UK road and track test Yamaha R1M review

Yamaha R1M on track
A straight-line missile.
Yamaha R1M on track
And pretty untouchable in the bends, too.
Yamaha R1M on track
Main rivals were present.
Yamaha R1M on track
Yamaha R1M on track
Yamaha R1M on track
Kane indicates the number of pies he would like at the end of the session.

Little touches on the R1M made me smile. I left home in the dark on the morning of my track test. The dash display had a black background. As I rode, the sun came up over the mist-covered fields. When the sun reached the bike the display background changed to white.

The R1M has a 200-section rear tyre where the R1’s is a 190. Both offer grip, drive and stability but the 200 offers slightly more contact patch.

On Snetterton’s 300 circuit, the R1M had the edge over everything else on the straights, and all the main competitors were present. With the right rider on-board, I think it would have the edge in the corners too.

It’s astonishingly fast everywhere. It feels and handles like a 600 on track and on the road. The stability in corners allows you to explore extreme lean angles – I managed to ground my fairing-mounted camera.

First gear is so tall that a lot of the time it’s all you need. It’s like a 200hp twist-and-go. Corner-to-corner, I was only using two gears with an occasional short-shift.

But it’s so fast that on the long Snet straights the rev limiter arrived almost before I could change up using the factory quick-shifter, which makes changes almost seamless. My peripheral vision felt blurred, and approaching corners felt like the ground rushing to meet you in a skydive.

Open the throttle and bikes ahead appear to be rushing backward.

Above 8,000rpm is where the afterburners kick in and you break the sound barrier. The R1 tended to lift and shake its head a little during that top-end power rush. With the R1M there was no wobble at all, even when I knew the front was off the ground. With the wheel off centre on a little ridge on the track, it was still completely solid. The Öhlins was doing everything necessary to keep the missile in line.

On the road, in London rush-hour traffic, the bike was still an absolute pleasure. Its lightweight handling had me filtering with ease. I could easily tuck in behind the 125s and scooters. The mirrors are really well placed to see behind you and easy to fold back to squeeze through gaps.

The bike is smooth at low speed and all the way through the rev range. On faster roads its flexible mid-range and aggressive peak are conducive to smooth progress.

Even with the power turned up the bike was smooth and comfortable. Cruising in a high gear it felt very civilised, while dropping a gear teleported me out in front of the traffic.

With the power map set on level two, everything is subtler. The throttle response is much more sedate, feeding in the drive smoothly. Power-delivery is softer, more suited to traffic.

But this bike can still bite, and opening the throttle requires forward planning.

The crossplane-crank engine has a loud bark, but the standard exhaust is quiet when cruising (and passed the track noise test with ease). I would keep the standard exhaust but some may want to change for a little more power. Because 200hp’s just not enough, is it?

With the 17-litre tank brimmed, I got a range of 118-120 miles on the motorway, 98-100 on a Sunday hack and 80-85 on track.

I took the R1M to two-biker cafés, and at both it quickly drew a crowd. There was a lot of interest at the track too.

When they do a remake of David Ess**’s film Silver Dream Racer, this will be the bike for the part.

Photo credit: Peter Wileman

Model tested: Yamaha YZF-R1M

Price: £18,749 plus on the road charges

Engine: 998cc in-line four

Power: 200hp

Torque: 83lbft

Wet weight: 199kg (full tank)

Tank capacity: 17 litres

Seat height: 855mm