R U Ready?
Fast Bikes|November 2019
If you don't evolve, you die... or something like that. So to stymie the onslaught of time and to tick the Euro5 box, Yamaha's updated its 2020 R1 and R1M.

Yep, we’re now on to the third iteration of cross-plane R1s and for the second time in the model’s short history, since hitting the market in 2015, we’ve seen the Japanese superbike evolved rather than revolutionized. What’s wrong with that? Arguably, an all-new offering is that little bit sexier, but with the costs and risks involved in entering the market with an unproven product, Yamaha’s approach is far from crazy. But sensible or not, the only thing that matters is whether these latest crotch rockets have got the minerals to fend off the wave of new talent that’s been entering the scene from the likes of BMW, Aprilia, and Ducati. The European contingency has not wasted a moment in the pursuit of big horsepower and big tech, so how has Yamaha set about countering that? Well, if ponies are all you care about, the new R1s might prove as disappointing as a gift-wrapped orange on Christmas Day. Quite simply, the latest iteration CP4 motor makes the same output as the last one (197bhp), despite major advances to its make-up. For 2020, the R1s get a new cylinder head, the cam lobes have been altered, and advanced finger-follower rocker arms have been introduced to help achieve optimum performance. Add to this mix Bosch 10-point injectors, a more efficiently lubed crank and cooler running pistons, and you’ll probably be left wondering why the Yammy’s lacking in whammy? The exhaust is the key answer to that question, being more bunged up than the M25 on a Friday night, compliments of four catalytic converters that strangle the living daylights out of the GP-derived motor. It is what it is and while Yamaha suggested it wasn’t ideal on the models’ launch at Jerez under scorchio Spanish sunshine, they deserve a pat on the back for not letting their standards drop. In fact, in many other areas of the bike, the R1s have been given a sizeable boost.

Aesthetically speaking, there’s a new look to the Yamahas that’s headed by a broader, taller front fairing that now means people over 4’ 9” can be offered some form of wind protection. It’s claimed the YZR-M1 was the impetus for the 5% more aerodynamic bodywork that now wraps around the frame to seamlessly join the side fairings to the tank. Another big hitter is the LED headlight design, which gives the bike a more aggressive look. Elsewhere, it’s pretty much business as usual until you get under the skin of these new offerings and come to learn about the tarted-up tech. The R1’s never been considered a Luddite, but for 2020 both models come kitted with three-tier Engine Brake Management, two-stage ABS Brake Control, and revised launch control… to ensure you never again get beaten by a Nova at the traffic lights. To optimize power delivery and to throw a few more acronyms into the pot, Yamaha’s also brought in an APSG throttle (Accelerator Position Sensor Grip). By means of a magnet and a sensor, it basically means the Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (Y-CTT) has a more precise grasp of what you’re asking for and when. Satisfied? Well tough, cause that’s your lot!

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