Yamaha YZF, a little history
In case you haven’t put on your helmet and gloves yet, it is about time to get started. For you to understand where the mighty YZF comes from, let’s go way back into the hair days: the 1980s. I’m an older man and was lucky enough to enjoy riding big bikes listening to Van Halen in my young years. Although I never made it to properly racing, I’ve been on a bike since I can remember. The year was 1987 and Yamaha came up with the FZR1000, notably state of the art, utterly powerful bike. It was capable of 135HP and 159MPH. Believe me, if an FZR1000 would go near you, you will indeed notice it.
Fast forward to the late nineties, I had only once been on an FZR and thought it was a blast. Yamaha redefined the concept of a supersport bike with 1998’s YZF R1. The power to weight ratio is excellent as an illustration of this idea: 1.18 kg/PS. Horsepower was at 150 and maximum speed at 175MPH. Weight is, by all means, a defining factor in motorcycle speed. The 1987 model was over 200kg, and this one is only 177.
Fast forward again to ten years later, the 2007 Yamaha YZF R1 from 2007 became an icon. It was declared the most advanced open-class production motorcycle ever built, which is enough to emphasize just how powerful this bike is. Horsepower went up to 180 and maximum speed at 185MPH. By the starting of the next decade, the Yamaha YZF R1 was capable of 190MPH pushed forward by 190HP. The cross-plane crankshaft technology derived straight from the Moto GP world certainly made a difference.
Yamaha released several smaller, more street-friendly bikes like the Yamaha YZF R6, R3, and R125. The legend surely continues and lives true to its spirit in each of these bikes. I had the chance to ride several of them and can tell you that they are quite an experience. Let’s go right to it.
Yamaha YZF R1
This multi-championship winner in the race track can work wonders for you wherever you ride. It might not be the most comfortable bike to ride around the crowded streets of a busy city. The chassis is a little too big for car-swerving and the engine too powerful for avenues and boulevards. This motorcycle does shine in the open road. If you have the chance to take it to a racetrack, it’ll give you the chills.
The liquid-cooled 998cc engine sports 16 valves for four cylinders. It operates a six-speed transmission with utterly precise YCC-T and YCC-I technology. Indeed this type of injection comes straight from Moto GP. The street model comes equipped with some fantastic features that help tame the ferocious power:
- TCS – Traction Control System
- SCS – Slide Control System
- LIF – Lift Control System (anti-wheelie)
- QSS – Quick Shift System
- LCS – Launch Control System
- Linked anti-lock brakes
All these features are bright in a display that is full of TFT colour and shows all the essential information you would expect. In this case, I was lucky enough to ride this beauty; let’s go to the review right away.
Yamaha YZF R1 review
The day came and, as I was no stranger to this line (I own a Yamaha YZF R6), I was excited but not so much. The motorcycle I got for the testing was not waiting for me parked in a parking lot as usual. This test was on a racetrack, so I walked to it with my tracksuit, my helmet, and my gloves.
The first thing I noticed from it is the size and the weight. I had been on an R1 previously, and they were above the 200kg mark. This bike seems a lot lighter than that (although the difference is only of 23kg). I got on it, and upon starting the engine, I already felt the power beneath me. For one thing, with both legs around such a potent engine, it is hard not to touch the adrenaline rush. I’m no rookie, but I was immediately 18 again listening to “Eruption” by Van Halen all over again.
With attention to the takeoff of this machine, I can say that the combination of TCS and LIF makes LCS amazing. This bike maximizes your acceleration when starting on a race track. The LCS limits the engine’s RPM; the LIF controls you don’t go wheelie, and the TCS makes you go straight instead of in a circle, which allows you to go full throttle and straight out when the checkered flag appears.
Accelerating from 0 to 100kmh is something that happens in a matter of seconds and stability is remarkable. The suspension follows the body movements and the anti-slide controls prevent the bike from going straight out of the asphalt to the grass. For this reason, you can push the bike in the corners and come out the other way flawlessly. To put it another way, the angle of the bike and the floor get individual attention from the bike’s instruments correcting engine power delivery in real-time.
