The R is For Respect: The 2015 R1/M

Earlier this week, Lean Angle brought you this post about Kawasaki’s all new H2/R which is turning heads in the motorcycling world. Not to be outdone by the folks over at team green, Yamaha decided this year, that there was no way they would let Kawi steal the new product spotlight on their own. So what did team tuning fork do? Well, they started by completely throwing out their previous “drawing board”, locking their engineers in a room, and telling them to create something game-changing. What they saw when they opened the door, was this:

Much to the chagrin of their 600-class riding fan base, Yamaha has decided to start from the ground-up with their new R1. But a new R1 wasnt enough to make the splash required from team blue, so they followed what looks to be an emerging trend in the liter-bike market, and cranked the R1 up a notch for a limited release model. The engineers replaced the suspension, packed the bike with the most cutting edge tech they could find, and introduced a new letter to the mix: M. That’s right the new R1 will now be offered in not only a standard consumer version, but also in the carbon-wrapped, technology-dripping, limited edition  R1M.


The first thing you will notice about Yamaha‘s new flagship is the looks. All new for this season, Yamaha has elected to ditch their traditional 4 bulb headlight system found on previous generations in favor of a new, 2 projector system. The new lights are mounted lower on the body, below the center mounted ram-air inlet. In the place where you would normally expect the lights, Yamaha has decided to fit a set of LED strips which follow the body line of the nose fairing and act as running lights. Next you will notice a new feature (or lack thereof) that the newer liter-class stallions share: the lack of a belly pan. Stricter emissions and EPA standards have lead to a larger exhaust system which includes a catalytic converter, and larger resonator/ muffler package. Also gone is the stubby exhaust in favor of a longer, more traditional can, due to size constraints on the new package. But as you may expect, the changes in the exhaust and body styling are not just to appease the eyes.


In the previous generation, Yamaha introduced the first production bike with a cross-plane crankshaft. A result of the manufacturer’s efforts in MotoGP, the cross-plane crank arranges each piston 45 degrees offset from the last. This design results in a smoother idle, and more importantly, a torque “curve” which is almost linear. This year, the motor has been “freshened up” with a lighter crank shaft, redesigned intake system, and more electronics than you can shake a wrench at. The result is a claimed 200+ horsepower at the crank, which Yamaha claims can be done without ram-air effect, a feat which the H2 cannot claim.
The changes don’t stop there though. The new R1 tips the scales at a reported 433 pounds (wet weight), with a wider rear wheel than the previous generation and a fully adjustable front and rear suspension. With all of that go, the woah is provided by 320mm 4-piston calipers, which should provide more than enough power to make your descent from triple-digits a bit faster. The bike’s light weight, advanced suspension and shorter wheelbase than the BMW S1000RR backs up that the new R1/M is a lot more than a top-speed machine, It can handle too.


But one of our favorite updates on the new R1 is the new gauge cluster. Featuring a full-color display and readouts for traction settings, braking pressure, throttle position, and gear indicator, the new panel has so many features it’s mesmerizing. Best of all, all of the bike’s electronic goodies are controlled by a 3 function switch on one clip-on and a click-wheel on the right. So with  all of this tech, all of this power, and all of these advancements on the base model, what could we possibly be in store for with the M?
If you based your assumptions off the H2/R, you may expect more power, possibly some sort of forced induction, and some sort of ridiculous statement like making 300hp out of a motorcycle. And you would be wrong. No, instead of focusing on putting out some ridiculous amount of power that will likely never have the chance to be used, Yamaha has decided to instead focus their efforts on handling.


The M version loses the KYB components found on the standard version in favor of a full Ohlins kit featuring the company’s ERS (Electronic Racing Suspension) similar to the setup on the Ducati 1299 Panigale. The ERS features 6 selectable modes, 3 of which can be set manually by the rider, and changed on-the-fly while riding the bike. The modes can be customized to each “event” the bike experiences: cornering, accelerating, braking, etc. for a fully customized suspension profile.

The other area in which the M shines is its full suite of electronics. From the Yamaha CCU which allows you to connect the bike to your tablet or smartphone, to the Y-TRAC data logging system, to it’s full suite of rider aides: SCS (Slide Control), TCS(Traction Control), LIF(Lift Control), QSS (Quick Shifter), YRC(Ride Control), and 4 levels of power delivery. The M controls all of its functions based on input provided by 6-axis gyroscopic sensors hidden behind it’s last main upgrade. The R1M features a full set of carbon-fiber bodywork and a hand polished aluminum tank.

A price of $21,900 on the M model makes it even more attractive, but you had better get your hands on one while you can, because production will be severely limited. No matter which model you manage to get a hand on though, one thing is for sure: you are in for a ridiculously fun time. Just sitting on this thing at the DC International Motorcycle Show left us grinning from ear to ear. Sure, the looks may not be quite what you like at first, but as with any innovation, progress takes some getting used to. One thing is for sure though, this thing will be so quick, smokey may never even see you fly by.

Some photos used courtesy of Sport Rider and Cycle World

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