It’s mad. It’s ridiculous. It’s addictive and I’m more than a bit smitten 🥰
The 2019 Yamaha YZF-R1 is a ballistic missile 🚀, so focussed on outright performance, that it is a little compromised as a road bike.
It wasn’t always that way mind you!
How does it fare against the Old-Gen R1 ?
Having owned an older-generation R1 (2008 YZF-R1), the 2019 Yamaha R1 is a small, more compact motorcycle and feels more like an R6 flicking in and out of the corners.
Engine power, delivery and electronic control are all light years ahead of the previous R1, but so is the handling.
With a remarkable engine (and we will cover this further ahead) – the chassis-dynamics, suspension setup, motorcycle-geometry & forged magnesium wheels align like the ‘perfect stars in a horoscope’ to deliver an intuitive riding experience by giving you the ability to run centimetre perfect, precise lines.
And it’s impeccably light and easy to flick left to right and change direction.
Mind-blowing for a full litre bike!!
The 197bhp crossplane engine is unashamedly aggressive, angry, race-focussed and peakier than before. It’s lost some of the smooth, creamy, flat power that made the old generation R1 so easy to ride.
It’s lost some of its low-end grunt, but it’s been replaced by a top end punch so brutal it’s hard to hold on to it in full attack mode.
It’s low rev burble, transforms into a throaty mid-range growl with a healthy dose of angry air-box thrown in and then a top end howl. It’s a banshee.
The front suspension is 43mm KYB forks with adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping.
The rear is Single KYB rear shock with adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping.
The stock suspension setup is very unforgiving and stiffer than a corporate intern on date night 🙃
Ride Comfort on public roads is a far-fetched idea on the R1 ☹️
Super strong with plenty of bite and feel – they neither feel wanting or overpowered. Featuring Yamaha’s Unified Braking ABS system, the front and rear are linked so that when you apply a lot of force to the front, the rear is also activated.
For the first time, the R1 has steel braided lines.
It comes with four engine modes, A to D. ‘A’ being the most powerful, ‘D’ being the least.
Each mode adjusts power, traction and slide control settings but unfortunately these aren’t able to be changed on the move, however you can tweak/customise individual settings for power, traction and slide control.
Does not exist, the rear seat is very small and hard – never-ever take your friend/partner/enemy as a pillion on the R1.
As much as this motorcycle thrives at a racetrack, in the real-world, the R1 is manageable (not comfortable).
A big departure from the older generation R1 is the fact that Deltabox frame NO LONGER touches & burns the inner thigh of the rider – phew!!🙏
The 2019 R1 still sizzles up in traffic like crazy – radiator fans start from 106 deg onwards and once past 116 deg celsius, the engine cuts-off.
The ‘R means Racetrack’, unlike its older versions where ‘R stood for Road-Usage too’.
The combination of aggressive riding posture, stiff suspension, limited luggage options, poor fuel range make the 2019 Yamaha R1 – a very challenging & uncomfortable motorcycle to tour.
Mileage and Full Tank Range:
It’s a thirsty motorcycle. Combined with the fact there is no fuel gauge, this means a constant game of fuel light paranoia.
- City Mileage: 8-10kmpl
- Highway Mileage: 12-14kmpl
- Real world full tank range: 170 -180kms
What I love about the 2019 Yamaha YZF-R1:
- Engine: that engine is off the charts AMAZING!! There isn’t anything out there that rides & sounds like the R1 😍
- Handling & Agility: fantastic handling & supreme agility – it comes alive from one-corner to another
- Exhaust Note: even with the stock, the R1 sounds intoxicating – there isn’t anything out that sounds like this!! 🔥
- Compact size of the motorcycle: juice of a 1000, packaged in a 600 – steers like an ace, feels way more nimble than a 600.
- Looks: this is the most aggressive , yet elegant looking motorcycle to come from the Eastern Dimension of planet earth 💙
What I dislike:
- Designed for a racetrack only: small design elements such as:
- Slightly tilted Instrument Console for better visibility in tucked-in position only
- Hard Rider’s Seat: that translates the tiniest feedback from the tarmac to the rider
- Riding in Rain: there is so much muck & rain water that comes from the space at the rear taillight – its a full-fledged bath for the rider 🤣
- Compact cockpit for tall riders
- Info on Instrument Console: for a daily commute or road use, most of the info displayed is useless – lacks basic functionality like Fuel-gauge, Distance to Empty Fuel etc.
- No Cruise Control: it is so easy to get carried away from the legal speed limits – having a cruise control can reign in the beast
- Mirrors: like any sport bike, the mirrors are for mere homologation & don’t serve any purpose
As a track bike? Yes, Yes and Yes ❤️
Ridiculous levels of performance and a soundtrack to die for – even more so with a pipe.
That engine is a masterpiece. Suspension, handling and brakes are epic.
Feels way more nimble than litre bikes of a generation ago.
As a road bike? Not at all.
Like most of the current crop of litre-class sports bikes it makes some serious comfort concessions for such high levels of performance.
Performance that realistically is well out of reach of most riders on the road. Ultimately the assessment of whether those concessions are acceptable is your call to make, depending on your situation and requirements.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: None of us need an R1 Or any 190bhp fire-breathing motorcycle.
Hardly anyone is good enough to use its potential on the track, and on the street it’s pretty much just the wrong tool for the job.
More effort and power than you need to kill the metaphorical ant.
Realistically, you’ll be lucky to find a stretch of road long enough to hear it sing for a fleeting moment before jolted back to reality.
But man, that fleeting moment is GLORIOUS. Just about enough harmonic thunder to make you forget the STATUS QUO.