R1 in my blood It’s old, but it’s gold
MCN’S new man has an obsession with retro sportsbikes. Who needs electronics to get in the way?
This 2000 R1 has been a mainstay in my life for the last three years. Bought out of sheer panic when my wife told me she was pregnant and my savings were about to go on cots and strollers, the purchase of this R1 has turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done. Aside from producing a son...
Early carb-fed R1s are the pinnacle of the analogue sportsbike: there’s no mode switches, no ABS, no traction control and a rider who’s totally in control – most of the time. But they have the best features of modern bikes too – proper weight distribution and geometry, suspension that can be brought up-to-date and wheels that let you fit the latest rubber.
Loved by two fastidious owners and up for sale at a brilliant dealer (Unit 1 Motorcycles in Suffolk) it was an easy purchase. Over the last few years, I’ve spent time getting the R1’s cosmetics back to standard (you can still get most parts from Yamaha), sorting the suspension (MCT in Stowmarket are geniuses and Nitron shocks are great) and getting it fuelling as well as it can (BSD in Peterborough got it running sweetly on their dyno).
The end result is a bike that makes 134bhp at the back wheel, weighs less than a new R1 and doesn’t lose an inch to any 1000cc sportsbike on the road. In fact, so good is its handling and midrange shunt that it’s only on the track that a modern thou can beat it. If you’re looking for a retro litre bike, a 2000-2001 R1 is a great choice.
Plans for this year? Enjoy using it: the highlight being a great trackday at Donington at the Endurance Legends classic meeting at Donington in May.
No gizmos A modern R1 has rider modes, anti-wheelie, TC, ABS, quickshifter and an ipad for a dash. Not here... Suspension The re-valved and resprung front end provides good feel, the Nitron shock adds flexibility on set-up Cosmetics Most panels and fasteners are still available through Yamaha, 17 years after its launch Fuelling Four 34mm Mikuni BDSR CV carbs provide silky fuelling – better than most Euro4 bikes... Wheels I’ve tried forged ally UP7X Dymag wheels – they make a big difference to both feel and agility Old R1s can still cut it on track with the right tweaks
25% fettling, 25% polishing and 50% terror. Owning an R1 is never boring...