2012 Yamaha R1 – From Zero to Hero

Reviews -


2012 Yamaha R1 - From Zero to Hero

Details of the reflash:
Starts in A-Mode.
Removed ignition timing restrictions.
Raised idle for improved start up, faster launches, better mid-corner throttle take up.
Reduced engine braking for better corner entry.
Keep injectors on while throttle is closed for smoother take up.
Removed factory throttle restrictions (+12hp).
Raised redline to 14,700rpm.
Smoothed out factory throttle maps.
Eliminated steering damper code, no warning light when disconnected.
Removed top speed limiter.
Adjusted injector phasing for better fueling at high RPM.
Adjusted velocity stack opening point to boost mid-range power.

No other mod comes close to the impact this reflash had. It’s night and day. The R1 is now fast, smooth and delivers amazing feel of what’s going on at the back tire.

Next, I needed to fix that suspension. A 30mm Ohlins fork cartridge kit and TTX shock did that. That, plus the reflash turned my bike from bouncy and jerky into a focused tire shredding beast. I now have better feel and better control, plus the ability to exactly tailor the suspension to my exact riding style and weight.

With that suspension, I was also getting close to the visual appeal and handling of the 1198 S, but I didn’t stop there. Aluminum Marchesini rims really tipped the scales, making the R1 a true superbike. Steering is now effortless, requiring minimal input to turn into corners at high speed.

Other mods were smaller, but still necessary. Gilles VCR38GT rearsets fit my 6’ 3” frame on the R1. The Zero Gravity double bubble enables me to get behind the screen. HIDs give the bug-eyed R1 a more menacing glare. Harris pivoting levers proved effective during a heavy crash at The Streets of Willow, the bike flipped over a couple of times but the levers only had tiny scratches. The stock electronic steering damper feels nonexistent at low speeds, so I replaced it with a Scotts rotary damper.

Of course, I wasn’t happy with Yamaha’s graphics either. The red accents on the black ’09 bike seemed tacky, even if they’re not as bad as the fake carbon stickers or airbrushed ghost skulls on the ’11. Jack from Platinum Motorsports gave me a nice metallic matte finish on the upper and mid fairings. Black glossy air vent panels from the blue R1 were ordered, as were its gold fork externals. The end result is something I can be proud to see on Rock Store Photos.

All in, this cost me around $6.5k on top of the stock bike. The 2009-2011 R1 is not the bike to brag about in stock trim. It comes with too many shortcoming that can’t be alleviated without spending some serious cash. If I add the cost of the bike plus the cost of all the mods I installed, I could have purchased a Aprilia RSV4 Factory or new Ducati 1198 S. I’m happy with the end result which is a very focused racing machine that puts a big grin on my face every time I’m about to perch upon it.  But next time around I think I’ll settle for out-of-crate-monster. I’m not interested in searching for any bike’s true potential again, it should be readily accessible fresh from the box.

For those who feel they may be close to my size, here are my suspension settings:
Compression – 16
Rebound – 14
Sag – 30
Compression – 10
Rebound – 10
Sag – 7/29

  • dux

    These are the kind of articles I relish. Gettin’ shit done. Any details on shim stack setup for your suspension?

  • nick2ny

    Holy smokes, now that’s an attractive bike. Really smart list of changes you’ve done there–I’m jealous.

  • Thom

    Yeah sure , you could of gotten the Aprilla or the Duc for the same amount of $$$ , but then they wouldn’t be tailor made for YOU like the R1 now is , instead just being another stock OTC OEM ( albeit exotic ones )

    ” Stock is a can of beans on a shelf ”

    Words to live by .

    And seriously , how much more fun is it kicking some Eurosnob tail with your Hot rodded R1 than it would be aboard another Eurosnob ?

    Should I tell you about my C6 experience kicking the crap out of a GT3 ? Nahhh this is a M/C site , but you get the idea .

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

      I agree with you totally, it is a blast showing off with my up-to-euro-par R1. BUT if the Yami came with all the power readily accessible I’d have a bit more respect for it in stock trim.

