Throwback Thursday – the original 1998 Yamaha R1

2015 looks like it might be a bit of a vintage year in terms of proper, jaw-dropping superbikes. Of course Kawasaki’s supercharged H2R isn’t far away, but next week we’ll be riding the latest version of Yamaha’s über-superbike, the R1. The big Yam has gone off the boil a bit in the past decade or so, its ‘Big-Bang’ crossplane crank version falling a little flat compared with the likes of BMW’s S1000RR and Kawasaki’s ZX-10R.

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But it’s important to remember what a stunner the original R1 was. Launched in late 1997, the super-light, super-strong, 600-sized litre bike came, saw, and kicked the arse of everything else for the next four years. The original CBR900RR FireBlade was relegated to touring duties, and the new Yam re-defined what to expect from a litre bike.

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Our man Dan Harris knew his way round a proper superbike – he’d been racing them for long enough. And he declared the new era of litre superbikes ‘open’ straight from the launch, despite managing to throw one up the road at the launch in Cartagena.

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Will the new ‘un knock our socks off as comprehensively? Our man Chris is off to Phillip Island in Australia next week to find out. And you’ll find out the score here first…

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