Sunday, November 20, 2011

2012 Yamaha R1: Finding traction once again

2012 Yamaha R1
Eddie Lawson may or may not need traction control on a 178bhp superbike. You and I will, however, definitely be better off with the 2012 R1's six-mode TCS
2012 Yamaha R1 2012 Yamaha R1
2012 Yamaha R1 2012 Yamaha R1 2012 Yamaha R1 2012 Yamaha R1

Following the example set by the BMW S1000RR, Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC and Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja, Yamaha have fitted traction control to the 2012 YZF-R1. It is a proper six-mode system with a full range of settings – mode six will let you twist the throttle to the max, regardless of road surface and lean angle and the computers will sort everything out for you. The system gets progressively more lenient through modes five, four, three, two and one, with the rider being pretty much on his/her own in mode one.

Yamaha have taken their time in getting TC tech to the R1 but they seem to have gotten it right the first time around. According to Bruce Wilson, who’s tested the 2012 Yamaha R1 for Motorcycle Sport & Leisure’s December issue this year, the new R1’s traction control “most certainly doesn’t feel as intrusive as the BMW S1000RR’s system, which feels more like a tap that’s been turned on and off as it mops up excess power in a crude by effective manner, nor like the Kawasaki ZX-10R’s system, which stutters and starts in an erratic spasm.” Bruce goes on to say that mode four, which permits wheelies and small slides, while still keeping you out of trouble, is perhaps the best mode in the Yam’s traction control system.

As you would expect them to, Yamaha have gone in for a fairly advanced traction control system, which has sensors that detect even the slightest variance in front and rear wheel speeds (indicating that the rear wheel is spinning up and/or sliding…), and then reduces power via either the throttle valves, the fuel injection system, the ignition system, or a combination of the three, depending on the severity of the slide.

“We were more interested in producing a bike that was easier to control, than chasing outright horsepower figures like everyone else. By applying the traction control system and altering the bike’s geometry as we have, we have taken another step towards producing a bike that blows the competition away in the handling department,” says Oliver Grill, from Yamaha’s motorcycle product planning department, speaking to MS&L. “The R1’s [traction control] system is track biased. While modes six and five are definitely more focused towards road riding, the other four are designed with performance in mind. And it’s likely you’d need a racetrack to experience their true potential,” adds Yoshitomi Nakagawa, who designed the R1’s traction control system.

With 178 horsepower at 12,500rpm from its 998cc inline-four, the 2012 Yamaha R1 is about 10-15 horsepower short of the bhp figure that the segment leader boasts. “It’s true we could have made more radical alteration to the new R1 but we didn’t think that finding an extra 20bhp from the engine and compromising everything else was the right thing to do. We decided a long time ago that this bike’s biggest strengths were to be its cornering abilities and tractability out of corners. If you can get a bike going fast around a corner, it will be faster down a straight – that’s a fact. And that’s why we wanted to concentrate on making the very best of the R1’s existing package,’ concludes Shin Yokomizo, the 2012 Yamaha R1’s project leader.

With its new six-mode traction control system, the new R1 does seem to be back with a bit of a bang. We wouldn’t be too surprised if the bike lands up on top during next year’s litre-class superbike shootouts. The 2012 R1 isn’t likely to be faster than, say, the Ducati 1199S Panigale, around a racetrack, but on the street and for most riders, the new R1 may well be the fastest, most usable sportsbike around.
The R1's six-mode TCS is designed to provide as much, or as little, assistance as you require. The system works brilliantly on both the track and the street...
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2012 Yamaha R1 2012 Yamaha R1 image host 2012 Yamaha R1

Source: Motorcycle Sport & Leisure

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