Exceed for speed

by Andy Bryenton

When Toyota wanted to make its original 2000GT something special, they turned to Yamaha to make its engine truly sing.

Decades later they came back to help Toyota’s affiliates Lexus with their LFA supercar.

Moreover, there’s a level above having Yamaha work on your block or cylinder heads. When the company make a vehicle all by themselves, you get something deliciously mad. Like their nearly forgotten OX99-11 jet fighter-meets-hypercar mash-up, which revved into five digits and looked like something from an anime movie or the YZF R1, the superbike’s superbike, that can make you forget everything from the word ‘Hayabusa’ to your name and address with a quick burst of savage acceleration.

Yamaha, then, is no stranger to cranking up more speed and performance from their product range. So what happens when they take something already certifiably insane and turn it up to 11?

The answer is twofold. The first part is the track-only, carbon fibre bodied, 200 horsepower R1M, a bike made for those with nerves of titanium and a need for industrial firefighting sized volumes of adrenaline. The other, which does the business off-road, is a new, fettled, upgraded version of the YXZ1000R, already a serious contender for ‘maddest side-by-side’. Here’s the recipe. Take one, already spicy YXZ with its three-cylinder engine, long travel Fox shocks and lightweight tubular frame. Then boost it up to 998cc with improved cooling from a Baja racer styled rear mounted radiator, right up out of the dust and stones. Beef up the transmission so that it’s now a constant mesh 5-speed unit, with race-car style paddle shifters and an automatic clutch. Nudge the redline up to 10,500 rpm, in superbike territory. Then invite your customers to garnish it with jalapenos.

No, seriously. Along with all those upgrades (and some nifty new beadlocked rims, improved roll cage and a sharper look), the internals of the Yamaha’s engine are all forged for extra strength, which means only one thing. They dare you; nay, command you to bolt a turbo onto this beast and make it scream. It’s one thing to know that your client base is passionate about lateral Gs and big air. It’s another to know them so well that you pre-prepare your engine to receive the blessings of the God of Boost. Well played, Yamaha. Well played indeed.