Yamaha take the al­ready sub­lime R1M and add lat­est-gen­er­a­tion elec­tron­ics de­rived from Rossi’s Mo­togp ma­chine…

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Jonathan Pear­son Pho­tog­ra­phy Gee­bee Im­ages

Yamaha prove be­yond doubt that rac­ing re­ally does im­prove the breed.

ALITTLE OVER TEN years ago I rode Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha M1 Mo­togp bike and Ben Spies’ World Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onship-win­ning R1 – the lat­ter at Por­ti­mao in Por­tu­gal, where I’ve just got off the 2018 Yamaha R1M. And get this: the R1M is bet­ter than both. I kid you not. Back in 2006, Mo­togp bikes only had trac­tion, wheelie and launch con­trol. By 2008 a se­cond ECU ar­rived that was smart enough to ‘feel’ bike move­ment, but it was crude. As Rossi put it: ‘when the first elec­tronic sys­tems ar­rived in Mo­togp, it was a kind of shock for riders.’ Not un­til 2012 did these elec­tron­ics start to work ef­fec­tively with ac­celerom­e­ters and gy­ro­scopes to help rac­ers go faster in cor­ners in­stead of just help­ing them get out of them faster. Now these sys­tems are fil­ter­ing onto road bikes at all lev­els – Yamaha’s big-sell­ing MT range for ex­am­ple. But nowhere are they as so­phis­ti­cated or as close to a Mo­togp bike as the R1M. Rac­ing tech­nol­ogy does im­prove the breed and this bike is proof. How is the 2018 R1M bet­ter than a ten-year-old Mo­togp and World Su­per­bike? Be­cause it has a big­ger brain. The in­er­tial mea­sure­ment unit (IMU) hid­den inside the R1M gath­ers more information than any other pro­duc­tion bike. Yamaha and Öh­lins col­lab­o­rated to pro­duce the ‘next gen­er­a­tion smart con­trol unit’ – the Öh­lins Smart EC 2 ERS. Ac­cord­ing to Öh­lins it is the ‘most ad­vanced fit­ted on any pro­duc­tion mo­tor­cy­cle’ and while we’ve heard ‘Mo­togp de­vel­oped’ many times be­fore I’m hard pushed to find a more mean­ing­ful ex­am­ple. Brak­ing from flat-out in fourth, down­hill, off cam­ber, across bumps into a tight hair­pin I have no choice but to trust these elec­tron­ics. Feel, grip, feed­back and con­fi­dence are way up the scale be­cause I’m push­ing harder each lap un­til things teeter on the edge of grip.

‘Rac­ing tech does im­prove the breed and this bike is proof’

That tee­ter­ing limit never ar­rives and not for want of try­ing. Bridge­stone V02 slick tyres de­serve credit (pro­duc­tion bikes will come with treaded RS10S), be­cause they are in­cred­i­bly con­sis­tent. The char­ac­ter­is­tic R1 front-end con­fi­dence is ever present too – ar­row­ing into cor­ners in its trade­mark fash­ion. But the limit? Dur­ing seven 25-minute ses­sions it was al­ways me – how much I could hold on un­der im­mense Brembo brak­ing force and how much speed and brake I dared carry. This is the stuff of dreams on track, and I don’t say that lightly. Cor­ner­ing ABS, semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion and slide con­trol are con­stantly work­ing to obey my set­tings – there‘s a hell of a lot go­ing on in that ECU – but do I ap­pre­ci­ate it? No. I’m too busy hav­ing a ball. As the front wheel rises nicely over Por­ti­mao’s in­fa­mous mid-lap crest it takes me half the day to trust the wheelie con­trol and stop ei­ther rolling the throt­tle or stroking the rear brake. When I do, even­tu­ally, dare my­self to keep on the throt­tle the sling-shot ef­fect through the next roller coaster left is hair-rais­ing and bril­liant all at once. There’s no ques­tion the elec­tron­ics are mak­ing me faster. The 2018 model also has an im­proved quick shift sys­tem (QSS), adding a down­shift as­sist to the up­shift as­sist us­ing a blip­per sys­tem. Yamaha’s Ride Con­trol (YRC) func­tion on the full colour TFT in­stru­ment panel make ad­just­ing every as­pect of this wiz­ardry sim­ple and com­pre­hen­sive too. We’re in Honda Fire­blade SP, Kawasaki ZX-10R SE and the new Du­cati Pani­gale V4 S (see p44) ter­ri­tory here. Yamaha’s ap­proach is to throw a huge pile of Gen­uine Yamaha Tech­nol­ogy Rac­ing parts at the bike and on this ev­i­dence, it works. Not that long ago, we were rid­ing mon­grels far re­moved from the race bikes our pro­duc­tion bikes pre­tended to be. The 2018 R1M is a pure breed – a per­fect ex­am­ple of tech­nol­ogy trans­ferred from race to road (well, mainly track I imag­ine). Yes, fewer peo­ple buy sports­bikes than they used to, but there’s a clear answer to: ‘what’s the point?’ The point is that rac­ing im­proves the breed.

A tech­no­log­i­cal mas­ter­class, more destined for the track

than the road

Well you weren’t ex­pect­ing ana­logue, were you?

­hlins: get­ting ‘smarter’ with every bike they help de­velop

This is the IMU, we are told

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