THE R1 OOZES more class and style than any of the competition and on the road at least matches the opposition for performance and handling.
If I had bike-designing flair I'd die happy had this R1 been one of my creations. The feline look, posh instrument cluster and stylish underseat pipes are my favourite visual features but the engine and ride is what really excites me. It feels much more like a race tool than the Blade or GSX-R as it revs harder than the Honda and has stronger top-end punch than the Suzuki. The riding position seems higher with more front bias but this offers a more nimble feel making it less physical to chuck around, especially on twisty track day circuits.
On really hot days the underseat pipes can generate some discomfort in the nether regions - the answer is to ride really fast to assist cooling, especially if one is wearing a kilt.
Setting up the suspension is relatively straightforward as changes are easy to feel. One of the best looking bikes of 2006 is unquestionably the R1 SP with its Öhlins suspension, lighter wheels and slipper clutch - great bike if you have loads of cash but unless you're looking for fractions of a second on trackdays the standard model does the job. Last tested: May '06