This Week’s Yamaha YZF-R1 Rumor, Redux

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Rumors of a new Yamaha YZF-R1 continue to swirl in the motosphere, and for the most part they rehash the same lines that we heard a month ago.

Namely, that would be a new four-cylinder engine, a seamless gearbox, variable valve timing, and updated electronics. Today though, we see another feature added to the list, one that is actually pretty interesting.

Quoting patents previously found, the new Yamaha YZF-R1 is said to have an anti-wheelie braking feature that works via the rear brake. 

This is unique because virtually every other machine that features an anti-wheelie setting achieves this goal through managing the throttle. To see it done via the braking system is a new approach, and could help separate out Yamaha from the pack.

The system obviously uses the YZF-R1’s built-in inertial measurement unit (IMU) to gauge the front wheel lift (aka wheelie) angle and rate of change, and then uses the bike’s anti-locking brake system (ABS) to apply braking pressure to the rear caliper.

Slowing down the rear wheel, the front wheel will then drop back down to earth, thus eliminating a power-losing wheelie, or even better, saving the rider from looping the bike around vertically.

We can’t think of an immediate reason why mitigating front-wheel lift with the rear brake would be especially superior to the throttle versions currently in use, but perhaps the degree of modulation and reaction that can be achieved by the rear brake outperforms changes made to the throttle input.

Used in conjunction with a launch control system, this front-wheel lift system could show some unique benefit, we imagine, but the real value would have to be sussed out in person. For now, it is an interesting prospect.

Time will tell whether we see a new Yamaha YZF-R1 for the 2020 or 2021 model year, though we would certainly expect one by the later date.

The current generation YZF-R1 debuted in 2015, and has begun to show its age, though it certainly remains at the pointier end of the superbike segment. Though, we can imagine that the brains in Iwata are keen to pay homage to their opus with a new model.

Perhaps we will see one debut later this year? Stay tuned.