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?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - MPG matt.wildee@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

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...

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