The new-for-2007 Yamaha YZF-R1 brings MotoGP-derived engine technology to the street unlike any other machine in its class. The fly-by-wire throttle control system that debuted on last year’s YZF-R6 has been applied to the R1. And exclusive to the liter-class machine is the Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake system that broadens power by altering the length of the intake tract.
An increase in power throughout the meat of the rev range and the precise throttle control of the R1’s computer-controlled intake systems played a role in the bike’s success at Jerez, where rear tire grip was at a premium.
Unfortunately, an annoying glitch that had gone unnoticed at the track surfaced like a wart once we hit the road. Power delivery under 4000 rpm was noticeably flat in the bottom two gears with a lean “lay-down” felt every time we pulled away from stops. The odd thing is that the engine pulls cleanly from basement revs if third gear or higher is engaged. In fact, a casual third-gear launch provides smooth acceleration. Further, there was an intermittent glitch in the fly-by-wire system that sometimes caused a significant delay in throttle response between 5000-6000 rpm. During our testing, this was particularly evident in slower second-gear corners during backroad sport riding and spoils what is otherwise a great literbike package. Just as we went to press with our huge 13- MasterBike track test Yamaha informed us there is a fix for the problem involving a new throttle-control program.
We can’t wait to try it out because the R1 otherwise has the potential for greatness. It is spacious and reasonably comfortable for long, fast rides. Its broad-nosed fairing offers good protection, and engine vibration never proved finger-numbing. Top-gear cruise at an indicated 80 mph on the digital speedometer brought 5500 rpm on the analog tachometer, for a relaxed sustained ride. Chassis stability was excellent on the road, brakes were awesome and steering remained precise even after we adjusted the suspension for improved street-riding comfort.
This is very good overall package let down by a glitch in its engine-computer software. Perhaps version “R1.2” will unleash its true potential.