To be timely with the public release of the latest incarnation of the R1 (Code name 01X) which occurred a couple of days ago, I figured a quick blog of my riding impression of this new beast would not go amiss.
Since 1998 and the world release of R1, there has been a loyal following to this model. And rightly so, as it has remained loyal to the design DNA and concepts that first brought it onto the motorcycling planet. The focused style and function has delivered dividends to all that have the guts (and the place) to use the offering to its maximum potential.
But that focus has also been a negative in the eyes of some journalist, testers and owners. They often lamented about the lack (relative) of mid range from the engine and the difficulty of holding the line while in transition from that mid rpm to maximum acceleration. While those complaints have some substance, there was barely a shootout that didn’t show the R1 in a dominating position once in it’s element; out on the track and being ridden as designed.
So back to the 01X and what do we find? A jog in the direction of the concept flow.
The engine produces a completely different kind of power from what we have known before. On other liter-class motorcycles (and previous generations of R1), with such big power, the feeling is usually that we are just “along for the ride” as the crank spins up and the landscape starts to blur. This is because the spinning crank being hit by evenly spaced firings “gets away” from the torque being produced by the combustion and we feel the “inertial torque”.
With a crossplane crankshaft, we can design an unevenfiring interval which effectively cancels the inertial torque so all we feel is the combustion torque. –Phew! So what does that mean to the rider?
It means we feel an incredible connection between the throttle and the power being delivered to the rear wheel. Testing the model at “Fook-U” last month, found us on a wet surface and still able to push harder than we could on the other bikes.
The model concept mantra for 01X was the “Corner Master”, and we can only go faster through corners if we can precisely control the power being laid down by the tire. After riding the new R1 back to back with the offerings from the other big 3 manufacturers as well as our own 2008 model, I can completely understand why Valentino chose this engine configuration for the M1 and why it has continued use since the beginning of 2005 MotoGP season. In his words (add Italian accent) “This is the sweet engine”.
And no, it is not a “big bang” engine (if anyone should ask you), and we’ll talk more about the difference in another blog. For more details and tech specs, see the bike at our site http://www.yamaha-motor.ca
Well, I finally decided to work on my skills and head for the race track. So I sheepishly, signed up to join a private track day group for us industry types. I prepped my little RZ350 and off we went down to ShannonvilleMotorsportPark.
I was so nervous that first day that I didn’t start having fun until about . I was being shown the proper lines by my friends Paul & John and extensively schooled on the dos & don’ts of track riding. Both of these guys have extensive knowledge of the race track and racing in general and were able to give me a good foundation to start from.
By the end of my first year at the track I had successfully crashed my friends bike (funny enough it was the exact bike in my previous blog), a failed oil pump and the motor was down on power requiring a rebuild. But that was okay because I was now officially hooked on the track.
So what next you ask…well get a dedicated track bike of course. There are many good reasons behind this decision if one can get over the costs associated with this purchase. You can crash this bike hard and still go for a ride on your street bike later that evening as well you don’t really need to care on appearances because after all it’s a track bike.
As the winter season was slowly approaching I was traveling from scrap yard to scrap when I can across Zdeno Cycle Salvage in Kitchener. They had a ton ofsport bikes with more crashed ones coming daily. Al, one of the owners and I came to an agreement over a relatively decent 2000 YZFR6. It was a little risky as the bike didn’t run when I got it and had no oil due to a cracked stator cover. But over all, the bike looked straight with no apparent crack in the frame or bent forks.
After getting the bike home it was time to get it running and than start a parts list of items that I needed to pull it together and make it track ready. All in all I got pretty lucky and besides a few hard parts likeclip-ons, covers and a stator, the carbs just needed a really good cleaning and we were up and running.
Once everything was together I transported the bike down to my brother-in-laws house just outside of Tillsonburg, Ont. For an impromptu test session on some very back country roads and to pick-up the painted body work that he painted for me.
The bike was finally ready to go to the track to have some fun. She looked almost a little to pretty to be punished the way a track bike can be punished. But after all that was it is was meant to be a Track Bike first and foremost.
I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly is “cool”. If cool is a thing or an object, then there are some things that are universally regarded as cool. Like motorcycles. Cool, right? Well ….some cars are cool and some sports or activities are cool too, but what makes them that way? Is it the object or activity or the people that are associated with them? Does cool have to be tough or mean? Or is it a secret desire to be something else?
Here’s an example: remember Fonzie from the TV show “Happy days”?
He was cool. I remember watching that show every week as a teenager, and thinking, “wow, that guy is so cool”. I recently watched an old episode on one of those re-run channels and made a startling discovery. Fonzie wasn’t cool, he was a poser. His attitude was antisocial and aloof. He treated women as objects and intimidated people. Then I started to notice how Howard Cunningham behaved. He was good to his family, nice to people, was even tempered, thoughtful, didn’t freak-out when Richie came home drunk, and was….well…..cool.
So again I am confused about cool. If I ride a bike, does that make me cool? What about a scooter? Not so cool? I find myself not really caring if I’m cool anymore. As a matter of fact, maybe I wasn’t cool to begin with, and just thought I was.Holy doodle! What a revelation! And, simultaneously, what a relief. If I no longer have to worry about how cool I am, think of all the time I’ll have to do other stuff. I can be nice to people, I don’t have to “act” tough, and I can be myself. So I’m not cool. So what?