It could be back to the drawing board thanks to new European emissions.
Yamaha's YZF-R1 has been one of most loved world class litre bikes since its inception in 1998. The latest incarnation, however, may be set for a complete redesign from top to bottom, for the 2021 model year, according to patent papers recently filed by the company.
Last week, Yamaha filed a series of patent papers in Japan. These papers suggest that the company is planning on completely redesigning the current R1 model, using even more technology taken from their MotoGP designs.
European emission laws have forced huge changes in the motorcycle world over the past two decades, as bikes have been phased out of production when they can't meet the new requirements. The Hayabusa, for example, was fazed out in Europe last year and there is talk of a complete redesign in the works.
Although the next few years may see the loss of a few more loved model's across the biking spectrum, Yamaha, it would seem are planning to use this opportunity to their advantage. The bike may be getting a counter rotating crankshaft, used on the YZR-M1 prototype. This rotates against the direction of the bike, and helps increase hard acceleration whilst reducing the risk of wheelies, and the need for traction and wheelie control.
The bike may also receive a seamless gearbox, making it the first superbike in mass production to do so. These gearboxes are at the limit of current technology, as it allows clutchless changes without any loss of power, deceleration or destabilization. However these boxes are very difficult to maintain, as in the MotoGP world, they need to be stripped down daily for maintenance, a routine which would not be possible on a mass produced sportsbike. Yamaha might have found a solution to this.
We will have to wait until Yamaha officially announce the new bikes, but more MotoGP tech on a superbike? Count me in!