RideFast August 2019


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Yamaha launches a new, Euro V-compatible R1 and R1M for 2020.

Yamaha’s R1 is one of the most iconic

and recognized names in motorcycling.

For a while there in the 2000s, it became

more or less synonymous with “faired

sportsbike” in the minds of the bikecurious

but uneducated: “nice bike there

mate, is that a Suzuki R1?” For nearly 22

years now, it’s been Yamaha’s flagship

high-performance superbike and one of

the greatest and wildest rides on the road

and track. And since it’s been five years

since the last major upgrade, Yamaha’s

bringing out a new model for 2020.

The 2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 has taken steps

forward in its revised, Euro V-compliant engine,

its suspension, its beefed-up electronics, and

its aerodynamic performance thanks to revised


Mind you, it’s not what you’d call an earthshattering

overhaul in looks; We’ll admit we sat

here scratching our chins for a decent while

trying to work out how the heck to tell it apart

from the old model. Here’s what we came away

with: not a ton. The easiest way to spot it is

probably the new bike’s ... epicanthal folds? You

know, the bit of skin running down the inside

edge of the eye. The new R1’s got bits of plastic

extending down from the front cowl on the

inside edges of the headlights, surrounding the

front air intake. The old one didn’t.

The new bike’s side plastics also extend back

further than the old one, with a color-matched

panel at the bottom of the tank and black

plastic around the M1 MotoGP-inspired gills at

the front of the tank. But you’d have to be a bit

of a boffin to pick the new bike from the old,

to be honest. It retains the same cool-looking

tailpiece with its flatulence-extracting openings

behind the seat cowl, which also serve to

eliminate any chance you ever had of fitting

things underneath the seat. But this is a razoredged

superbike, so discussions of practicality

are misplaced. There is around a 5 percent

increase in aerodynamic efficiency, though.

The engine

Let’s discuss the engine, then. There’s

no leap in power this year, but honestly, if

200 pferdestärke (that’s German for metric


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