While it's a stretch to call any Yamaha YZF-R1 a replica of Valentino Rossi's YZR-M1, there's no such ambiguity surrounding a Ben Spies edition. Unlike Rossi's MotoGP-spec M1, which merely inspired the R1 streetbike, Spies' World Superbike racer is based on the same machine you can buy from your local Yamaha dealer. And while you can't buy a Spies Replica R1 in America just yet, enthusiasts in the UK and France have that option thanks to two firms presently offering R1 replicas done up in factory Sterilgarda Yamaha graphics.
The UK version comes from CMC Bikes in Chesterfield, a Yamaha dealer well known for finishing motorcycles in special, race-replica paint schemes. In addition to a Sterilgarda machine, CMC also offers R1-based Fiat-Yamaha and Monster Energy/Tech3 knock-offs, as well as replicas of Chris Walker's British Superbike racer and Michael Rutter's Northwest 200 entry. The CMC bike, which sells for the equivalent of $20,000, comes complete with an OEM-quality paint job (not decals), plus twin Akrapovic carbon-fiber exhaust cans, a passenger seat cowl and rear fender eliminator. At the opposite end of the Chunnel, Yamaha's French importer will likewise produce a limited run of just 10 Ben Spies Replica R1s. Identical to the stock bike except for graphics, the French version will sell for a $3280 premium over the stocker's retail price.
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It's slightly ironic that American race fans don't have an option to purchase a replica of the bike ridden by the best American World Superbike rider of this century-and our 2009 Motorcyclist of the Year. Maybe some enterprising stateside dealer will step up and fill this void. Or, better yet, Yamaha Motor Corporation USA-inspired by the success of the Rossi Replica-will give Spies fans a replica to covet too.