2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 - The Game Changer

Yamaha's Crossplane Crankshaft Changes Everything

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Paul Barshon

Hard Parts
New from the crankshaft up

Sophisticated bodywork does more than just cover up the ugly bits. The lower fairing cowl is now composed of separate inner and outer shells engineered to more precisely control airflow around the bike at high speeds. This so-called "Active Air Management" system is designed to force cool air into the radiator and more efficiently suck hot air out of the engine bay, eliminating the need for hot-air vents at the sides of the radiator and thus improving aerodynamics. Radically enlarged ram-air ducts dominate the upper fairing. New headlights are the latest two-stage projector beams, and both remain lit in high- and low-beam operation, ending annoying "Hey buddy, your light is out" conversations for good. This year's shorter, tighter tailsection is designed with mass centralization in mind.

Yamaha's signature electronic technology remains intact, including YCC-I chip-controlled intake runners that snap from a low end-boosting long position to a shorter, top-end enhancing length at 9400 rpm. Ride-by-wire YCC-T throttle activation remains, powered by a 32-bit ECU that separately maps each cylinder's ignition and fuel injection. The YCC-T technology also drives the R1's new D-Mode function that enables the rider to adjust performance characteristics according to three preset drive modes. Unlike Suzuki's similar S-DMS system, which alters power delivery via changes in ignition and injection timing, D-Mode simply alters the speed at which the YCC-T system opens the throttle plates. In addition to the standard setting, there's also an accelerated "A" mode for sharper throttle response and a "B" mode that softens response.

The Deltabox aluminum frame has been completely redesigned to complement the Crossplane powerplant. A gravity-cast headstock/front engine mount connects to a gravity-cast rear section with frame rails formed using Yamaha's controlled-fill die-casting process, balancing vertical, lateral and torsional rigidity to improve stability at lean. According to Yamaha, vertical rigidity is increased by 22 percent, lateral rigidity is decreased by 37 percent and torsional rigidity is reduced by 2 percent. Controlled-fill casting technology also forms the one-piece magnesium subframe, shaving precious poundage far from the center of mass. The swingarm, consisting of a gravity-cast main section fitted with CF-cast spars, has likewise been retuned for 28 percent more vertical rigidity, 21 percent less lateral stiffness and 29 percent less torsional twist resistance--all to exploit the additional available traction. Geometry remains essential identical, though, with the same rake (24.0 degrees) and trail (4.0 inches). Only the wheelbase--just 5mm shorter--has changed. Finally, a taller 55-series rear tire helps the new R1 turn-in a bit more quickly.

A new Soqi fork isolates compression and rebound-damping functions, with the left leg dedicated to the former and the right to the latter. This independent arrangement simplifies suspension adjustments, improves response and stability over changing surfaces, and eliminates the dead zone where conventional forks transition from compression to rebound action. A Soqi shock offers high/low-speed compression damping and the added convenience of a hydraulic spring-preload adjuster, which adjusts with an Allen wrench instead of a spanner (or hammer and punch). This new shock rides on a new bottom link-type rear suspension, identical to that on the M1 racer, said to make more complete use of the full suspension stroke. Featuring a more progressive leverage ratio, this linkage provides improved small-bump compliance in the beginning of its travel and firmer resistance to big inputs.

Excepting Ducati's Desmosedici RR, no other production sportbike so closely resembles its MotoGP forebear as the new YZF-R1. Crossplane crankshaft technology comes directly from the YZR-M1 racebike, with each crankpin located 90 degrees from the next (instead of the conventional 180) to decrease inertia torque. Technically this is not a "big-bang" motor, which fires pairs of cylinders simultaneously, but rather a "long-bang" design with an uneven (270-180-90-180) firing interval that offers a degree of the big-bang's traction-enhancing benefits with less vibration and top-end power loss. Displacement remains at 998cc, but the bore has increased 1mm (to 78mm), and the stroke has been shortened accordingly (to 52.2mm, from 53.6mm). Otherwise, engine geometry is essentially identical to the '08 model. Fracture-split connecting rods drive forged pistons inside friction-reducing ceramic composite-plated cylinders, while titanium intake valves slash reciprocating mass. For the first time, the R1 gets secondary, showerhead-type fuel injectors to better fill its 45mm throttle bodies, improving throttle response and high-rpm power. The EXUP valve has been deleted from the titanium exhaust and a more efficient, three-way catalyst replaces last year's two separate catalyzers.

Tech Spec

Yamaha's flagship sportbike gets a new, MotoGP-
derived motor with the unique, 90-degree Crossplane
Japan's latest literbikes: Honda CBR1000RR,
Kawasaki ZX-10R and Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Price $12,390-$12,490
Engine type l-c inline-four
Valve train DOHC, 16v
Displacement 998cc
Bore x stroke 78.0 x 52.2mm
Compression 12.7:1
Fuel system Mikuni EFI
Clutch Wet, multi-plate slipper
Transmission 6-speed
Claimed horsepower 178.4 bhp @12,500 rpm
Claimed torque 84.5 lb-ft @ 10,000 rpm
Frame Aluminum twin-spar
Front suspension 43mm Soqi inverted fork with adjustable
spring preload, compression and rebound
Rear suspension Single Soqi shock with adjustable spring
preload, high/low-speed compression and
rebound damping
Front brake Dual Sumitomo six-piston radial calipers,
310mm discs
Rear brake Single Nissin one-piston caliper, 220mm disc
Front tire 120/70-ZR17 Dunlop Sportmax D210F
Rear tire 190/55-ZR17 Dunlop Sportmax D210F
Rake/trail 24.0 deg./4.0 in.
Seat height 32.9 in.
Wheelbase 55.7 in.
Fuel capacity 4.8 gal.
Claimed wet weight 454 lbs.
Color Team Yamaha Blue/White, Raven/Candy Red,
Pearl White/Rapid Red, Cadmium Yellow/Raven
Available Now
Warranty 12 mo./unlimited mi.

Yamaha Motor Corp. USA
6555 Katella Ave.
Cypress, CA 90630

Verdict 4.5 stars out of 5
The most effective, accessible and charismatic literbike we've ridden yet.

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