2015 Yamaha YZF-R1: The new yardstick

Modified On Oct 24, 2018 By Abhijeet Singh Rathore for Yamaha YZF R1

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Back in the year 1998, Yamaha set up a new yardstick for motorcycle enthusiasts all around the world with the mesmerising YZF-R1. The lightweight and agile chassis was paired with a very powerful in-line four cylinder engine.

The world of extreme supersport riding was transformed completely forever. Set out to repeat history, Yamaha has unshackled the new 2015 edition of the YZF-R1 to regain supremacy in the world of litre bikes. I can write a book on how much new technology has been added in the new R1, but here is just a taster. Imagine how fat the user manual is going to be!

All new means everything is new

Right from the beginning of the project, Yamaha told its engineers to start from the drawing board and create a model with no limitations. Happy engineers got to work with new concepts and could push the boundaries of design and development for the road bike.

However, they also had to preserve the true DNA of this legendary motorcycle. The sophisticated MotoGP-derived machine has been more inclined towards sport performance for the racetrack.


Design wise the new model is an absolute shift from what we usually expect an R1 to look like. Moulded by race track, Yamaha took inspiration from the MotoGP Championship winning YZR-M1 race bike. With its central air duct and high, broad-shouldered front cowl and screen - as well as large outlets in the side cowling - the YZR-M1’s influence on the new R1’s body design is absolute refreshing treat.

The low-set fuel tank with its highly indented knee pockets enables the rider to sit ‘in’ the new R1 and take full control – and the wide seat gives greater freedom of movement during cornering and braking. Then you come across the side profile which has a noticeable compact surface area on the side.

Use of a low set fuel tank and a short nosed, low-set front cowling, combined with a large open space under the seat exudes a compact look than the previous design. Other significant design features that accentuate the R1’s light and compact side view are its short 1,405mm wheelbase, as well as the use of the centrally-located mid-ship muffler.

Adding further drama is the ahem...’less dramatic’ looking new face with a unique ‘headlight-less’ look. In place of the usual twin headlights, this front cowl is equipped with thin and straight LED position lights, while the compact new LED headlights are located within the leading edge of the side cowling. Special attention has been paid to the design of the rear cowl so that it draws air into the machine, and other features - such as engine covers, footrests and the ABS sensor cover - feature lightweight ribbed designs that reinforce the R1’s powerful image and reduce weight.


As always the engine is supposed to take the centre stage for an R1, and it does take it this time with the spotlight on it. The 197bhp crossplane engine derived from M1 technology is an all-new lightweight and compact unit bound to initiate a whole new era in high performance motorcycle design.

A newly designed crossplane crankshaft is at the very heart of the new 998cc inline 4-cylinder engine. By contributing towards the strong linear torque output, this technology gives a truly connected 1:1 relationship between the throttle and rear tyre - as well as an intuitive character that enables the R1 rider to exploit the high power output of the new YZF-R1 to its full potential.

The new short wheelbase chassis benefits from weight reducing features such as a magnesium sub-frame and magnesium wheels in order to achieve a wet weight of only 199kg, with a dry weight of 179kg.

Next generation Crossplane crankshaft

The original idea of the crossplane concept was to perform in the MotoGP machine that later came into the road going R1. For 2015 version too continues to benefit from this innovative technology. The crossplane engine's uneven 270° - 180° - 90° - 180° firing sequence gives each piston and con rod its own individual and separate movement to create a stronger low to mid range pulse - and this race-bred engine is also characterized by its exceptional exhaust note reminiscent to a MotoGP machine.

In order to be able to deliver excellent acceleration with instantaneous response, the inertial moment of the 2015 crankshaft is set at a level approximately 20 percent less than the current model. The new crankshaft incorporates a lightweight primary coupling balancer whose weights are positioned near the outer cylinders, and this subsequently reduces the inertial moment to strong acceleration and consistently high linear torque levels.

Lightweight titanium exhaust system

To generate maximum power from that litre engine, the newly designed exhaust system is mostly made of Titanium. The system extracts the most power and provides a linear torque output to the rider. Its compact muffler contributes towards the mass centralisation that is crucial element on this futuristic motorcycle.

