2020 Yamaha R1M Review – On the face of it, the changes may not be revolutionary, but Yamaha has given its 2020 YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M significant renewal to address both stricter emissions rules and ever-better rivals on the track. It is easy to cast an eye over spec sheets or a photo and dismiss the 2020 bike which does not have enough difference because it looks similar. But the main goal of the Japanese manufacturer cannot be underestimated – the goal was to create a liter of Sports bike that met Euro 5 but lost little, if any, performance. And the same goes for R1M, with a new and exclusive set of Ohlin’s suspension to go some way to justify the award.
2020 Yamaha R1M Review
The outgoing model, introduced in 2015 and updated in 2018, has been a popular weapon for track dayers as well as Road Riders given its unique engine character, exhaust bark, ease of use and availability of upgrades. It’s a great Looker (even with these ‘droopy Eye’ headlights) and fits riders of all shapes and sizes.
Overall, the upgrades can be divided into four main boxes; Engine, electronics, aerodynamics and chassis, details as follows. So despite sharing his DNA with the existing model, the updated R1 promises to be a far better package.
Out to Jerez in sunny southern Spain we went to find out to ride both bikes back-to-back at the international press launch, with a few handy guide riders available to show us the way around; 2019 PATA Yamaha World Superbike pairing by Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark.
Yamaha YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M (2020) price
Given the work that has gone into the new R1 to suit the execution of the outbound version, a £ 300 price hike up to £ 16,799 seems very reasonable. Note that the R1M comes with a £ 21,999 roof (up by £ 1,800 on the outgoing model, mostly down to the Ohlins), which puts in the realms of the S1000RR, Panigale V4S and RSV4 1100 factory. Both are available from mid-October (R1M via online shopping system), well ahead of many 2020 models.
The R1 is available in two colors: Icon Blue or Midnight Black, while the R1M comes only in the icon’s performance, showing its full carbon fiber fairinged beauty.
2020 Yamaha R1M Power and torque
I sound like a broken record already, but the engine upgrades (details below) have allowed Yamaha to comply with the laws while maintaining an alleged peak 197bhp, identical to the outgoing model, while torque is marginally increased from 112.4nm / 82.9 lb-ft @ 11,500 rpm to 113.3 nm / 83.6 lb-ft @ 11, 500rpm.
It’s a solid figure when you consider the effort required, and these four cylinders are just shouting out to be released from their Euro-5 harness.
The limited R1M will feature the same electronic enhancements as the base bike and shed extra weight thanks to a set of carbon fiber front fairings, splashes and tail section, along with magnesium wheels and rear subframes. A titanium lower fairing cover completes the look.
Along with weight-shedding, the Kayaba suspension has been replaced with the latest in Öhlins finery, with a new electronic anti-cavitator NPX gas fork, to reduce negative pressure on the rebound stroke. The electronic rear shock also gains modified preload settings.
Finished in an updated sliver, blue and Carbon Livery, Yamaha has also produced a number of apps to go with the new bike, allowing riders to produce their own ideal settings with ease.
The YRC Setting app allows users to control the seven electronic systems to ensure they provide the preferred level of interference. Some controls can be turned off completely.
Meanwhile, the new Y-TRAC app allows customers to access the bicycle communication control unit (CCU) to download a variety of data to your mobile phone. This can be seen on a Google Maps rendering of a track that shows information including acceleration and G-forces.
For some added individuality, each R1M will also have an engraved plaque with a unique production number, too. Watch out for the full 2020 Yamaha R1 review coming soon on MCN.
Engine, gearbox and exhaust
While on the surface upgrades do not seem that significant, it is downstairs where the magic lies; the crossplane engine has had a boost – a new cylinder head with intake volume reduced by 12%, new rocker arm and cam design, a new fuel injection system with new throttle, four (yes, four) exhaust catalysts with a quieter muffler and a revised oil sewing resulting in 5% less BHP loss at high RPM.
The uneven 270 ° -180 ° -90 ° -180 ° firing sequence not only gives each piston and con root its own individual and separate movement, but continues to emit a unique and audibly pleasing deep Howl. The overall package compliments itself for improved combustion and more direct throttle response, the sensitivity of which is almost noticeable at the first few degrees of twist, then again, when in long radius corners, of which there are more on Jerez, keep the power program smooth and allows me to worry about the right line.
I’ve been spoiled recently by spending lots of time on the BikeSocial BMW S1000RR M performance long-term recently, with its straight through full Akrapovic system and the resulting sensational mid-range torque. Comparing the Euro-5 friendly Yamaha is a bit unfair when you pull out the last hairpin on the Start / finish straight, the initial wave is completely restrained up to 9,000rpm, but then it fires into the middle distance, wavering through rpm begging to be changed up to a gear of 13,500rpm. And a full throttle only then drops to 11, 000rpm.
