Wade Boyd Yamaha DTR1 at the Sacramento Mile

Wade Boyd on his Yamaha DTR1

Wade Boyd on his Yamaha DTR1

Flat track racing is the home of Harley Davidson XR750s, they're born and bred for it, so what's this Yamaha R1 doing winning the race? Wade Boyd did just that this past weekend at the Sacramento Mile in one of the heats, and the video below shows some great racing where the R1 just reels in the Harleys on the straights only to be overtaken in the turns until the next straight until finally, well ..., just watch the video.

We saw that Ducati flat tracker a little while back and now this, it looks like the flat track landscape may be changing. Maybe we need a new liter bike class. Pretty cool.

Big thanks to Doug for the tip.

I found the photo above on the R1-forum, the bike is, I believe a 2007 R1, but there doesn't seem to be many photos, just the videos.

Be sure to click below and watch, it's neat.


  1. Nicolas says

    awesome …

    I’d need the enlightened explanations of the readers familiar with flat track : why is this discipline dominated by HDs ? Why is the R1 caught up in the turns ?

  2. Oldtimer says

    Why is the R1 caught up in the turns ?

    My guess would be that this guy is about 9ft tall, and the roadrace footpeg placement impedes both entrance and exit on the turns. Get his knees off his chest, and watch him go!!

  3. jason says

    Looking at the exhaust I’d guess that’s an 04-06… This makes me want to find a crashed one to build something similar :)

  4. parts-2-u says

    Also, if you listen closely he’s staying in one gear for the first lap or two. Then I think he gets used to it, and gets enough balls to grab another gear coming out of the turns. You never see the HDs again.

  5. Doug says

    I’d like to see Wade run the cross-plane R1.
    The HDs stuck around for the first two turns, in part, probably because Wade was settling into the race line and entry speed considering there was ~150 high-revving hp on dirt.

    The 2nd turn was still impressive of the harleys. @ :54 seconds the R1 is gone, but then you see the HD coming around the outside 13 seconds later. i.e. The harleys stuck around close enough after being blown away on the 2nd straight.

    1:07 – 1:16 is a hoot

  6. Hawk says

    Certainly the Yamaha engine has the legs but the rider is not a good flat tracker. Oldtimer is right, the setup is all wrong for flat track. The outside peg needs to be almost dragging on the straight and the inside peg is simply a foot rest on the straights.

    Nicolas, in the early days the rather ragged power of the HD kept the rear wheel breaking loose and gave the rider a lot of “feel” as to when it was about to lay down. Early attempts to use parallel twins and fours were not too successful because of the lack of feedback. One moment you were all hung out and the next, you were on your ass.

    Some other successful engines were the 500cc alkie burners such as JAP (J.A. Prestwick), Jawa and the like. Also a “ragged power” delivery … and not too much of it.

    But I;m talking of the sport as it was about 50 years ago. Today’s engine technology knocks those old figures into next week. But it’s still spectacular!

    • pat walker says

      your post is funny.
      Wade knows how to ride a bike. Judging by your
      set up advise – well I ‘m just going to let that go.

    • PAUL FINN says

      Obviously none of you guys know anything about Wade the rider. Ive known him since the early 1970’s ( note over 40 years ago)when he was coming into my motorcycle shop with his Dad (an ICON in motorcycle racing and developement) in San Francsico and riding Flat Track in Freemont,and every other kind of bike he could get his hands on he has forgotten far more about riding and Bikes than most people will ever know. For the person who though he had to wait until he had the ” Balls” to shift up ,They have a little race in England called the Isle of Mann TT which Wade has raced 10 or 11 times, if you know anything about racing, I think this erases the doubt in his “Balls”.
      You guys dont understand..this is F U N for him, he doesnt spend a ton of money to build these bikes he throws them together for fun and just runs them….dont be so impressed with yourselves and what your knowledge until you know who your talking about….it makes you look ignorant.

  7. Tin Man says

    So the Harleys handle better but the Buzz Bomb is faster, Who would believe it?? By the way its great that the Yami Won a heat race, but why no mention who or what Won the real race?? Oh, I guess that don’t fit the agenda. LOL.

    • Nicolas says

      Some have a chip on their shoulder … it’s not about bashing HDs here, more showing a cool & fun video of a bike that’s kinda out of it’s own world but does surprisingly well, just like when Paul posts a Sportster setup as a desert runner or trailbike.
      It’s all good

  8. Doug says

    HD Theater, Speed, whatever…are you seeing the potential here?

    Imagine a pack of Grand National riders sliding around with this camera angle.

