We've been itching to get a 2007 R1 for street duties ever since we turned laps on the new Yamaha literbike at the press intro in November.
Kenny came back from the new YZF-R1
's press introduction at the renowned Laguna Seca race circuit raving about improved midrange power and greater feedback from its overhauled chassis.
But there were a few things he couldn't examine, such as how its dyno curve compares with the older bike, how much it weighs on our digital scales, and what it's like to ride on the street. We now have those answers.
We filled the R1's 4.75-gallon fuel tank and rolled it over the scales to see a number of 454 pounds. Subtracting the weight of the fuel onboard reveals a tank-empty weight of 425 pounds, which is 4 more than the 2004-2006 version, partially due to the bike's new slipper clutch which is heavier than a standard clutch. Compared with the numbers we got during our 2006 Superbike Smackdown, this new R1 slots in as the heaviest. Yamaha
's literbike has a generous 51.8% of its weight on the front wheel, a 0.5% increase over last year and the most forward-biased in this class.
As for how the new four-valve engine compares with the old five-valve mill, that's mostly a big upside. We're happy to report that midrange power, one of the few aspects lacking in the previous edition, has received a healthy boost.
A comparison of power curves exposes the '07 bike's advantage, as it makes more power nearly everywhere. The improvement is especially noticeable in the 6800-10,000 rpm range, where the new bike cranks out a perceptible boost. Impressively, our fresh R1 cranked out a bodacious 156.4 hp peak, quite a step up from the 148.5 from 2006. Torque is similarly affected, with a peak of 74.9 lb-ft at 9600 rpm compared to the 71.4 lb-ft peak of the old bike (at a higher 10,000 rpm).
The new R1 doesn't deviate much from its predecessor's styling, but this is still one of the prettiest sportbikes on the block.
Sadly, it's not perfect in the engine room, and this becomes evident each time you have to get going after a stop. Power below 4000 rpm is scant, despite what the dyno chart shows. It's as if the airbox swallowed a sock while the bike tries to clear its throat, a frustrating situation when sitting atop a 156-hp missile and having to slip the clutch like a 125 GP bike when leaving a stop light.
Aside from this tuning anomaly, the new R1 carries over most of the admirable traits from the old bike plus a few new treats. Although there's not much call for the back-torque-limiting clutch on the street, it's a handy card to have up your sleeve when riding in the upper register of the tach. It's a good unit, no doubt, but it's a bit harsher during engagement than the buttery Cinderella slipper in, say, Kawasaki's ZX series.
Style-wise, the '07 R1 doesn't break any new ground over the successful lineage already established. Keen eyes will notice some R6 elements in the side fairings and a more prominent beak. The forward section of the fuel tank - actually the airbox cover - is colored in a flat gray that accents nicely with the gloss finish on the part of the tank a rider's belly snuggles up against. The seat/tank junction feels really good, like a body is supposed to naturally fit in there. Visually, the R1 is punched up with snazzy red pinstripes around its black wheels. Instruments are bathed in an attractive and soothing blue glow that shows off a revised tachometer that features a new font and a chromed internal bezel.
The Yammie's new six-piston caliper brakes are a big improvement in feel over the old four-piston clampers, less lever travel is required before they begin to do their work. While the brake lever is adjustable, the clutch lever on the left clip-on isn't. As previous, it's a long reach for short hands and actuates only near the end of its travel. The rearward views offered by the mirrors are better than most sportbikes.
Also new for 2007 is a revised suspension and chassis. While the R1's stiffer springs seem to be an improvement for track work, they may not be an upgrade for pure street riders, as the damping action can be a bit harsh for lightweight riders at times; those of you pushing the 200-lb mark should have no such issue. The new frame and swingarm are difficult to judge, as their ultimate value is difficult to ascertain on the street, but Kenny came back from Laguna raving about the bike's improved manners. On the street, the R1's steering manners proved to be precise if a little sluggish when initiating turns. The OEM Pirelli Diablo Corsas offer plenty of stick for street use and warm up relatively quick.
Here's how our 2007 R1 matches up with last year's model, with the dyno run offering clear evidence of the improvements to the powerband. This latest R1 figures to be a formidible contender in our upcoming Superbike Smackdown.
It should be noted that the R1
emanates a lot of heat, even with ambient temps in the mid-60s, and the undertail pipes undoubtedly contribute to the warmth reaching the rider. That exhaust system provides aural enjoyment with a sporty burble during compression braking.
So, the question everyone wants to know: How does this thoroughly tweaked YZF rank against the rest of the literbike field?
Well, it's a thrilling bike, possessing a much meatier powerband, enhanced handling, pleasing looks that might still be the class of the field, and the addition of a slipper clutch. But in the vacuum of testing just one bike on its own, it's difficult to say how it will stack up against the unchanged Kawasaki ZX-10R and Honda CBR1000RR, never mind the class-leading Suzuki GSX-R1000 that received a ground-up overhaul for 2007. We'll get Superbike Smackdown IV underway just as soon as we can round up all the contenders.
The new R1 is already at dealers and will cost you $11,599 for the traditional Yamaha
blue version. An extra $100 can get you the charcoal version we tested or a candy red option.
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