2018 Yamaha YZF-R1 MC Commute Review

Riding to work on Yamaha’s 160-hp liter-class YZF-R1 superbike

Yamaha jump-started the liter-class sportbike segment 21 years ago with its original '98 YZF-R1. Over the years it evolved, at times teetering toward a more street or track focused design depending on model year. But for its 2015 major redesign, Yamaha had its sights set on track performance first and foremost.

Right away it was apparent the Tuning Fork company certainly did its homework, engineering a competent sportbike for setting fast laps at the track. But how does it perform on the road, on the way to work? We find out in this episode of MC Commute.

The YZF-R1 is powered by Yamaha's ferocious 998cc crossplane-equipped inline-four engine. Compared to other inline-four configurations, Yamaha's CP4 mill offers a rowdy powerband that feels like a cross between the punchy feel of a V-twin and the screaming high-rpm performance that I-4s are renowned for. On our dyno, the 2015–2018 generation R1 engine belts out over 160 hp at the business end of the Bridgestone Battlax tire.

The engine is hung in a racy chassis with ergonomics that follow the lines of the Doctor’s YZR-M1 bike. It’s also loaded with capable and easy-to-manipulate electronics that truly complement the engine and chassis allowing the rider to set fast laps with ease. For 2018, engineers tweaked the functionality of its wheelie control (Yamaha calls it “Lift” control) as well as adding auto-blip downshift functionality allowing the rider to downshift without the clutch at lean. Will these gizmos help us wield the R1 from stoplight to stoplight? Find out now this episode of MC Commute.