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R1 Celebrates 25th Birthday

Hard to believe, but it’s 25 years since Yamaha launched the first series R1, back in 1998. The new one-litre sports bike caused a sensation with its combination of high torque, rapid acceleration and quick handling (the latter aided by a short wheelbase of just 1395mm). One of its secrets was the ultra-compact powertrain, thanks to the stacked gearbox with the input shaft mounted above the output, giving a more compact package which allowed that short wheelbase.

The bike quickly became a favourite with sports bike fans in this fiercely competitive class, and it arguably took over from the Honda FireBlade as the class benchmark. R1s enjoyed a string of race wins, at the TT as well as countless circuits around the world. And to keep up with the rapidly developing competition, Yamaha gave its flagship sports bike regular updates, with fuel injection in 2002, Deltabox frame and underseat exhaust in 2004, and all-new versions in 2007 and 2009.

To celebrate the bike’s 25th birthday, Yamaha is holding a special track weekend event at Mugello on 21st/22nd July. Usually restricted to R1M owners only, this year’s event is opened up to all R1s on the Saturday, with two free track sessions. Twenty-five tickets are available for the full weekend, with sessions on both days and advice from Yamaha race technicians on set up.

Link to the official page

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, said: “If you have the bike and the resources, that sounds like a fun weekend. I suspect many R1 owners will be no stranger to track days, like Fireblade owners. The R1 is a fantastic bike, but like many of its cohort always had ‘be prepared to shred your licence’ as part of the ownership deal. I remember the first time I rode a borrowed hyper-sports bike, running in, with a firm injunction not to exceed 6,000 rpm, out of 12,000, and more than about a ¼ throttle. I hit 90 in 3rd, out of 6, gear. Stunning, but not for me. I prefer being able to thrash bikes, comes of owning stink wheels in my youth.”

Written  by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Yamaha