2021 saw several motorcycles leave the market, including a few Yamaha bikes. One of those was the YZF-R6, a rival to affordable sportbikes like the Kawasaki Ninja 650. However, in the R6’s place is a new bike with a familiar name and engine: the 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7.
Yamaha resurrects the YZF-R7 name with the help of the MT-07
Technically, the YZF-R6 isn’t fully dead—it’s still available as a track-only bike in Europe, RideApart reports. But with middleweight twin-cylinder sportbikes like the Aprilia RS 660 coming to market, Yamaha needed a suitable street-legal replacement. And it chose to call this replacement ‘Yamaha YZF-R7.’
The original 1999-2000 Yamaha YZF-R7 OW-02 is a legend to the brand’s fans. Although it’s technically a sportbike, it’s more accurate to describe the original R7 as a superbike. Appropriate, given that Yamaha designed it to compete in the World Superbike Championship, MCN explains. And it had to make 500 road-legal homologation versions for ordinary customers. That makes it rarer than the Ducati Desmosedici RR.
The racing origin explains why the Yamaha YZF-R7 OW-02 has features like Ohlins suspension and a MotoGP-derived aluminum frame, Bonhams reports. The latter also explains the 416-lb dry curb weight. And while road-going models’ 749cc inline-four engines were restricted to 106 hp, Yamaha kits could bump that up to 135 or even 162 hp, RideApart reports.
Naturally, the 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 isn’t quite as extreme as the OW-02. For one, it has a steel frame, albeit, with some aluminum braces, RevZilla reports. And it doesn’t have an inline-four engine. But it does have a suitably sport alternative.
Instead of a four-cylinder engine, the 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 uses the same 698cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin as the MT-07, RideApart reports. It makes the same amount of power and torque at the rear wheel—67 hp, 46 lb-ft—as the MT-07, Motorcyclist notes. However, it has different ECU tuning as well as different intake and exhaust, MCN reports. And at 414 pounds wet, the 2022 YZF-R7 is lighter than the original R7.
The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 is designed with track and street riding in mind
Besides the engine tweaks, the 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 has different transmission gear ratios than the MT-07, Cycle World reports. The sportbike also has a new slip-assist clutch and an optional upshift-only quickshifter. And because it’s a sportbike, the R7 has rear-set foot controls and clip-on bars.
The YZF-R7 also has a shorter wheelbase than the Yamaha MT-07 and a different fork angle. Speaking of forks, the R7 has different suspension than the naked bike. Both the rear shock and the front upside-down forks are fully adjustable. And because of its fairing and bodywork, the R7 has a higher top speed.
Two things the Yamaha YZF-R7 doesn’t have are traction control and multiple riding modes. But it does have an LCD gauge cluster with a gear indicator, full LED lighting, and a Brembo master cylinder. And while Yamaha didn’t specify in its press release, Motorcyclist reports the R7 has ABS.
When will it arrive and how much will it cost?
The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 hits dealers in June 2021 with a starting price of $8999. The quickshifter adds $199. For comparison, the MT-07 starts at $7699, and the three-cylinder MT-09 starts at $9399.
In terms of rivals, the R7’s main one is the Kawasaki Ninja 650. With ABS it starts as low as $7999, and it has some of the same features. However, it’s about 9 pounds heavier, ‘only’ has a 649cc parallel-twin, and doesn’t offer any kind of quickshifter. Plus, its front forks aren’t as adjustable.
Without riding the two back-to-back, it’s impossible to say if the new Yamaha YZF-R7 is worth the extra cash. But as an approachable, affordable way of letting street riders enjoy the occasional track day, it seems well-equipped for the job. Especially considering how well-received the MT-07 has been, Cycle World notes. So, while it’s not as hardcore as the original, the new R7 might get more riders out on the racetrack.
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