The Yamaha YZF-R1's 20-valve four-cylinder motor makes more power than 90% of all road riders can cope with, and delivers it in one long, ever increasing howl of delight. Nifty gearbox helps the fun, plus the fuel injection is excellent, too. Yamaha YZF-R1 SP version has a slipper clutch and another 3bhp if you really, really need it – it costs £14,000 however.
Ride and HandlingMCN rating
The only weakness with the Yamaha YZF-R1's Deltabox chassis is that it needs a bit more effort, more precision, to get the very best from it at the track, compared to the incredibly adroit Gixer 1000. It's as if the mass of the Yamaha YZF-R1 is carried a fraction higher than on the Suzuki.
The Yamaha YZF-R1 has all the sports bits you need, plus a handy clock on the dash, high rpm warning light and a token pillion. The mirrors aren't too narrow, but the seat is higher than the CBR1000RR or GSX-R1000. The Yamaha YZF-R1's OE Dunlop tyres don't suit some riders either, but they'll be shredded after your first track day anyway.
Quality and ReliabilityMCN rating
Lush paintwork, beautiful alloy cycle parts and very well put together. Apart from the odd clutch niggle (it has a tall first gear ) the Yamaha YZF-R1 has an excellent reputation for long life and can do seriously high miles, not that many owners care to rack them up. Nick Sanders has been around the world on a Yamaha YZF-R1, dodging cattle chicanes and all sorts, so it can handle anything you throw at it.
The Yamaha YZF-R1 was the UK's top seller in 2004, but in 2005 the GSX-R1000 arrived and things have been tougher for the Yamaha YZF-R1 since. Good deals can be had so shop around. Special editions? The Kenny Roberts yellow and black painted model Yamaha YZF-R1s will possibly be collectable in the future. It's only worth considering the high spec SP model if you have the spare dosh and track time to enjoy it, as depreciation will be harsh. Find a Yamaha R1 for sale.
Insurance group: 17
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2005: No major changes from 2004 Yamaha YZF-R1.
2006: Yamaha YZF-R1's swingarm is 20mm longer, rear spindle 16mm further forwards, plus a little bit of tweakery to the headstock and fork yokes. 3bhp gain in stock R1 model's claimed power output.
Yamaha YZF-R1 SP: A limited edition semi race spec variant, with fuel injection tweaks, special Ohlins suspension, top end work to squeeze another 3bhp from the motor and matt black paint.