Later Yamaha R1s like this 2006 LE aren't really collectible as yet, but I'm sure they will be down the road, particularly when decked out in these very flattering colors that recall Kenny Roberts' racing machines. This was one of the last versions of the R1 to use the flat-plane crank engine, so Yamaha folks who like their R1s screaming will certainly be interested, as will fans of a certain elder statesman of MotoGP, who apparently has a long-standing relationship with the tuning fork brand...
Just 500 R1 LEs were built for the US market: the rest of the world had to share 1000 examples of the R1 SP that had basically the same specifications. The Öhlins suspension and magnesium Marchesini wheels seen here are standard LE fare, and the bike also featured a slipper clutch to help smooth downshifts. Otherwise, the LE was pretty much a stock 2006 R1, and shared that bike's minor frame adjustments that fine-tuned the handling and engine revisions that meant a claimed 175hp, giving the 172kg [379lb] dry bike the magic 1:1 power-to-weight ratio.
The 5VY R1 definitely has its virtues, but the big appeal here is the fact that this particular bike is #46 of the 500 R1 LEs produced. The serial number is obviously significant because it matches Valentino Rossi's racing number, and his signature on the tank and license plate are just what The Doctor ordered. Sorry, I just had to work in a bad Rossi pun there somewhere... No more, I promise.
The swoopy curves of this version are pretty restrained and it's a good-looking bike, although we've obviously moved on from undertail exhausts that increase cornering clearance at the cost of weight carried up high and toasted passenger buns. It looks especially sharp in the black-and-yellow graphics seen here that give the overall bike a bit of the old and a bit of the new, as they provide a visual link to Yamaha's racing history that stretches all the way from Kenny Roberts to Valentino Rossi.
From the original eBay listing: 2006 Yamaha R1 #46 for Sale
We are pleased to offer for sale this one of a kind unicorn 2006 Yamaha 50th anniversary R1 LE with only 1,566 miles. Now you might ask what makes this R1 LE a “Unicorn”? Well this R1 LE is number 46 of 500 and is autographed by “The Doctor” Valentino Rossi himself. If you are a racing fan you know who “The Doctor” is and is what really makes this R1 LE a collector’s dream bike. The 50th anniversary model is finished in a classic Yamaha Yellow/White and Black paint scheme and comes with magnesium forged wheels, brand new Michelin Power RS Tires, and Öhlins Suspension.
We offer financing and worldwide shipping. Please contact Michael at 630-936-2980 with any questions on this one of a kind Yamaha R1.
This is a low-mileage bike and the serial numbers and signatures make it more of a novelty than anything else, so if you're searching for an R1 to ride, you're probably best off looking elsewhere. Personally, this kind of bike interests me not at all, but I expect that for a certain type of collector it could prove to be very desirable. Considering how much interest there is in the listing, that seems to be true so far: bidding is very active, and up over $9,000 with several days left on the auction.