      • Dan

        Any examples come to mind for bikes you’ve thought were properly sorted in stock form?

        I’ve always thoight it was strange that we talk about suspension/pipe/ecu/controls/etc as “necessary” upgrades for road bikes when that stuff could’ve/should’ve been done right at the factory.

        Also, its probably no consolation, but I bet you would’ve poured a pile of money into the Duc, too – so that MSRP comparison isn’t fair to yourself :)

        • Sean Smith

          Duc has Ohlins front and back and they’re plenty adjustable. That saves a pretty hefty chunk of change.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

            I’d still change the internals. But it’s nice to have the cool external hardware in place already;)

          • Dan

            Agreed, although I wasn’t thinking so much about top-of-the-range models with all the bling (since they’re priced accordingly). I just remembered reading in your review of the griso something about not needing to change much. Anything else that you really liked out of the box?

            • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

              There’s not one of us that wouldn’t change some stuff on any bike we owned. Difference is on something high-end like the Griso that’d be rearsets and handlebars for a total of what, $500?. On the R1 it’s everything detailed above.

  • Rick

    There’s alot to be said for truly making a motorcycle your own- it’s never cheap but it can be satisfying!

    I’m hoping Yamaha’s next R1 replicates the elegantly crisp and taut lines of their M1. With motorbikes as with women, slimmer is better!

  • HammSammich

    I know it’s a funny detail for me to be so excited about, but those rearsets are really gorgeous.

    • Wereweazle

      I thought the same thing. I found myself staring at that picture for a long time and thinking, “Huh… those are pretty.” I think it’s the way they swoop out.

  • http://www.firstgenerationmotors.blogspot.com Emmet

    could we get a price breakdown for the aftermarket parts? just want to understand what went into the bike in terms of each component

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

      These are ballpark figures…
      Suspension – $2,300
      Rims – $1,800
      Exhaust – $2,300
      Misc(Rearsets,Damper..etc) – $1,500

  • http://ridingthereverend.blogspot.com reverend_rider

    Cool article! This real-life stuff is more important to me than any number of Stupidbike Shootouts trying to guesstimate what my relationship with a bike might be. It also reminds me that, should I choose, I could take the same approach with my 21yo POS Honda and have a lark on a bike built for ME.

    Oh, and Adey, thanks for my first ever Yamaboner. I’m off to enjoy it.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

      Where’s my cab fare?

  • Steve

    Impressive, sir. Agreed with previous posts, though- the journey to make a bike your own carries greater rewards than just buying someone else’s idea of perfect- including the respect of your peers.

  • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

    How’s it compare to your previous gen R1s?

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

      Engine-wise…the best so far.

      • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

        And the chassis? Did you go full bore Ohlins/Marchesini on any of the old ones?

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

          The 02′-03′ felt great out the crate. Then Yamaha went the Cadillac route with the 04′-05′. Once sorted out it was fine, but it was the spongiest bike I ever rode stock.
          I feel the R1 has improved with each model in terms of handling. Some will disagree like a friend of mine who swore up and down the 04′-’05 out handles the 09′. The fact that he was trying to sell me this said bike hurt his argument.lol

          The 09′ is the first bike to receive the full-makeover treatment.

  • BuellDoc

    The “Stock” Quote is going above my work bench!
    I always like getting the True potential out of any bike,you just got to remember HP cost $$$$ and don’t let the wife know!

  • Alex

    fantastic article! did the reflash affect b mode at all?

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

      The reflash lifts restrictions and smoothes power delivery in all modes.

  • alang

    really nice write up; good job

  • Patrick

    I think I’m with everyone when I say It’s the nicest R1 I’ve seen. 6 large tho ouch!

    I like the fact that the bike world is starting to catch up to the car world when it comes to ECU flashing. You now no longer really need TRE’s, Powercommanders, igition modules or any number of other often crapply constructed addons, just to get a ridable bike. I love it.

  • matt

    Great article. and what was the final tire selection?

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

      Thanks buddy. In this order…
      NTEC Slick
      NTEC GP
      NTEC GP-A
      Going back to Q2′s once they arrive today.

