2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 | Doin' Time

Staffers' Rides

Photography by Cali Photography

Ringleader: Barry Burke
MSRP (2010): $13,290
Miles: 3875-8001
MPG: 23
Mods: Dunlop Sportmax GP tires, Inhouse Suspension tuning

It's been months of freeway miles, canyon rides and track days plus plenty of setup time, adjustments and aftermarket parts since you've last seen my long-term R1. As one recreational accountant in the audience so eloquently pointed out-you know who you are, wise guy-I have blown my original $4000 budget to bits. You could call it an accounting issue, but the truth is I'm addicted to modifying-and hopefully improving-any bike I own, even if I don't actually own it. My weekend riding buddies make fun of me because I can't leave well enough alone-but these same guys are always asking me to look at their bikes when something doesn't feel right! So as addictions go, this one isn't all bad, right?

As an experiment, I switched back to the same Dunlop Sportmax GP tires ($489 from www.dunlopracing.com) that served me well on my last Suzuki GSX-R1000 long-termer. But after back-to-back testing, I'm convinced that Michelin's Power Ones are a better choice for the R1. The V-spec front Michelin's more aggressive profile holds a line better, finishes corners with ease and improves feedback as well as initial turn-in.

Randy at Inhouse Suspension was a big help in the handling department as well, helping me dial-in the R1's suspension at a Fastrack Riders track day at California Speedway for just $40.

I never would have guessed that a simple oil change would make such a difference in gearbox action and clutch feel, but Motorex 4T is worth every nickel of the $68 investment. The R1 runs hot on a 100-degree SoCal day, and it's noticeably cooler with this stuff in the crankcase.

The most obstinate problem is a chronic low-rpm lag in Yamaha's chip-controlled fly-by-wire throttle (YCC-T) that makes low-gear corners more difficult than they should be. Factor in heavy steering and the R1 can be a handful in the tight stuff. I'm pretty sure Yamaha has some track-specific kit bits that would cure the problem. Maybe I need to talk Graves Motorsports out of a Superbike black box? Then again, that would be throwing big money at a small problem I've already learned to ride around.

Overall, the R1 never gave me any problems. Credit the Yamaha engineers who designed a bulletproof bullet that hasn't missed a beat in 8000 hard miles. The only parts that broke were my fault: The canopy in my truck came unstrapped on the way home from a track day, crushing one $550 instrument pod and a $150 windscreen. Ouch!

If I had to start over, armed with the lessons learned from all those miles, here's how I'd spend that $4000: Renthal clip-ons ($199; www.renthal.com); Öhlins FGK 201 30mm cartridge fork kit and TTX shock ($1202/$1403.91; www.ohlinsusa.com); Michelin Power Race tires ($430; www.racersedgeperformance.com); Renthal Ultralight 15/45 sprockets ($39.95/$59.95) and an RK GB520GXR chain ($122.41, all from www.rkexcelamerica.com) for a grand total of $3457.22. That's $542.78 under my original budget!

I hope my critical CPA pal is happy now. I know I am.

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