I had the opportunity to play with power settings as well. Of the three my original and fairly obvious choices would have been to have the bike on its sportiest setting of ‘1’, but for extra smoothness when feeding on power out of the tighter corners I was advised that ‘2’ would be more appropriate. For each degree of throttle opening in setting ‘1’, the butterfly valve opens a degree also, while in setting ‘2’, each degree of throttle opening corresponds to 3/4 of a degree of the same valve until offering full power of one third of gas handle application. Make sense? Even the racers present were using ‘2’ for softer acceleration and better feel, clutch personal traction and slide Control settings next door.
2020 Yamaha R1M Review
Other than the features of the throttle when riding the engine changes are hard to distinguish between the old and new bikes, which is good because if there was one thing this latest generation R1 has going for it was its zesty and characterful engine. It gives the rider plenty of on-and-off throttle feedback and an engine tone deep enough to threaten the beautiful modern day V4’s yet unique enough to be easily discernable. Its true potential will be released when the emissions regulated exhaust system is replaced by an after-market version which will allow the gases to flow plus a weight saving of approx. 6-10kg. Yamaha will offer an official full Akrapovic system, for example. The factory world and UK Superbike teams will be happy to get their hands on the 2020 bike as early as this.
Yamaha’s engineers offered the option of Road or Race Shift for the six track sessions I chose for the latter. The performance of the gearbox is not affected, but it is the inversion of the gear lever that allows for optimal upchanges when lean is still coming out of the hairpin at turn 2 and the rapid change of direction to the faster left for turn 3. No matter what, the short and precise throw between gears going up through the ‘box, almost perfectly. Given that the bikes were relatively new and were hammered on the trail by a bunch of experienced riders, no gear missed gear was going up. An even faster change (ie less acceleration loss … and we’re talking fractions here) would have been a nice difference between R1 and R1M given M’s track orientation. The gearbox and the new engine brake control (EBM) with its three settings determine the amount of interference from the electronics. I tried both 1 and 3 and found 3 with a weaker engine braking intervention to be more beneficial to my style of braking, which can be quite late and strong. For the three slowest corners on Jerez, I had used second gear primarily, but occasionally flirted with the first-advantage of going down that extra gear was the extra engine braking plus a stronger low RPM drive out of the corner even getting the gearbox through neutral and at first, less-than-Slick appeared on a couple of occasions. The latest gen R1 has always offered a strong but manageable drive through the rev range with a highly efficient mid-range so you can leverage the electronics and find the right settings to suit my driving style was exciting.
Handling, suspension, chassis and weight
With minimal chassis changes, the usual excellent standard of handling we know and love from the 2015-18 model is once again obvious. In extreme test conditions on the Jerez Grand Prix circuit, Yamaha showed its ability to turn fast and hold the line, especially in the faster corners such as the long, upward right hand at turn 5. Squaring off the corner and feeding full force before the exit of the corner Considering it gives a better chance of big mph along the back straight. It also highlights any errors in your personal settings, suspension, chassis geometry tires and after three sessions of R1, equipped with Bridgestone R11 tires (OE spec rubber is RS11), and I could only feel the rear slide twice – consciously push harder every lap. All in the name of a thorough test of course.
In the shorter, tighter corners, the front tended to push wide as I lost some patience and tried to get on the gas too soon. The Panigale V4S and S1000RR both seem to turn tighter with a little extra Mid-Corner throttle.
An 860mm set height is the highest of any sports bike’s even slimmer waist, where the fuel tank meets the seat courtesy of the engine’s configuration, making it easier to mount and flat foot than the Aprilia RSV4 1100 factory for example. Picks are perfectly positioned for me; not too high to cause leg comfort issues yet offers plenty of ground clearance not to scratch the Jerez surface.
Aerodynamically, the screen is marginally higher, but the airflow and therefore efficiency has been improved by 5% due to the difficult to spot front fairing revisions and new material used for intake. Jerez has several high-speed shifts in direction, highlighting where Yamaha carries its weight. By tilting the weight at 201kg, R1 is by no means a heavyweight, but the uneven firing sequence and a heavy crankshaft can
On the R1, the internal of 43mm USD Kyaba (KYB) forks and matching rear shock have been upgraded with claimed improvements to front-end Feel / rear tire grip, confidence and higher corner speed, but you need some seriously complex data and days worth to drive to distinguish between old and new.
YZF-R 1 M
Here is where R1M comes into its own. The same engine, electronics and fairing upgrades as the R1, but with a wider rear rear tire (200), Carbon body, polished tank and swing arm plus wireless communication via an app to assess your track performance, the Race version also features some of the the highest specification Ohlin’s suspension ever seen on a production motorcycle – the same forks as on Ducati’s Panigale V4R but this time the NPX pressure-bearing forks are electronically controlled.
