2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 | First Look

Now with Traction Control

The uneven firing order of the Yamaha YZF-R1’s Crossplane engine may make it one of the easiest superbikes to ride with the rear tire spinning, but for those that lack the nerves of a world-class racer, traction control is still a welcome addition.

At a recent sneak-peak introduction at its American headquarters in Cypress, California, Yamaha announced that anti-high-side software will come standard on the 2012 R1. The system offers seven selectable sensitivity levels (including off), and is manipulated via a rocker switch on the left handlebar. In conjunction with Yamaha’s familiar D-Mode (for Drive) power maps, the new software will offer 21 levels of control, allowing riders to tailor the bike’s performance to any conceivable riding condition.

Yamaha didn’t divulge details about how the system works, but based on what we know of other setups on the market, the R1’s ECU likely compares front- and rear-wheel speeds to detect a slide, then polls throttle position, gear position and engine rpm to determine how much intervention is necessary. One or more accelerometers may also be present, which would add another level of acumen to the detection and response process. Tire spin will be managed by a combination of fuel cuts, ignition retard and throttle-plate position via the YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle). While engineers were working on the R1’s brains, they also updated the fuel, ignition and YCC-T mapping with the intention of improving throttle response.

Other updates for the 2012 model year include a mild redesign of the R1’s nose and tail, as well as a few other choice styling changes. Viewed head-on, the new bike looks more sinister than ever. The intake ducts have been elongated, while the upper edges of the openings are furrowed over the headlights. The agitated appearance is accentuated by two pronounced creases in the faring panel as well as a lower, more pointed nose. Out back, the muffler caps and heat shield have been restyled, lending a tidier, more compact look to the tail. A re-tooled, MotoGP-inspired top triple clamp and new color schemes round out the changes.

We’re keen to give the new bike a go at the track, and should have firsthand impressions of the traction-control system’s efficacy soon. Look for our First Ride in a future issue, and for the 2012 YZF-R1 in your local Yamaha dealership in late fall. The new bike will sell for $13,990 in Yamaha Blue—just $400 more than the 2011 model-and $14,190 in white and black. Nice going, Yamaha!

**Celebrating In Style **
Limited Edition 50th Anniversary YZF-R1

Last June, Ben Spies kicked off Yamaha's 50th year in international racing with a debut MotoGP win at Assen, Holland. _ is November, Yamaha will release a limited-edition YZF-R1 decked out in the historic red-and-white livery Spies' bike wore at that milestone event. A serialized plate on the gas tank will display each bike's production number, while gold tuning-fork emblems will grace the tank and tail-a color previously reserved exclusively for use on Grand Prix race machines. You can own a piece of history for $14,490-only $500 more than the standard model. But hurry, only 2000 of these bikes are scheduled for production, with an estimated 750 units coming to America.

New LED marker lights reside at the corners of the intake ducts and reflect light through prisms extending along the lower edge of the opening. The appearance is attention-grabbing.
A display at the top of the dash indicates traction-control level. More bars equals more intervention. You can change the settings while in motion, but the throttle must be closed.