Innovation Drives Sales at Yamaha
The team over at Yamaha is well aware of what is going on with the economy and it is for that reason that they continue to innovate. Some of their recently developed technology is actually driving customers to their showrooms to see and more importantly experience what their new bikes are made of. Aside from their huge line of motorcycles, scooters and powersports vehicles, the news-maker as of late has been the YZF-R1, the halo bike where all of the new technology is born.
The R1 has been the ultimate choice of many sport riders and competitors since its inception in 1998. Its status soon became very respected in a short time frame and the bike has continued to improve in the performance and looks department. What sets the 11th model year apart from the masses is that there is loads of new innovation crammed into the bike that was already a dazzling performer.
“The cross-plane crankshaft technology is going over real well with riders,” states Yamaha Motor Canada PR Specialist, Bryan Hudgin. “The results in the racing world speak for themselves and Yamaha is thrilled with the outcome.” It was at this point we wondered out loud just what on earth is
a “cross-plane” crankshaft. Hudgin was obliged to tell us how it works both on the technology side and how it affects the performance.
“To draw a real life parallel, think of two people on a tandem bicycle that has two sets of pedals.” Says Hudgin. “Under a regular firing order, both riders legs are positioned at the same points at any given time. So if their pedal positions are like a clock face, there would be two legs at 12 o’clock and two legs at 6 o’clock. With the cross-plane system, it’s like all of the rider’s legs are in opposite positions, meaning one set of legs is at 12 and 6 o’clock, while the other set of legs is at 3 and 9 o’clock . The result is a smoother and more linear acceleration. On a race track, this can make a noticeable difference.”
The cross-plane technology isn’t all this bike offers because Yamaha has been hard at work for the last three years during the design cycle for this all-new R1. To maximize smooth power output, this newly designed engine adopts a coupling-type balancer that rotates in the opposite direction as the crankshaft. The engine also features new forged aluminum pistons to take maximum advantage of the power characteristics. As proven on previous models, titanium intake valves strengthen moving components. A forced-air intake system is adopted to increase intake efficiency by using the natural airflow during riding to pressurize the air flowing into the box. This contributes to outstanding power delivery characteristics in the high-speed range, while the design also helps to minimize intake noise. The Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake (YCC-I) is a variable intake system that broadens the spread of power which is controlled by YCC-T a fly-by-wire throttle technology. Beyond that, the R1 features D-MODE, which are user selectable maps that offer either sportier sharp throttle response or a more relaxed response conveniently located on the handlebars.
• Fracture-Split Carburized Crankshaft
• Projector Headlamps
• YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Technology)
• All Aluminum Delta Box Frame
• Magnesium Rear Sub Frame
• YCC-I (Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake)
• D-Mode Variable Engine Mapping
Then there is the all new design of the R1. With slick new farings and a choice of colors, the new flat black and bronze scheme in Canada has really raised some eyebrows but the Championship Blue continues to top the sales stats. Then there are the new projector headlights that stare menacing into the distance like an angry reptile. “There is a slight difference in color schemes between the US and Canada because buyers tastes vary slightly between the countries.” Says Hudgin.
“We know that we’re in a challenging economy right now and not everyone requires the ultra sport performance of the R1.” Adds Hudgin. “We also released the FZ6R this year. It is a versatile sport bike that is good on gas with an attractive price tag.” Hudgin maintains that the interest in two wheel purchases is still strong and when gas prices got higher people went for scooters. In late ‘08 and early ‘09 there was a notable interest in bikes as an alternative to cars. Bike show attendance has been stable because there is still big interest and people gravitate to technology leaders like Yamaha.
“The retail programs for the R1 are still strong and the passion for sport bike riding will always shine through tough times,” Says Hudgin. The price of the R1 has remained fairly stable even though there is so much new techology packed in there. Then the currency fluctuations jeopardized the MSRP but even though the Yen has risen in comparison to the Canadian dollar, Yamaha remains competitive by absorbing the price increase. “We can’t price ourselves out of the market. This bike has everything we could throw at it from a performance and reliability aspect, but at the same time, we need to ensure we sell bikes that the average Joe can afford to enjoy,” says Hudgin. At $16,700, the R1 is still attractive, considering you get all this new technology and resulting performance for only $700 over the old model, the purchasing decision is all the much easier.