Valentino's M1 on test - December 13th 2005
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International motorcycle road tester and author Roland Brown rode the world champion's YZR-M1 for us, this is how he got on:
"On the day after the season-ending MotoGP, Yamaha returned to Valencia with the freshly polished and refuelled YZR-M1 on which Valentino Rossi had finished third in the big race. A small group of lucky journalists - most of them in fact former GP stars including Giacomo Agostini and Alex Criville - were allowed a few laps on the champ's bike. Needless to say, the chance to join them was a mind-blowing experience.
From the moment the M1 burst into life on the rollers with a roar that was ear-splitting even when wearing a helmet and ear-plus, this was the wildest of rides. At a glance this MotoGP missile looks and feels much like its road-going YZF-R1 and R6 relations, but every sensation it delivers is exaggerated to a quite amazing degree. The M1 was simply breathtaking, whether it was howling down the straight with its front wheel flicking off the ground under power, slowing with phenomenal force thanks to its carbon brake discs, or carving through an infield turn with uncanny ease and precision.
Revving to 16,000rpm and with roughly 250bhp pushing a bike weighing less than 150kg, the 990cc, 16-valve Yamaha is a viciously hard-charging machine. Yet thanks to its ultra-sophisticated fly-by-wire throttle technology it's also very controllable - albeit at considerably lower than normal cornering speeds. I'm used to road bikes, so having to think about the reverse-pattern gearshift and carbon brakes made the M1 mentally as well as physically demanding. After just four laps I was shattered: buzzing from the M1's sheer speed and overall brilliance, although sadly no nearer to understanding how Valentino rides it like he does!"