Formidable casting sector told by the “YZF-R1” developer

Akinori Hirano SP Design Group, SP Development Division, PF Model Development Section, PF Model Unit

Passion to get through, undauntable challenging spirit

Development of the “YZF-R1”, aiming at a “machine to win a circuit.” Reduction of the vehicle weight was an absolute must because it improves acceleration and operability. This time, reduction of body weight has allowed for an increase in weight for improvement of braking performance. We decided to adopt magnesium because it was said to be the lightest metal among practical metals for the wheels and rear frame, however, we faced continuous hardships especially to realize mass production of wheels.

We once got trapped in a difficult situation and were not sure if we would be able to launch it, however, by devising the manufacturing method plan and surface treatment, people involved in casting met a tight deadline after repeated trial and error and got through the development with the real “let’s-do it” spirit. I take off my hat to them for their true professionalism and would like to say a straight “Thank you” to them.

I have heard that the casting sector will extend the field sales business. I think that it is a matter of course considering their ability. However, I don’t want it to be extended to our competitors if possible as I think magnesium die-casting is our trump card (laughter).


The YZF-R1 was launched in 1998 as a super sports model to compete against Honda's CBR900RR.

Its engine and frame were developed based on a completely new design to differentiate it from the FZR1000 and YZF1000R Thunder Ace and an inverted type front fork was adopted for the first time in years for Yamaha's liter model. With its medium-size weight and highest class engine output at that time, as well as its sharp design, it became a hot topic and triggered the super sports boom.