New Long-Term Test: 2015 Yamaha R1 | DOIN' TIME

Update 1: We say KONNICHIWA! to Yamaha's 167hp superbike. Mods to come!

WRIST: Zack Courts
MSRP (2015): $16,490
MILES: 696
MPG: 30 (from our superbike test)
MODS: None yet

When my dear ol' dad visited earlier this year I gleefully forced a bunch of new-fangled motorbikes on him. It was veiled as heartfelt reparations for his priceless contributions to my motorcycling life but arguably an effort to see him squirm nervously outside the comfort of his airhead-BMW bubble. At the end of his stay in California he declared this new Yamaha R1 his least favorite of the bunch he sampled. Admittedly, it was the only true sportbike he rode, but his criticisms of riding position and ultra-tall gearing are totally legitimate; it's not the most practical bike.

If you’re a 60-something like my pops you might find yourself disinterested in the R1, too, in which case look at it this way: This is the intersection of normalcy and cutting-edge technology. The R1 is the cheapest motorcycle to have essentially a full suite of rider assistants (apart from electro-suspension). Pretty soon, six-axis accelerometers will be as ubiquitous as ABS, but until then this is the most accessible slice of the state of the art.

And I have to say, in riding it around it feels wholly futuristic. I’m still consistently amazed at how glassy smooth the engine can be, all from a unit that is 8 pounds lighter than the previous generation while making more power. The electro-do-dads are cool too. Each little segment of the LCD dash is adjustable, so the rider can tailor which information is seen on the screen, whether it’s race mode, street mode, day or night, etc. It’s an amount of options that is going to take some getting used to, which is why I’m glad I have my hands on this baby for a while.

Like all of my long-terms, I intend to participate in every facet of motorcycling, within the bounds of reason. I will be taking the R1 to the track and experimenting with just how capable the base model’s KYB suspension is at racing speed. As a streetbike the R1 is pretty darned comfy (for a superbike, that is), but I’m still plotting ergonomic changes. Some adjustable footpegs and different seats might make it more tolerable over long distances, which I also plan to tackle.

I might not be able to resist playing with the exhaust a little, though I'll admit I think the R1 sounds terrific, and I probably don't need more than the 167 hp it already laid down on the dyno. Lastly, superbike mirrors are historically both heinously ugly and almost useless for seeing what's behind, and unfortunately the R1 does little to differentiate itself in this category. I'm not sure what the solution is, but someone on the Internet surely sells a product to address it, right? That Internet has everything!

I’ve never owned a sportbike, mostly because my all-motorcycle lifestyle sways my taste toward versatility and practicality. It’s a category that is hugely popular, though, so maybe there’s some mystique and charm hidden under all of that bodywork. Time to find out.