Like an M1 with a number plate
Project Leader Fujiwara explains
Light weight package
Beautiful, full magnesium wheels
Titanium fracture-split conrods
MotoGP stars Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were present at the launch of the bike and shared their opinions. Valentino joked “It’s like an M1 with a number plate.” He took part in the development testing, at the Fukuroi track in Japan. “The difference with the old model is huge. It’s not only the power: when you ride the bike it is very different. The old bike was a different engine, also different acceleration and behaviour. But especially this one is a lot more lean, slim. You have the feeling it is a lot more light compared to the old one, a big difference.” He also mentions: “We tried to improve the feeling, the braking, the enjoyment to ride the bike.”
Light weight package
Project leader Hideki Fujiwara says: “This bike is built to win on the racetrack. That was our development concept. The team was fully devoted to reducing weight and ensuring driveability.” Yamaha’s engineers made extensive use of weight-saving materials to reach a weight of just 199 kg – road legal and ready to ride, so including items like battery and liquids and oil and a full fuel tank!
Some special items to make the bike feel so light are:
* Full magnesium wheels – part of the rotating mass, so a big influence on handling
* Aluminium fuel tank – about 1.9 kg lighter than a comparable steel one
* Full aluminium main frame combined with magnesium rear frame – light and rigid
* Magnesium engine covers and lighter crankshaft – making the engine a lot lighter than before
* Titanium fracture-split conrods inside the engine (never been done on a production motorcycle before) – saving weight and making the engine more lively.
“The revs for maximum output are 1000 rpm higher compared to the previous R1” says Hideki. “I think the sound shows that it is closer to the M1’s rev range.”
Engine is completely new
Compact engine with magnesium covers
Special feeling, special sound
The engine itself is completely new and a masterpiece of 4-cylinder technology. Pent-roof combustion chambers, DOHC head with rocker arms for extra valve lift, machined channels, titanium inlet valves, forged pistons, high compression ratio, offset cylinders, special low-friction coatings, forced air intake, extra-large airbox, dual injectors, YCC-I that shortens the intake funnels at high rpm, etcetera etcetera. All of this resulting in 200 PS – and that’s still without taking into account the pressurized air intake effect. The engine itself is around 4 kg lighter than the previous engine!
Crossplane feel and sound
This is a crossplane engine design: another learning from MotoGP, where it was developed for Valentino Rossi’s M1 and resulted in multiple World Championships. The crankshaft is constructed so that each piston rises and falls alone at any time (not in pairs as with a conventional 4-cylinder), spreading the pistons inertia mass evenly through-out the crankshaft rotation. “It gives an incredible feeling to the rider” says Hideki. “The engine is very powerful and this way the rider can exploit it easier.”
The crossplane setup also brings an irregular firing order to the engine: with a special character and a remarkable, deep throaty sound!
Prototype for testing shows the MotoGP influence Compact bike with short wheelbase Testing the match between system and bike Aerodynamic test with clay model
In total, about 100 to 150 engineers were involved in the development of the new R1. “We had MotoGP engineers changed from the GP team side to the development side” Hideki explains, “And we did a lot of consultation with the MotoGP team. So in total we had over 10 race specialists involved. Plus race riders like Valentino Rossi, Josh Hayes, Wataru Yoshikawa and Norihiko Fujiwara.”
Valentino commented on the arrival of electronics to MotoGP, and mentioned that at first they were a shock to the riders but today have become completely accepted:
“All the electronic systems in MotoGP are improved a lot because they are more natural. First of all, a bike like this, without any electronic system, it is impossible to ride, because it’s too much power, and too light. But the electronic systems work in a very natural way: like normal riding, but easier.”
Our project leader states: “One big target was compactness, and a short wheelbase. That could only be realised by using electronic aids.”
About the development of those he adds: “In our perception, the bike and its electronic system is a highly integrated complex system. It needs to grow together, as one organism. That’s why we don’t just buy a system from a supplier. We have a lot of expertise in the match between system and bike.”
Learn more about these electronic systems in our other story:
R1’s electronic package: straight from racing (under 'related articles' on the right)