GoogleCustom Search

Yamaha TR1 1981 Road Test

TR11982 Yamaha TR1

The Sicilian coastline went into a spin as the DC-9 banked hard to port. No sooner had our senses recovered than the starboard wing dropped towards the sea, as the plane pivoted on the near-vertical wing tip. One final gyration brought the plane straight and level and we bumped down onto Palermo Airport's runway. "Typical bloody Italian driver", remarked the man behind me.

A group of bike journalists were being flown to Sicily for the launch of the new Yamaha V-twin, the TR 1. The idea was to give journalists a first impression of the machine in a climate where the bike could be enjoyed, on roads that would offer as much of a challenge to the rider as to the machine.

The route chosen was the Targa Florio circuit, a kind of Sicilian Isle-of-Man but for car racers. The route covers 44 miles of winding roads from the coast to the mountains and back again, with over 1,000 hairpin bends!

Yamaha's concept for the TR1 was to Duild a machine with virtues and character rom 'the good old days' combined with modern technology. They aimed to produce a motorcycle that was both reliable and practical, yet still fun to ride. If you are bored silly by the endless stream of four cylinder 'sewing machines' coming out of Japan then the TR 1 could be the machine for you.

Riding the TR 1 for the first time, six of us set out on a brief dash along the fast coast road, heading for the Madonie mountains and the Targa Florio route. Average top speed (indicated) among the six machines was around 184kph, or 114mph. The low seat height and highish bars dictated a happy cruising rate of 85mph. At this speed wind pressure and vibration were tolerable and the motor was well within its rev band.

With peak revs at 7,000rpm the 75 degree V-twin motor produces a claimed 70bhp — not exactly a racer, but with enough power through the range to provide some good old fashioned 'grunt'. In fact, enough grunt to break the back wheel away on a corner if you snap the power on suddenly — evidence supplied by one Austrian journalist nursing a sore ankle. Considering the 75 degree angle of the cylinders, Yamaha have done a good job with vibration. The bike does shake at times, but never enough to be a nuisance. Gearbox and clutch operation is also first class — but then we tend to take that for granted these days.

Once we crossed the autostrada onto the Targa Florio, Piccolo Madonie road, the fun began. We found miles of twisting mountain hairpin bends that make the Isle-of-Man course look like a motorway. The road surface varied from poor to non-existent, and other traffic from donkey carts to herds of sheep.

The first few bends soon tested the monoshock suspension and general handling of the spine frame. The low riding position and centre of gravity helped when picking the bike up from one corner and laying it down for another, but the total feel of the machine was less than agile, although always stable.

It's very hard to evaluate handling when most of your concentration is occupied with where the road is going and what might be around the next corner. To get the best from any bike you have to experiment with tyre pressures and spring settings — with the TR 1 you can also play with damper adjustment and air pressure.

The rear shock has a remote-mounted adjuster located just under the seat on the off-side. You can alter the setting without actually having to get off the bike — a simple, but brilliant, idea.

The brakes got plenty of testing when we ran into a herd of sheep, then a herd of cattle complete with one rather amorous bull. Fortunately none of the bikes were fitted with cow-horn bars! Fork dive under braking was quite pronounced and the tail seemed to lift quite a bit, probably thanks to the longer suspension movement you get with the monoshock set-up.

In terms of outright performance the 1000ccTR 1 isn't that impressive; about equal to the new breed of quick 550cc machines coming onto the market, but look at the price. The TR 1 is to be listed at around £1,779. With discounting the price should be fairly close to the more expensive 550s. As an all round performer the TR 1 has got to be the better buy, the big torque spread makes light work of touring and when you want to go quickly you don't have to resort to pumping the gearbox.

All that remains to be seen is whether the buying public actually wants a bike like the TR 1. The motor is basically two SR500s joined together, but the SR500 didn't sell, so will the TR 1 prove to have twice the faults of the SR, or twice the virtues?

This machine certainly has some novel features not found on the SR. The throttle linkage is very trick, with a single adjusting screw between the carbs — even though they rotate in opposite directions. A fully enclosed rear chain, small rear carrier/tool tray and a close fitting rear mudguard located on the swing-arm back this up.

Is the TR 1 Yamaha's answer to Harley Davidson — or Ducati? The bike probably falls somewhere between the two camps, but we won't really have the answers until we carry out a full road road test.

Yamaha TR1 Specifications

Engine

Type of engine......................4-stroke, SOHC, 2 valve

Cylinder arrangement........................V-twin cylinder

Displacement....................................................981cc

Bore 8t stroke...................................95mm x 69.2mm

Compression ratio..............................................8.3:1

Max horsepower................70hp (51.5kW)/6500rpm

Max torque.................8.28kg-m (81.2Nm)/6500rpm

Lubrication system....................................Wet sump

Starting system...............................................Electric

Ignition system...........................................Transistor

Transmission..................................................5 speed

Dimensions

Overall length...............................................2265mm

Overall width..................................................730mm

Overall height...............................................1170mm

Seat height.....................................................770mm

Wheelbase....................................................1540mm

Min ground clearance................................... 140mm

Fuel tank.........................................................19 litres

Engine oil.......................................................3.6 litres

Dry weight.........................................................220kg

Tyre front..............................................3.25-H19-4PR

Tyre rear.............................................120/90-18-65H

Brake front...............................................Double disc

Brake rear..........................................................Drum

Above mentioned specifications are based upon the French ones.