To say I was both excited and scared when I found out I was going to test ride the new (Then – in 2016) Yamaha R1 sports bike would be an understatement of the highest magnitude. One has to remember that I only passed my test last year and do not yet have the skill, or indeed the confidence, to ride a beast of a machine like this on a public road.
The thing that struck me on first sight was that the new R1 seemed so small. I mean tiny! In isolation it looks no bigger than an R6 or even an R3 and perhaps actually the R125. It is only when you see the R1 next to these bikes, as I was lucky enough to view a few months later, do you spot the obvious differences which is mainly the size of the tank and the back wheels. Of course, the details give it away.
The funny thing is, that when you sit on it and even pull away on it and pussyfoot around in 1st or second gear below a few thousand revs then it might as well be the R3 or the R125 as it is so docile and innocent – a true wolf in sheep’s clothing.
As you can see in my Yamaha R1 Review video I was meandering around town in the lower gears at these lower revs and I was struck by how easy, forgiving and non-threatening the bike was. It reminded me of my first time on a litre bike, the Fireblade. I knew that the bike would be different once I opened up the throttle and I always thought I was one twist away from bedlam, one uncontrollable sneeze away from ramming the bike up behind a car in front, albeit 100 yards away.
I finally hit a bit of clear road and decided to open her up. I really was not ready for the onslaught of acceleration that engulfed me. It might have been more visceral by being on a thin road with obstacles at the side but the bike truly shifted. I didn’t open it up fully and it only lasted two seconds but i knew all I needed to know – This bike is epically fast.
Amazingly, for me, it didn’t scare me, it brought out the devil in me, pushng for more, more speed, more adrenaline. damn these bikes! Also, despite the acceleration being brutal and one being a complete passenger at the time, I felt safe, secure and totally in control.
I got on the entry road for a dual carriageway and knew that this was my chance to savour the true speed of this blue widowmaker. Once I had gotten comfortable and adjusted my mindset I truly opened her up. The speed and rate of acceleration was insane. You just have to laugh. It is ridiculous, it is unworldly, it is beyond your capability to understand it. How is this bike legal? The only ever time I had felt such a rush was when I had the same experience on the BMW S1000RR – both different bikes, different ways of propelling you along a road with a ballistic missile between your legs.
As with the BMW, you laugh until your eyes bleed. Perhaps even better than the BMW, the R1 feels truly light, super agile and, to my mind, more like a ‘real’ race bike. It just feels more alive, more raw. This is usually only a trick the Italians can pull off.
Once you have blasted unashamedly on this bike for 15 minutes or more, you feel the need to stop. You must gather your thoughts and recharge your mind, get back to reality and start life again as a normal human being,
The ride back to the dealer was a weird one. Suddenly, you feel desperately worried that you will drop the bike. it dawns on you that this a rare and expensive 15K motorcycle. I wasn’t too sad to park it up, to hand over the keys, to say goodbye to the Yamaha R1. I had gotten my fix, I had riden the devil and lived to tell the tale. What’s more, I had it down on video and would forever more be able to enjoy those moments when mortal man became a racing legend.
This particular video is below – and just below that is when I took the latest model R1 out – I knew a bit more about riding but it still scared me silly! 🙂