The 1990s had three defining sportbikes – Honda’s CBR900RR started the revolution by being 76 pounds lighter than its lightest competition. Soon after, Ducati released the 916. It was technically competent with fuel injection and even an adjustable steering head angle, but it’s best remembered just for being one of the most beautiful motorcycles of all time. In 1998, Yamaha released the R1 and wiped the floor with everyone else – it was the lightest and most powerful literbike available and you had to work hard to find a dealer with one in stock. Almost 20 years later they’re still fantastic machines, so here’s your chance to relive the glory days with a fine first-year example of the breed. When I think of Yamaha, this is one of the few bikes that always pops into my head, especially in the blue/white livery with the “YZF” logo that’s designed to resemble Japanese Kanji.
The basic specifications are 150 horsepower, 419 pound dry weight, and a 2.96 second 0-60 time, per MCN. Those are all impressive numbers, but the design of the drivetrain is what made it all possible. Yamaha was able to make the drivetrain much smaller by vertically stacking the transmission shafts. Further space was saved by putting the water pump inside the engine cases (just hope it doesn’t fail or you’ll have a hell of a time replacing it). The packaging let Yamaha shorten the wheelbase and still lengthen the swingarm. It felt like a 600cc bike, but it had 1,000cc power. For more on the R1 and what made it special, check out this article on Sport Rider. Or for a buying guide geared towards used R1s (with notes like it’s “getting hard to find a clean one.”), check out this article on Motorcyclist magazine.
This example (VIN: jyarn02e0wa000659) has a few miles (21,894) on the odometer, however it looks to be in great shape and it’s got some choice modifications like OZ magnesium wheels, Ohlins rear shock, Hyper Pro steering dampener, carbon fiber side covers, a rear seat cowl, and a Leo Vince exhaust. The turn signals are not on the bike at the moment, but the seller notes that all of the modifications are boltons and he has all the original parts except the exhaust and the tail tidy if you want to go back to stock. The seller has also let me know that he would be open to a lower price if you don’t want the OZ wheels or Ohlins shock.
Find this first year R1 for sale in Miami, Florida with an unmet opening bid of $5,000
I should also point out that the seller’s got a few more interesting bikes for sale. Everything’s said to work and there’s a variety of mileage but they all look pretty good. From oldest to newest, he’s currently offering:
1974 Suzuki GT750 – opening bid of $4,000
1975 Suzuki RE5 – bidding up to $8,000 (reserve met)
1978 Kawasaki KZ1000D Z1-R – bidding up to $8,988 and the reserve not yet met
1982 Laverda Jota – opening bid of $20,000
1984 Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo – bidding up to $4,000 and the reserve not yet met
1986 Honda VF1000R – bidding up to $4,000
2008 Ducati Desmosedici RR – bidding up to $43,100 and the reserve not yet met
Hell, he’s even got a cool 1954 Feathercraft Vagabond boat, but I know nothing about water based vehicles and this isn’t called Boat-curious. Still, I love that hood ornament. Opening bid is $5,000