Update: the 2009 Yamaha R1 has been revealed. Check out our story here.
French motorcycle magazine MotoRevue commissioned this image to show what it thinks the 2009 Yamaha R1 will look like, also reporting that factory sources have revealed the bike may use an M1-style big bang engine. While we don’t think Yamaha will alter the R1 brand's look to such a radical degree, this illustration does highlight the M1-influence that is allegedly making its way into the new machine.
If the rumored big-bang engine does reach production, it could be a
genuine game changer for the liter bike class, offering the X-factor
the new R1 desperately needs if it’s to regain performance superiority
over bikes like the 2008 Honda CBR1000RR and 2009 Suzuki GSX-R 1000. It could also be the M1-influence Randy Mamola mentioned.
Currently employed by Yamaha in MotoGP, big bang engines combine the
power of an inline-four with the traction of a v-twin. Essentially, the
cylinders are fired two-by-two, spacing out the power pulses, allowing
the rear tire time to regain traction between them. Such a development
could be a major boon to a road bike, making its immense power easier,
safer and more controllable. However, the huge pulses of power put a
large amount of stress on an engine's components; not a problem in
MotoGP, where the engines receive frequent rebuilds, but a potential
issue in any road bike. Yamaha is rumored to have developed a
1-2-1-cylinder big bang engine for British Superbike in which an
individual cylinder was fired in advance of the large power pulse,
“priming” the crank shaft for the arrival of huge stresses. Should a
big bang engine reach production, it could employ this arrangement.
Yamaha is expected to officially unveil the 2009 R1 this fall, we’ll keep you updated.