Nicky Hayden is in no doubt the Honda's new Open class RC213V-RS is an improvement over the 2014 bike, but the American star is still some way off where he wants to be.

The Aspar rider was the fastest of the Open class Honda riders, lapping in 2m 01.508s on Friday, but still ended the test 2.64s behind Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez.

"We feel we're still trying to find a direction with some things and we need to eliminate some stuff, so we'll get all the data we can and give the team time to really make a plan over the next two weeks for next test but already the gearbox we need to change," Hayden said.

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"[During] some of the changes of direction [the bike] is popping wheelies and I can't change direction from [corners] two to three and eight to nine because the wheel is in the air and [I can't] get the power down, so you lose that speed all the way for braking into turn four.

"We probably need to change a bit in the gearbox to help us but we don't have all our gearboxes and transmission pieces yet, so we can't really do the second gear that I want.

"For sure the bike is more competitive than last year's bike but it's not like everyone else has sat still, they weren't doing '58s last year - they're one second faster basically. So the target isn't sitting still and it makes it challenging."

The 2006 world champion is loathe to compare the Open class machine to his title-wining bike, pointing out that the electronics are gulfs apart.

"I wouldn't say so [bike is similar], that was a long time ago and at that time the electronics weren't really rider aids - yes there were some electronics for straights and stuff but you'd be smoking the tyre and it's not like we're doing that with these bikes," said Hayden.

On his assessment of the first Sepang test, he added: "We've made a little bit of progress today, more with the turning with different stuff with the geometry, but it's still struggling a little bit accelerating out of slow corners especially. It's still early days and we're not going as quickly as we'd like but the bike is completely new to the team and also for me.

"I need to ride it in a different way so I've got some work to do but a few positives are starting to come out, so we'll keep our head down and stay positive.

"I'm not going a lot quicker than I was [last year] but for sure the engine [is faster]. When I follow guys at least I can get an idea of what's going on."

Hayden's wrist is also much better after an injury-hit 2014 and managed the three-day shakedown at Sepang reasonably comfortably.

"The wrist is good, it's the third day here and I'm a little bit sore but not too bad. I think it's something I need to get used to with this bike," he said.

"Last season I struggled for half the season in pain so I wasn't really braking like I need to and I'm going to have to get back to braking hard, especially for this bike. This is a very physical track for the braking so I'm happy in that regard."