Yamaha R1 2007

So, if the typical big-bore sportbike guy is in his mid-thirties, likes to take it to the track a little more than his neighbor after commuting all week so he can sort out the handling on his heavily-ridden machine, what do you suppose that says about what Yamaha did with the 2007 R1?

To put us in the know, Yamaha invited a cadre of journos to the current home of the US MotoGP, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA. It was here that we would see if we could discern if all this new techno wizardry had dramatically improved the R1 or simply brought it on par with the competition.

Keep saying four to yourself; eventually it'll sink in. Keep saying four to yourself; eventually it’ll sink in.
Yamaha Chip Controlled - Throttle Yamaha Chip Controlled – Throttle
YCC - I at 140mm.YCC – I at 140mm.
YCC - I at 65mm. YCC – I at 65mm.

Earlier this fall Yamaha revealed what’s behind the all-new R1. This year the bike came with some acronyms, but not enough to rival say, a BMW touring bike with all the options. We covered the meat of what this new-fangled technology does in the September unveiling of the bike, but it bears covering again in detail.

If you haven’t heard, Yamaha made some pretty big news when they broke a long-standing tradition and did away with their time-honored five-valve layout. The two remaining titanium intake valves increased in size to 31mm from three 23.5mm bits, while the two steel exhaust valves keep their ’06 dimensions of 25mm. Valve angles have also changed to match the new head. The single intake’s angle is now 11.5 degrees while the exhaust is now 12.5 degrees. The 2006 model’s two intake side valve angles were 15.75 degrees with the center valve angle — remember it was a five-valve head — at 8.75 degrees and the exhaust angle was 11 degrees. Speaking of valves, lift was also raised on both the intake and exhaust cams, from 7.6 to 9.2mm and 7.5 to 8.3mm respectively.

The end result is a cylinder head that has a greater intake volume thanks in part to a high-lift cam profile, and a compression ratio that was bumped from 12.4:1 to 12.7:1. This has allegedly improved combustion efficiency, and power across the low, mid and top ends, and thanks to a smoother combustion chamber and re-shaped pistons — specifically designed with the new head in mind — the R1’s cleaner-burning power plant can meet stringent 2008 emissions standards. We know how much you worry about cleaner-burning motorcycles.

Oddly enough, bore and stroke is unchanged from 77mm by 53.6mm. But in order to deal with the increased power from the new head, the connecting rods were strengthened by adding more material in all the right places.

New head aside, the R1’s other large overhaul was in fueling and all that it entails. More big numbers pop up when we look at the throttle bodies. Though they still have the same 45mm bore, they no longer use a measly four injector holes, but a whopping 12 holes are employed to improve atomization. But adding more holes is about as low-tech as improving the fueling gets. Borrowing from its little brother, the R6, the 2007 R1 now utilizes YCC-T or Yamaha Chip Controlled – Throttle. Some people just like to call it throttle by wire. Simply put, it’s a system comprised of an accelerator position sensor (APS), throttle position sensor (TPS) and opening and closing throttle “wires.” With the 32-bit Denso ECU calculating throttle grip position and throttle valve opening every one thousandth of a second, a tiny motor performs the actual work of opening and closing the throttle. For those of you paralyzed with fear after watching the Matrix trilogy, the rider can still close the throttle “mechanically” by wire if electricity is interrupted.

We’ve been itching to get a 2007 R1 for street duties ever since we turned laps on the new Yamaha literbike at the press intro in November.

In the sportbike world, there’re two kinds of success: victory at the track; and a sensation on the showroom floor. Ever since Yamaha’s YZF-R1 burst onto the scene in 1998, it’s been in winner in both categories, becoming what is perhaps the most desirable literbike among Japanese manufacturers.

For 2007, the R1 brings its traditional strong arsenal – awesome performance and stunning good looks – and receives a technology infusion and sharper styling to remain at the top of the literbike pack. We’ve sat on it, and so we’re confident in saying that R1 fans are going to have wet dreams about this latest and greatest.

The first item to note is that Yamaha has dropped its signature five-valve-per-cylinder design in favor of a typical four-valve layout. Yamaha tells us the five-valve arrangement limited the combustion chamber shape in this current world of more compact setups, and it must be true if the tuning-fork company has shelved its unique 5-valve technology first seen in the 1984 FZ750. Instead of three 23.5mm intake valves, the new R1 uses two 31mm poppets (largest in class), and are now made of lightweight titanium. Its pair of 25mm steel exhaust valves is similar in size to last year. The more compact combustion chamber has bumped the compression ratio from 12.4 to 12.7:1.

