Back in March we revealed that Yamaha was planning a new middleweight supersport bike derived from the MT-07 that would revive the legendary YZF-R7 name tag—and now that’s precisely what Yamaha has launched.
While the choice of name is likely to upset some purists who might see a 72 hp 689cc parallel twin as an unworthy holder of the title, the new R7 is actually an intriguing bike in its own right that usefully plugs a gaping hole in Yamaha’s range between the YZF-R3 and the YZF-R1. The YZF-R6 that previously bridged that gap is only available as a 2020 model and no updated version is expected.
On the surface, the new YZF-R7 doesn’t disappoint. While rival middleweight sport models like Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 hedge their bets by using relatively high-mounted bars and subdued styling, the R7′s appearance is just as aggressive as the YZF-R1 that its buyers may aspire to own in the future. Low clip-on bars, rearset pegs, and styling that apes Yamaha’s YZR-M1 MotoGP machine leave no doubt; it might have a modest engine, but it’s still a serious sportbike.
Underneath that bodywork lie the major mechanical parts from the MT-07. The 689cc CP2 parallel-twin engine, named after the crossplane crankshaft that gives a firing interval that emulates a charismatic 90-degree V-twin, sits in a tubular steel frame with aluminum center braces at the swingarm area to add more rigidity. Yamaha’s US marking material doesn’t mention any figures for the engine, but in Europe it’s claimed to make 72.4 hp at 8,750 rpm and 49.4 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm—exactly the same numbers that are claimed for the MT-07. It’s coupled to a lower set of gear ratios in the R7 to improve acceleration, via a new assist and slipper clutch. An upshift-only quickshifter is available as an option.
Don’t let the similarities with the MT-07 fool you; the R7 will offer a very different riding experience. The chassis geometry is tweaked to give a steeper rake at 23.4 degrees, down from 24.5 degrees on the MT, and a shorter 54.9-inch wheelbase. That’s largely down to the fork, which is a new 41mm upside-down KYB unit with adjustable preload, compression, and rebound damping, mounted in a forged alloy lower and cast alloy upper triple clamp.
The rear suspension, adjustable for rebound and preload, is also optimized for the R7, and the bike’s ergonomics put more of the rider’s weight over the front. Braking comes from four-pot radial-mount calipers and twin 298mm discs at the front, coupled to a Brembo radial master cylinder.
The styling follows the lead of Yamaha’s other recent R-series bikes by hiding the headlights to give a convincing impersonation of a racebike. Where the R1 and R6 put their LED lamps under the nose, the R7 hides its single main headlight unit inside the M1-style air intake, while the marker lights on either side of the nose blend almost invisibly into the styling when they’re switched off. The 3.4-gallon tank is new, mimicking the shape of the MotoGP bike’s unit right down to the gill-like strakes on its shoulders, and the seat unit is similarly M1-inspired, with a small pillion pad flanked by air intakes and LED taillights set into the rear. The MotoGP look doesn’t just help the aesthetics; it’s efficient too. The R7′s bodywork is actually slimmer than any other “R” model bike, including the smaller R3 and even the tiny R125 that’s offered in European markets. That makes for a tiny frontal area that boosts top speed by around 10 mph compared to the MT-07.
On board, you get a new LCD display. While it’s not the sort of color TFT setup seen on many modern bikes, it has an inverted color scheme with pale readouts on a black background.
How much for all this? The MSRP of $8,999 positions the R7 a little above established parallel twins like the Ninja 650, but it’s well below the $12,199 of the YZF-R6. The new Team Yamaha Blue and Performance Black paint options also provide our first look at the color schemes that Yamaha’s other R models are likely to adopt next year. Want one? The R7 is due to hit dealers in June, so there isn’t long to wait.