The 2007 R1 looked like a combination of the 2007 R6 and a 2006 R1. In a good way?
Slivers of fairing and a sleek, angular front cowl all mimic the supersport machine, but with bigger muscles the 2007 R1 doesn't quite carry off the look. But it still looks mighty trick set against the bloated old biffer of the 2006 machine.
The 2007 R1 also gets the R6's rear suspension with high and low speed damping as well as the chip controlled throttle (YCC-T) – or fly-by-wire. But it puts one better over the R6 with its electronically controlled air intake funnels (YCC-I) – variable intake tracts to you and me. It also gets 6-pot calipers for smaller discs, a completely revised Deltabox frame, and a new four-valve engine like MotoGP's M1 instead of Yamaha's traditional five-valve.
All this translates into a snarling, revving peach of a machine – the most radical R1 since the original pioneering machine. Gone is the civility of the low-down manner of the 2006 machine – the new R1 is pure revs, revs, revs. With the tacho arm swinging close to 14,000rpm, Yamaha's sportsbike ethos has changed drastically, packing power right where it can unleash hell. There's a big hole in the torque curve at 6,000rpm, where serious grunt should be, which hampers road riding. But get beyond this and the ludicrous R1 makes more and more sense the faster you go.
The rider sits in a more menacing position on the new R1. Couple this with the more aggressive styling and you know you'll have a fight on your hands. But the R1's mass doesn't melt away as you think it will. This is no waif-like R6 that can be bent at your will, this is a similarly substantial machine to last year's, albeit with a greater urgency to get to the apex. With more weight over the front, it hunts corners fervently. On fast stretches of Tarmac, the R1 feels precise and stable enough to heap confidence in the chassis and suspension. But on the tighter stuff the R1 feels more cumbersome. At least on its six-piston brakes the R1 is constantly predictable and stunningly effective. Although the R1's sharper than the model it replaces, there's still some way to go to make it to the very top of the class.
•2007 Yamaha YZF-R1
•998cc Liquid cooled inline four 16V DOHC
•Dry weight 173kg (claimed)
•Insurance group 17
•Claimed power/torque 161.17bhp@11,999rpm, 77.64lb ft@9,196rpm
•Issue tested:June 2007
•Launch: January 2007
•Comparative group test issue: June 2007
•Yamaha UK on 01932 358000