It’s a strange old thing, watching how things often switch around over periods of time. Take the bikes on test here. In 1998, when the R1 came out, it was head and shoulders above the Honda in terms of excitement, usability and just about every other department, too.
Roll forward to 2013, and it’s the other way around. As good as the 2013 R1 sounds, it’s still not a patch on Honda’s best ever Fireblade, which we first saw five years ago in 2008. Truth is, a 2008 model Honda would still be better than the current R1. Only just, but it is, nonetheless.
Yamaha has sort of lost its way with the R1 a bit, just like Honda had with the Fireblade back in 1998. That said, I do still like all of the bikes on test, even though my personal favourite R1 isn’t here – the 2002 version. To me, that’s the one that felt the most complete, even today. The 1998 bike is still a scream though, that engine is hilarious, and even the old ’Blade’s motor felt terrific in this company and not hugely different to the 2013 bike, oddly.