    “That’$ Enter-tain-ment”

    talk about getting put in the action

  9. says

    Back from the late sixties on both European and Japaese manufacturers had more power than the K then X but the Harley (and Indian) knew how to harness the natural forces of the gyroscope as it goes out of its norman course. Buy aligning the effects of all the mayor spining things the gyros (flywheels, tranny shafts, rear wheel) would turn with a common center. The rider has a better chance of feeling this with the big flywheel stuff HD-IND and the like. I don’t propose that I possess such talent. Jay Springsteen comes to mind,. of course Kenny Roberts. They can pitch the bik’se collection of Gyros sideways and drive them around in a slide with the rear wheel. Harly said back then that the bike that would conform to the same principles in regards to “riding the flywheels” as HD has would be competative. Horsepower doesn’t beat Control unless somebody with big talent gets on and then it’s more up to the rider’s reflexes. That isn’t consistent ride after ride. Kenny was great on the Yamaha but he said it wasn’t one of his favorite things.to do. Honda raced against them back then and only won repeatedly after tipping there hats to HD’s design engineers. Harley Milers, they’re a natural!

  10. says

    It sounds like the Yammy coasts thru the turn and then bang down the stretch. Put the gentleman on a bike that he could slide with the gas on, unstoppable. Hey, Chief Polaris, got any new scouts??

  11. tom says

    you’re right Pat, Wade does know how to ride. This was literally the first time on any track with it and found out a few things… more like a fun deal than a serious effort-not GNC legal…

  12. todd says

    Powerful motors with light flywheels and short strokes spin up too quickly and break traction too easily. This is likely why he left the traction-uncontrol grip alone in the corners.

    This guy is obviously not afraid to die.


  13. says

    Wade Boyd is one bad dude. I’ve ridden with him before and there’s no staying with him anywhere. He’s a regular competitor at the Isle of Mann TT and is a natural on two wheels. He was riding a bike that was never intended for dirt tracking, competing against the legendary XR750’s on there own turf, notice he even retained the 17″ wheels with aggressive street tires. Insane.

  14. steve w says

    Ahhhh hummm sooo, After how many years and some are now getting excited. Something else should be able to win with todays technoligy. Sure the sport needs more than one engine but I don’t find it that big a deal.

  15. OMMAG says

    Kenny Robert won races on a TZ750 powered flat tracker……………althought the TZ had less hp than a street tuned R1…. by comparison the R1 is a pussy cat of an engine.

  16. krooner says

    Looked like an early alloy XR750 and a framer XS 650. so that bike was over 20 years newer than the bikes it was racing! I can’t say i’m too impressed. But who am i to judge.

    • krooner says

      I guess this would be more impressive if it wasn’t for the fact that, kawasaki, suzuki, triumph, aprilia, ktm, honda (both with rc51 and rs750 based bikes) ducati, and bmw are all represented in current ama pro flat track in the big bike class. Kawasaki even won last years springfield mile with bryan smith at the helm!

    • DDoug says

      exactly! That was the whole point of sending the video to Paul….nothing about a scientific look at the rider or bikes involved.
      Part of the fun is that the dirt and the mile can bring together bikes so different from one another that are decades away in age but have a mixed bag of results

  17. Dawg says

    Is there anyone using the Triumph triple engines in dirt tracking yet? Surely they would be great – with a smooth torque curve and good bhp as well as being lightweight.

  18. says

    Master Springsteen could keep the XR “on the pipe” for entire laps. Throwning the thing sideways without shutting it off. These great bikes, The Indian Scout, the HD -W,K, and X are the most stable of the crop that’s developed over the last few decades for the mile. While sideways, as the bike starts to lowside, the rear wheel, clutch shaft (no small gyro in it’s self), and big ol’ flywheels are spun up faster. In part because the rider has the wick up , in part because of the loss of traction at the rear wheel. As the RPM increases the bike will , stand up because of the forces inherent in spinning gyros faster. Bike stands up, more traction. Rider leans back, pulls the handlebars harder to the right, and forces the bike back down. Like hanging out on the side of a sailboat. The harder you lean, the more sail you can put in the wind, the faster you go. Just like the speedway guys steer their bikes.
    If whatever bike you come up with can’t do that as well as HD and still have more ponies no contesto. If it’s up soley to the riders talent and the bike isn’t stables in a slide, wins will come and go with the wax and wain of the rider’s talent on that given day.

  19. says

    You can try this at home, Give it a spin. He,he
    If you line conected gyros up one behind the other in a single plane they will turn easy in their common axii. If you put the attached gyros at different planes, they will fight one another because each one wants to turn on it’s own center. None of them want to mover in an arc. It’s not new tech, but it’s a strong tech, if you want to win Miles. Is axii the plural of axis?

    • Paulinator says

      All that talk about gyros got my head spinning…what if the race was run in the other direction…or if the engine / tranny had self cancelling opposed ratating masses?

      Its amazing that he could put so much power down on a dirt track. He should`ve pulled one sparkplug wire to tame it down a bit.

  20. Chuck says

    Wade Boyd is a bad a** and a living legend among the San Francisco riding community. He is a natural master of things that are two wheeled. Despite having no real sponsorship and no real job he has traveled the world living the dream, competing in some of the toughest racing. Flat tracking an R1 is nothing but another thing from a mind that doesn’t take no for an answer but no as an opportunity.

