Is a retro-liveried, winged Yamaha R1 on way to commemorate its 25th birthday?

The Yamaha R1 could grow some wings and get a power hike in honour of its 25th Anniversary to stave off the challenge of newer rivals

Yamaha R1 25th Anniversary [Credit: Young Machine]

The venerable Yamaha R1 is coming up to a big birthday next year and rumours out of Japan suggest the Iwata manufacturer won’t let it pass by without a big celebration.

Indeed, while Yamaha has a rich heritage in the sportsbike division, its current R1 is already its longest-running nameplate having first made its debut back in 1998.

Since then Yamaha has improved the package with incremental upgrades over the ensuing couple of decades, with the most recent update coming in 2019 to refine the most recent of its big overhauls in 2015.

The latest changes certainly seem to have done the trick for the 2020 R1 in the motorsport arena with the machine dominating the Superbike formula around the world in 2021 despite its age relative to the likes of the Kawasaki ZX-10RR, Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade and BMW M 1000 RR.

As such, Yamaha doesn’t appear to be in too much of a rush to introduce significant changes on the the current generation, but with Ducati and BMW bringing out more powerful iterations of their sportsbike and Honda’s Fireblade now cranking out 215bhp, the R1 - with 198bhp - is starting to fall well behind in the power stakes.

It leaves Yamaha with a dilemma as to how to approach development of the upcoming next generation model, but according to Young Machine, the solution could be for it to use the R1’s 25th Anniversary in 2023 as a chance to test the waters with some radical solutions.

It is reporting - complete with above render - that Yamaha will honour the landmark with an updated version complete with aerodynamic winglets and potentially tweaks for more power from the bi-crossplane 998cc engine.

Even if the 25th Anniversary R1 isn’t too much different from the current model under the skin, at least it will look the part with Young Machine insisting the special edition will be offered in retro white and red livery, complete with 90s typeface.

The lattermost features would come as little surprise since Yamaha is well known for dipping into the history books for inspiration when it comes to liveries, with the current R1 available in 60th Anniversary white, red and yellow scheme at the moment.

Whether or not the model will have any bearing on what Yamaha brings to the party for the 2023 WorldSBK Championship remains to be seen, but with Ducati, BMW and possibly also Kawasaki throwing down the gauntlet with updated models designed to succeed on track, can Yamaha afford not to do something a bit special?