I recently had the opportunity to play around with a friends R1. And anyone that lets you ride THEIR bike has to be a friend. I own/ride a 2000 Suzuki TLS and base this opinion on riding it for the past year.
The R1 is a beautiful bike. I think everyone agrees on that. You shouldn't be buying a bike based on its looks, though...definitely not an R1. Yamaha has created a beast that picks up chicks. Within a block of my initial run on this bike, the front wheel was in the air with ease. I am not a hooligan by any means, but this bike can just seriously throw down. Rather than ride wheelies all day, I took it to my favorite twisty roads. Amazing! This liter bike is very nimble. It is just important to remember--this is a liter bike, not a 600. I was making an effort to not power the back end out from under me.
Most of the R1 reviews complain of a high price and old technology. The price is high, but so is the price of most nice bikes. The fact that the R1 is so popular doesn't help this matter. High demand means that there is little room to haggle on the price. Most of the technology concern lies with the carbs. Carbs have been around forever...therefore engineers/mechanics/riders know how they perform. Fuel injection is nice but not perfect. There are still quirks in injection. Some people claim that you can perform modifications without having to adjust settings. Minor modifications don't require tinkering, but if you want the full effect of a larger modification (ie. full exhaust) you might want to try playing with the computer. This is sometimes difficult and headache causing. The only modifications I would make are an aftermarket exhaust (factory pipe is cartoonishly large) and a steering damper (really needed when putting the front wheel down at 100+).
THIS IS NO BEGINNER BIKE!!! If you have been riding for a while, the R1 deserves a spin. If you are looking to supersize your current ride and have some riding skills...do yourself a favor and take a wild ride. The R1 is definitely worth a look.
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Amount Paid (US$): 10,100
Model Year: 2001