-- Yamaha YZR-M1 and YZ450F Feature - Evolution of the Species..
The Yamaha YZ450F and YZR-M1 motorcycles are the pinnacle of Yamaha’s
engineering development in the quest for victory on and off road in the global
Grand Prix Championships. Whilst the current machines are both developed under
the same design philosophy it is rare to ever see them together. Yamaha Racing
took this unique opportunity to photograph the thoroughbreds side by side.
The machines are testimony to Yamaha’s ‘family’ approach to motorcycle
development with shared principles and philosophy in design producing very
different machines from a single source. Cutting edge technical partners are
also shared between the two motorcycle development paths, Akrapovic for example
has proved to be the best possible performance partner in developing exhaust
systems for both the YZR-M1 and the YZ450F.
Whilst the dirt and the tarmac require very different machines to be competitive
Yamaha retains the same philosophy of development in both areas, exemplifying
the company’s spirit of development in the quest to create not only Championship
dominating machines but also innovation for the customers of the future.
The 2013 YZR-M1, the M1 standing for ‘Mission One’, is the latest incarnation of
an incredible machine that first broke cover in 2002 as MotoGP made the move
from 500cc bikes.
Yamaha’s design philosophy has continued to move forward and evolve at the
cutting edge of design off-road, most notably with some serious ‘forward’
thinking. When the current engine design development reached its limits Yamaha
stepped outside the box and made a bold move. A revolutionary design change saw
rearward and backward facing cylinders move the mass centralization, bringing
the heaviest part of the bike closer to the middle for flickability.
The development doesn’t stop in Japan; Yamaha is very flexible in its approach
to the advancement of the YZ off-road machines. A partnership with Michele
Rinaldi in Italy started in 1992 has earned numerous victories and consistently
class leading bikes. In 1995 the Yamaha Rinaldi Research and Development program
(YRRD) was founded, developing race-winning parts for the then two-stroke
machines. Working to maximise the regulations in the racing class that opened up
different possibilities for development, Rinaldi were able to develop a
completely new crankcase for the YZ450F, gaining valuable performance benefits
at the track during the 2001 season.
The collaboration to develop race-winning machines delivered Yamaha the first
ever four-stroke world title in 1999 with Andrea Bartolini and is further
exemplified by Stefan Everts total domination over six seasons from 2001 to
2006, including four back to back YZ450FM titles. Everts has since been joined
by David Philippaerts who stormed to Championship victory in 2008 on the YZ450F.
Yamaha’s cutting edge design philosophy in racing remains very much focused on
benefit not just on track but for future customers on the road. The OWP3 M1
engine developed for the 2004 MotoGP season featured the crossplane crankshaft
for the first time. Valentino Rossi won the opening race with the bike at Welkom
in South Africa, going on to win the title with a further eight victories. The
MotoGP legend would cement the M1’s place in history with a further three
premier class world titles. Current world champion Jorge Lorenzo would then add
another two titles to this, giving Yamaha six MotoGP titles in the last ten
years. Between them they helped Yamaha make history, taking the triple crown of
rider, team and manufacturer titles for three consecutive years from 2008 to
The YZR-M1’s technology has filtered to Yamaha’s production machines and the
YZF-R1 appeared in 2009 with the crossplane crankshaft technology. American
rider Ben Spies took Yamaha’s first World Superbike Championship victory with
the new R1 in the same year, crowning the development journey from MotoGP
prototype in 2004 to production dominance in 2009.