Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Yamaha dealer experience day - Jun 2016

June 2nd 2016

I was luckily enough to be invited along to Yamaha's annual dealer experience day. This is a 9 hour action-packed day providing the opportunity to ride Yamaha's 2016 fleet, from the N-max to the V-max. It's a combination of road riding, track riding and even an off road section (which I didn't do). A few seminars are thrown in too so you get clued up on things such as parts & accessories and finance.

Early start. Arrived at work for 6.30am to meet up with my colleague on an MT07, we fired up the bikes and were ready to go. I borrowed work's MT09 Tracer demo for the day (didn't want my Suzuki to go upsetting any Yamaha guys). We set off en route to Silverstone circuit, around 60-70 miles away from us.

I borrowed the MT09 Tracer for the trip to Silverstone and back. Great bike.

I have ridden the Tracer before and I know that I already love it but it really made the M42 much less dull than it usually is. You sit up nice and high with fantastic vision. Ergonomics are brilliant, everything falls into place perfectly with no aching wrists or lower back. The engine revs right up through gears with plenty of three cylinder power and it has three power modes (A, STD and B mode). I had it in standard mode on the motorway as it makes the throttle much less snatchy and everything feels more relaxed. 'A' mode is great when you're out for a proper blast around some nice, twisty roads where you want to be getting the power on nice and fast, but can be irritating on motorway slogs and in traffic. The bike handles nicely even though at times the front end can feel a little flighty under hard acceleration. Brakes are great too. I would go into further detail but that's a review for another day. All in all, a great bike.

Stowe circuit inside Silverstone
We arrived at Silverstone just before 8am in time for some breakfast and a cuppa whilst we wait for the day to start. Our first session was a talk on parts & accessories focusing mainly on the options for Yamaha's new MT-10 - you can get a massive front fairing if you ever decide to turn it into a tourer. After this we were up for our first of four track sessions.

Naturally, as the demos were released only about a week before, they had 8 MT-10s to choose from as well bikes such as the R1, R6, Mt09, Mt07 motocage, XSR 900 and a Tracer. Everyone jumped straight for the MT10 or R1s (as you'd expect) so for the first session I took out an MT09 as there were a few available. 
Waiting for my first track session. So nervous.

It's been a couple of years since my trackday so I was a little nervous jumping on somebody else's bike and cranking it round a track. We did a few warm up laps so we could all get used to the track (it wasn't the full Silverstone circuit, it was the Stowe circuit in the centre (pictured above). It was a left hand circuit which was pretty lucky as I'm usually a bit better around left handers (I have no idea why, must be psychological) it was also a pretty small circuit so it was rare that you ever went above 4th gear.

After a few laps under my belt I began to see what the MT09 could do. I've never rode one before but I've got to say - I was extremely impressed. The bike is pure minimal and is pretty much just a set of big, wide bars and a fat tank. It handles so well and feels really light and flickable, dropping it into corners was so fun and you always had that 113bhp triple to power you out. I found myself leaning all of my weight onto the bars to stop the front wheel coming up though. After pinning it out of the hairpin in second gear the front end kept lifting and sometimes even at really high revs in third too. It would be great wheelie machine (although I don't do wheelies). The only problem that I found was that the rear shock was like a pogo stick at times. This wasn't always an issue but one of the left-hand corners that was on a bit of a slope really tested your suspension and I could feel the back bouncing around a bit.

MT09 on the hairpin. Very impressed.
Next up we went out on the road which had basically every Yamaha bike to choose from, I jumped on the new MT-10 raring to go. We had a 12 mile route planned which takes us on all sorts of roads (many of them are very bumpy). I found the MT-10 brilliant. I preferred the MT09 for it's 'flickability' but the MT-10 had ALOT of power under it's belt, it was tamed down a bit with electronics as I only had it in 'B' mode (didn't fancy high-siding it down some wet, muddy road in Towechester). There was hardly any windblast, I was expecting to have my neck ripped off but I think because of how 'deep' you sit in the bike, it eliminates that problem. I found it very smooth and planted and it sounded very nice even with the original exhaust. Looks are an acquired taste but it certainly looks evil.

Quick briefing before the first road session. I'm on the far left, about to jump on the MT-10

You can almost see the torque bursting out.
I had another track session on the MT09 (as I enjoyed it so much the first time) and another road session on an XJR1300 which was a pretty cool experience. It was big, slow steering and heavy but it's what you'd expect really. However, the torque that the engine packs is something out of this earth. I couldn't believe how it could pull strongly from as low as 2000rpm. The Akrapovic exhaust made it sound really mean too. The suspension soaked up all of the potholed road's bumps better than any bike I've been on, it felt nice and relaxed when you went over them.

We stopped for lunch, watched a crazy stunt show based around the MT range and were then introduced to John Hopkins, BSB Yamaha rider which was brilliant. He even came out with us on the next track session. For this one I bagged myself an R1. Now, I've never rode a proper litre sportsbike EVER. So obviously I was shitting my pants as I clambered on the thing. The seat was so tall as to what I was expecting and when my feet were on the pegs I felt like my knees were slotted into my armpits. The whole dimensions of the bike were very similar to a 250; they are miniature - my SV looks a lot bigger than one of these. It is a very focused, nimble and agile sportsbike.

John Hopkins, BSB rider, just behind me on an FJR1300. Of course, he left me for dead shortly after.
I had a couple of moments to try and gather in all of the information given to myself on the dash. Power modes are one thing, but being able to customise your own mode is crazy, you can set up things like your traction control and power output at the flick of a button. I tried to set it up so it was fairly even, I didn't want full power and no traction control on my first go. Bizarrely, I found it harder to go as fast around corners on this than I did the MT09. I think it was the nature of the quite small, twisty track. I'm sure if I were to ride the R1 on a more open circuit it'd be a different story. It is super fast though, really fast. I would love to go into more detail about what the bike was like but because I was in so much awe, I really wasn't analysing it in my head. It was incredible anyway.

Coming out of the hairpin on the last session. John Hopkins behind me again.
We had a few more sessions where I ended up taking out the MT09 again, as the XSR900 and R6 were no longer available. Also for our final road session I took out the XV950 which was something new to try. Quite heavy and slow but hey - it's a cruiser, that's what they should be. It looks cool and offers you the whole Harley thing without you having to 'be' the whole Harley thing. I must've looked odd on it in my RST leathers with scuffed knee sliders though.

All in all, it was a brilliant day and a great experience. I don't think I've ever ridden so many bikes in one day before (or rode so fast). Thank you Yamaha!
I loved that hairpin...
Oh yeah and John Hopkins lapped me twice on an FJR1300 whilst I was on the R1. Damn.