FIRST LOOK: 2016 Yamaha YZF-R1S

Where S Does Not Mean Sedate

Yamaha's 2016 YZF-R1 has been a stellar success in the showroom and with us here at Motorcyclist, earning the coveted Motorcycle of the Year for 2015. With a combination of track-ready focus, low weight, high power, and MotoGP-derived electronics, the latest R1 has brought the fight to the European literbikes that have so dominated the headlines lately.

Breathless press is one thing, but the new R1’s price, $16,990, put it well above its Japanese competition. As a response, there’s the new-for-2016 R1S. Priced at $14,990, the R1S undercuts its own sibling but doesn’t leave much goodness left out. For example, the R1’s full electronics suite remains in the R1S, including adjustable traction control, ABS, ride-by-wire throttle with ride modes, launch control, slide control, and an Inertial Measurement Unit that makes it all possible. The bodywork is the same, as is the riding position and basic suspension calibration, though the S uses a slightly different fork and shock from KYB. (The base R1 uses KYB components but the R1M gets Öhlins electronically adjustable pieces.)

Yamaha saved money in the details. For example, the R1 and R1M engines have titanium connecting rods and valve spring caps (beneath the rocker arm followers), a titanium exhaust system, and oil pan, right side engine covers, and wheels fashioned from magnesium. In the R1S, you get steel connecting rods, plain-old aluminum oil pan and engine covers, a stainless-steel exhaust, and, heaven help us, steel engine cover bolts in place of the tasty aluminum bits from the R1/R1M. Also, the quickshifter standard on the R1/R1M becomes optional. All together, the changes add a claimed nine pounds to the base R1.

Yamaha isn’t giving specific power ratings for the R1S but did offer a graph devoid of any reference marks. From what we can glean, power is the same up through about 11,000 rpm, where it tapers very slightly compared to the regular R1. Because of the heavier internals, Yamaha’s limited redline to an estimated 12,650 rpm, down from the standard bike’s 14.5K. Bottom line, though: For the vast majority of street riders, the R1S will feel just as potent as the full-strength R1.

Colors include the same matte gray (new for ’16) that the regular R1 comes in, plus an Intensity White/Raven/Rapid Red colorway. The R1S will be available in February.