Yamaha has changed every single nut and bolt within the R1’s motor and, although it has the same crossplane firing order, this is about the only similarity between the new and outgoing models. You may have noticed that where the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has dominated superstock and superbike racing, since 2009 the R1 has been noticeable mainly by its absence. This is due to a number of factors – primarily a power deficiency but also a lack of electronic gizmos and the physical width of the R1 motor.For 2015 Yamaha has addressed all of these issues. The new R1 engine now comes with a rocker arm valve drive instead of a bucket and shim system and also a massive 79mm bore and short 50.9mm stroke. Why rockers? BMW has always used this system on the S1000RR and it is far more accurate than a bucket and shim, especially when dealing with big valves, high revs and an aggressive cam profile. This accuracy, as well as its lightness, makes it more reliable. In addition, the con-rods are titanium, pistons forged aluminium alloy and everything is nicely weight-matched by the factory at the pre-assembly stage.
Once together the motor is fed through a huge 10.5-litre airbox (23 per cent larger than before) and new fuel-injection system. The result is an impressive 200hp and, according to some tuners, the stock 2015 engine is already as powerful as a 2014 BSB-spec one. But what about its width? Cleverly Yamaha has altered the design of the balancer shaft, resulting in a 26mm shorter crank. The ground clearance issues should be a thing of the past and the new design of balancer gives, according to Yamaha, 20 per cent less inertial moment, so the motor should also spin up faster while retaining that lovely crossplane punch. And you just know it will sound awesome.Chassis
We have all seen the headlines about the chassis being developed by Rossi, but what is actually new? Again, just about everything. The new Deltabox frame is made from gravity cast aluminium sections, welded together. The swingarm is constructed in a similar way. To help with weight distribution, the underseat pipes are gone and the subframe is made from magnesium.
Interestingly, the overall wheelbase of the new R1 is 10mm shorter than before thanks in part to a 15mm shorter swingarm while the steering geometry is identical between models. The R1 pioneered the ‘long swingarm for better traction’ philosophy. And while this still applies the fact of the matter is that electronics now play a greater role in allowing a bike to hook up and therefore agility has taken precedence. Basically, build a clever computer and it will harness the power for you. And it appears Yamaha has built a very clever computer.The brain
Modern superbikes are all about the brain, about the brain no treble… Sorry. The R1 relies on what Yamaha call an IMU. Standing for Inertial Measurement Unit, it contains three gyro sensors that measure pitch, roll and yaw as well as gathering data from three G-sensors transmitting data on forward/backward, left/right and up/down acceleration. The data is analysed 125 times per second and the R1’s brain then works out exactly what the bike is doing and responds accordingly via the electronic systems.
And here is where it gets very cool. The R1 has a three-stage slide control system (SCS), theoretically allowing you drift the rear in safety. This works alongside a traction control (TCS) that alters its input according to the bike’s angle of lean as well as the throttle’s position. Then, once the power is really on, the anti-wheelie (LIF) keeps the front on the ground, the quickshifter fires you through the gears and when you hit the brakes the ABS is linked front and back and is also lean angle sensitive.Overall, it’s pretty clever. And the R1M takes it one stage further by adding Ohlins semi-active suspension and even allowing you to plot suspension changes using GPS and a track map on your computer. Is it cleverer than the S1000RR or Ducati 1299 Panigale? They all have similar levels of electronics, but on paper it appears as if Yamaha has pushed the boat out just that little bit further.
Proof will be in the riding…