So, halo motorcycles that sit at the top of the manufacturer’s catalogue. As we’ve said before, almost every manufacturer has one.

What Yamaha brings to the table and refuses to serve you – in Malaysia at least – is the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R1M. You can’t have it but we rode it, which begs the question, “why?” As a superbike, the Yamaha YZF-R1 has many fans both locally and worldwide.

Since its introduction in 1998, the R1 has moved forward by leaps and bounds, showcasing its handling capability and technological prowess. But let’s get one thing straight – there is the YZF-R1 and then there’s this, the R1M, which takes everything and turns the dial up to 11.

Yamaha took the R1 and threw everything and the kitchen sink at it, turning it into something just one step removed from its YZR-M1 MotoGP race machine. Now, the thing about single-focus track-oriented motorcycles is that they can sometimes be a chore to ride on public roads.

But when Yamaha Malaysia threw the keys for the R1M at us and its tech guy said, “tell us what you think,” we did not hesitate. Here’s what we found about riding Yamaha’s ultimate road-going race motorcycle on local roads.

Approaching the R1M, it strikes you the bike is physically small – till you throw a leg over the seat and realise your bum is placed well off the ground, at 860 mm. Pull your feet back into the beautifully cast rear-set footpegs and reach for the handlebars, and you are now in the official racer crouch.

This means elbows bent, head down and back arched over the satin-finished 17-litre aluminium fuel tank. The angular carbon-fibre fairing with those LED projector headlights on either side of the cowling air intake gives the R1M the look on a manta ray.

Seating at 860 mm tall on the R1M is minimalist, with the typical race seat – narrow in front and wide at the rear, with a very minuscule pillion pad. For laughs, the author asked the young shaver in the house to remove the pillion pad and compare it against the seat on his Colnago.

His answer was, “its almost the same size. The bicycle seat is slightly bigger.” There you have it: pillions are not recommended on the R1M, so leave the girlfriend at home, unless she likes wearing a motorcycle like a G-string and her knees up against her ears.

Looking into the cockpit, you are confronted with a TFT-LCD display, in colour, telling you… well… at this point, the author’s brain froze. The sheer amount of information the rider is presented with is somewhat overwhelming and required the intervention of a teenager to make sense of everything.

From the rocker switch and button on the left handlebar pod and rotary switch on the right, the rider can control basically everything on the R1M, and we are not kidding when we say everything. Aside from the usual ride modes – called Power Delivery Mode (PWR) – there is also slide control (SCS), lean angle sensitive variable traction control (TCS) for those rear wheel sideways corner entries and adjustable quickshifter.

All controlled by the inertial measurement unit (IMU), the R1M does indeed bring MotoGP technology to the street with Yamaha’s Y-TRAC, which uses GPS to record lap times and course maps. There is also launch control and the rather impressive Lift Control System (LCS) which reduces fore-aft weight transfer during acceleration and modulates engine power to reduce the chance of wheelies.

Suspension on the R1M is a complete system in itself, using Ohlins Electronic Racing Suspension. This is, in effect, the same unit used by the boys in the World Superbike Championship and continuously adjusts rebound and compression damping.

What this means for you, as a rider, is the suspension automatically adjusts itself to provide the best response based on riding conditions and speed. In practice, what we found riding the R1M around is that small ruts and bumps disappear and the really hard stuff comes through as a muted thump in the handlebars.

There are basically two modes – A-1 and A-2 – which are biased towards track or road use, with a third manual mode that ‘sets’ the suspension to one preferred rider setting. In practice the two modes are rather similar, with rebound in A-1 mode being a little sharper.

So, no head shake, no catapulting out of the seat, nothing. Wicking up the dial, the faster you go, the more stable the R1M gets. Steering on the R1M is intuitive, almost magical in its response.

All the rider has to do is look into the corner and the R1M “makes it so.” So effortless is effort at the handlebars that one-handed operation is possible riding at extra-legal speeds, making it suitable for riders to show the “peace” sign to photographers in corners.

