accept anything but the best and can afford the lofty $38,900 price tag for a seriously well-sorted bit of exotica.
With the day beginning to slip away, I get back into the hot seat of the JJP-R1 and fire the beast to life. Listening to the low growling from the pipes, it is time to head back down US 28 for my last ride. Ahead of me the road is empty and for the next half hour I enjoy the unequaled experience of carving along one of the finest motorcycling roads in America. Beneath me, the JJP-R1 is devouring the road, totally within its limits, and I know I could be riding so much harder if I wanted to. And it is this knowing that you are riding on the finest equipment available that makes the experience so incredible, because, “if you have to ask, you don’t get it.”
Jamie James Productions: Phone: 828/683-2538
Let us know what you think of the 2006 Jamie James Productions R1 in the MCUSA Forum. Click Here