2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 Project Bike Part 2

December 8, 2010
Adam Waheed
By Adam Waheed
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Watch Motorcycle USA takes to the track at Thunderhill Racewayin the 2010 Yamaha R1 Project Bike Part 2 Video.

In the first installment of the 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 Project Bike Review we increased the overall comfort and thrill factor of the R1 when riding it on the street. For the next phase we wanted to improve the performance of the motorcycle around the racetrack. To do this, we had RG3 Suspension modify the fork and shock, had JETT Tuning re-flash the ECU and fitted a set of Michelin Power One 2CT tires. Visually we cleaned up the back of the bike by fitting a fender eliminator kit from Graves Motorsports.

While the R1 suspension works well at a moderate street pace, when loaded with extra cargo during the course of a multi-day canyon-strafing touring adventure, or when spinning laps at an elevated pace around the racetrack, a fast rider will soon discover the limitations of the stock set-up. The biggest problem is the uneven poise of the chassis during hard acceleration and braking. To try and remedy this we enlisted the assistance of RG3 Suspension.

The Michelin Power 2CT trackday tires serve up more road handling performance on the racetrack.
Added road holding was a clear benefit of the Michelin tire and RG3 Suspension upgrades.
Added road holding grip was a clear benefit of the combination of Michelin tire and RG3 Suspension upgrades.

In the realm of dirt bikes, RG3 is a staple brand renowned for its suspension tuning expertise. Now it is applying its technical know-how to the sportbike world. They began by disassembling the fork and shock. First, heavier duty 1.0 kg/mm springs replaced the 0.92 kg/mm stockers inside the fork. (Pricing detail is provided on the sidebar – Ed.)This was designed to better balance the attitude of the bike during hard braking and corner entry. The stock valves remained but the shim configuration was altered for more progressive action. Out back the 10.0 kg/mm rear shock spring was retained but the internal valving stack was also reconfigured. Both the fork and shock were refilled with fresh Maxima suspension fluids and the nitrogen in the shock body was recharged. Turnaround time was quick with RG3 having the work completed within three business days of us delivering it to its Southern California workshop.
Upon swinging a leg over our RG3-tuned R1 it was immediately apparent how much taller the bike felt which can be attributed to the stiffer fork springs that actually raise the front end slightly. While it couldn’t have changed more than a couple of millimeters it felt like a big increase while riding. Despite the change steering effort felt similar to the stock set-up.

You could feel how much more taut both ends were after RG3 laid hands on them though. When ridden aggressively on the street the pitch of the bike remained even and the rear end wouldn’t “back in” during corner entry as regularly as it does in stock trim. Despite the improvement, damping was a bit too firm for everyday commuting-style road use so we backed off the preload on both ends which increased overall ride suppleness but it was never the same plush level as stock.
To discover how the suspension performed at the racetrack we visited Thunderhill Raceway during a Pacific Track Time trackday event. Right away we could tell that the fork didn’t have enough damping. The front end would still dive quickly and aggressively shift weight forward which in turn made the rear end of the bike unstable during corner entry. We attempted to fix the problem by adding more preload and compression damping but maxed out the adjustment range. Conversely we were pleased with the way the shock worked with it resisting the urge to squat

Deran from RG3 works on the R1s Soqi shock absorber.
Deran from RG3 works on the R1’s Soqi shock absorber. We found out getting our R1 suspension set-up just right, is no easy task.

excessively during full throttle acceleration off corners. Initially we did notice that it had a tendency to pack over bumps in certain corners but after speeding up the rebound it was far more compliant. It also delivered consistent and fade-free performance throughout 20-minute sessions on the track. 
One of the big pluses of RG3 is that if you’re not completely satisfied with the way the suspension works you can bring the bike back to them and they’ll get it right. Based on our feedback they again disassembled the fork and went with a more firm damping set-up. While it continued to work fine on the street at the racetrack it still proved to be too soft.
While initial damping force seemed to be adequate the fork would pass right through the mid-stroke when loaded heavily. We once again returned the fork back to RG3 for another update. This time it increased initial damping to such a level that it didn’t allow the fork to track over bumps when leaned over in a corner. However the pitch control during max braking seemed to be sorted. Given one more try we believe RG3 could have gotten the fork dialed in but we ran out of time and were forced to return the bike to Yamaha. We do plan on revisiting the project with the information we gained when we get an ’11 R1.
With the ever increasing noise and emission ordinances in the U.S. sportbike manufacturers are being forced to de-tune its products to meet new legal initiatives. Since sportbikes are engineered for maximum performance on the racetrack worldwide, manufacturers are choosing to use electronics rather than traditional mechanical modifications to de-tune performance. Welcome to the digital world folks. Fortunately, JETT Tuning has managed to crack some of the code inside the black box. This has allowed them to alter certain parameters of the engine for added performance.

The profile of the Michelin Power One 2CT tires made the R1 steer quicker yet didnt compromise straight-line stability.
The ECU is located beneath the left fairing and is easy to remove.
2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 Project Bike dyno chart JETT Tuning ECU re-flash versus stock.
Check out the increased peak horsepower of our 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 Project Bike before and after we had JETT Tuning ECU re-flash the ECU. Torque didn’t change much.