The four titanium header pipes merge to form two pipes beneath the engine, and then flow into a large capacity 5.2 litre chamber where the exhaust pressure is dampened before the gases enter the muffler via a newly designed exhaust valve. At low to mid range the exhaust gases flow through only one of the two passages within the chamber, and at higher revs a servomotor controlled valve located between the chamber and muffler opens to allow the high pressure gases to pass freely through both passages.

Lightweight Deltabox chassis

The new R1 features a newly designed aluminium Deltabox frame that has been developed to deliver a high level of precision handling performance.

Featuring gravity cast components that are welded together to form a single structural unit, the compact aluminium main frame offers an idealized balance of strength and rigidity. The newly designed crossplane engine is incorporated as a fully stressed member, and is mounted rigidly to the frame at four points - two at the cylinder head and two at the crankcase.

Significant weight reductions have been achieved with the use of a magnesium rear frame, and the left-right asymmetric design of the main Deltabox structure also contributes towards weight reduction and overall compactness.

Track-developed front and rear suspension

In association with KYB, Yamaha developed the fully adjustable front and rear suspension systems precise handling and accurate power delivery both for the circuit and highway use. The 43mm upside down forks give 120mm of wheel movement, and together with the large diameter 25mm front axle, the R1's front end gives excellent damping characteristics with a predictable and planted feeling during braking and cornering.

At the rear end, the newly designed upward-truss swinging arm activates a link-type Monocross suspension system that is designed to optimize the transmission of engine power to track surface. The carefully balanced relationship between the pivot position, final drive sprocket position and the swinging arm's length is designed to give stable, precise and efficient handling performance during acceleration, braking and cornering.

Rider aids

Yamaha has for the first time in its history equipped the new 2015 R1 with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and also Yamaha's Unified Brake System. Early statements by the company suggested that an ABS system is a sort of electronic nanny that is for inexperienced riders. But the recent development in ABS technology has shown the significant advantages of the system and the company has put it on its flagship model. The new advanced braking system is designed to allow the rider to achieve high levels of controllability in different circuit or road situations.

With the Unified Brake System, operation of the front brake also generates a corresponding braking force at the rear, and when the rider operates both the front and rear brakes, the Unified Brake System controls the balance of braking force that is applied to each brake. The high-specification front brakes utilise two 320mm diameter front discs that are equipped with newly designed monoblock 4-piston callipers and stainless steel hoses - as well as a newly designed brake lever.

This sophisticated system delivers outstanding braking performance with high levels of feel and accurate feedback - and its lightweight design reduces the inertial moment around the front wheel axle to contribute towards lighter handling characteristics.

TCS is able to optimise the drive force to the rear tyre by monitoring the difference in speed between the front and rear wheels, and if it detects that rear wheel traction is being lost, the ECU adjusts the throttle valve opening, fuelling and ignition timing accordingly. The R1’s newly developed TCS takes the concept to the next level by using additional data relating to the bike’s banking angle when calculating the optimum rear wheel control settings.

Another new weapon in the R1’s control armoury is its LIFt control system (LIF) that has been developed to control front wheel lift when accelerating hard. Once again, this use of this electronic control system has been made possible by the installation of the 6-axis IMU, and, the new LIF helps achieve a higher level of machine control for reduced lap times.

For fast, smooth and efficient starts, the Launch Control System (LCS) restricts engine rpm to below 10,000rpm even at full throttle. This control system also uses information from the TCS and LIF systems in order to maintain an optimum level of engine output when accelerating away from the start line, allowing the rider to concentrate fully on the crucial first few seconds of any race.

Special Edition YZF-R1M

And ohh yes, there is a even serious version for the further advanced level of riders who need to slice a bit more off their lap times. Featuring a range of highly sophisticated equipment - including Electronic Racing Suspension (ERS), carbon bodywork, a Communication Control Unit (CCU) and high-specification Bridgestone tyres - the YZF-R1M will be produced in limited quantities.

The YZF-R1M comes with a full carbon fairing, carbon front fender and carbon seat cover. The lightweight carbon cowling is coated in a clear finish and features upper, central and lower sections painted in a new specially developed metallic-look silver paint with racing blue accents that match the blue YZR-M1 style wheels.

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