Traction levels are consistent and the tire never “goes off” even through a full 30-minute session. Another bonus was how compatible the tires were with the bike.
Most of us remember the time when we first discovered motorcycling. For a lucky few it was as a kid riding with the family. Or perhaps it was on your neighbor’s rusty, oil-leaking dirt bike. Well, for me it was when one of my friends rolled into our high school parking lot on a shiny new sportbike. That was it. I knew right then that I had to have one. A few months later and after what seemed like never ending early mornings at school followed by late nights working, I had a big enough down payment to make one my own.
And it didn’t take me long to realize one of the simple joys of sportbike ownership – styling it out. At the time I was all about looking cool. The fluorescent green windscreen, the obnoxiously loud aftermarket muffler; yeah, I was that guy and I loved it.
Since then a lot has changed in the sportbike accessory world. Not only has the quality of the finished product increased, but the sheer abundance of aftermarket options has exploded. Even the OEMs now recognize how popular accessorizing your bike is and many, like Yamaha, have a full catalog of dealer available parts to up-style your ride. So after a decade or so since our first attempt at pimpin’ our ride, we’re having another go with the goal of improving or bike’s performance and overall grin factor on both the street and the racetrack – all without the gaudy green windscreen.
If you’re a sportbike enthusiast then the 2008 Yamaha YZF-R1 needs little introduction. This iconic-looking 1000 was the original liter-classer. Its combination of an agile, lightweight chassis, powerful high-revving engine all wrapped in edgy, streamlined bodywork set the standard for fashionable sportbikes. At a standstill the R1 exudes both speed and style. And when in the saddle, a simple wide-open rap of the throttle in any gear is all it takes for it to get your attention – fast.
We began our endeavor buy installing some of Yamaha’s aforementioned GYTR accessories. All the components are direct replacement and can be installed at home by most garage mechanics.
First, a replacement comfort seat was installed with an extra layer of gel padding for enhanced coziness on those long rides. Externally the seat features some detailed embroidery as well as an R1 logo emblazed on it.
We also put on a dark smoke windshield that looks far sportier on the street, yet when tucked in behind it at speed you can still see through it. A carbon fiber tank pad and a carbon fiber trim piece on the triple clamp help give it more of a personalized look, as does the solo rear seat cowl.
GYTR Dual Slip-On Carbon Fiber Mufflers (designed for closed-course use only) replaced the plain looking stockers. Installation was almost too easy. Simply loosen the rear tail section, then unbolt the stock mufflers where they are mounted in the tail section as well as where they connect to the exhaust mid-pipe and voila’ your done. Installation was literally a 30-minute ordeal start to finish. Since the R1 is fuel-injected no jetting changes were necessary. After installation, the bike ran reasonably well, however, if you really want to optimize fueling you’re going to need an aftermarket fuel-injection module (more on that later.)
We were surprised by how light the stock mufflers have become, but the replacements were even lighter. We were also astonished by the fit and finish of the pipes. The carbon fiber is real and looks super trick yet the brushed stainless-steel end caps help keep things elegant. Typically, there is some period of break-in with mufflers when they eventually get louder, but after over a thousand miles both on the street and racetrack, they sound exactly the same as the day we installed them – deep and throaty, and as long as you keep the rpms low they aren’t overly loud. However, swing the throttle wide-open for a second and you’ll instantly become the bad boy in your neighborhood, so use some discretion. Keeping them looking good has also been a painless exercise as the carbon fiber is simple to wipe down, although the end caps do need a little more TLC as they get pretty hot and grease and road grime more easily sticks to them.
To match the increased airflow through our upgraded mufflers we installed a GYTR High Flow Air Filter. The GYTR piece is a direct replacement for the OE paper filter. Not only does the filter flow more air while still providing excellent filtration, it’s washable, meaning it’s the last air filter you’ll ever have to purchase for your R1.
Horsepower and torque gains were modest with the GYTR High Flow Air Filter and GYTR Carbon Fiber Slip-On’s, however, once mapped properly throttle response was far more precise and overall driveability was significantly improved.
When installed together, however, the stock fuel-injection mapping can’t keep pace with the increased flow in and out of the engine. Most of the time the engine runs reasonably well but on deceleration it would pop and sputter – exhibiting tell tale signs of a lean, fuel starved engine. Unfortunately the bikes fueling requirements can’t be directly changed via the stock ECU, which means that an aftermarket fuel injection module needs to be installed.
This led us to Bazzaz Performance, whose Southern California operation has become renowned for its sophisticated engine management products; which were originally developed while founder, Ammar Bazzaz, worked as an engineer for the Yoshimura Suzuki squad during current AMA Superbike rider, Mat Mladin’s first three AMA Superbike titles in 1999-2001. Currently Bazzaz has developed an entire line of state-of-the-art engine management hardware and software that bring superbike levels of technology to the consumer.
We knew we needed a fuel-injection module so we could remap the Yamaha’s eight fuel-injectors for a stronger, more precise running machine. Bazzaz Performance solves that problem with its all encompassing aftermarket unit that incorporates the fuel module, a quick shifter and traction control. Yes, traction control!
