It's only after a session on the new Yamaha R1 ‘Trackday’ with fellow tester Bruce Dunn that I realise just how good this modified R1 track day bike is.
Bruce is following on a standard 2015 YZF-R1, but can't believe it when the R1 Trackday gets away from him.
He says that as soon as I got on the brakes and turned it hard into the first corner, it was gone.
Bruce is a better rider for sure, and on board the standard bike he couldn't stay in touch with me on the Trackday R1. But this is no ego trip, it's testimony to how good the track day equipped Yamaha R1 is, rather than me as a rider. The faster you ride it, the more rewarding the R1 Trackday becomes. And yes, we know track day is two words, but that’s what Yamaha UK call it, okay?
Get it into a corner, fire it on its side, feel the track compound Pirellis dig in and then fire it out on the traction control and it’s gone. In, out and through the corner while the standard bike is still on the brakes.
Okay, so Michael Dunlop may not get on with it at the TT,but the new Yamaha R1 has already established itself as one of the best sports bike ever made. But that's not enough for Yamaha UK who have thrown their track day options catalogue at it to create this, the Yamaha R1 Trackday. It's some bike alright.
It's basically a race-prepped R1 with a staggering £5165 of options, that weighs in 10kg lighter than the standard bike. It still has standard fairings fitted too.
The exhaust system is claimed to give it another 10bhp, so combined with the weight loss you're looking at an R1 with in the region of 207 bhp at the crank, weighing in at 189 kg wet.
What they've created is the most competent R1 we've had our hands on, and essentially 95% a Superstock specification bike for track days. It looks every bit a pukka race bike, even with the roadgoing bodywork still in place.
Yamaha UK's Jeff Turner said: "Basically we wanted to show what is possible to achieve with straight forward bolt-on parts if you don't intend to use the bike on-the-road. There are only two actual modifications - one to the side stand mount which we cut down (cosmetic) and one to the fork dampers to remove the oil lock system (this is needed for big bumps on the road). Everything else was a case of removing and or replacing standard parts with the idea the bike could be easily returned to road spec at a later date."
After a couple of sessions to get our eye in and up to speed on the standard 2015 Yamaha R1 we took the £20,000 race track refugee for a spin at Silverstone.
Yamaha may have the Yamaha R1M in its range as its ultimate street-going R1 at £18,499, but they're all sold out for this year. In this spec, the R1 Trackday is perhaps even better to ride than the semi-active suspension equipped R1M. Dare I say it.
From front to back the R1 Trackday is lashed in details from the beautiful titanium and carbon-fibre Akrapovic race system to the Ohlins rear shock. There are billet aluminium add-ons like the endurance style chains adjusters and billet engine covers, and neat touches like the mirror blanking plates. The headlights have been removed, there's K-Tech HD springs, billet aluminium rearsets and stickier Pirelli Supercorsa SC1 and SC2 compound tyres. There's a ton of other mods and parts like the chainguard, headlights, and numberplate brackets removed, plus a host of billet aluminium accessories to make it safer and lighter for track work.
And don’t forget the Yamaha Racing wristband on the master cylinder, just like Rossi’s bike. Thats got to be worth a second a lap.
In a packed Silverstone pit garage the R1T draws a crowd before it's even fired-up.
When it's coaxed into life and warmed up the R1's Akrapovic pipe emits a MotoGP roar from the crossplane crank motor, blip it harder and the R1T (as I'm going to call it from now on) throws a purple flame on the overrun, lighting up the dark garage.
Sit on it and you notice just how much taller the R1T is. It's got way more ride height, and the forks and rear shock are much stiffer. We didn't touch the set-up but as it had already been set-up by former Factory 500 GP rider Terry Rymer who weighs in at 15-stone. Plus, it didn't need anything different for me. The rearsets put your feet much higher and improve the ground clearance. You can scrape the pegs on the standard bike, but there's no chance on this. The handlebars give you more leverage and feel wider the way they're set-up too.
The TFT dash (the same technology as mobile phones) is set up in race mode and the digital tacho only starts reading at 8000 rpm. That's where the power really starts to come in and the R1 starts to pile on the revs, building rapidly towards the 14,000rpm redline barking as it does through the Akrapovic can. The soundtrack is massive.
You can feel more power, a touch more midrange, and it climbs the revs faster than standard too.
The standard R1 suspension can be a bit soft under power with my weight onboard (16-stone), and dives on the brakes a fair bit too, occasionally making the rear come round under heavy braking.
The suspension mods on this bike get rid of all of that and you can feel the Ohlins shock working under power and because it squats less at the rear you can take even more liberties with the traction control and slide control. Like the standard bike there’s wheelie control too.
The suspension and its set-up makes a big difference to the standard bike and leave the stock bike for dead on the way out of the corner.
But even more impressive is the way it gets into a turn. The brakes are standard but you can use them incredibly hard. There's no pumping from the front forks and it's incredibly stable on the brakes.The only thing pumping was my forearms under the immense forces the bike puts your body through.
It allows you to get it in the corner hard and carry way more lean angle than the standard bike, making full use of the softer compound Pirelli tyres.
Mid-corner speed is dramatically improved, and we've already talked about the way it gets out of a corner. It's firm, and it's twitchy on the bumps, but the faster you ride it the more it starts to make sense. I think I'm in love.
For the serious track day enthusiasts, the R1 Trackday takes the already brilliant bike and turns it into a bike you could win races on. It's seriously impressive, and friends who have ridden the R1T and the R1M say it makes the limited-edition bike feel lardy. That's some claim, but after spending a few sessions with the R1T I can believe it.
Yes it's a lot of money putting the price up in the same £20,000 price bracket as the Ducati 1299S Panigale, but you don't have to make all the mods of course. What you get is a fearsome track bike that not many bikes could touch on track. It can cut it with some of the best race bikes in the world on track, it’s a connoisseurs choice and will take all but the very best riders in the world can throw at it. It's a baby M1 Yamaha MotoGP bike. The rest is up to you.
All Yamaha Genuine Accessories are available through your local Yamaha dealer.
YZF-R1 'Trackday' modifications:
Front brake guard Billet £89.99
Oil filler cap Billet £44.99
Rear stand hooks Billet £77.99
Rearset kit Billet £599.00
Right Crankcase protector Billet £77.99
Left Crankcase protector Billet £99.99
Front spindle pull Billet £64.99
Rear spindle pull Billet £64.99
Chain Adjusters Billet £84.99
Racing cover Kit One Billet (covers mirrors) £57.99
Racing cover Kit Two Billet (covers rear pillion pegs) £37.99
Rear seat cover £199.99
Rear Stand £122.99 (as no sidestand fitted)
Performance upgrade items:
Ohlins Rear Shock absorber TTX GP £1080.00
K-Tech Front fork springs HP 10.5N £85.01
Akrapovic Full Titanium exhaust Yamaha £2129.00
Pirelli SC1 and SC2 Supercorsa £247.30
Clip-on bar - Remove bar end weight Allows fitment of lever guard
Front Forks - Remove oil lock system to all full stroke on track
Side-stand mount - Cut down bracket Cosmetic - cut ally mount to remove stand and exhaust mounts
Front number plate - Remove silver decal Cosmetic
Horn - Remove/save weight
Chain Guard - Remove/save weight
Mirrors - Remove/save weight - improved aerodynamics
Tail light bracket - Remove /save weight - improved aerodynamics
Headlights - Remove save weight - improved aerodynamics
Std exhaust system - Remove
Standard bike costs £14,999, with parts as tested at £5,165.19 the bike costs £20,164.19.