I built my first motorcycle kit two months before beginning this one, and I hyped it up to no end. It quite literally reinvigorated my love for model kits, it kickstarted my desire all over again and do it proper, no “I just want to move this off my workstation” feelings at any given time, just the genuine joy to see it through to the end. And while that fifteen paragraph love letter kind of went on and also displayed my sheer ignorance about motorcycles, I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two since then!
So my second purchase for the motorcycles was the ’17 Yamaha YZF-R1M – a beast of a motorcycle by Yamaha that has been perfecting since the late eighties, hailing back to the original FZR1000 from 1987, which actually got to be the “bike of the decade” in 1989 on account of Cycle World. It set in stone the design cues still on the Yamaha YZF today and most importantly, it put Yamaha on the world map as superbike competitor. While the Honda Fireblade kind of stole Yamaha’s thunder until the YZF-R1 came to be in 1998 and it took back the throne, at least for Asia. These bikes, they were… aggressive. Which is underselling it, still, it’s kind of like calling a Rottweiler a bit of a pupper. All the way through the 2000s, they slowly perfected the YZF series year by year, grabbing more miles-per-hour every time, adding more sophisticated electronics and systems to it as time advanced and more or less nailing the look of the R1. The small circular headlights in the air-grabbers, the wide angles of the bodywork, the sharp hard angle of the rear, so forth.
Granted, it’s no Kawasaki Ninja. It’s no Ducati 1299. It’s no MV Agusta F4. It’s still epic in its own rights, it’ll still yank a 293km/h(182mph) top speed and it’ll shoot to the 100km/h(60mph) mark in 2.64 seconds. It’ll make your bones feel like they’re trying to escape through your ass and back and you know what, that’s enough. Quite frankly, every motorcycle manufacturer that has super and sport bikes in their line-up, all have their own take on the stupidly-quick-bike concept and lets be fair, when you pop into the 100km/h zone in under 3 seconds and still only hit one third of the speedometer, it’s just simply put fast. It’s fast as hell. I like to think, just the same with super cars of today, that’s when we’ve hit g-force numbers that make jets look like flying fridges on acceleration and stopping, it’s no longer a competition.
The one thing I truly love about the YZF-R1M is the color schemes. A lot of the previous years incorporate a ton of blue, silver, black and white. Sometimes it was all blue with white highlights, sometimes it was silver and black with blue highlights, and this kind of feels like some magnum opus version with lots of semi-gloss black, lots of silver and just the right amount of popping dark blue. It’s a pretty damn stark contrast and it really works. That being said though, I also quite like the 60th Anniversary YZF-R1 decal set by Blue Stuff, which is also a neat clean looking design for this particular bike, albeit yellow and black. One day, maybe! These motorcycle kits aren’t too expensive for the content they hold, they tend to run around the 30-40$ mark, depending on the brand and how new they are, but I will say; you get some Goddamn value, holy shit.
There’s something ever so elegant about these kits, I haven’t a clue how well Aoshima or Hasegawa motorcycle kits go together, one day I’ll definitely thread that terrain but if they’re anything like Tamiya, or if Tamiya is anything like them, I reckon these are quite literally the finest of kit engineering. The detail on every piece is staggering, granted it’s at 1/12th scale and of course mentally I always compare it to say 1/24th or 1/25th but really, it’s Tamiya here, even in 1/24th scale they’ve proven that they can make Revell, Round 2 Corp and just about any other manufacturer look like kiddie toys. And of course every article I lament the lack of engines in most Tamiya car kits, but you know what, even when they include that one, they do it for a reasonable price at ultra detail so, suck it. Besides, Round 2 Corp. is cranking out thirty to sixty year old kits with little to no improvements every month or two at 30-40$ retail so they really have already sat on the backseat of this particular battle.
Now I gotta admit, I’ve held off writing this article for several months. Not for any terrible reason like that I’m swallowing my pride, I know I’m an average builder at best that just throws money at the problem to 75% my 55% ass to success. I really wanted to build more motorcycles before committing myself to another drool fest, my first motorcycle kit was the previous Tamiya article about the Kawasaki Ninja and it was a tongue bath. I had nothing to compare it to other than car kits and even then, I only ever built one and that makes me biased. Who’s to say that all other motorcycle kits are as good, or better? Well, now I’ve got the 2020 Honda Fireblade CBR1000-RR-R kit by Tamiya which is as of writing coming along nicely and you know what? Yeah, I think I’m good with the opinion I got standing: Tamiya motorcycle kits are wonderfully engineered, go together like a charm, are detailed up the wazoo and is made up in such a way that even a fingerprint leaving smudgelord like yours truly can actually make a good model with it. And all of this for around 35$. Expect an article about that soon, but first expect me to drool over Hasegawa kits a little more, sorry.
See, just like seemingly all of Tamiya’s recent motorcycle kits, this one starts off with that awesome feeling of “I started with nothing and now I got a whole bike”, you begin with the engine block, the four cylinder 998cc DOHC that pumps out over 200 horsepower, which you then connect to the frame joints, which then gets followed by the chain and rear wheel assembly with this gorgeous deep five double-spoke metallic racing blue wheels, then the front wheels and forks happen, attached to the body from the front and at this point the boatload of cosmetic paneling happens. It’s glorious to literally being able to build a motorcycle from the ground up, it’s so satisfying and for some reason or another, I haven’t ever had this gratifying feeling of truly, truly making something with any automotive kit. That doesn’t mean they’re lesser in any way, don’t get me wrong, there’s just something magical about these motorcycle kits.
Granted, there’s a few niggles I got. Namely, the wiring is usually quite vague on the instructions and there were instances where you’re wrestling a wire, too small for the peg it needs to be pushed onto, at a seventy degree angle underneath the radiator between the front wheel and front forks and it just won’t for the love of God ever go on the damn peg. It’s little frustrations in an otherwise superb experience from start to finish, truly a little frustration at worst. The only other small complaint I’d have is that on the sprues, which 99% of the time have the injection pins on the back where the detail is obscured anyway, you come across parts where they have ’em on the front and you’re awkwardly chopping away at little stubs that you gotta repaint. But you know what, that’s a price I’ll happily pay for this amount of damn near perfection of a kit. I’m by no means a massive motorcycle enthusiast, fledgling at best but holy shit does this one, just like the Kawasaki Ninja H2R get a big fat recommendation from me.
’17 Yamaha YZF-R1M specifications:
Kit: “Motorcycle Series” #133
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: Silver(Metallic), Gray, Black & White