We lugged our bike over to Bazzaz’s combined design and manufacturing facility and engineer Chris West began the task of installing the Z-Fi TC system. The setup itself is comprised of an additional black box (looks like another ECU) and another wiring harness that simply plugs in and works in tandem with the original wiring harness. It uses all of the bikes OE sensors so installation is literally plug-and-play but it did require removal of the rear seat, fuel tank, airbox, side lowers, as well as lowering the radiator in order to access the spark plug coils.
Also installed was an optional 12-position Traction Control Adjustment Switch which includes an up/down map selection toggle mounted on the left handlebar. The TC switch allows the rider to adjust the traction control sensitivity on-the-fly while the map toggle enables the rider to choose between two different pre-programmed fueling maps.
Installation was completed in about three hours. Afterwards we put the bike on Bazzazs’ in-house dyno in order to build a custom map for our bike. (Each kit comes with a pre-built map for your application, however if you want to do it right you’re going to need to build a custom map.)
Before rolling it on the dyno, West installed the optional Z-AFM Air Fuel Mapping Kit which consists of an air fuel sensor and amplifier box that plugs into the any of the Z-Fi products, and allows for self-mapping of the motorcycle.
Yeah, no joke, the system actually builds its own map by itself! All the user or tuner needs to do is ride the motorcycle on the street, track or dyno and the ultra-sophisticated Z-Fi module computes optimum fueling for every 500 rpm and 10% of throttle position input based on the user selected air-fuel ratio. Each Z-Fi system also includes a USB cable and proprietary Z-Fi Mapper Software that permits tuners to make adjustments to any of the fuel map, quick shift, or traction control settings.
An optional 12-position Traction Control Adjustment Switch which includes an up/down map selection toggle, both mounted on the left handlebar. The TC switch allows the rider to adjust the traction control sensitivity on-the-fly while the map toggle enables the rider to choose between two different pre-programmed fueling maps.
Now that our R1 was running impeccably, it was time for us to test it out on the open road on our way up to this year’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. As soon as we thumbed the starter it was clear that we had a far better running motorcycle than before. Throttle response at all rpm’s had increased significantly and the popping and backfiring that we had encountered with the stock map was completely eliminated. The precise fueling is complemented well by the quick shifter, which allows for fast and easy wide-open throttle upshifts. It’s like you have one long gear – simply slam the throttle open and bang gears as fast as you can. After experiencing the rapid shifting bliss of the quick shifter, it makes bikes with conventional shifters passe.
Even more impressive is the traction control. Despite what you’d think out on the street it’s highly noticeable when in its maximum plus-5 setting. Under hard acceleration when the tires are cold, you can hear the bike sputtering and cutting out. And when the tires eventually warm-up it becomes less noticeable, but when you try and loft a second gear wheelie, it doesn’t actually sound like its cutting out but power is reduced which makes it really hard to loft the front wheel up. However, you can simply dial back the handlebar mounted switch which lessens its effects and can even be turned off completely.
We never really experienced any sketchy situations in which to test the TC system on the street, so we brought it out to a Pacific Track Time trackday at Buttonwillow Raceway. The racetrack and the 100-degree weather typical at B-willow in the summer meant we were going to need some sticky, high-quality rubber that wouldn’t put us into the gravel. So we mounted up Bridgestone’s newest street tires: the Battlax BT-016.
Developed courtesy of our leather-clad friends in MotoGP, the new ‘Stones feature multiple compound construction. The front tire features a 3-Layer Compound (3LC). A center compound for stable handling and good wear resistance is joined on each side by a softer shoulder compound for increased grip and good feedback at lean. The rear tire takes things a step further by utizing their proprietary 5-Layer Compound (5LC) technology. Like the front, the center compound gives good stability and wear resistance, while a slightly softer compound is sandwiched between the even softer shoulder compound, which provide great side grip and feel at full lean.
Between the Bridgestone BT-016 tires and the Bazzaz traction control system the only thing keeping Heed from pushing our R1 any harder was the fear of scuffing his spiffy new Shift leathers.
We began our day at the track with the traction control system set totally off. And we’ve got to hand it to Bridgestone as the new Battlax street tire is fantastic. Not only do they warm-up incredibly quickly, the outright grip and feel, especially from the rear, is out of this world.
Given the temperatures were over a 100-degrees the tires definitely became a bit greasy after only a few laps, but when they did spin it was always controllable and never caught us off guard. Traction levels are consistent and the tire never “goes off” even through a full 30-minute session. Another bonus was how compatible the tires were with the bike. Only a few quick suspension changes were necessary and the tires didn’t seem to make the bike any more nervous yet still kept a pleasant amount of side-to-side flickability.
Once we were comfortable we started dialing in the traction control setting. I had originally thought that it would be the end all cure to rear-end slides. I assumed that it would be just like the system in my car where you mash the accelerator and the tires don’t squirm whatsoever. But on the R1 it was far different. You could still spin the rear tire on command. It did, however, quell the power when under hard acceleration out of the corner. Before we hit the track next time we’re going to experiment with an additional TC internal setting to see if we can get it to cut in earlier at our next trackday.
For Phase 2 of our project R1 we’re going to send our fork off to Traxxion Dynamics for some internal modifications as well as installing a new Penske rear shock. We’re also going to install a few accessories from Lockhart Phillips USA that will help enhance its looks out on the streets. Stay tuned…
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