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Yamaha YZF-R1

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The 2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 has been the subject of much rumor lately, as it appears the Japanese brand is getting ready to bring a new version for the next model year. What the bike will entail though is subject to some debate, however.

Over in Europe, there has been no shortage of speculation about the new superbike, fueled by patent applications from Yamaha over the past few years.

Reading those rumors now, our own Bothan spies from within the Iwata factory’s ranks have reached out to us, in an effort to set the record straight. The news is a mixture of good and bad.

Get the gears turning, because the rumor mill is starting to churn away on speculation for the next generation Yamaha YZF-R1.

This particular rumor looks towards the 2021 model year, when the Euro5 regulations for motorcycles take effect. Of course to that, we say “well of course there is.”

We will get to all that in a minute, but first, the buzz from Europe on what we can expect to see from Yamaha in two years’ time.

If you were hoping to get your hands on a Yamaha YZF-R1 GYTR superbike, well…you have probably missed your chance.

A limited production of only 20 motorcycles, the Yamaha YZF-R1 GYTR sales window was open for less than 24 hours, before the bike completely sold out.

Based off the machine that won this year’s Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race, which in turn is based off the original R1 livery design from 1999, the Yamaha YZF-R1 GYTR is quite the looker and it comes with a bevy of go-fast parts.

The Yamaha YZF-R1 clocked its 20th anniversary this year, a monumental achievement for the original 1,000cc superbike.

Potent from its first debut in 1998, the YZF-R1 is still at the top of the heap, winning the 2018 MotoAmerica Championship, as well as an unprecedented four-in-a-row victories at the prestigious Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race.

To help celebrate this birthday, Yamaha Motor has been touting a throwback livery on its racing machines, and now the Iwata brand is making that red and white livery available to its European fans.

More than just a paint job though, this 2019 Yamaha YZF-R1 GYTR superbike has some very trick parts, which will make the 20 lucky souls who buy one very happy.

Things are not well at Yamaha Motor USA, and over the coming days you are going to read a number of reports from us about Yamaha and its US operations.

Before we dive into the multitude of issues that the Tuning Fork brand faces here in the United States though, we wanted to first talk about Yamaha’s crashing sales, because that best frames the company’s entire situation, and is the basis for the other stories that concern the brand.

Now halfway through 2018, Yamaha sales big bike sales (500cc and up) are down a staggering 19% for the last 12 consecutive months, compared to the same previous 12 months before that.

To put that figure into perspective, the big bike market in the USA is down roughly 8% over the same time period, though that figure is due mostly to Harley-Davidson, which accounts for half of the American bike bike market.

Compromise has little place in most forms of racing. Speed is of the essence and everything else is secondary to it. In Endurance, the same principle guides the way, but there are compromises to be made. Speed is as necessary in the pit lane as it on the race track.

Being able to repair any damage quickly and easily is crucial. At this weekend’s Suzuka 8-Hours, we will see the fruit of that work once again, but ahead of this year’s edition, we take another look at the YZF-R1 that took the victory. It deserves one last moment in the spotlight.

With fewer restrictions in place on manufacturers, the return of “Suzuka Specials” in recent years has allowed the Japanese manufacturers to flex their creative muscles.

At the Suzuka 8-Hours, brain power is more important than horsepower, and finding a way to get the power to ground, by electronics, suspension or tires, is crucial.

Innovation is everywhere on the Suzuka grid, and last year’s winner was no exception..

It is not uncommon to see factory endurance teams tapping into their WSBK and MotoGP riders for the Suzuka 8-Hours race, stacking the odds in their favor at the very prestigious and important Japanese race. But, we rarely see these marque names outside of Suzuka.

That being said, Bradley Smith will be joining the factory-backed Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART) at the 8 Hours of Oschersleben, the final round of the FIM Endurance World Championship.

The reason for this is pretty simple: YART is tied for second, only eight points back from winning the FIM Endurance World Championship, and vying for the top spot with nine other teams mathematically in contention.

The Yamaha MT-10 is coming to the USA as the Yamaha FZ-10. I was a bit put-off by the bike’s radical design when it debuted at EICMA last year, but if you listen to the latest episode of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, you will see that I have been warming up to the machine, especially after seeing it in person in Los Angeles.

The Yamaha FZ-10 poses an interesting problem though, as it enters the domain of a very similar machine, the Yamaha FZ1, which has a very different, very cult following and core demographic.

The FZ1 is perhaps the last honest sport-tourer in the US market, and it enjoys a healthy loyalty from experienced riders who enjoy still riding fast, but require a little bit more in the ergonomics department than the current crop of sport bikes provide.

But, as much as the FZ-10 is the answer to the calls of FZ1 owners for an updated and modern version of their steed, this latest R1-derived street bike is probably more at home in the Michael Bay Transformers franchise, than it would be in the garage of current FZ-1 owner.