The Yamaha YZF-R7 Sportbike Returns With an MT-07 Heart

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

A blue-and-black 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 on a rear-wheel stand on a desert racetrack
2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 | Yamaha

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.

A red-black-and-white 1999 Yamaha YZF-R7
1999 Yamaha YZF-R7 | Yamaha

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

A close-up of the parallel-twin engine and rear frame of a blue-and-black 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7
2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 engine and rear frame details | Yamaha

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.

The clip-on bars and LCD dash of a blue 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7
2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 handlebars and dash | Yamaha

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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?

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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.

A blue-and-black 2021 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS
2021 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS | Kawasaki

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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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