First Look: Yamaha R7

Published: May 19, 2021

Yamaha releases info on sporty race-replica version of MT-07 roadster

Yamaha R7
R7 Action Image

Of course, we’re all old enough round here to remember when a Yamaha R7 meant a megabucks World Superbike homologation special. It was the BMW M1000RR or Ducati Panigale V4R of the day back in 1999 – far flashier even than the YZF-R1M is nowadays. Back then, superbikes were inline-four 750s, and since they were up against super-trick 1,000cc V-twins from Ducati and Aprilia, they had to work pretty hard.

Yamaha r7
The original R7 from 1999 in race trim

The limited-to-500-bikes 1999 R7 had titanium engine internals, cutting-edge chassis design plus advanced fuel injection, and it cost a stonking £21,449 (£32,604 in 2021 prices). That was only half the story though – it was designed to make just 100bhp out of the crate to comply with French horsepower limits, and to get proper power out of it took thousands of pounds of race kit parts.

Getting it up to race-winning power took even more cash – and then it started to break crankshafts… After all that, it didn’t even win the WSBK title, and is one of the most beautiful, glorious failures in the history of two wheels (we’d still love one though…)

Yamaha R7
Yamaha R7 in Action

Enough reminiscing – the 2021 Yamaha R7 is a very, very different beastie. It’s essentially the firm’s MT-07 roadster engine, bolted into a tweaked frame, with uprated suspension, full fairing and sporty tyres. So we have a 72bhp parallel twin 689cc engine, fully EU5 emissions compliant and suitable for A2 licence conversion, in a 188kg wet chassis.

Yamaha r7
Yamaha R7

The front fork has been swapped from vanilla right-way-up forks to fully-adjustable sporty 41mm USD KYB units – these have compression damping in the left leg and rebound in the right leg. Brakes stay as four-piston monoblocs but are now radially mounted rather than the conventional parts on the MT, with a Brembo radial master cylinder to match.

Tyres are proper sticky Bridgestones – S22 road/track rubber, so there’s no messing there, and the frame has also been tweaked – there’s an aluminium centre brace and steel tube trellis sections, and the swingarm pivot points around the footrest bracket area look stiffer than on the MT. The rear suspension linkage and shock are redesigned, and the shock has preload and rebound damping adjustment.

Yamaha R7
Yamaha R7 in Black

The full fairing sticks with the usual R-series family styling, especially in the blue colourway. It’s quite distinctive when you look closer though – a single central LED headlight gives a bit of a ‘Cyclops’ look, and the M-shaped air duct is located in the middle of the nosecone for optimal air intake.

So – a solid entry into the middleweight twin class, which will go up against the likes of Kawasaki’s Ninja 650, Suzuki’s SV650 and the new Aprilia RS660. The Aprilia is a tough challenge, with a 100bhp motor and top-spec electronics, but at a higher price no doubt. The R7 should easily see off the elderly SV650 though, and will definitely give the Ninja some competition.

Yamaha R7
Yamaha R7

The new R7 comes in two colours – blue or black, prices are to be announced, and it will be in showrooms in October. That late arrival is no doubt down to the logistical and production problems Yamaha has had due to COVID-19 and the Suez Canal crisis earlier this year.

TECH HIGHLIGHTS

  • Compact, high-torque, 689cc, CP2 crossplane technology engine
  • EU5 compliant
  • Ultra-compact design with pure R-Series DNA
  • Highly aerodynamic full fairing with aluminium lower cover
  • High specification inverted 41 mm front forks
  • Link-type Monocross rear suspension with newly designed shock
  • A&S clutch
  • Lightweight tubular frame with aluminium centre brace for tuned chassis rigidity
  • Clip-on handlebars and lightweight rearsets with stylish heel guards
  • Sporty and adaptable tucked-in riding position
  • Aggressive R-Series twin-eye face with LED position lights
  • Powerful central LED headlight
  • Lightweight 10-spoke cast alloy wheels
  • Radial mount front brake calipers with Brembo radial master cylinder
  • Supersport cockpit design with full LCD instruments
  • Central M-shaped front air duct
  • Powerful front and rear brakes
  • Slimline 13-litre fuel tank with deeply sculpted knee indents
  • R-series style tail
  • 120/70 front tyre, 180/55 rear tyre

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