  21. BB says

    Someone who actually knows something about dirt track motorcycles please chime in. Mention firing order and discuss traction. Thanks.

  22. Oldtimer says

    Just got back from Davenport IA swapmeet and flat track races. Been a while since I had been to a race…..What a hoot, everything from board track antiques, to the latest and greatest. A damn fine way to spend a day…(more flat track articles please)

    Just over 700 mi on the T100, 100 degrees all the way…not bad for an old guy!

  23. says

    I know the gyro thing seems to be going in circles but it is a basic force that has much to do with controling. Why don’t races run counter clockwise. It’s an unnatural thing. That’s all. I’ve tried to locate a disertation Cycle World Magazine did around 30 years back when the Honda folks were purpose building a compeditor to go against the XR750s to no avail. CW discussed engine placement, fork angles, engine design, and so forth. Honda only came up with what CW said was not a copy of the XR but truly a great complement from Honda’s engineers to Harley’s engineers.
    Some people may not realize that when the K model came on the mile track they represented nearly fifty years of experimenting in the dirt. HD’s designs take in to consideration and takes advantage of basic physics as they apply to getting out of shape (sideways) on a horse track, eh.
    Mr. Paulinator, what happens when you spin things this way and that?? The answer is in all the bikes that go against HD. They win when the rider overcomes the disadvantages inherent in his unfortunate mount.
    Hats off to Wade. Anyone that can handle all that Squirrlie Horsepower has got to be good.

    • Paulinator says


      Didn’t realize there were so many dynamics involved in sliding a bike thru turns like a wildman after drinking 14 cuban coffee shots. Now can you explain the psychology of a double back-flip?

    • Bob says

      “… Honda folks were purpose building a compeditor to go against the XR750s to no avail.” You do remember that Honda won 5 championships with Ricky Graham and Bubba Shobert, right? Hondas were beating Harleys until ’87 when the AMA levied weight penalties and carb restrictors on non-pushrod (non-Harley) engines. Honda pulled the plug on their factory effort. The RS750 was based on their Africa Twin adventure bike.

      Harleys benefited from some preferential rules at different times, but, primarily from a lot of development and experience. Getting a bike to hook up in dirt is an art and science. Throughout a race day, the track is constantly changing from temp, humidity, use, etc. The XR is pretty well understood. Although not easy to set up, it is easier than a one-off bike, some unknown quantity. Tuners have used some non-production tweaks to the XR like the twingle firing order to suit traction at some tracks.

      When the AMA brought in Supertrackers people experimented with big SV/TL Suzukis, 916 Ducs, VTR Hondas. Big powerful bikes (like an R1) that blast past XRs down the straights arrive at the turns at much higher speeds carrying a lot more inertia. They still have to make it around the corner. The racing line formed on the dirt isn’t for that big fast bike. Making a good lap requires a lot of compromise: shutting down early or taking lines that put them on the inside or outside of the groove.

  24. Tim W. says

    I was at the Indy Mile in ’75 when Roberts did his come-from-behind win on the TZ. As Cycle World said in an article where they rode the bike (after the AMA banned multi-cylinder bikes from pro dirt track competition) with more development maybe the TZ would have been more controllable for mere mortals and not just King Kenny. This was in an era where to be National Champion you still had to road race and having one motor program–in an affordable package that could be purchased by anyone (tried to by an XR-750 lately?)–would have been a blessing for a racer. Trust the AMA and their ties to H-D to keep dirt tracking in the dark ages and only recently are other makes becoming competitive.
    Change the rules and allow R1 and other Superbike motored dirt track bikes to be built. These will more closely reflect what the kids are riding on the street and maybe even develop a new generation of dirt track fans.

  25. says

    Run what ya brung. That’s my motto. As I look at the cuttent batch of Mile contenders I don’t see anyone treated unfairly. There’s Dukes, KTMs, anything you care to name. Most all have more horsepower than that ‘ol school dog that took the first eight places at a recent National back East. As to all the tech poop about the dynamics there of. That’s just the science of it. It still takes a man at the handlebars to turn the science into ART.
    As to the double back flip. That’s just a man man being a human Gyroscope!

  26. says

    As I understand it, part of the XR’s advantage is that there is no cylinder offset, thanks to the tongue-and-groove connecting rods, and thus more of the reciprocating parts are in the same plane.

    Also, beyond all this talk of gyroscopes and precession, someone who knows more than me should also discuss the XR750’s frame. I’ve heard/read several technical discussions over the years that detail how its torsional flex and harmonic oscillations are just right for helping the rear wheel hook back up coming out of a turn. It was all quite over my head, so I can personally elaborate, but I do know that the XR750’s frame is another reason for its superior predictability and traction. Somehow, for some reason.

  27. PAUL FINN says

    Exactly!!!..Its about having F U N with motorcycles, we who love bikes could give a sh– about the brand, they miss the whole point…its got 2 wheels…see what it can do!!