And for the press launch, a series of Sticky Slick Bridgestone V02 tires, the racier partner in this 2020 Duo showed even more agility.
To demonstrate how good the R1M is, the PATA Yamaha World Superbike Rider, Alex Lowes, took her for a spin and managed a lap time of 1m 43.9, compared to his Running pace at his World Superbike of 1m 41.5. Just 2.4 s difference on a bike that costs 6 times less and that you or I could buy.
Stability and grip thanks to the Ohlins / Bridgestone partnership was noticeably brilliant, it was like riding a completely different bike. Silky soft initial turn with the movement across the tire as the lean angle increased as smoothly as you wanted it to. The bike is ready and I’m sure of both the angle of rotation and the balance that I seem to pile on. At the end of the two fast straights in heavy brake zones, the bike is stable as electronics all come together to work harmoniously with rubber bits, springy bits and stoppy bits. Any kind of unexpected movement would be disturbing yet R1M behaves so well considering the conditions.
Yamaha YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M (2020) brakes
Despite new brake pads on this 2020 model, the non-linked brakes are not a patch on the impeccable Brembo’s use of Aprilia and Ducati for their liter of Sports machines. Pull hard on the front brake lever at the end of the two straights made for a strenuous finger and forearm workout — so much so that the insert in the handle does not match the braking force. To warn this point though, this was on track in hot conditions and at fast track day pace. I’m not much of a rear brake user, but occasionally it was necessary as it was first gear. And fortunately, it was Jerez-style run off and not Cadwell Park.
Along the way, the harsh pressure requirement would not be too noticeable and frankly it’s convenient to know that ABS works so effectively. Plus, Yamaha’s enhanced engine brake control system allows for three levels of engine braking power as we mentioned earlier, so find the option that’s right for you, whether on the track or on the road depending on how much engine brake interference vs. engine speed you prefer.
A new brake control system is more commonly known as curve driving ABS on other models. The two settings provide differences in brake and ABS sensitivity depending on curve angle. Handy for those who prefer the Trail to brake deep into a corner. Turn one on Jerez, for example, an upward and late Apex right-hander tester enough to carry corner enough speed and the correct corner input to maximize a quick escape against two. Confidence grows with use because keeping the brakes in Lean or even giving it an extra squeeze once in the corner would be discouraged by any road-based motorcycle instructor.
Rides aids and accessories
A fleet of Rider AIDS comes standard with many motorcycles in the £ 10k + category, and the higher the price tag, the more treats you will get to play with.
Finding the optimal setting for a Sunday blast can take some time with a 6-axis IMU (Intertia unit of measurement) that takes 125 measurements per second from its sensors around the bike and feeds them into a central on-board computer that has the parameters for power modes and settings for traction control, slide control, start control, lift control, brake control, engine brake control and quickshifter … and anywhere between three and 10 options for each.
Oh, and there’s a revised Launch Control system for 2020 model too. The tracker wheel on the right side of the handlebars serves it all intuitively by pushing in for a second or two and then skipping through the menus and selecting your favorite options. It will take some getting used to but is not terribly complicated.
Four presets will help if you feel like calling in a Track day setting, a commuter setting and a wet setting for example.
Yamaha YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M (2020) judgment
A classic, well-composed, Euro 5-compliant beauty who gets 2020 Holeshot in the form of sports bike boasting rights. It’s a tough battle at the top of the tree and the R1 offers a top quality display with is beautiful Howl, fantastic throttle connection and satisfying driving quality. Seemingly unaffected by EU nonsense in terms of performance, Yamaha should be congratulated for their ability to conquer these emissions laws without sacrifice and the evidence will be in the bud when it comes to whipping standard exhaust off. Would I choose the R1 over the BMW S1000RR? Well, on the basis that you want the M sport version of the three Bike BMW line-up, you would have to stump up an extra £ 2,500 … which is the approximate cost of a full system and rebate to R1. But yes, BMW would still just edge the Yamaha.
Ah, but then Yamaha plays his trump card; R 1 M. Release it from its limitations courtesy of a full after-market exhaust system and, despite the added expense, this will be to take Superbike games directly to Ducati and its Panigale V4S … or R in case of homologated Road-Bike based Superbike Championships. Hang on though, we’re getting too loose with the purse strings now; so if there’s £ 16,800 burning a hole in your pocket (or whatever the equivalent PCP Deal offer) then there’s a little better than the standard R1 on the market right now for that kind of budget.
Let’s face it, if European rules keep suffocating emissions for just a handful of years, and without suffering from variable valve timing, larger displacements or even forced induction, there will be fewer and fewer proper liters of sports bikes.