2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 Comparison Track

Posted on 5:03 AM by My_revival

Yamaha YZF-R1


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MSRP: $12,390

Curb Weight: 476 lbs.
Horsepower: 146.08 @ 11,800 rpm
Torque: 73.12 lb-ft @ 9000 rpm
Quarter Mile: 10.53 seconds @ 137.5 mph
Outright Top Speed: 186 mph (limited)
Racetrack Top Speed: 153.97 mph
Superpole Best Time: 1:57.58
Overall Ranking: 5th Place


'Derived from MotoGP technology' is the tagline for Yamaha’s all-new YZF-R1 for 2009. Yes. We’ve all heard this a million times and it’s just plain getting old. But simply start the R1 and you can tell this is no ordinary Inline-Four 1000. Thumping, growling and rumbling, the R1 sounds more like a cross between an angry V-Twin and a racing V-Four, provoking emotion right from the first thumb of the starter button.

We sampled the bike in a stand-alone test in Australia earlier this year and came away impressed, to say the least. When ridden by itself and set-up by Yamaha’s experienced European testing staff, the R1 shined like a new set of chrome rims. I was convinced it would vie for top honors, no doubt. But when it comes time to compare all the bikes… well, things are not always as they seem.

Highlighting the changes for the all-new bike is the much-talked-about crossplane crankshaft. This was developed by Yamaha’s MotoGP team starting in 2004 to get the bike off the corner with more torque. As a result, Rossi took them to a couple world championships: Nothing to scoff at there. Thus, Yamaha figured if it worked in MotoGP why not try it in street form?

Rounding out the updates includes radically-styled bodywork and a D-mode selector on the right clip-on that allows adjustments in responsiveness via different maps for the YCC-I (Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake) system. And the changes don’t stop there, oh no – be sure to check out our 2009 Yamaha R1 First Ride for complete technical details.

These massive changes caught several of our testers off guard when first hopping on the Yami, as one isn’t expecting an Inline-Four to sound, feel or behave anything like this latest Tuning Fork-bred machine. It’s exactly that which our testers first took note of. It’s also what left us with extremely mixed reviews of the new Yamaha R1.

2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 Smackdown Track Test
2009 Yamaha YZF-R1.



“Wow, they said eventually MotoGP technology would make it to our street bikes and here it is,” said Sorensen. “The feeling and the sound of the new R1 motor reminds me of the Honda VFR750. Trailing throttle off corners the Yamaha is very tractable; it is truly in-between riding a Twin and Inline-Four. One disadvantage of this configuration might have is that it doesn’t have the 'warp speed' top-end some of the other bikes have.”

“On the track it seems the easiest to ride, the least intimidating of the group by far,” adds Hutchison. “I was able to get comfortable on the R1 almost immediately and it was one of the first two bikes I broke through the two-

2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 Smackdown Track Test
Radical styling changes out back for '09.

minute mark on. It always made me feel as though I could be confident it wasn’t going to highside me on corner exits. Something about that crossplane crank makes the bike feel very tractable.”

Said Earnest: “The motor is disappointingly slow. It pulls well off slow corners but it just doesn’t seem to make much power when revving up – very flat on top.”

This lack of outright power is no surprise when you take a look at the hard numbers. The R1 produced the lowest horsepower (146.08) and second-lowest torque (73.12) of the bunch. And as for the data, its recorded

2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 Smackdown Track Test
Waheed coming down the mini Corkscrew at Thunderhill on the new R1.

maximum acceleration coming out of turns 14 and 6 was the second-lowest in the group, only marginally higher than the Ducati. Also, top speed was down at the bottom, recording a best of 153.97 mph at the end of Thunderhill’s fastest straight.

Furthermore, we once again took the machines to HPCC for performance testing and its relatively weak power output and vague-feeling clutch produced the slowest quarter-mile ET of the day at 10.53 @ 137.5 mph, as well as a fried clutch after only three runs. The numbers may not have been impressive compared to the competition but the highlight of the R1 experience is hearing the Yamaha come by at full-steam, as that crossplane engine wails more like a fighter jet than a motorcycle. It’s unreal!

This incredible sound is just as breathtaking while riding. If one forgets about minute performance differences for a second and takes in just how visceral of an experience the R1 is, with its jet fighter sound and instant throttle response, it truly is amazing. But in a test like this, one quickly snaps back into precision mode, as that is what’s needed to pick apart bikes that all perform so equally. This then reveals another area which could be improved: The clutch

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