      • matt

        Love my Q2s. Kind of awesome how reasonable they are at the track despite being long wearing.

  • Skank NYCF

    Wanna race? :)

    • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

      Now there’s an article…

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld


    • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

      Gauntlet, laid down. Awesome.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    I have the same opinion about my next bike – I will just buy a Euro bike with all the good stuff (Brembo monoblocks, Marchesinis, Ohlins etc.) and leave it stock. So much you can do to a Jap bike as far as aftermarket upgrades, and it could have the same spec components (or better) than it’s Euro rivals and would it be a better ride? Well, it’s debatable…

    • Devin

      I hate buying bikes that feel like they need upgrades. I’d much rather pay cash upfront, have zero work to do and especially not have to run around town looking for the parts, ordering, shipping, haggling over prices.

      I only like working on my bike when I’ve broken it and it needs fixing, I guess.

      • Archer

        That’s why I bought an ’07 CBR 600 RR when it came out. Yes, you can spend a lot of stuff for it- but you don’t need to. It’s all pretty much there… even more than in this year’s iteration of basically the same bike, dumbed down on top end to meet the requirements of the noise Gestapo… the same issue as on the R1.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

      One issue comes in when the “good stuff” on the bikes is still not up to the same quality as the separate product lines. As an example, I recall many reviews of the Ducati Streetfighter S that complained about the Ohlins components.

      Beyond that, perhaps part of the advantage of doing upgrades separately, especially where suspension is concerned, is selecting everything to suit yourself.

      • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

        Yeah that is my other concern – some of the Euro bikes have “OEM spec” Ohlins, definitely not what you would see used on a race bike… But that is something to check when it comes to buy time.

        • Justin

          High end components that are valved for unskilled weekend warriors with big bank accounts still suck. If you don’t ride exactly as the OEM springs and valves you’re bike, you will be chafing. Almost every bike could use a revalve and a respring front and rear at least from the factory to be truly comfortable between your legs.

  • Barry

    Nicely done article Mr. Smith. Well considered, and well written. *golf clap*

    • Sean Smith

      I just did the photos here, check out the byline at the end of the story ;)

    • rohorn

      I think if Sean wrote it, there would be an explaination about piston ring lifespan when the surface speed goes from roughly 4260 FPM at the stock redline to over 5000 FPM with the raised redline.

      Not to mention crank, rod, valve spring, etc… MTBF with raised redlines.

      • Sean Smith

        Ha. This is exactly why I tell people it’s stupid to get into their motors or ride real supermoto bikes on the street.

  • nymoto

    Great story – and I thinks it’s awesome you still have the passenger pegs on it! Where else you going to put the “actresses”?!

  • Maxwell

    Quite a nice list of additions to that R1. I must say though, whats wrong with a damper feeling non-existant at low speeds? I love the flickability of a bike at low speeds and the added assurance it won’t tank slap me off should shit get hairy at higher speeds.
    Regardless, very nice bike. Any before and after dynographs of the ECU flash?

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

      I found the front-end too twitchy for my comfort in the canyons. With all the banked turns and bumps, the damper is a necessity.
      I just sent a pic of the dynograph to Wes, he’s prob out chasing some diry-tail. So expect it to be up when he recoups from the weekend.

  • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

    damn. I really wish you’d written this before I replaced my 50,000 mile ’04 with an ’09. So true, but I reallllly wanted something new & shiny. Except now I’m paying $329/month just to own it, so I don’t have money for all the work it needs. And well, it didn’t take long for the new bike shine to get grimy in my hands.

  • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

    oh, and I only use A mode these days. It’s only the 1st roll off of the morning that catches you by surprise. If you roll off by twisting the throttle instead of just letting it go, it’s fine. But still, I want that ECU flash so bad it hurts.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

      You lack a sack, so A mode will suit you fine.

  • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

    Awesome job! It’s amazing what the right combination of components can do. The Italians might have gotten the style down, but there’s something to be said about building your own machine your way.

  • Adam

    Very nice, so what kind of power is it putting down now?

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

      You’ll see when Wes decides to upload the image I sent him last friday.