Independent, same-dyno tests conducted by England's Performance Bikes magazine have shown that the 2009 Yamaha R1 makes less power and torque than the 2007 model both outright and in the midrange. The new bike also weighs 4kg (9lbs) more. Progress?
PB found that the 2009 R1 made 156hp and 76lb/ft of torque at the wheel (Yamaha claims 182bhp and 85lb/ft at the crank). While measured horsepower can differ between dynometers and with variations in elevation and temperature, the same dyno, just days apart, recorded 162hp and 78lb/ft for the 2007 R1. That might not sound like a huge difference, but consider that the only place the new R1 makes more power than the old is below 4,700rpm, where it makes about 5hp more. But in the midrange, at 5,500 and 8,000rpm, the old bike is up 9hp.
Yamaha don't quote an official dry weight for the 2009 R1, preferring instead to quote it wet -- 206kg. While, on the surface, that could appear to be in the spirit of openness, it is, in fact, concealing. Dry weights are just that, no oil, no gas, no radiator fluid, nothing; therefore they're more transparent than wet weights, which can sometimes be quoted as a full tank or a half tank of fuel, with the overall capacity of those tanks not taken into account. While the wet weight is, as a customer, the way you'll find the bike, dry weights make comparisons easier. The 2009 R1 weighs 177kg or 390lbs (dry); the 2007 R1 weighs 173kg or 381lbs (dry).
The new R1 isn't supposed to be all about power though, it's supposed to be the inline-four that, like a V4 or V-Twin, puts traction and ease-of-use first. We never had a problem getting the power down on the old one, in fact finding it, along with the 2005 GSX-R1000, very easy to exploit. Well, as easy-to-exploit as a liter bike gets.
PB goes on to report that the 2009 bike uses a more track-oriented riding position as standard than the 2007, meaning it'll be less comfortable on the road.
Is a 6hp difference, less midrange and slightly more weight worth getting worked up about? In the world of liter bike dominance it could be, in-class sales success has been decided on less. In fact, more prescient questions would be: Has Yamaha done a good enough job selling the crossplane crankshaft to the public to make up for these deficiencies? In this economy, should you spend $12,390 on the new R1 or save thousands by buying on the slightly faster, better looking previous generation?
[Performance Bikes doesn't bother having a website, so we'll link to a forum its readers have created instead, PB Mag Forum]