Life with my 2010 Yamaha R1

Overall, the journey has been fun. The bike looks a million dollars, sounds a million dollars and makes you look like a million dollars too. For me, the biggest draw is the handling and boy this thing corners.

BHPian Rachit.K.Dogra recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

So far, I have covered close to 3,000 kms on the R1. I am getting more comfortable with the bike and learning and understanding her more.

The R1 is quite unlike any other inline 4. Where in an inline 4, typically the sense of speed and ferociousness rises with revs, I feel the R1 is totally opposite. It is hyper alert at low revs, the power and torque are too instant and in general the sense of speed is higher, but as the revs climb and speeds build up, it becomes smoother and more linear. For the rider that can take it beyond that threshold, it is a wonderful machine, but below that threshold, it just keeps begging for more speed. Plus the shock of so much instant torque at mid revs scares and you are less tempted to take it beyond, where actually beyond is where it gets better.

About a couple of months back, I was riding and was left behind my friends. I was at a familiar stretch of road and knew an oncoming intersection. However, visibility was good and i was prepared. In 2nd gear, I gave some throttle and as soon as I did, a bike came crossing the intersection without looking here and there. I was prepared, and I chopped the throttle and went on the brakes. I had a good 100 metres or more and I had not yet attained high speed, but the bike did not slow down. By that time, the acceleration momentum was cancelled and the bike started slowing, I was getting quite close to that bike and it became a hairy situation. Nothing happened and I know if it would have been my CBR, the situation wouldn't have been even this close. But I did realize one thing, we need better brakes. The problem with these litre class bikes is that the momentum of acceleration is so huge because of the torque, that it needs a lot of braking force just to cancel it.

Plus @Krishna has been teasing everybody with some Brembo goodness, so that was also on the back of my mind. As luck would have it, same week my friend Arjun called. He had found a complete set of used Brembo RCS19 Corsa Corta master cylinder and clutch lever at a pretty steal price. We suspected it to be fake and the next 2 days were spent on the internet looking at many pictures in detail and comparing. We finally decided that it seemed original and we bit the bullet. To complement, I got HEL steel braided lines and a new set of EBC sintered pads as well.

There were a few things that we planned to do:

  • Complete brakes overhaul.
  • LED headlights to reduce the load on battery.
  • The customer cooling mod with coolant flush, which I will explain below.

It took us a good 3 days to complete everything as we did each and every step slowly with as much thought we could give.

We chose a small enough LED bulb which could fit in the factory housing and the cover could be closed so that no weather protection was lost. Very happy with the result and headlights have definitely improved significantly. The R1 being a projector setup definitely helps with the correct focusing and brings the best out of these LEDs:

The new Brembo cockpit. The brake lever did have some scratches but considering what we were getting at that price, we chose to look beyond it:

Impressions of braking:

The braking has improved significantly. Corsa Corta gives you 6 settings between directness or feel of braking and I tried each and every one. Each setting does feel marginally different and you can feel the difference in directness vs a slightly softer lever aiding feel. Braking is a 1 finger affair now and most of the time you wouldn't even feel that the bike is braking. I am somebody who is anyways gentler with the brakes.

I wouldn't say the brakes can compete with the best on the market today, but it is a giant leap. We are still using a 10 year old 6 pot caliper which was never known for very good braking performance. But overall I am pretty happy, and like the way the brakes are. Not too sharp, as this bike does not have ABS. Bit still good power and enough feel.

Bleeding the Brembo master cylinder was super easy. Just kept the fluid reservoirs CAP open, pumped the lever for half an hour and it was done. Super easy and totally doable at home.

The next was the custom cooling mod and flushing the coolant again and putting fresh engine ice again. Although we had done a coolant flush earlier and had switched to engine ice, but we felt there was either some air in the system or some residual old coolant was left as the last time only 1.8 litres of coolant went in and the capacity is around 2.3 litres.

The customer cooling mod is basically bypassing the factory trigger for fans to start kicking. The biggest issue with the R1 is that the fans trigger at 105 degrees which is too high. We wanted to bring it down to around 95. So in the cooling circuit, a new temp sensor was fixed and it was connected to the fan and headlights, so that it only gets on when the bike is started.

This time around, 2.1 to 2.2 litres of coolant went in:

 The new temp sensor on the outflow side of radiator:

My daughter got a new victim whom she could pester:

Overall, I think the new coolant flush helps. I do feel that now the bike does take a bit longer to reach its peak temps. However, it is only a bit longer. This bike still heats up a lot pretty fast. One traffic light is all that is needed. You need to keep moving and at a good pace to keep it around 80-90 degrees.

The cooling mod did help us bring down the fan trigger point to 101 degrees. I think we would need a different sensor which has an even lower trigger point for our goal. Arjun told me he has found one, we just now need to change the sensors. Earlier the highest I had seen the bike go was 110 degrees, now it does not go above 106. Tested it in full afternoon, in almost an hour of stop and go traffic.

Now only 2 issues remain:

  • The cone set of the bike is gone and the replacement is here. Just need to take out the time to get it changed.
  • My bike had cold start issues. A brief internet search shows that this is a very typical R1 issue and the rout causes can be few. So when cold starting, it takes 4-5 cranks for the bike to start. Once started, it is fine. But these cold cranks sound and feel very bad. We tested the battery and it is in good condition. We have a couple of directions to troubleshoot, will be doing it hopefully soon as well, as the Internet says it gets worse in winters.

Overall, the journey has been fun. The bike looks a million dollars, sounds a million dollars and make you look like a million dollars too. For me, the biggest draw is the handling and boy this thing corners. All I wish is that I was more talented, but hopefully will reach there someday. But it is quirky, especially for our riding conditions. Its quirks make it fun some days, but some days you just wish for a calmer and a smoother cruising motorcycle.

Some riding pictures. Credit for these two goes to Nitin Gupta, our friend, who is a professional photographer and braved the crazy humidity to click our pics:

Ever since I bought this bike, I wanted one of my friends Shekhar to ride it. He is an exceptionally gifted rider and has done CSS Level 3. Watching him ride is like poetry. That day finally happened very recently and it was as beautiful as I had imagined it to be. Seeing him do things on the R1, the way she danced, was magic. He of course at the end was all red and shivery, but in his words, this bike deserves a track. So hoping for that to happen soon.

Hopefully will have the next set of updates very soon. I do have one very tasty upgrade already on the way.



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