Is it just me, or does it seem like it’s taking longer than usual for MotoGP season to get underway this year? Maybe I’m just anticipating how the new faces of Ben Spies, Marco Simoncelli, and Hiroshi Aoyama will mix things up a bit with the established rivalry between Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, and the rest of the gang.
In any event, getting a chance to take a spin on the 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 LE (Limited Edition) only whets my appetite more. The R1 is a somewhat distant cousin of Yamaha’s MotoGP race bike, but it is a hot, exhilarating rush not to be missed.
Even before throwing a leg over the R1’s sleek narrow frame, I was anticipating the rush. The graphics on the Valentino Rossi / Fiat Yamaha replica immediately set the tone. Rossi’s race sponsors are splashed across the fairing, a “46” adorns the fairing’s nose (and tail piece) and his John Hancock tags the tank.
Large dual six-piston calipers up front let you know that serious speed is on the agenda, and once aboard, the clip-on bars and high footpegs put you into position for aggressive riding. There’s no blending into the weekend canyon-riding crowd on this bike–there’s a responsibility to ride hard and fast and uphold The Doctor’s good name.
However, despite its DNA, the Yamaha R1 is docile enough on the street if you don’t twist the throttle, even though the seating position tells you to do just that. Track ergonomics aren’t ideal for the street, as they are two distinct riding disciplines. Regardless, the bike moves along smoothly in the lower gears, though you can sense how much power is under the tank just waiting to be let loose.
Crack the throttle and the R1 comes alive, announcing its presence both in sound and action. A loud, throaty race bark turns heads, demands attention and ramps up my pulse. The transmission is flawless as I run through the six-speed transmission.
My first squeeze on the R1’s front brakes was a bit too hard and spiked my already elevated adrenaline. However, a few more bends along the road provided plenty of opportunity to dial back and get better acquainted with the brakes’ demanding personality. They are spot on, perfectly matched to the intention of the bike. The hand controls are light–I settled on two fingers for the brake and one for the clutch–and the fly-by-wire throttle is an easy twist.
On a favorite circuit of roads where I know every turn, I pushed harder and found the bike became more and more comfortable as speeds increased. I left the a pair of supermoto-mounted guys shrinking in the R1’s reasonably effective rearview mirrors as they attempted to chasing me down on the aptly named Stunt Road in the Santa Monica Mountains. This is my backyard, of course.
On the street, the R1’s cornering clearance isn’t an issue for me, and the Dunlop Sportmax D210 tires never left me feeling wanting. Transitions are effortless, and I felt as comfortable going to my left as my right. The seat is a bit slippery, and it did slide me back when I was doing serious acceleration testing. Fortunately, straight-line stability is confidence inspiring when speeds climb on open road sections.
As advertised, the crossplane crankshaft performs flawlessly–there are no hits in the acceleration. When sent up to the rev-limiter, the R1 launches like a rocket–blindingly fast yet smooth as glass, and the sound of the motor is otherworldly. I hit 104 mph (per the digital speedometer) in second gear on a fairly steep uphill straight in the blink of an eye and a rush of wind. Wow, how fun would this be on a track? Too soon I had to roll off the throttle as the concerns of road riding brought me back to reality.
Certainly, fantasy is a huge component of the 2010 Yamaha YFZ-R1 LE–why else would you want to ride a bike that looks like Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP championship winner and is mechanically based on Ben Spies’ World Superbike championship-winning machine? The “why else,” of course, is the amazing performance that is on tap. Sure, a liter-bike is best suited for the spacious confines of a racetrack, but there’s no denying the amount of fun a powerful, great handling motorcycle like this R1 Rossi Replica can provide.
|2010 Yamaha R1 LE – Specifications|
Yamaha Team Graphics)
liquid-cooled 4-cylinder DOHC 16 valves (titanium intake valves)
|Bore x Stroke||78.0mm X
Injection with YCC-T and YCC-I
Transistor Controlled Ignition
w/multiplate slipper clutch
|Final Drive||#530 O-ring
inverted fork; fully adjustable, 4.7-in travel
shock w/piggyback reservoir; 4-way adjustable, 4.7-in travel
disc; radial-mount forged 6-piston calipers
|Seat Height||32.8 in|
|Rake (Caster Angle)||24.0°|
|Fuel Capacity||4.8 gal|
|Dry Weight||454 lb|
|Primary Reduction Ratio||65/43
|Secondary Reduction Ratio||47/17 (2.765)|
|Gear Ratio – 1st Gear||38/15
|Gear Ratio – 2nd Gear||33/16
|Gear Ratio – 3rd Gear||37/21
|Gear Ratio – 4th Gear||35/23
|Gear Ratio – 5th Gear||30/22
(Limited Factory Warranty)
|Gear Ratio – 6th Gear||33/26