May 30th, 2006 - Updated: June 2nd, 2006

Well, I've been talking about getting an R1 for about two years now, so here it is! I had decided for certain to get one around February, and have since turned on the search. I've always loved the styling of these things (more so than any other Japanese bike), and they are amazing machines. After pushing the Triumph as hard as I was on the track, I was really noticing its weight. Also, a bit more performance would be nice. So the lightness of the R1 (well, any modern liter bike) was very appealing. I figured I could save a few grand by getting a slightly used one, but for whatever reason it seems that bikes in the Nortwest go for quite a bit more than the national average (found this out by reading various message boards). No one was willing to budge on the price of these things. Oh well, I had decided what I was willing to pay, and I knew if I waited long enough I'd get my price (sometimes the price difference in negotiations was down to $200 but I still said no). I think it paid off, and I didn't expect to find one THIS slightly used for a reasonable price. Wound up paying over two grand below new cost for a 2006 bike with 899 miles on it (was first titled 3 months ago). Not even broken in yet!

The bike has a few aftermarket parts on it: Puig dark smoke screen, Corbin saddle, Integrated rear light/turn signals, aftermarket clutch, R1 grips, chrome frame sliders, and fake plastic crappy carbon fiber look-a-like levers. If you couldn't tell, the levers are going to go. They really look bad. The Corbin seat is interesting... I hear they don't make good track saddles because your butt sticks to them too much for hanging off. We'll see. In any case, the previous owner is going to try and find those stock bits and send them to me. I have no clue what clutch was put in or why. The clutch on the stock R1 is kind of crappy and slips like crazy, so hopefully a more robust one was put in. I'm thinking that maybe the opposite happened, though, because the lever takes no energy to pull at all. Weird. He also removed some of the decals, but I honestly kind of like the decals. Three things will come immediately: some aftermarket decals, new turn signals for the front, and an aftermarket exhaust. I'm sorry, but this bike sounds like a stock Honda Accord. A bike with this kind of power needs to sound like the beast it is, so hopefully it soon will. I've only ridden the bike 5 miles so far, but the initial impression is "no big deal." Riding it around town it is very docile. Not much power down low (only revved to 7,000rpm), and because it's so light (feels like some 600s I've ridden), it is really easy to flick around. Now the big issue is finding someone to insure the damn thing... so far I've called three places; two wouldn't even insure an R1 and one had ridiculous rates. So until I find insurance, it will be parked (hopefully just a few days). More/better pictures to come when I get the aftermarket stuff. For now, it lives in the living room:

UPDATE: Insurance is a funny thing, and this was quite a funny attempt at finding insurance. The first company, Markel American, who insure the Triumph say, "Oh yeah, that's a forbidden bike... we won't insure that." Nice. Then Allstate, who insures the M Coupe, "We won't write a policy on that bike... too many cc's... too powerful." Farmers didn't even have the courtesy to call me back after I gave them all my info. GEICO quoted me $3222 per year. Progressive, $3676 per year. Awesmome. Then, Liberty Mutual was at $465 per year, but they wouldn't write it unless I had a car insured with them. Their car rates were good, but I'm happy with Allstate. Wound up going with State Farm at $590 a year. Would have been like $350 a year (a few dollars more than Progressive's monthly rate) if I moved my car over, but their rates on the M Coupe weren't any good. Pretty funny how the prices are so all over the board. Once insured, I ran over to the DMV and applied for the title transfer and got a temporary registration. In other news, I brought the one key with me to work today since it was the only key, and I had planned on making duplicates after work. After running to do the insurance and DMV stuff I realized I no longer had the key in my pocket. Hmm... I actually noticed once before it fall out of my pocket when I took my other keys out. I bet that happened! Damn... Where though? The DMV? The street downtown? The insurance place? Luckily the first place I checked was work, and it was underneith someone's car! Wow... lucky. Well now hopefully weather will cooperate and I can actually get some miles in.

June 18th, 2006

A few things to update with the R1. On the cosmetic front, I got some things completed. First, I removed the rear foot pegs. I never plan on taking passengers on the R1. For one it's just not a comfortable bike for passengers. The Triumph will get all passenger duty, which amounts to about once or twice a year. The removal of the foot pegs really cleans up the lines of the back-end. I also got Gregg's Customs turn signals for the front, and eliminated the hideous DOT things.

