This is shaping up to be a big year for Yamaha, not only is Valentino Rossi back on form, but they’re launching the new V-Max—at 210bhp the most powerful series production motorcycle ever—next week, which should soon be followed by the all-new 2009 R1.
A perrenial also-ran since the stunning 2002 version (itself not the year’s best performer), the R1 has evolved from a hardcore, high-performance, experts only superbike into a friendly almost-sports-tourer, at least in comparison to other bikes in the liter class.
While no firm details or images of the bike have yet leaked, expect it
to borrow inspiration from the R6 and M1 MotoGP bike in a bid to regain
performance supremacy. If Yamaha is to achieve this, the new R1 will
need to move the game on to a similar degree, it'll need to embrace Kando.
In 1998 the original R1 usurped Honda’s CBR900RR Fire Blade with more
power, less weight, mass centralization and much more contemporary
looks. We expect to see more of the same for 2009 with close to 200bhp
at the crank, weight close that of the current R6, a GP-style exhaust
and a look that’s part R6 and part M1. Also present will be Yamaha’s
fly-by-wire throttle and variable length intakes. The thing is, all of
that is now considered fairly conventional, so it’s almost certain that
Yamaha are looking to give the R1 some as-yet unseen technological
innovation or other unique selling point. We’ll just have to wait and
see to find out what that is.