I wouldn’t normally post something so relatively common on a bike about "rare" sportbikes, but this particular 1998 Yamaha YZF-R1 is strikingly clean and low mileage, the kind of bike speculators or collectors might soon be snapping up. Japanese sportbikes offer performance, reliability, and ubiquity in equal portions. That’s kind of the point: you can get your bike serviced anywhere, parts are plentiful and cheap, and the bikes are fast and good-looking. Which is great, but they can hardly be considered rare or exotic in most cases. But the R1 is certainly an iconic machine and a defining bike of the modern era, so it’s significant and collectible. And in this kind of condition with miles this low, I think it counts as being pretty rare as well.
Big-engined sportbikes were at one time also cursed with bloat: the ZX-11 and GSX-R1100 were certainly fast, but they were more GT and less sportbike. The CBR900RR showed the advantages of big-bike power combined with a light, agile platform, but that 900cc displacement left it without a class or real competitors, a bit like the situation the GSX-R750 has found itself in for most of the past decade.
While the previous YZF1000 was a fast and sporty mile-muncher like the ZX-11, complete with anachronistic five-speed gearbox, Yamaha basically threw that bike completely out the window and started with a virtually clean-sheet design. Angular styling that’s far more svelte than what you’d normally find on a big-bore superbike and innovative features designed to maximize power-to-weight and help to keep that performance under control. The new bike was designed with a stacked gearbox. This allowed the most compact powertrain possible and maximized swingarm length within the wheelbase for improved traction. The bike was a revelation for period testers, who had to dig deep for hyperbole to describe a bike with a very real 150hp motivating just 450lbs wet.
From the original eBay listing: 1998 Yamaha YZF-R1 for Sale
I could go on and on about this bike, but my guess is that you know what you're looking at, and want to hear more about this particular one. As you should already know, these bikes are very hard to find… Ok let me reframe that, these are hard to find that are original, low miles, and in good working and cosmetic condition. There are lots of used R1's that come up for sale now and again with lots of miles and wear but to me, these are not collector bikes, just used bikes.
This bike, in my opinion, is a “good" example of a collector bike. I say good, as it isn’t in the wrapper or perfect, and had more than one owner and not a lot of paperwork. It showed some wear and use, and took a little work to get it cleaned up back to stock after I purchased it. When I found this bike it was still being ridden very sparingly by its second owner who was looking to free up some money for his new family in Michigan. It had the usual used bike stuff done to it, fender cut, blinkers changed, aftermarket windscreen and grips, aftermarket sprocket (everybody thought changing the sprocket was a big deal back then), and braided front brake lines, most of which he still had the original parts to go with the bike (which is always a good thing).
From the viewpoint of a collector, I really liked this bike because of its originality, it was the first year and had a low VIN (...000047), so this was 47th off the production line. The condition and the mileage as well as the color pulled me in - very few red and white ones seem to come up that often. It was in great shape, all the plastics were original as far as I could tell and not all scratched up. No pitting on the headlights, and rims were in nice shape -- no excessive marks which would be indicative of multiple tire changes. It does have low miles and the bike should tell that story -- and it did. The tank was clean, no rust or paintwork had been done and it started right up and ran and idled very well… we agreed on a number and I brought the bike home. Once home the bike was stripped down to frame and motor (as seen in the pictures below), cleaned, and everything non-stock or should I say non-OEM was replaced other than front braided brake line and rear sprocket (I think I have the OEM rear sprocket and forgot to replace it with the original).
The bike was in great shape - detailed, oil and filter changed, fuel and air filters changed, tank and carbs drained, battery removed and discarded then put into climate controlled storage (so you will need to buy a new battery). I have all the receipts of parts that were ordered and installed. I have the bill of sale from the original owner to the second owner back in 2000 (nice touch). All put into a binder for the new owner. This bike would make a nice addition to an existing collection and or start a new one. This bike is surely going to appreciate over time. Please take the time to look over the pictures in great detail and decide if this bike is the right fit for you, ask questions if needed. Good luck and have fun!
The bike comes with:
Binder with all paperwork that I have
Original tool kit
Certainly, as the seller points out, there are plenty of well-used R1s out there for folks in search of decent cheap speed. There are connoisseurs out there who will battle it out in the forums over which generation R1 is the best. But whichever you prefer, it’s hard to argue that the original will likely be the most collectible and, if you've been considering adding one of these to your stable, you're very unlikely to find one this clean and original outside of an unregistered bike sitting in a crate somewhere.