Yamaha’s original R1 is, even by today’s standards, a gloriously fast and furious superbike. In 1998 it was staggering. Tempted? Here’s everything you need to know about buying, owning and riding this modern classic
Click to read: Yamaha R1 owners reviews, Yamaha R1 specs and to see the Yamaha R1 image gallery.
Yamaha managed to keep the fact they were building a 1000cc superbike to kick the FireBlade’s arse very quiet. In charge of the project was a young designer called Kunihiko Miwa, and rather than try and breathe new life into the YZF Genesis 750 motor or lighten the Thunderace’s massive lump, Miwa started afresh with the R1, developing some radical new ideas.
Yamaha has long been a company known for its innovative approach to bike design, and the R1 was to be no exception. Miwa took full advantage of the vast R&D department, not to mention the lessons learnt in World Superbikes, to create a bike that would move the whole superbike class on. Both the chassis and engine were developed simultaneously. The engineers were told to be inventive, to come up with new ideas, and if they were good then the project would use them. There were no hard and fast rules: the R1 just had to beat the FireBlade, hence the then-unusual 1000cc displacement.
Yamaha had learnt with its YZF750 that while racing was important, it didn’t necessarily translate into sales. The Blade still outsold the YZF750 because it had more power, despite the fact it couldn’t race. When it was launched the 1998 R1 had the highest power-to-weight ratio of any production bike, and not just because of its huge power – the bike was also lighter and shorter than the competition. The reaction was amazing. For the first year you simply didn’t see an R1 in dealers because they were all sold out. More R1s were sold in the UK than anywhere else.
Continue the 1998 Yamaha R1 Retro File
A good thorough review, only lacking in any info on the gearbox problems these early R1s can have. The drive dogs that engage 2nd gear can round off very easily, and leave you dropping out of 2nd gear on up changes. Take your potential bike for a test ride and do lots of high rev up changes 1st to 2nd. If it fails to hook up 2nd gear even once walk away, or be prepared to haggle for the cost of a gearbox rebuild... £350ish if you're brave with the spanners (engine out and full lower engine strip down) or £1000+ into the hands of your local yamaha dealer.
I've owned 2 and rebuilt 2!
Posted: 17/05/2011 at 18:31
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