Heading into the engine room, the inline four-cylinder 998 cc Crossplane engine is perhaps the greatest evidence of Yamaha’s racing prowess. Coming with forged pistons, titanium con-rods and exhaust system with magnesium, the Crossplane 4 puts out some… well… Yamaha did not provide us with any power figures, but we figure something around the 210 hp point.

Suffice it to say, the power band is somewhat peaky, and truly comes in at the 7,000 rpm point. At which point, the rider should be prepared to tap dance on the six-speed stacked gearbox and hang on.

The horizon arrives faster than the rider’s eyes or brain can process and we used this to good effect for grins and giggles on the open highway. Looking down into the cockpit and registering the speed at which we were travelling made for big smiles – not that we condone speeding on public roads, of course.

One question readers keep asking is “how fast does it go?” Well, we are not going to tell you how fast the R1M goes (although we know where the digital speedometer tops out) but we can tell you it will go to somewhere beyond what you are used to and then some. By a lot.

But the R1M’s true environment is the racetrack, despite the addition of LED lighting all round and wing mirrors. Riding the R1M on surface roads is not easy with its racing riding position, and the clutch pull is not kind for riders with small hands.

Riding the R1M is an exercise in precision – this is not a bike you cruise around on showing off. It demands focus and attention from the rider in order to best maximise its performance and what it does, and does well, is the the cut-and-thrust of (very) fast riding.

Living with the R1M on a daily basis, some shortcomings are immediately obvious, the first of which is engine heat. This is a race bike, after all, and along with the crouched riding position, trips on the R1M are best kept short and fast. The faster, the better.

The other is the very ferocious fuel consumption. While we were having too much fun riding the R1M around to do any proper fuel consumption readings, we did record a best of 9.4 litres per 100 km.

The worst? We do not even want to know. There was one specific trip where two fuel stops were necessary instead of the usual one – make of that what you will.

But if you are the kind of rider who buys an R1M, we would guess fuel consumption is the least of your worries. What the author did find out is that it is entirely possible to drain the fuel tank in 22 minutes of highway riding.

However, riding the R1M is something else, with its 200 kg weight. The balance of the R1M is such that the rider does not feel the weight, although it does feel top heavy at the initial approach.

Braking is similarly impressive, with four-piston callipers grabbing 320 mm diameter discs in front. ABS is standard, with Yamaha’s Unified Braking System activating the front and rear brakes when necessary using data from the IMU and ABS.

All this is helped by the use of lightweight race components throughout the bike, with not an single cubic centimetre of wasted space anywhere on the bike. Along with the carbon-fibre – which made us terrified of dropping the R1M – this is not a bike you casually head down to the shops with, though we did do so several times for some nasi lemak.

What this serves to illustrate is the R1M, despite being designed and produced for the racetrack, is actually fairly tractable and controllable on city streets. Stay below the 8,000 rpm point, and you actually have a bike you could use for running around.

We would be loathe to do so, of course. It would be like harnessing a thoroughbred race horse to a cart. Which then brings us to the question, who needs a machine like the Yamaha YZF-R1M, priced at USD$22,499 (RM90,954) in the US?

In the market, the selection of race exotica is fairly wide, with the Ducati 1299 Panigale Superleggera – price on application – coming to mind. Another candidate is the BMW Motorrad HP4 Race, at RM491,000, along with the S1000RR Motorsport Edition at RM102,761.

Other options include the Kawasaki ZX-10RR and the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, as well as the Aprilia RSV4 RF. There is also the newly redesigned Honda CBR1000RR in SP1 and SP2 flavours.

So, do you want a Yamaha YZF-R1M? Well, Hong Leong Yamaha Malaysia is not bringing it in, so don’t bother asking, plus sale of the R1M in 2018 is by lottery. But there might be a chance the YZF-R1 superbike might make it in, if there is enough interest from riders.

For the author, the R1M is a bike that is very single-focused, and needs a very capable rider to match its performance and handling prowess. An application for the R1M lottery has been placed.