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20 years of pure R1

The Yamaha R1 was first released in 1998 and was arguably the top-dog sportsbike in a golden era for performance motorcycles. The original R1 used a 998cc 20 valve, in-line four engine to produce 150bhp. That may not sound like much by today’s standards, but at the time was more than enough to gain it a reputation. The Honda CBR900RR changed the way sportsbikes were designed forever by being lighter and more agile, rather than more powerful than the competition. It worked and the FireBlade wiped the floor with the competition. But when the Yamaha R1 came along, six years later, it was not only 22bhp more powerful than the Honda, it was also 5kg lighter! There have now been six standard Yamaha R1 models plus the limited edition R1M which was released in 2015. If you were playing motorbike Top Trumps in the late 90s, you wanted to have the Yamaha R1 in your deck. It was arm-rippingly quick, light and agile and if you let your concentration slip for a second, it would bite you. The 2000-onwards models are slightly easier to control, but are still a real handful by today’s standards The YZF-R1 redefined the boundaries in terms of power, weight and handling. The R1 used Yamaha’s traditional five-valve head, but by repositioning the gearbox mainshaft above rather than inline with the crankshaft the R1’s design team created the first ‘vertically stacked gearbox’ on a sportsbike In a much bigger update, the 2015 R1 became lighter, more agile and more powerful than ever before with a host of electronic rider aids to keep everything pointing in the right direction. The 2015 R1’s compact design makes it feel more like a 600cc supersport, until you twist the throttle and unleash its 197bhp. The bike takes a lot of its cues from the Yamaha MotoGP bike and even has forged magnesium wheels

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