Below the cylinder head lies a bottom end not significantly changed. It uses the same bore and stroke (77.0 x 53.6mm), already the most oversquare in the class, so the redline remains at 13,750 rpm, still the highest among four-cylinder literbikes. New con rods are beefier at the big end for greater durability.

It’s at the intake side where the R1 gets tricky. “The One” now receives the YCC-T fly-by-wire throttle control first seen last year on the little brother R6. However, the R1’s system now reads changes in parameters at a faster rate of 1000 times a second.

But that’s not even the big news. This new R1 brings a performance feature heretofore unseen on a production motorcycle. It’s Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake (YCC-I), Yamaha-speak for variable-length intake trumpets. At lower revs, the intake snorkels are set at a height of 140mm for strong torque production. Once the motor is at higher rpm, the trumpets drop down to a height of 65mm for maximum power when screaming for vengeance (a reference for Judas Priest fans…).

The result, says Yamaha, is an increase of low, mid and top-end power over last year’s high-strung motor. Its claimed 178 horsepower (without ram-air effect) is a boost of five ponies at its 12,500-rpm peak. Expect to see nearly 155 horsies at the rear wheel when we run it on the dyno. More importantly, its powerband should be much more robust than the peaky 2004-06 bikes.

The new exhaust system, still with dual underseat canisters, is built largely from titanium and features dual catalyzers and an EXUP valve to meet Euro 3 and 2008 EPA emissions standards. The slipper clutch from last year’s high-dollar LE model is now standard. Surprisingly, there are no plans to produce an Ohlins-equipped LE for 2007, making last year’s limited-production bike even more collectible. The addition of the slipper clutch and catalyzers is expected to add a couple of pounds to the new bike, likely making it the heaviest literbike of the superbike group.

The new R1’s frame looks similar to the previous model but has different flex characteristics. The cast parts are now more rigid, but the extruded bits have a certain degree of flex built into them for greater feel and feedback when leaned over in corners. Reinforcing ribs have been added to the steering head area while a cross-member between the frame rails has been eliminated. Chassis geometry has remained mostly constant, utilizing the same 24-degree rake and 55.7-inch wheelbase as before. Trail is up slightly from 97mm to 102mm.

A new swingarm has its torsional rigidity increased by 30% while lateral rigidity is decreased marginally, plus its pivot position has been raised by 3mm. Yamaha says this has resulted in better turn-in response and more grip under acceleration, something the World Superbike race teams have struggled with in past years. There’s now more room for larger-diameter race tires that, depending on brands, could sometimes not have enough clearance with the previous model.

Guiding the R1’s sleek nose is a new 43mm fork that has larger-diameter pistons (20mm to 24mm) and new aluminum rods. Yamaha says the new design reduces cavitation and offers improved damping. The inner tube wall thickness has been reduced for a small weight saving, while the axle bracket has been beefed up. A new rear shock with separate high- and low-speed compression damping has a progressive rate that is said to be plush over small bumps but stiff enough over big whoops.

Yamaha has upped the ante in the braking department by going to a pair of six-piston calipers up front. These smaller pistons allow a greater portion of the outer brake rotor to be used, so the disc’s diameter has been reduced by 10mm to 310mm, which may result in slightly quicker turning response.

Wheels are unchanged this year, though the buns they wear have. Longtime supplier Dunlop is replaced by Pirelli’s Diablo Corsa rubber, though only on the R1.

Styling-wise, Yamaha seems to have been hesitant to draw a clean-sheet design and instead offers a mix of old R1 combined with some of the wonderful style of the popular R6 in the side fairing and fuel tank. Yamaha says the R1 now has improved aerodynamics and better intake flow, and the layered cowling creates a vacuum to draw hot air away from the engine. Instrumentation is also new, with a prominent tach displaying giant numbers for quick assimilation of information.

The new R1 should be hitting dealers around the first of December in your choice of Team Yamaha Blue, Charcoal Silver/Matte Black or Candy Red/Matte Black. Yamaha expects to have accessories such as frame sliders, exhausts, seat cowls and carbon fiber pieces available by the time the bike arrives in showrooms at a base price of $11,599. The silver or red version will cost an extra $100.

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