2000 Yamaha YZF R1


12,000 odd miles on her so far, and it only took about five miles to get my arms around her... and then there was no looking back. I meant just to take her straight home, but ended up going down a few twisties instead. Rock solid, steers like she's on rails, massive mid-range grunt - superb. I'm pretty sure I'm cornering faster than I do on the ST4, and there's no way I'd have carried those speeds on the ST4 straight out of the box...

I'm impressed, very impressed, despite binning it with less than 1,000 miles on the clock - lost the front at about 70mph on a right hander, almost got it back but ended up on the verge and lost it. Cost about £500 to fix, middle panel being most expensive. Apparently buying an R1 is a frequent precursor to a prang. It also made me realise what a rip-off insurance is - I couldn't insure it without two years no-claims - so if claimed for that damage I'd not be able to insure it next year. Bastards...

Anyway, partly due to wanting to get somewhere near the bike's limits legally and relatively safely, I've finally started doing some track-days - Oulton Park, Lydden twice and once at Cadwell Park - picture's from Cadwell. And what fun it they are - should've started doing 'em years ago. Not too expensive - £80 to £100 per day and a tank of petrol is about it - tyre wear (the big expense on sports bikes) is all on the sides which would never wear out before the middle in normal use. I have bought a trailer though, for a relaxing ride home.

Great fun - same bends time after time so you can practise them, skilled (and less so) people to follow and learn from, and no diesel, pedestrians or oncoming traffic. Perfect learning environment, and progress to date suggests I've a lot to do!

Picture below left shows the effect a couple of track days can have on a tyre, picture below right shows the effect the track can have on the bike - ooops! The only prang I've had, just about the last lap of the last session at Lydden, and the bike just low-sided on the hairpin.

Cadwell Park
I'm still not sure why, as the hairpin was the only bend where I'd not got any movement from the back. And until then I'd felt the tyre starting to slide, and been able to control it, but this time the back just let go with no warning. All I can think is that I'd cooked the tyre. Anyway, damage wasn't as bad as it looks, all sorted out now for around £800, apart from the (heroic, ahem) dent in the tank.