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Not the most sensible of commuters..

Wed, 04 Apr 2012

This is the white and gold 2012 Yamaha R1. It's also the bike I shall be commuting on for the next 8 months. The crouched riding position and murderous amounts of power may not be ideally suited for the London grind, but with plenty of track action planned I have to make some compromises.

There are three fresh colours to choose from. Both white and blue versions get gold treatment to the wheels, forks and an R1 emblem slapped on the fairing. If you've got a thing for dressing like Batman on weekends then the matte grey stealth version will be up your Gotham alley.

It’s not just the paint that has changed. The headlight and nose has been restyled and the rear end gets some aesthetic updating too. Just as well, as these are the areas that some say ruin the look of the imfamous big-bang R1.

Looks aside, the biggest change for 2012 is the addition of traction control. The rear shock has been updated to suit the traction system better and you get a new toggle on the switch gear to play with.

I'll be living with this particular bike for the summer but for now I just want to share with you the first five thoughts that went through my mind after our first ride.

Fit - The white, black and gold works really well together. The blue one's not bad either with more white than previous designs. Is it the best looking R1 to date? I reckon so.

Intimidating - This is the fastest R1 ever built, thankfully the torquey nature of the MotoGP derived engine and the traction control help me feel at easy fairly quickly. However you’re reminded that this thing is just ballistic with a moments laps in concentration.

Smooth - The suspension copes remarkably well with the bumps on our great British roads. After two hours riding my tackle is in one piece and my spine is still straight. Riding this R1 feels like you can cover some decent miles in relative comfort.

Economical - The R1 will do close to 110mph in first gear but obviously you have six gears to spread that speed out. 80mph is slow for the R1 and cruising in the top gear you can expect to get 40-50mpg. The engine never feels like it’s under any amount of strain on the road.

Aching wrists – I need to adjust the clutch and break lever angles to straighten things out, with all your body weight on your arms after an hour I’m being reminded that I’m no longer 21.

RRP for a new one is £11999, reduced by £2000 over last years model. check out the Yamaha site here for all the info

If you own a crossplane crank R1 and have done some upgrading then get in touch, I’d like to hear what you've done...

By Andy Stevens

See also: Frog eBike – the Electric Successor to 1985 Frog FZ750 Concept, AMA Supercross: 2012 Houston Results, Teaser: 2012 Japanese Literbike Shootout – Video.