Yamaha YZF-R1 gearbox

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Yamaha YZF-R1 gearbox



Yamaha YZF-R1 gearbox

Yamaha YZF-R1 gearbox replacement
R1 switch box under the magnifying glass

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As a precaution, Yamaha replaced the gearbox on all new R1 models after isolated second gear damage occurred in the USA. PS took a closer look at the filigree switch box.

Werner Koch


Yamaha YZF-R1 gearbox


Completely pre-assembled, both gear shafts can be exchanged at the Yamaha dealer.

Radical lightweight construction is the magic word with which the designers themselves have slimmed down the 200-horsepower rockets to the magical 200-kilogram limit. Spindle-thin cast wheels, feather-light fork inners made entirely of aluminum, wafer-thin walls on the frame and swing arm – only those who put each component on the scales and try to trim the total work of art of super athletes to a minimum weight, gram for gram, can be seen in the top league.

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R1 switch box under the magnifying glass

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However, this challenge sometimes reaches the limits of large-scale production. We remember the recall of the Kawasaki ZX 10R front wheels due to the risk of breakage or the improved and reinforced frames on Suzuki’s best Kilo-Gixxer, the K6. Not to mention the loosened connecting rod bolts on the BMW S 1000 RR, which usually caused a complete failure with a brutal bang.

Yamaha YZF-R1 gearbox

Mini cook

On the left the gear wheel of a Yamaha YZF-R1, on the right that of a Kawasaki Z 1000, which weighs around 30 percent more.

What is striking about the recalls is that almost all of the problems in the American market have been discovered. Do the Americans drive faster and harder than we European wimps? Probably not faster, but more excessively, with stoppies and wheelies, until the doctor literally comes. Unsuccessful stunt attempts are said to have been primarily responsible for at least the frame breakage of the Suzuki K6 at the time. And from America came the news of broken gears on Yamaha’s new R1. Ultimately, the dealers change the entire gearbox of all RN 32 models delivered. A step that, in our opinion, increases the value of Yamaha YZF-R1 does not detract in any way, especially since the customer can be sure that his motorcycle, brought up to the latest state of the art, will work safely and reliably after the conversion.

PS took a closer look at the matter at the Stuttgart Yamaha representative Walz. Even at first glance, it is clear where the 199 kilograms of the RN 32 come from. The large gears of gears one and two consist of a tiny hub with sliding bearings, six extremely delicate, free-standing spokes and a sprocket only 13 mm wide. Respect, such filigree wheels are actually only found in 600 super sports engines, but not in the power packs of 1000 super bikes. To make this clear, PS put a comparable gear wheel from a 2010 Kawasaki Z 1000 on the scales. At 220 grams, the gear of the Yamaha YZF-R1 is simply 65 grams or 30 percent lighter (see photo). But this is the only way to be in the front row in the faster-lighter-stronger race.

Yamaha YZF-R1 gearbox

Mini cook

The first gear wheel (red arrow on the old version) was reinforced with wider spokes (green arrow) for the engagement of the claws.

In order to get rid of the feared fragility of the R1 series machines, the spokes on the first gear wheel were widened from 6.2 to 8 millimeters (see photo). All other open spoked gears were given a continuous but thin wall with milled pockets for the claws, which in particular significantly increased the flexural and torsional rigidity between the claw engagement and the gear rim. It was not possible to find out whether the transmission problem had something to do with the Quickshifter installed as standard on the RN 32 or whether the supplier was messing around with the machining or the tolerances. The number and circumstances of transmission damage with the new Yamaha YZF-R1 also remain in the dark.

What is certain is that such a worldwide recall costs a fair amount of money and causes a lot of work for the dealers. An experienced mechanic is allowed around 16 hours of working time, i.e. a full two working days, to change the gearbox. Well-timed, the majority of the retrofitting takes place in the cold season – at least in Europe: on the other side of the globe, the Yamaha riders were caught cold in the middle of summer.

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