First rides! Yamaha R1, R1M, R3, FJ-09

Yamaha has been on a roll of late with a wide variety of strong new models. The trend continues for 2015.


Yamaha Motor Canada was kind enough to demonstrate its newest products with a media launch event in Alabama last week. While the weather didn’t cooperate, the machinery was certainly more than capable.

IMG_2225.jpgR1 and R1M
Yamaha has now joined most of the hardcore, 1,000cc class builders in describing its all-new, eighth-generation YZF-R1 as “aimed at the track.” As expected, the bike offers a host of integrated electronic features, all aimed at getting the most from a machine with close to 200 horsepower. Surprisingly, the bike is actually fairly comfortable for a six-foot-tall human; it’s certainly one of the roomier, more ergonomically-detailed superbikes.

Our test at the Talladega GP track, a medium-speed venue taken in second and third gears, was never going to demonstrate the top speed or aerodynamic strengths of the R1’s good-looking new design. However, the Pirelli racing rain tires did allow us to push, and gain an appreciation of, the very polished behaviour and sporting nature of the R1.

The limited-edition, more expensive R1M is easy to identify thanks to its polished aluminum tank and similarly shiny swingarm. While the regular R1 is plenty strong, the active Öhlins suspension on the M model takes the performance up a notch, and makes that added cost a reasonable consideration. Both bikes are well-behaved, the rider aid package well integrated, but still plenty exciting – just what you would expect for a thoughtfully developed, circuit focused offering in 2015 from Yamaha. You can expect a full review in an upcoming issue of Inside Motorcycles.

The latest version of Yamaha’s new triple engine has been stuffed into the all new FJ-09, a versatile sport bike with long distance potential. Rider and passenger comfort is a main focus, and the adjustable seat and big grab rails made a positive initial impression.


The motor is the same crossplane crank version as found on the FZ-09, which uses 41mm Mikuni throttle bodies but is remapped for better low end performance – and the changes show immediately. Smoothness through the mid-range really shows the Yamaha’s power delivery in the best possible light. This bikes is fast, with around 100 horsepower, but most importantly it is easy to access and use that power. On winding back roads in wet conditions, the FJ-09 immediately felt competent and confidence-assuring.

We mostly rode the silver finished offering with the larger windscreen and hard saddle bags, and stayed mostly dry behind the effective (although slab-sided) bigger screen. The riding position is near ideal, and sufficiently roomy for a six-footer.