Much better. Also, I never really liked the matte side fairing and the front of the tank on the black R1s. I saw someone's bike for sale on R1-Forums that had clear coated panels. I thought it looked much better, so called up my current body shop of choice, Europa Autobody, and asked for a quote. $75 for the three panels. Cool, sounds good to me. Dropped them off, and picked them up just two days latter, looking much better. There is some metallic flake in the paint, which is hard to see when they're matte. Once you clear them, it kind of pops out a bit. Not over done, but looks way better, in my opinion. Yamaha should have done this from the factory. I'm very happy with the results. Once the panels were back, I installed new vinyl decals from GrafxWerks, which I think look way better than the stock ones. Funny thing about installing these, the instructions say to rub the area with alcohol. My first thought was, "Damn! I don't have any alcohol in the house..." Anyone who knows me would find that quite humerous. After giving it some thought, I whipped out my purest, cheapest alcohol, which happened to be Grey Goose Vodka... so, on goes the Grey Goose, and then the decals! This thing is looking quite pretty these days.

I think all four of the cosmetic mods really improve the look of the bike. I'm quite happy with them. I even think I like it better without the tuning fork decal on the tank. Eventually I'll take pictures of the bike outside so it doesn't look like a living room queen, I promise. :-) I think the cleared panels will look better in sunlight, too. As for other mods to come, Yoshimura's carbon supplier has gone under, and they're trying to find another. As such, they won't be shipping the carbon exhausts for at least a month, but surely much longer. I've called about 20 places and no one has them in stock. Also, ordered some Pazzo levers and Motovation frame sliders which should be here in a few days.

As for functional stuff, at mile 991 I changed the oil to Amsoil MCF. With nearly 1000 miles on the clock, it was time to see what this machine can really do... I went on a ride today, and once warmed up began revving a bit higher. The first time the front tire got really light, and a bit wobbly. Hmm... next time I had a good straight away, I hit it hard in second gear, it was pulling REALLY hard and I figured I was closing in on red-line so I looked down and... 9,500rpm. Hmm, another 4,000+ rpm to go. Insane. Even if the bike didn't want to, *I* was ready to shift, so I did. Overall, on the ride, every single time I hit the gas hard I was totally blown away. This thing is completely nuts! And I'm not even revving it to the max; I think the highest I revved was 11,000rpm, and not WOT. The torque curve is fairly flat, so it will just keep going and going to red line. Several times when I hit the gas hard the front end got really light, and several times I got a little wobble. When hitting the twisty roads, the power is actually totally distracting. It's so intense I wind up being blown away and then not going very fast in the turns, because I'm busy thinking about the power. This is going to take some serious getting used to. Right now I'm not even using everything this bike has (not comfortable doing so), and it's already blowing me away. It will be quite the learning curve dealing with the power, and also maintaining my ability in the turns. Should be fun!

September 25th, 2006

Today was the first track day for the R1. But first, some updates. A few months back I got some frame sliders from Motovation. I did entirely too much research for simple little frame sliders, but I think I came away with the best option for the R1. There's more to consider than you may think. You want the compound to slide nicely on the ground, not be hard, like metal. Metal can catch and flip the bike doing more damage than not having them (the chromy bits I got the bike with were metal). Also, if they stick out farther than the foot pegs the same thing can happen. The material and dimensions of the Motovation parts seemed the best. I got the frame sliders, clutch slider, and rear spools. Nearly $200 in sliders. Bah. Oh well, needed to be done.

Next, I got some Pazzo levers. Actually acquiring them was a ridiculous boondoggle (sent wrong part, never sent tracking number, post office lost the package, etc., etc.), using a vendor I'll never use again. Luckily, 2 months after my credit card was charged and the first levers were mailed, I got the correct set. I went with the black levers with red adjusters. Long clutch lever, short brake. There was much debate as to what to get. Everyone says, "you'll never miss the longer levers once you use the short." Okay, but WHY is the short better? No one on the forums had a good answer. I noticed all the MotoGP guys ran long levers, so that's what I initially ordered. Before they shipped, I watched the MotoGP race at Catalunya... first lap there was a huge pile up due to Gibernau's lever touching someone's leg, locking the front wheel and sending him over the handles bars, taking many other riders with him. See the video of the crash here. I think if he had short levers, perhaps this wouldn't have happened (the bar would be the first thing to hit, which would probably have caused him to crash, but wouldn't have been quite as catastrophic). This race was the sole reason I changed my order to a long clutch and a short brake. I use all four fingers on the clutch, but only two on the brake, so the shorty is fine there. Overall, I like the fit and finish of the levers. Function is great.

