All Tests – 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 Test: no revolution in the R – Attraction for … traction!

2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 test: no revolution in the R

All Tests - 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1 Test: no revolution in the R - Attraction for ... traction!

Despite its technological content and its fantastic Cross Plane engine, the R1 was beginning to suffer in the face of the most successful European hypersport motorcycles. To keep the vacuum in 2012, Yamaha offers traction control and reviews some details. Test !

Attraction for … traction !

Aligned on the circuit of Valencia (Spain) – where the last event of the Moto GP World Championship traditionally takes place -, a dozen 2012 R1 matte gray or red-white (in the colors of Yamaha’s 50th anniversary in Grand Prix, a limited edition marketed in France with Akrapovic from November 2011 to March 2012) growl gently while waiting to be put to the test…

A little "emotion" parenthesis: this is exactly the kind of scene that remains etched for life in the memory of a motorcycle racing enthusiast … Detail a racing beast like the Yamaha YZF-R1, with the bend in the background where a certain Valentino Rossi lost the world title in 2006 in front of more than 150,000 fans, is a privilege of rare intensity !

Especially since the new Yamaha Hypersport has a crazy class in its red and white dress discovered in Assen on the M1 of Lorenzo and Spies: this classy two-tone highlights the skillful mix between taut lines and curves of the R1, while its lenticular optics give it a characteristic visual identity.

Always as well finished and encircled with beautiful parts (hollowed out swingarm and handlebars, six-piston radial calipers, separate cylinder shock absorber adjustable in all directions, etc.), the Yamaha remains undoubtedly a very beautiful object, even if its forms have become callipyges will not always be to everyone’s taste – and especially not those nostalgic for the "little ass" carved with the billhook of old vintages !

High saddle (835 mm) and rather bulky, the new YZF-R1 2012 does not actually have the finesse of a CBR1000RR or an RSV4: wide enough, its handlebars and the upper part of its 18-liter tank set aside noticeably the arms and knees, thus penalizing mobility in curves.

However, mobility, it takes more than twice to put big gas on the 4005 meters of the Ricardo Tormo circuit! Technical and physical, the Spanish layout also quickly reminded us that the Yamaha requires a minimum of commitment to take it to small corners….

Discovered in the standard configuration (with original tires and suspension settings), the 2012 R1 is still not the quickest hypersport to dive into the rope and still tends to widen on the way out, when the pace sets in. frankly accelerates.

This phenomenon is amplified by the jerks felt during the resumption of the gas stream, despite the reprogramming of the engine mapping on this 2012 model. Moreover, even if it is possible to change the injection mapping on the handlebars , the "Standard" mode remains the most pleasant. The "A" mapping (the most aggressive at low and mid-range) accentuates these jolts, while on dry circuit the "B" mode unnecessarily restricts accelerations.

The TCS, how to use it ?

Installed on the left stalk (which explains why the warnings have migrated to the handlebars), the control of the Traction Control System (TCS) is in the form of a button that is pushed up to reduce the level of intervention and down to increase it. The selected degree is indicated on a six-notch digital graduation placed below the indicator lights (neutral, reserve, flashes, etc.). These indicator lights also have an additional indicator: the TCS indicator, which comes on when the device comes into action..

Configurable in six positions (the sixth being the most interventionist), this system can be disconnected at will: once lowered to the first level, it suffices to hold down the button for at least two seconds to switch it off. The central unit remembers the last TCS selection when the engine is off: a practical function that avoids having to adjust it "by hand" at each exit. On the other hand, to change level, the accelerator must be completely cut off "for security reasons ", explains Nakagawa-san, the Traction Control System Engineer.

If it is perfectly understood that Yamaha does not want to run the risk that a user could accidentally lower – or even cut – the TCS in action, being able at least to increase its effects without having to cut the throttle would have been interesting. Even reassuring, insofar as this would have made it possible to accentuate the action of the traction control at any time depending on the grip of the road or track…

Once you get used to the sensitive throttle grip, confidence quickly sets in on the handlebars of the new YZF-R1 2012. Remarkable stability and traction, responsive and efficient gearbox and anti-dribble, powerful braking, dosable and enduring (despite the absence of reinforced hoses) are all valuable assets on the circuit, as is the bluffing efficiency of its TCS anti-skating !

Set to its highest intervention threshold (see box opposite), the Traction Control System is then almost too present: the system regulates the throttle and even quite significantly cuts the arrival of watts at the slightest initiation of micro-skating or wheeling.

Because like all traction controls, the Yamaha TCS is also activated as soon as the front rises. Logical, since when it leaves the ground, the front wheel starts to turn less quickly than the rear: the "electronic brain" of the R1 therefore interprets this differential as a loss of traction..

However, wheelies, the 182.1 hp of the 998 cc block do not fail to provoke them, especially on the "turnstile" of Valence where we regularly emerge on the second report! Much more expressive than a "traditional" 4-legged, the Cross Plane of the R1 2012 also has a beautiful extension (14,000 rpm at the switch) … and a hell of a breath: attested by the 260 km / h reached in the short straight line from the pits (876 m) !

Less explosive at high speeds than a "classic" in-line 4-cylinder (stalled at 180 ° -180 ° -180 ° -180 ° and whose cylinders explode in pairs), the Cross Plane is characterized by its asynchronous setting (270 ° -180 ° -90 ° -180 °) which offers behavior and musicality close to those of a 4-cylinder in V. Simply a "must" in current Japanese production !

But inevitably, such a potential inflicts on the rear tire a hell of a session of torture on re-acceleration! So much so that the original tire (Michelin Pilot Pure) quickly abdicates in intensive use, which gives the Yamaha traction control full latitude to demonstrate its talents..

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