Yamaha introduced the Euro 5-compliant YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M in 2020. While the superbike underwent a considerable facelift at the same time, the current generation still dates back to the 2015 model. That may change in 2023, with FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) documents pointing to a track-only variant next season.
The worldwide race organization maintains a file titled “FIM Recognized Competition Vehicles”. The latest version of that document (published on June 15, 2022), includes a new YZF1000W model. Yamaha’s track-only YZF-R6 Race bears a similar FIM designation with its YZF600W code name. Additionally, the document lists the YZF1000W as a “Road race” model type with a four-stroke, 998cc, four-cylinder engine—matching the YZF-R1's specifications.
Motorcycle’s Dennis Chung dove even deeper into Iwata’s VIN code conventions, deciphering the YZ1000W sportbike will be produced in Japan as a competition-only variant. The new denotation may indicate an incoming closed course R1, but what does that bode for the street-going model?
In 2018, Yamaha filed a patent for a seamless gearbox. Honda debuted seamless gearbox technology in MotoGP, and Team Blue hoped to beat Big Red to the punch by bringing a bonafide rendition to the consumer market. The patent illustrated a ratchet mechanism that temporarily engages two gears at once, delivering smooth upshifts while minimizing loss of drive.
Many anticipated the new tech to hit the flagship R1, but when the 2020 model came and went, the seamless gearbox was nowhere to be seen. Thanks to the recently-filed FIM Recognized Competition Vehicles, some believe a revised street-going R1 could be on the horizon, catapulting Yamaha’s seamless gearbox technology to the top of the rumor heap.
However unlikely, the competition-only YZF1000W also opens the door for Yamaha to potentially discontinue the street-legal R1. After all, that’s the same route Team Blue took with the R6 before replacing the supersport with the MT-07-derived 2022 R7. We highly doubt that Yamaha would pull the plug on its top-tier superbike, but without evidence of an updated model, we also can’t rule it out.
Unfortunately, all we know for now is that the YZF1000W will be a race-approved model in 2023. We’ll have to wait and see what that entails for the iconic R1.