Yamaha's YZF-R1 has been the marque's flagship superbike since its industry-shaking introduction in 1999. Powered by a 998cc inline-four cylinder motor packaged in a nimble frame, the "R1" shattered the racing scene that was dominated at the time by heavy 750cc sport bikes. Now in its fourth design form, it has proven itself over the last decade, both on the track and the street. But with the technological advancements present in this modern race bike, can simple maintenance routines, such as changing the oil, be performed at home?
As with many endeavors, success lies in proper preparation. Obtaining a service manual for your model year R1 can provide a wealth of knowledge, above and beyond the details required for an engine oil and filter replacement. In fact, a service manual is the single most valuable tool. Aside from the manual, be sure to have a fresh oil filter, four quarts of oil, an oil filter wrench, a socket wrench, and a metric allen head socket set. You may want to have a supply of clean towels or rags at hand to clean any spills that happen. If you have access to bike stand, either for the front forks or the rear swing arm, if can help speed the process along as well as providing a solid support for your motorcycle. Lastly, be sure to have a good oil catch container to collect used engine oil.
Draining the Oil
Before you begin, start the bike up and let it idle for a few minutes to warm up the oil. Warm oil flows easier, cutting down the amount of time it takes to drain from the engine. Just be sure that the engine is warm, not hot, to keep yourself from getting burnt. If you have a stand, place the bike up on it. If not, leaving it on the side stand is fine too. Place your oil catch directly under the motorcycle's engine and loosen the oil drain plug, which is located directly under the engine between the exhaust header pipes. Watch out for hot pipes. Next, remove the oil filter, which is located just below the radiator on the front left hand side of the motor. Although it isn't necessary, remove the left side lower fairing for easier access. Let the oil drain until the dripping stops.
Refilling the Oil
Putting fresh oil into the engine starts with the oil filter. Pour a small amount of it into the new filter and let it stand for a few minutes to release any air that may have been trapped within. While the filter stands, reinstall the drain plug snugly, but be careful not to over-tighten it or you will damage the plugs threads. Screw the new filter into place by hand until it is tight and add fresh oil in through the cap on the right side of the motor (on the clutch cover). The R1 will use just under 4 quarts of oil, so don't overfill. Wipe up any spills and start up the bike. While the bike is running, slowly loosen the oil filter until a small amount of oil begins to escape from the space between the filter and the engine, then tighten again. This is called "burping" the oil filter, a trick used to purge the oil system of trapped air bubbles that can starve the engine of oil. Once the filter is tightened again, turn off the bike and replace the lower fairing.
Once you've gotten the oil in and "burped" the filter, wipe up any spilled oil, especially if you've gotten it on the exhaust pipes. Oil burns quickly on the heated pipes and smokes easily, which can be a slightly embarrassing and odorous situation. Finally, dispose of your used oil properly by taking it to a local auto parts store for recycling.