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Best of 2012: Alive and well at 266 km/h

Adrenaline-pumping ride on a Yamaha R1 just what doctor ordered.

  • The beginning of morning rush hour, cars on the highway traveling to and from downtown

Sometimes, coping with our crippling traffic, incompetent drivers and idiotic traffic laws (no motorcycles in Ontario’s HOV lanes — seriously?) is enough to initiate a cerebrovascular incident.

So once in a while, I’ve just gotta air it out or, as Tom Cruise so aptly put it, “I feel the need … the need for speed.”

To keep my head from exploding, I attended a Pro 6 Cycle track day at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in August. My psychiatrist’s couch was a 2012 Yamaha R1, a 1000cc motorcycle that slices and dices a racetrack like a set of Ginsu knives.

The new, seven-position traction control system guaranteed that I wouldn’t high-side myself into the next millennium, and the two power modes allowed me to work up to speed gradually — highly recommend with a 180-hp motorcycle on a track that demands respect.

The R1’s laser-sharp steering and rigid, stable chassis inspired confidence through Mosport’s high-speed sweepers. Anything that makes you feel more alive and focused than getting a knee down at 200 km/h at the bottom of Turn 2 would have to involve a six-pack, a hot tub and some supermodels.

The R1 goes from zero to 100 in 2.5 seconds and hits 160 in five and a bit. One lap, coming out of the hairpin, I pulled off the racing line to see what redline in first gear equated to. Wow! 143 km/h! With five more gears to go!

A $100,000-plus Porsche 911 I drove earlier this year was hitting between 225 and 230 km/h at the end of Mosport’s long, uphill back straight.

The $15,000 R1 routinely warped its way to 250, the front wheel barely skimming the pavement the entire way. One lap, after a great drive out of the hairpin, I saw 266 km/h cresting the hill before I got somewhat busy braking for Turn 8.

My personal best is 278 km/h, at Australia’s Eastern Creek Raceway on a 2009 R1, but 266 still blew my hair back.

Thanks, Dr. Yamaha. I feel much better now.

  • Best of 2012: Alive and well at 266 km/h
  • Best of 2012: Alive and well at 266 km/h