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How Yamaha’s Iconic YZF-R1 Motorcycle Changed the Superbike Game for Good

As the innovative two-wheeler turns 25 years old, we look back at the various versions that made it such a benchmark model.

The 2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike. Jonathan Godin, courtesy of Yamaha Motor Europe.

The older you get, the faster time goes. It’s hard to believe that the Yamaha YZF-R1, the motorcycle that revolutionized the superbike category, is now a quarter-century old.

The original R1, circa 1998, can lay legitimate claim to being the first modern superbike when it comes to everything from engine capacity to chassis design to the impact it made on the industry.

The R1 is just as popular today as it was in its first year of production, but the current iteration is light years from its earliest predecessor. Electronics for every conceivable part of the riding experience abound in 2022, which is a far cry from the analog monster we were presented with in 1998. We look back at each edition of the R1 in a full-throttle trip down this iconic model’s memory lane.

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