When the R1 was first launched it became an instant icon. A tri-axis engine with a GP style chassis was cutting edge technology back in 1998.
The bike has evolved through the years with fuel injection, a crossplane crank, and electronic systems amongst the hundreds of development upgrades.
The original R1 design focus was primarily for the street, however that has all changed for 2015, with Yamaha’s Engineer’s instructed to design a bike mainly for the track.
A team of 50 design engineers worked closely with Yamaha’s MotoGP team and test riders from divisions in Japan, Europe, and the US, including Valentino Rossi and US rider Josh Hayes, to come up with perhaps the most technologically advanced electronics package on a motorcycle ever made available to the riding public.
Many of the senior engineers were in attendance at Sydney Motorsport Park – Eastern Creek in Australia for the R1 world launch, providing excellent technical support for the test riders and a unique insight into the challenges they each faced creating the new R1.
The diverse range of 18 corners, including one of the fastest turns in Australia, approached at nearly 300kmh, was perfect to test all the attributes of a new motorcycle.
Our test group had some quick guys including Josh Brookes, Steve Martin, and Cam Donald, so there was no hanging about.
When AMA dirt tracker Kenny Roberts arrived on the European 500 Grand Prix scene in 1978, road racing would never be the same. Not only did Roberts win the 500 GP title in his rookie year, as Marc Marquez did in 2013, but he also brought with him a radically new style derived from dirt track in the USA.
Robert’s style was of course, immediately copied by his rivals, much like Marquez’s dynamic style is being imitated today. KR, and the Americans that followed him, embraced dirt track lines, sacrificing entry speed, picking the bike up early and launching out of the corner, rear wheel spinning and handlebars crossed up.
Putting the bike sideways with the rear wheel 100mm out of line, steering with the rear wheel was the new way to ride. Dirt trackers then pretty much dominated 500 Grand Prix for nearly two decades between Americans: Roberts, Spencer, Lawson, Rainey, Schwantz and the Aussies: Gardner and Doohan.
Nothing causes as much confusion or trepidation in riders as emergency braking. How hard can I brake? Will the front wheel lock? Will I go over the handlebars? How far can I lean over on the brakes?
As a Motorcycle Instructor I am continually amazed at how many of our students, who have generally had some training and are licensed, come to us with inadequate braking skills. It’s super important to understand and regularly practice emergency braking on your bike. Normally I recommend a quiet car park with a slight up-hill.
To understand braking we must first understand grip. The main contributor to grip is the weight or load on each tire. The ratio between the maximum possible grip and the vertical load is called the coefficient of friction (?). To understand this, slide an eraser across your kitchen table. Now try the same thing pushing down hard on the eraser.
This same thing happens when you brake on a motorcycle. The bike pitches forward transferring weight onto the front wheel, increasing front tire grip. More so with sports bikes, tall with short wheelbase compared to cruisers, which are long and low.
On the track, racers are either on the throttle or on the brakes – no free wheeling – this wastes time. Trail braking is a technique which racers use to slow the bike as quickly as possible from one speed (on the straight) to another (corner apex speed).
In applying this technique, a racer will approach a turn and at their braking marker, apply full braking force, normally with the bike being upright.
As the rider begins to turn in, they reduce brake pressure, easing off the brakes. Decreasing or “trailing” the brake lever force as the bike lean angle increases until they gets to the apex, the rider then releases the brake and applies the throttle.
Sounds easy enough in theory, but proper execution is complicated because it comes down to feel — and remember these guys are doing this seamlessly, every lap on the limit.
As Freddie Spencer once said, “fast riders have slow hands” so all this is done smoothly, progressively and powerfully.
Look where you want to go! Steer the bike with your eyes! You go where you look! How often have we motorcyclists heard these phrases?
Looking where you want to go obviously relates to vision, an important sense for everyday life; however when we introduce motorcycles, the importance of vision increases dramatically, not just as an essential tool for high performance riding and racing, but also for survival on the road.
The fact is most of us are damaging our vision, namely our peripheral vision, with our modern lifestyle of sitting in front of TV and computer screens. Compared to our ancestors, our visual field has narrowed dramatically.
If we get into the habit of looking directly at objects while restricting the awareness of our surrounding field of view, it’s comparable to not fully using other areas of our body.
For example if we routinely only bend our knee ten degrees, you could imagine this bad habit of restricted movement would ultimately lead to poor function, soreness, and long-term damage.
It’s safe to assume that our vision also follows the familiar “use it or lose it” rule that is evident in other areas of our body. In other words, if we only use one part of our visual field, the rest of our visual circuitry will begin to go inactive. So how important is peripheral vision to our riding and what can we do to increase our visual performance?
The Emilia Romagna region of Italy is a melting pot for the Italian motorcycle industry. Positioned in the middle of this province, also known as the “terra dei motori” or the land of engines, sits the motorcycle company known as Bimota.
In September 1972 the now famous designer Massimo Tamburini crashed his Honda 750 Four at Misano racetrack — the stack left him with three broken ribs. While recovering from his unfortunate incident, he constructed a tubular steel frame to handle the horsepower then being produced by the Japanese bikes.
The frame he constructed lowered the centre of gravity and reduced the weight of the original Honda. Called the HB1, the first Bimota was born. Bimota’s name is derived from its founders’ initials: Bianchi, Morri and Tamburini.
Bimota has a rich racing heritage and has carried such great names as Virginio Ferrari, Davide Tardozzi, and Randy Mamola. Also who could forget Anthony ‘Go Show’ Goberts awesome WSBK victory at a wet Philip island in 2000 aboard the Bimota SB8R!
Born from a young university graduate’s mind, it was Engineer Pierluigi Marconi’s university thesis (Tesi in Italian) that directly led to the Bimota Tesi 1D hub-center steered motorcycle in 1990, the 1, 2 and 3D standing for the various Ducati engines used in the models.
Mark is a former international 250cc racer, as well as a former MotoGP engineer. His unique experience and perspectives on motorcycle dynamics and racing will be a regular feature on A&R. Enjoy!
In these high tech days of electronic fuel injection, you would expect motorcycle throttle response to be smooth as. However many of the latest bikes have a snatchy and jerky throttle response; especially around town at low speeds — feeling more like a switch than a throttle.
This is not just plain annoying, but makes holding a steady throttle in corners and riding in town tricky, often becoming a bigger problem in wet and slippery conditions. On the track, life can be even more difficult when the bike is closer to the edge of the tire, due to higher lean angles.
The throttle controls not only acceleration and traction but has a large influence on our bikes handling including weight transfer, steering and stability. The throttle is also our connection to the rear tire. If it’s linear and smooth, this is reflected in our riding performance.
We expect modern bikes to have smooth and accurate throttle response; but in fact throttle response is worse these days compared to carburettors of old. Why? In one word – Emissions.