Advanced Riding

Yamaha R1M Masterclass review

Visordown went along to the newly re-laid Silverstone for a day with the Yamaha R1M Masterclass

Yamaha’s R1M Masterclass has quickly built up a reputation as the place to go if you want to experience the best bikes and the best tuition on the UK’s best circuits.

I’d never been lucky enough to try the R1M Masterclass before, but with the launch of Yamaha’s 2020 YZF-R1 quickly approaching, I thought it probably best I go and acquaint myself with the 2019 YZF-R1M. And where better to do that than at the UK’s premier motorsports venue.

What is the Yamaha R1M Masterclass?

The R1M Masterclass is a tuition-based trackday, with punters either using their own machine -which doesn’t need to be a Yamaha – or one of the excellent, fully spec’d and prepared rental R1Ms. The aim is to get you riding faster in a more safe and controlled manner and the team uses the latest tech to help get you there.

Each R1M is fitted with the latest data logging software, meaning you can hook you phone or laptop up to the bike and download all your laps and times to your phone. The data is so detailed, you can drill down to see how much you opened the throttle, how much lean angle you carried and how late/early you were braking. All this allows your guide rider (who could be a current or ex BSB racer) to help you to achieve the goals you set yourself in the morning.

Who is the R1M Masterclass aimed at?

Any rider over 20 years old can attend the event, as long as they have at least an A2 (47bhp restricted) licence as a minimum requirement. If this is the case, you’ll only be able to ride a bike that conforms with your licence type. If a full A licence is in your wallet, you’ll be able to hit the track on pretty much anything. If you don’t have a road licence but hold an ACU licence you can attend using that, just let the team know when you book.

Can new riders attend the day?

Any rider with any level of experience is welcome, from first-time track riders to experienced trackday heroes. The layout of the event and tuition provided mean anyone of any ability has something to gain from the day. It’s even common to see club racers turn up, getting some extra track time and coaching between rounds.

What does the event cost?

The prices for the R1M Masterclass vary depending on the layout used and the time of year. You’ll also pay extra to hire one of the school’s bikes. The best thing to do is to check the calendar on the Masterclass website (click here), it tells you the dates available, the price and whether or not the event is full yet.

What did I learn at the R1M Masterclass?

Working with my riding coach Brad Howell (ex-UK championship and BSB racer, now rider and nutrition coach to many on the BSB grid), it was quickly established that I don’t move around on the bike enough. Years spent hammering up the outside lane of motorways and not enough time on track seem to be the problem – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! When I thought I was hanging off the bike MotoGP style, I was basically bolt up-right looking like a prat.

Brad sat me down after the first session and talked to me about the kind of things I wanted to achieve. My main points were corner entry, apex, and exit. ‘So the whole corner then yeah?’ Brad laughed. After that ice breaker Brad got to work with my body position - until that was sorted there was no point looking at anything else.

In the short 20-min break between sessions he went full on Yoda with me, talking about the science behind cornering and how hanging off the bike moves my centre of gravity towards the apex of the corner, helping to make the bike turn quicker. It’s probably the most I’ve concentrated since school, but something worked as the next session didn’t see any other riders in my group come past me – progress already!

Next Brad wanted to get me to move my braking event right into the corner, instead of all in a straight line. For the first three laps, he made me follow his brake lights right into the heart of the corner, getting straight back on the throttle and smoothly on the power at the apex. Trusting the R1M’s electronics in this way – and Silverstone’s sweet new surface – I was now getting into, down and round the corners so much more efficiently, quickly and safely.

By the end of the day I’d been shoved up from the intermediate group and into fast group and in the last group of the day, under glorious mid-summer sun, I finally cracked Silverstone  - as much as this track-shy tubby journo could anyway. In that final session we only saw two of the trackday heroes coming past me on their slick-shod semi-race bikes. The grin on my face during the ride home would have easily filled my visor – brilliant.

If there’s one thing the Masterclass taught me it’s to trust the bike, the electronics and the track surface. For the most part they are all much more talented and (in the case of the R1M) clever than me!

To book your place on the R1M Master class head to: www.silverstone.co.uk

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