When the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 first broke cover last year, it was with two model designations: the YZF-R1M and YZF-R1S. Obviously, only one of those machines has come to market, which is peculiar since Yamaha went to some trouble to register both names with the USPTO.
What happened to the YZF-R1S is up for conjecture, though it does seem the model, whatever it may be, is destined to arrive in the US market, as the model name has been spotted in documents filed by Yamaha with the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
As our friends at Motorcycle.com pointed out when they found the listing, Yamaha’s CARB listing is an alphabet soup of letters. It helps to know that Yamaha uses letters after the bike name to denote both model year and color, and that the letter for the 2016 model year is “G”.
Taking that knowledge to CARB’s chart, it’s clear that that two different colors of the YZF-R1S are coming for 2016, with even “YZF-R1 Basic Cal Model” listed in their model name on the governing body’s paperwork.
Of course, the real question is, what is the YZF-R1S, and where would it fit into Yamaha’s already two-tierd superbike platform? Early speculation last year was that the R1S is an even more bare-bones R1 from Yamaha, though that’s hard to imagine.
Another though is that the R1S goes the other way for the tuning fork brand, being an even more upscale version of the R1, perhaps more suitable for racers and track day enthusiasts. That’s still hard to imagine with the R1M already filling that role.
The third option, of course, is the middle ground between those two thoughts: just a normal model R1. Yamaha USA has a habit of designating the R1 as the YZF-R1S in its internal paperwork.
In fact, just last night I had to crack open my Yamaha shop manual for my R1 track bike (2004) as I was looking for a torque spec on a bolt, and there on the front cover was written “YZF-R1S / YZR-R1SC”, the C denoting the California model of the bike.
It’s possible that all this ado about CARB documents and a third R1 model is not much at all, and that the reality is that the “YZF-R1S” has been with us all along. That would certainly jive with why Yamaha hasn’t trademarked the YZF-R1S name abroad – a curiosity that has never been explained.
This is the fun part of new model speculation though, and fortunately for us, we likely won’t have to wait long to find out if we’re getting another R1 model, more colors, or it’s business as usual. Stay tuned.