2009 Yamaha R1 First Look

September 8, 2008
Steve Atlas
Steve Atlas
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Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas is the new blood at MotoUSA. Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

Hot on the heels of their very successful redesigned R6 from last year  the much anticipated Yamaha YZF-R1 is all new from top to bottom and it has MotoGP written all over it.
MotoGP for the masses? With the release of the all-new 2009 YZF-R1, Yamaha is taking things one step closer.

Yamaha has come out swinging once again for 2009. Hot on the heels of their very successful redesigned R6 from last year, the much anticipated Yamaha YZF-R1 is all new from top to bottom and it has MotoGP written all over it. Squint a little bit and it even looks like Valentino Rossi’s M1.

The Yamaha PR men have dubbed the radical R1 the “ultimate cornering machine,” which was one of the key areas that they set out to improve over the previous generation. Their idea for the new bike centers around quick turn-in and aggressive acceleration on corner exit. And they did this by utilizing technology derived straight from their GP development.

Like their world championship-leading M1, its littler brother has “mass centralization” on the brain, which the entire motorcycle has been laid out around. An all-new frame now features a cast head pipe and front engine mount while the outside rails are now controlled-fill die-cast, allowing for a much more precisely made unit. The inside rails are extruded and the entire chassis rigidity has been revised for optimum handling. This is mated to a new swingarm that features revised rigidity balance aimed at further improving corner-exit grip.

Taking cues from its younger sibling, the R6, the R-Uno now has a cast magnesium subframe that is ultra light and reduces weight at the the outer edges of the motorcycle to centralize mass.

Suspension was another area they set out to improve. A fully adjustable SOQI fork now utilizes separate damping channels, with the right fork leg in control of rebound and the left leg in control of compression. This M1-inspired system allows for more precise tuning as the oil in each leg only has a single dedicated task. Out back is an updated SOQI shock that is adjustable for both high- and low-speed compression as well as rebound. Preload is now handled via a hydraulic adjuster so you won’t even break a sweat when making major spring adjustments.

Keeping with the adjustability theme, Yamaha made the rearsets adjustable in two positions, with the standard, lower position aimed at taller riders looking for a more “open” ergonomics. The high position raises the pegs 15mm up while setting them 3mm further back, designed to provide additional ground clearance for more aggressive riding.

Braking is handled by 310mm dual front disks that are gripped with six-piston calipers and is feed by a Brembo radial-mount master cylinder. The clutch master cylinder is also radial-mount and made by Brembo. Five-spoke aluminum wheels shod with Dunlop rubber round out the equation.

Like their world championship-leading M1  its littler brother has  mass centralization  on the brain  which the entire motorcycle has been laid out around.
The 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 features MotoGP tech like a crossplane crankshaft. The new literbike from Yamaha also makes use of a three-position power mode switch – similar to the A, B, C setup on the Suzuki GSX-R lineup.

Ram-air integrated headlight housings are a first for the sport bike world. The lights no longer have clear covers over the front, instead exposing the dual projector beams, on the outside of which are the ram-air intakes. They are almost hidden to the untrained eye, as it looks like a tradition headlight, but upon closer inspection you can see the scoops which go from the outside of the lights and wrap around back to the airbox. This is complimented by a layered bodywork design which optimizes aerodynamic efficiency as well as pulling the hot air away from the engine and dispersing it out either side, keeping the bike running much cooler. Quite unique, but the R1 has always been known as a trend setter.

All that being said, we saved the big news for last: The engine! Entirely new, the 998cc inline-four has an even shorter stroke (1.4mm less than the previous model) with a compression ratio of 12.7:1. The entire engine is more compact with a much smaller fore/aft design to better balance the weight in the chassis. Forged aluminum pistons now mate to “fracture-split” connecting rods that are cast as a complete piece and then split in two to make for perfect tolerances.

Mikuni fuel injectors feed the engine through 12-hole sprayers with the aid of secondary injectors for better high-rpm running. YCC-T chip controlled throttle and YCC-I chip controlled intake are still a key part of the R1 design, with the variable intake now opening up at 9400 rpm. Furthermore, a three-position switch on the right handlebar allows for the choice of different throttle settings – one for standard full-power mode; “A” mode that “puts more emphasis on low-mid range” and “B” mode that lessens throttle response for riding in adverse conditions or by less experienced riders.

Pulled straight from the MotoGP machine, and for the first time in a production motorcycle, Yamaha has fitted the R1 with a crossplane crankshaft. This design is not the “big bang” most had thought it was. This design puts each crank journal 90 degrees apart and on two different planes, verses the standard design that puts them on one plane. This makes for an uneven firing order that is said to make for a much more linear connection between the throttle and driving force. It also is said to improve torque while sill maintaining high rpm power.

Rounding out the beast is a new dash that is highlighted with a programmable shift light and a gear position indicator, which Yamaha says was highly requested from consumers. Colors are the traditional Yamaha Racing Blue, as well as Raven Black with red accents and yellow and black. Plus, in a throw back to the original 1998 R1, the iconic white and red is back, and it looks hot! Retail price is $12,390 for the blue and $12,490 for the rest, and they will be hitting dealer floors mid-January.

It’s also worth pointing out that the R1’s litter brother, the R6 gets two new colors (Vivid Orange and Pearl White) for ’09 to go with the Yamaha Racing Blue and Raven Black from last year. It also has updated YCC-T throttle settings designed to improve corner-exit drive while only losing a slight bit of top-end power. Retail price is $9990 for the black, $10,090 for the blue and $10,190 for the orange and white, and they are rolling into dealers now.

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