I’ve been riding Yamaha R1’s since 2002. Even I find it hard to believe that over a decade has passed since I first discovered that absolute power does indeed corrupt absolutely. I love my big boys, but they’ve never had names. They certainly have more personality than the Honda’s I’ve ridden, but not as much as the Ducati I owned, which almost immediately told me his name was Fred. Making the annual pilgrimage to Laguna Seca, our favorite way to bond, he told me his name, Big Will. What’s interesting is that this didn’t come until after living together just over 3 years, and him tossing me off in December because I made the slightest error on the wrong tires. Lesson learned, I switched back to Pirellis and had him fixed up.
But now he has the scars of a crash, something none of my R1’s have endured. It’s weird to think I haven’t crashed a single R1 in all these years. I’ve crashed other bikes, developing a theory that I only crash bikes I don’t like. I wasn’t thrilled with my 09, I loved my 04 better. But she had 50,000 miles, and when the stator & rotor melted together I decided it was time for something new and shiny. That new & shiny R1 happens to be a lot heavier, and seriously thirsty. Then right after our 3rd anniversary, I abandoned him for Shaq, a Zero FX which is perfect for everyday riding, as I reported here. Big Will sat and collected dust until the time came to get that starting issue sorted before the sabbatical. $1300 later, he was ready to go anywhere, as fast as I dared. Yet I discovered on this year’s ride I just didn’t want to go as fast. It’s really unnerving, and something I hope to work through in Level 4 of California Superbike School sometime soon. Continue reading My R1 Has a Name