Pushing this bike in a straight line is also a great experience. The maximum speed of the R1 has a digital limiter to make it a street bike. This limit comes at 300kmh, and once you reach that (astonishing) speed, it just doesn’t move. With attention to gears, it is effortless to develop speed since this bike loves going fast. You can feel that it asks for more.
I had an hour of superb fun in the racetrack. On the positive side, this motorcycle is a high-tech wonder loving speed and with manoeuvrability that is by all means excellent. The technology applied to control speed and torque is just superb. On the other hand, it is not a great city bike; it is too spicy and significant for those endeavours. In other words, you shouldn’t buy a Ferrari to commute to work and neither an R1.
The R1 is a fun, safe and powerful bike to ride on the weekends, but I don’t recommend it for the city. The temptation to open the throttle is a little too much.
Yamaha YZF R6
Yamaha YZF R6 is the bike I own and have had for the past two years so I can speak of it with total confidence. It is not R1’s little sister, but a completely different entity designed to excel in the streets and the racetrack. In the first place, fuel consumption goes from 33mpg in the R1 to 42mpg with the R6, which is not a minor difference, Yamaha thinks of every detail on their bikes and lowering fuel consumption is more user-friendly. They are giving a message: “use it regularly; it won’t break the bank.”
While it is true that it is not such a high-tech machine as the R1, the 599cc, 4-cylinder engine doesn’t need it either. The 16 titanium valves and the liquid cooling work marvel to make this bike a fast and robust ride. It still features YCC-T and YCC-I technology to aid fuel injection in precision. It is also a six-speed motorcycle. The Yamaha YZF R6 is, by no means, a downgraded bike. In certain brands, you get a downgrade from the flag model by removing some of the specs, which is not the case of the Yamaha YZF R6.
Let’s go to the (indeed) fun part of driving this beauty.
Yamaha YZF R6 review
As I said before, I own this bike and believe me that I ride it a lot. It is not stock from the factory; I installed three amazing accessories to it. I discovered this brand as I was testing a Ducati Scrambler that had them installed. Let me shed some light over each; they can help you too.
Yamaha YZF R3
At half the price and with a rate of 56mpg, the Yamaha YZF 3 or Yamaha YZF R3 is a great city bike. The engine was reduced and is a twin-cylinder with eight valves and 321cc. Don’t get fooled by the size, it is a very powerful bike still, but has a clear city-streets inclination. The looks resemble the detail of the R1 and R6, and yet the manoeuvrability is completely different.
Getting on it to do a Yamaha YZF R3 review is something that expressly emphasizes this point. There are no loose ends to its ergonomics, and you feel like on a supersport bike although you are riding a machine with two cylinders and a 321cc engine.
Developing speed in it is not difficult and weekend getaways are a pleasure indeed. So, if you are not such an experienced rider and want an entry-level Yamaha YZF, this might be the right choice.
Yamaha YZF R125
Speaking of entry-level motorcycles in this line, the Yamaha YZF R125 is the perfect one for those who don’t own any other big bikes. With attention to your riding skills, mastering a Yamaha YZF R125 before making the jump to bigger models is a must. It is a fast bike, and although max speed is 85mph (137kmh), it is more than enough for most city situations.
The design, lines, and comfort come straight from its bigger sisters, but that is about all the similarities. The single-cylinder, 124.7cc engine features four valves, making it very capable but by no means comparable to bikes four times its size.
This is a great, fun bike to roam around the city looking amazing without worrying about power all that much.
Finally, it is good to add that the line of Yamaha YZF accessories to make your bike perfect for the city or travelling is broad and great. You can transform a supersport into a weekend fun bike with some simple add-ons.
The Yamaha YZF is, by all means, a line of superbikes with enough power to take you to the racetrack. With attention to the technology applied to the speed, it is safe to say that they have come a long way and are now much more reliable than they ever were. Also, the accessories mentioned above can make your riding experience safer than ever and keep your price possession well-protected as well.
That’s it from this happy, lucky Yamaha YZF owner; what do you think about this powerful line? Feel free to comment and share this post with fellow riders.