Yamaha's 2009 YZF-R1 posing in front of the Buttress - Golden Gate

that's the famous Golden Gate in the background


Had been a while since I was on a Yamaha R1, so I called the guys at Yamaha and asked for a ride - it just so happened that my 15th annual Redline Run was looming and using the new ‘Crossplane’ R1 for my trip would prove to be the cherry on top of an already fantastic planned weekend.

Fetched the Yami on the Thursday afternoon before the Run, so quickly zipped around to the silkscreeners to collect our Run T-shirts and rode straight home.

At seven bells Dennis arrived, had a quick cuppa coffee, placed the bag of T-shirts on the R1’s tank, swung my kit-bag onto my back, threw my leg over the Yamaha, thumbed the starter and we were on our way… Dennis on his immaculate 1998 R1 and me on the new 2009 R1.


After meeting most of our group at the Blockhouse for breakfast, we left for Fouriesburg. We took it calm past Hendly-on-klip and Meyerton, past the side of the Vaal dam to Villiers, met up with a couple more guys and took the Vrede road to Warden. At Warden we hooked a right on the road to Bethlehem, having my first chance to open the taps on the Yami… and geez... can this baby move, even with the 20 T-shirts on the tank, my heavy 20kg kit-bag and my 110kg bulk, the Yami was able to zap along at the speed of a thousand antelope, needless to say, about 30 clicks from Bethlehem the orange fuel-light flashed on… damn! Just when I was having so much fun.

We pulled into the Wimpy in Bethlehem for fuel and soon after we made like a donkey’s dong and hit the road to our base at the Fouriesburg Country Inn.

Booked in as quick as possible, dropped the heavy stuff off in my room and climbed back onto the gutsy blue bomber and pointed the front wheel towards Clarens.

This was truly the first time I was on the bike without any baggage, and hey it felt good.


an absolutely brilliant bike...

on a brilliant road

inside the Golden Gate National Park


The stretch of tarmac between Fouriesburg and Clarens is one very lekker piece of a road. The tyres were warm, I was hot and the road was empty… made it to the Clarens’ T-junction in about a minute, or at least it felt like that (times flies when you’re having fun). Yamaha have really got EVERYTHING right with this bike, it’s strong, fast, willing motor is perfectly matched to a well balanced chassis, the brakes are excellent and it’s even comfortable… up to about 200kph, sustained speeds over 200 will wear you down quickly.


That new ‘Crossplane’ motor is fantastic, with oodles of power. Unlike most four-cylinder motors where two pistons are at the top of their cycle with the other two are at the bottom (one in the intake cycle and the other on the exhaust), whereas the Crossplane mill has each piston at a different position at any time in the cycle (only one piston at the top at a time), with the result that at slow engine speeds the motor feels and sounds like a V-Four and as the revs pick up it behaves as smooth as silk with a smooth, steady, predictable power delivery.


The 999cc mill delivers a peak of 167bhp at14000rpm, producing 140Kw of torque…


Only thing I could fault on the 2009 R1 was the styling (and this is strictly my own personal opinion). I think Yamaha have gone backwards with their design of the ‘09 R1 (something similar to what Ducati did with their 999). I just don’t think the ‘bug-eyed’ front lights and the ugly tail pipes do it justice, but then I’m sure 90% of buyers would change the pipes anyway (but why the extra expense?). I think Yami’s 2008 model was their best ever design.


inside the Golden Gate National Park

on the road to Bethlehem

flanked by Robbie Kartus' GSX-R1000 and Dennis Schultz' 1998 R1

with the Drakensburg Mountains as a backdrop


Words and photos by Kenn Slater


Thanks to Adrian, Andy, Fred and all the guys at Yamaha SA for the ride.

In my opinion the 2009 R1 is not the best looking R1, but it IS the best in every other aspect.