Next, I put new tires on the bike. After the crash with the Triumph at THill, I told myself I'd never ride on the track with street tires again. On go the Metzeler Racetec's. They came out with a new compound last year with rave reviews, so I went with them. K2 in the rear, and K1 in the front. Mounted these 3 days before the track day when weather was looking good, and scrubbed them in with a 100 mile ride two days ago. Set to go!

On to the track day. The event was put on by Moto Corsa, and the weather gods cooperated, blessing us with 85 degrees and perfectly clear skies. Quite strange for late September, but believe me, we'll take it. I signed up for the A group, which was the smallest group of the day (still fairly busy at times, with ~25 bikes). Once I arrived at the track, I removed the mirrors, the plate (now a requirement), and applied gaffers tape to the glass.

Perhaps since my last time out on a track was over a year ago, and I packed the Triumph into turn 10 at Thunderhill at 100mph, I was rather nervous before the first session today, as I sat there stirring, thinking about it. Before I knew it though, they called the session and the first bike went out. I quickly got ready, and was the third bike out on an empty track. The second I hit the straight away I was back in the zone, and all nervousness was gone. Good thing. It did take me a few laps to get comfortable enough to put a knee down, but I was back in the swing of things in no time. The first session was very fun, as I was getting used to the new machine. It's definitely more nimble than the Triumph, and the power delivery actually seems smoother. Kind of surprising, but everything was very linear. I started topping out at around 155mph at the end of the front straight, which is about all I could muster. As the day went on and I got more used to the speed (if that's possible), I ticked it up to 171mph indicated a few times. Pretty nuts, really. Stuff's coming at you pretty damn quickly at that speed. I never pushed the braking zones with the speed, so there is definitely way more in it. I only went full throttle down the front straight a couple times. Mostly I did 3/4 and that was good enough for me! The acceleration on the track is actually more manageable than I thought, though. Yes, full throttle is silly, but in a fun way. I was anticipating the sheer acceleration being crazy, but the only crazy bit is the speed you wind up going. And this is with the stock gearing, which allows 99mph in 1st gear! I rode around the track in 2nd gear, which seemed about right. I once tried 1st, but the bike was a bit too jumpy. Many times I'd only use 2-4. 3rd gear is good for about 150mph at the end of the back straight (much more and I'm really pushing the braking zones), and 4th is good for 167ish on the front straight. So rarely did I need more than 2-4.

One of the nicest things with the Yamaha over the Triumph is the gearbox. I was missing shifts all over the place with the Triumph, finding a false neutral on down shifts, etc. I'd say I had some issue with shifting (minor or otherwise) at least once per session in the Triumph. Not once did I have issue on the R1. Power shifts with the R1 were flawless, and I never missed a down shift stomping on the lever at the end of the straights. Power shifts on the R1 sucked with the stock oil, but once I went to the Amsoil MCF it's perfect.

I stayed well within my comfort zone today, never really pushing myself at all. The tires performed flawlessly, never causing me any issues at all. The A group was about the right pace for me today, and I was right about in the middle of the pack, speed wise. Didn't get lap times, but I'm sure I was no better than my previous best on the Triumph of 1:20. Dennis was running 1:22 to 1:21.9 at his best, and he was basically sticking right with me (or so he says... I never saw him ;-) ), so I probably was running around that, or a second quicker. Quite a few others didn't stay within their limits, and the first morning session was the only one without a red flag. On my last session of the day, one guy crashed, so we all came in for the red flag, and then once we went back out, another guy crashed on the first lap of the re-start. Bah. I was tired of festering in the sun, so I decided to call it a day and by-pass the last session of the day. Overall, 105 miles on the track today. Could have easily been 150 if 4 sessions didn't get cut short with crashes. Oh well... at least mine's still shiny. Now it's time to clean the thing up, and park it in the living room. I doubt it will see another track day (or ride) this year, but at least it will live in the living room this winter with used tires. Overall, a very good day, and I am very pleased to have been able to do a track day in the R1 this year after all.

Valid HTML 4.01!
David Paris
Last modified: Thu Jun 28 08:45:34 PDT 2007