EXCLUSIVE! First laps on Yamaha's R1-M: 'It's on another planet'

Author: Bike Social Posted: 05 Jan 2015

Coghlan rode the R1-M at Alcarass. This is not Coghlan.

Two months ago in Milan, Yamaha lifted the covers off a ground-breaking new generation of its flagship Superbike, the YZF-R1.

Heavily inspired by the technology found on Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP bike, the new R1 boasts an impressive power to weight ratio weighing in at less than 200kg and producing almost 200bhp.

Very few have ridden the bike, Yamaha hasn’t even let the world’s press loose on it yet, but we managed to sit down with one of the handful of riders to have already spent time on the sport-spec, registration-only R1-M.

Kev Coghlan will compete aboard the R1 as an official Yamaha rider in this year’s European Superstock 1000 Championship. Two days before Christmas, he was given the opportunity to ride the all new R1-M at the Alcarass circuit in Spain.

“When I first jumped on the bike I thought ‘how nuts do you need to be to ride one of these on the road?’ The thing is a race bike with lights!” explained the Scotsman.

“Something you notice after a bit of time on the bike is how intelligent it is. You can ride it slow and steady as easy as a scooter but when you start pushing it just wants more and more. I think the advanced electronics have a lot to do with that.

Coghlan will race the R1 in the European Superstock series

“I’ve raced the Ducati Panigale before and I’ve also ridden the ZX10R and older R1. The new R1-M seems a step ahead. You get the lightweight feel of the Panigale but with a much stronger engine like the Kawasaki and it’s all packed into this nimble little chassis. It’s a great combination.

“I rode the older R1 as a stocker in the Russian Superbike class in 2013 and the new bike is on another planet, it’s a lot smaller, lighter and much more nimble. The power delivery is super smooth and that’s before you start on the electronics. The old bike wasn’t bad but one of the biggest issues was changing direction at high speed, it felt a bit sluggish. The new bike is a lot more flick-able.

“It handles more like a 600, it gives you that confidence to just throw it into the turns and carry the speed but at the end of the day, it’s a powerful bike so the lap time still comes from getting it stood up and on the pipe.”

To control all that power, Yamaha has embraced the new digital age of advanced electronics and rider aids to produce a bike that’s every bit mental and fast but still safe and comfortable to ride. The R1-M features sophisticated Ohlins Electronic Racing Suspension (ERS), which uses data from the bike’s clever monitoring system to make integrated adjustments to both the front and rear suspension providing additional stability and control during braking, improved cornering control and increased traction when entering corners.

Coghlan says the bike is on another planet

“The active suspension is a new sensation to ride with”, Coghlan continued. “The forks initially feel a bit soft but when you start pushing on it seems to sort things out by itself when you get deeper in the stroke. I think it’s something we’ll need a bit of time with to understand better for racing.

“The traction control system feels great. I’ve never been much of a fan of TC as other systems I’ve tried seemed to upset the bike more than anything else. The system on the R1-M is great, the cut of power is really smooth and when it really gets spinning you don’t lose any of the feel between your right hand and the rear tyre, it just fills you with confidence to give it some more!”

If you want to get your hands on £18,499 R1-M, you must register interest via this website.  Yamaha has warned that numbers will be limited though, so be quick!

The standard-spec YZF-R1 (which is still an impressive bit of kit) will be available to buy from dealerships from March this year at a price of £14,999.