The re-flash procedure costs $449 and is a fairly simple modification from the user stand point. It is important to note that it does void the manufacturer’s warranty. It can be removed within minutes with a basic set of tools by simply unplugging the ECU located underneath the left fairing. After shipping it off to JETT’s Camarillo, California shop it goes about the business of re-configuring the ECU. Total turnaround time from the day we shipped it to when it was returned was three business days. Installation was equally as easy and within a few minutes the bike is ready to ride. Next to race fuel, this is the simplest performance modification you can make, period.
Flip the key and the first thing you’ll notice is that the throttle drive mode now defaults to “A” mode, the most aggressive throttle setting. While some might like this setting, I prefer “B” mode regardless if I’m riding on the street or racetrack as it reduces throttle response and makes the bike easier to control when ridden aggressively. You can still switch between each of three throttle maps (A, B and Standard) with the handlebar mounted switch.
Fire up the engine and the bike idles at 1600 (+/- 1500) which is a few hundred rpm over stock. This is designed to reduce rear wheel chatter and ease the load on the slipper clutch during aggressive corner entry. It also makes the R1 sound even more bad-ass with our FMF Apex pipes.
At any rpm below 10k it feels like it runs identically as stock with no noticeable difference in power output or engine fueling. Get the motor spooling beyond that threshold and you’ll feel it pull with added urgency compared to stock. As rpm increase it continues to pump out more power enroute to its 162.04 horsepower peak (7.36 more than stock) at 12,500 revs. Power still falls off slightly as it closes in on the rev limiter 1000 rpm later but the engine is still pumping out added horses so it feels vastly improved over stock. Another feature we noticed was the reduced engine braking during deceleration which can be attributed to the fuel injectors continuing to feed the engine with a small amount of fuel during deceleration.

We replaced the OE-fitted Dunlop Qualifer D210 with a premium Michelin Pilot Power 2CT tire.
We replaced the OE-fitted Dunlop Qualifer D210 with a premium Michelin Pilot Power 2CT tire.

Next to the engine and suspension modifications we made, one of the biggest areas of improvement in terms of road performance is the fitment of more high-performance tires. While the standard Dunlop Qualifier D210s provides adequate grip on the street the tires wouldn’t be our first choice for hard core track use. Therefore we mounted up a set of Michelin Power One 2CT tires.
We chose to run the street/trackday version of the French rubber as tested in the Michelin Power One 2CT Tire Comparison Review. The tires can be differentiated from the road racing version we tested in the Michelin Power One Tire Review by looking at the tire’s sidewall and seeing a capital letter within a circle. If the circle is blank you know it’s the street tire, if there is a letter (A, B, C or V) then it is a race tire.
When the tires are fresh they serve up plenty of grip for trackday flogging. They also offer very quick heat up times and reduce the steering effort during corner entry as compared to the stock rubber without comprising straight-line stability. We did notice that the tires don’t offer a whole lot of mileage with the rear tire reaching its service limit in less than 900 miles. Granted half of the miles were accumulated during the course of multiple trackdays, yet still we expected the tires to last longer. We also noticed that the grip levels of the rear tire fell of dramatically as it reached the wear bars.

The Michelin Power One 2CT Tires are available from Motorcycle-Superstore.


The easy to install  59.99 Graves Motorsports R1 Fender Eliminator kit cleans up the rear end of the bike and makes it appear racier.
The easy to install $59.99 Graves Motorsports R1 Fender Eliminator kit cleans up the rear end of the bike and makes it appear racier.

In my eyes the R1 is one of the best looking production sportbikes on the market today. Ditch the OE pipes for a set of   FMF Apex carbon fiber slip-on pipes and it looks even better. Still the absurdly large rear fender detracts from what could be an even better looking machine. Rather than haphazardly hack off the fender we purchased a proper fender eliminator kit from Graves Motorsports. The $59.99 kit consists of a new bracket that relocates the turn signals and license plate closer to the tail section. Installation is straightforward and can be accomplished in a few minutes by removing the stock set-up and attaching the turn signals and plate to the new bracket.

The FMF Apex slip-on pipes are available at Motorcycle-Superstore.

B mode continues to be our preferred drive mode on the R1 as it reduces how jerky the throttle feels when twisted.
“B” mode continues to be our preferred drive mode on the R1 as it reduces the jerky throttle feel when twisted.


With some simple and affordable modifications the R1 proved to be a versatile sportbike both on the street and racetrack. With the addition of some GYTR accessories and luggage it became a much more comfortable street and touring ride during our road trip to the Laguna Seca MotoGP race. On the other end of the spectrum, by reworking the suspension components and fitting more sport-oriented Michelin tires it served up a higher level of performance during cornering on street and track. Sure, we never completely got the front end of the bike to work the way we wanted but we’re optimistic that we could get it set-up with more time. Perhaps our favorite mod in terms of performance however was the boost in engine performance courtesy of the JETT Tuning ECU re-flash. It increased drivability on the street and track not to mention the respectable boost it gave the engine at high rpm for those looking to get some more top end speed out of their R1.