2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 Unveiled

andrew Bike Reviews 1 Comment

The Crossplane Crankshaft


The cross plane crankshaft adopts an alternative firing sequence (similar to the V4, arguably the perfect race engine configuration), it eliminates inertial torque, and feels not only smoother at higher revs, but it is easier for the rider to meter out the engine’s power when riding the bike on the limit.

At the time the cross plane crankshaft was being developed, motorcycle electronics were still largely at lab testing stage, and had not yet been introduced to tame the near 200BHP that litre bikes were producing out of the crate.

A cross plane crankshaft inline-4 is a mechanical engineering solution to the biggest problem in racing, rider confidence and feel. It is built into the bike’s DNA. A similar effect can be achieved with electronics, where a sense of trust is achieved, but having a power plant which gives rider ‘feel’ is always preferable to a black box of tricks.

A year in motorcycle racing is a long time, and before long other manufacturers (BMW and Kawasaki) were using clever electronics to give themselves an equal, if not upper hand.

The exceptions to the electronics game are Suzuki and Honda who still don’t have traction control (the Fireblade does come with linked ABS, but the Suzuki is old school, neither bike is none the worse for it on the road). The R1 had traction control fitted in 2012, but otherwise it was still largely the same bike from 2009, and ready for an update.

Competitive in its early years, the 2014 R1 just didn’t cut the mustard on the racetrack anymore. Race teams were feeling the lack of factory support which meant only one thing, a new bike is on the way. The R1 still enjoyed some success in racing circles, but nowhere near the same amount as the early years, and at the Isle of Man TT, it was routinely beaten by The Fireblade, GSX-R1000 and newcomer BMW S1000RR with its clever electronics and massive power and Kawasaki’s tricked out ZX-10R.