First Impression - Brett McCormick on Yamaha's 2020 R1 Featured

Written by  Brett McCormick on Wednesday, 18 September 2019 16:34

Growing up in Canada, one can always count on August being great weather for the most part, and we can also count on September throwing curveballs every year.

In Saskatchewan sometimes we get unbelievable fall weather during September, but it can also be miserable. Being a motorcycle enthusiast in Canada, usually it’s rolling the dice anytime you plan something in September. When I got the opportunity to book off a week of September to head overseas to Spain with Inside Motorcycles and test the 2020 Yamaha R1 and R1M, I couldn’t accept the invitation quick enough.

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This was an exciting opportunity for me, and it brought me down memory lane a little bit before I even left. Back in 2009, I got to test all of the World Superbikes during a trip to Spain and Portugal. With testing all the bikes, I got to spin a couple of laps on Marco Melandri’s 2009 R1 which was the first year of the cross-plane crank. Everyone can remember when that engine sound we all now love first surfaced. A couple of laps can be fun, but a whole day on the 2020 R1 was going to be amazing, and it was.

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We got to spend a lot of time with Josh Hayes (four-time AMA Superbike Champion) on this trip to Spain. He was a great resource for information being that he’s no slouch on the bike and has been bleeding blue for the past decade. Current WSBK racers Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark were also in Spain and shared some of their R1 experience with me.


The 2020 R1 received some changes from the 2019 model, but none of the changes were meant to rock the boat too much. Yamaha is having success with the current R1 platform, so it was no surprise that they made some tweaks to improve the bike, but not reinvent it.


The 2020 R1 received changes and updates to its electronics, bodywork, and some engine internals. The changes to the electronics were mostly focused on the engine braking. The bodywork increases aerodynamic performance, and also improves ergonomics in some key areas. The technical team shared details of the engine updates, and these updates were aimed at improving the engine’s efficiency so they could make the same power while meeting the Euro 5 emissions standard for 2020. The 2020 R1M received all of the same changes, along with some more track specific touches like the updated Ohlins Suspension that I’ll dive deeper into for the review article.

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The 2020 Yamaha R1 and R1M did not disappoint, these bikes are weapons on the racetrack. I was really impressed with them, and it was an unreal day getting to turn fast laps. I’m excited to share my thoughts on the bikes in more detail with everyone in an upcoming issue of Inside Motorycles that will be in mailboxes and on newsstands this December, so be sure to pick one up and see if these machines live up to the hype. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photos and some of the video from Jerez! Be sure to check back here on the IM website for more videos from Jerez including my hot lap session with Josh Hayes. 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 15 October 2019 15:00
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