20 years of the R1

Boothy’s been find­ing out first-hand what 20 years’ worth of R1 devel­op­ment is like.

Fast Bikes - - CONTENTS -

Boothy loves R1s so to cel­e­brate their 20th an­niver­sary, the lucky bug­ger’s spent aweek get­ting his leg over a20-year-old­model.

W hen I look back now I re­alise my 1998 Christ­mas list might have been a lit­tle bit am­bi­tious. I couldn’ t see the ap­peal of yo-yos,I al­ready had Dr Doolit­tle on VHS and I didn’ t need any­more Lynx Africa. All I wanted for Christ­mas was my two front teeth and a Y am ahaYZ F-R 1– I didn’ t think that was too much to ask but Fa­ther Christ­mas ob­vi­ously didn’ t get theme mo. To most seven and a half year olds,a new litre sports bike might not have made much sense, but tome, even then, I knew it was a game changer. Since then I’ ve al­ways had a real soft spot forth eR 1 dy­nasty. And it’ s a soft spot that turns into a rag­ing hard one al­most ev­ery time I throw a leg over my cur­rent 2018 R 1 M long term er. They are ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble bikes and de­spite there be­ing a mas­sive amount of com­pe­ti­tion in to­day’ s litre sports bike mar­ket the cur­rent R 1 has been able to hold its head high in any group test we have done in Fast Bikes. And the same canbe­said­forall the in­car­na­tions of R1 that have come be­fore it. So to cel­e­brate the R1’s 20th birth­day we thought we would see just how far Yamaha have moved things on since Boy­zone and B*Witched were fight­ing for top step of the Pepsi Chart. On pa­per, things have moved on a lot. Back then, the R1’s EXUP ex­haust valve, dig­i­tal speedo and self-di­ag­nos­tic dash were con­sid­ered pretty cut­ting edge, but to com­pare that with to­day’s R1’s fuel in­jec­tion, TFT dash and elec­tronic rider aids pack­age, is to com­pare a Nokia 8210 with an iPhone X. And as far as power fig­ures go, well the ’98 R1’s claimed 150bhp is ac­tu­ally nearer 130bhp by the time it get to the back wheel; it’s never go­ing to be able to hold a can­dle to the mod­ern bike’s 190+ ponies. But we don’t care about hold­ing can­dles, here at Fast Bikes. And we don’t re­ally care about which model’s spec sheet can shout the loud­est, ei­ther. So to find out first-hand what 20 years of devel­op­ment is like, we bor­rowed our mate’s com­pletely bog-stock orig­i­nal1998 YZ F-R 1 and­blagg ed ago on Yamaha UK’ s very own2018YZF-R1i nits An­niver­sary Spe­cial cus­tom colour scheme. And as if an umpteen hun­dred mile road test isn’ t enough, we also went to Sil­ver stone to spin some laps with none other than mul­ti­ple Bri­tish cham­pion Niall Macken­zie. Here’ s how we got on.

Old ver­sus new. Which tick­les your fancy?

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