The mid-sized supersport road bike is not dead. At least not if Yamaha has anything to say about it, as the Japanese manufacturer has unveiled a new middleweight machine that combines a proven engine and chassis with streamlined sports styling - the YZF-R7
Taking its name from a bike that was Yamaha’s homologation model for World Superbike competition back in 1999, the new R7 will essentially fill the gap in the lineup left by the R6, which was last offered in roadgoing form in 2020, although a track-only ‘R6 RACE’ is still available.
According to Yamaha, the nature of the supersport world is changing, and while models like the R1 continue to find devotees amongst experienced riders, and the R3 and R15 serve as introductions to the Yamaha supersport family, there’s nothing in the middle to suit the younger, sports-oriented rider.
Enter the YZF-R7.
The new R7 is built around Yamaha’s successful MT-07 naked, using that model’s ‘CP2’ engine and frame, along with its gearbox and a selection of other componentry.
Already proven on the MT-07 and its derivatives, the 689cc DOHC crossplane parallel twin engine is unchanged in terms of internals and major parts, with the same bore/stroke and compression ratio, as well as the 270-degree crankshaft that gives the MT-07 is its uneven firing order.
Changes made to the CP2 twin in this application include a new ECU, modified fuel injection settings, optimised air intake ducts and a revised exhaust system. According to Yamaha, these changes enhance controllability and add smooth and responsive throttle operation to this engine’s torque-rich characteristics.
Unconfirmed reports of maximum outputs of 54kW at 8750rpm and 67Nm at 6500rpm are only fractionally down the current MT-07HO output.
Along with the main ‘HO’ version of the new R7, a smaller capacity LAMS version will be offered, too, using a 655cc version of the CP2 parallel twin, as fitted to the MT-07LA.
To the parallel twin engine (in both forms), the six-speed gearbox is also mostly unchanged from the MT-07, but an Assist & Slipper clutch has been added for smoother shifting and a lighter clutch feel. Optional to this will be an up-only quickshifter.
On the gearbox itself, there's a lower secondary gear ratio for stronger acceleration performance.
To the MT-07’s Deltabox steel tube frame, the R7 adds a rigid-mounted aluminium centre brace to stiffen the frame for sharper handling on the road and track while retaining what Yamaha says is an ideal rigidity balance.
Where the new R7 establishes itself as its own animal and not just an MT-07 with a fairing is in the suspension and ergonomics.
According to Yamaha, a great deal of attention was paid to the suspension package during the R7’s development in order to deliver accurate front end feel during cornering and under braking.
The front suspension is a 41mm KYB USD fork, attached to the frame via a gravity-cast upper triple clamp and forged aluminium lower triple clamp. This front end is fully adjustable, in the SFF style, with compression in the left fork and rebound in the right.
The triple clamps deliver a steeper rake – 23.7 degrees versus the MT-07’s 24.5 degrees – and in turn a shorter trail of 90mm and slightly reduced wheelbase of 1395mm, compared to the MT-07. These also play their part in the R7’s sharper cornering and handling performance.
At the rear, the link-type Monocross suspension is familiar, but spring rate and internals have been redesigned to suit the R7’s sportier character. Preload and rebound adjustability is standard, while the rear shock’s position contributes to a near-perfect 51/49 front/rear weight balance.
Being a supersport bike, the R7’s riding position is much more “sport” than the MT-07, which is evidenced by the use of clip-on handlebars, a specific seat design, rearset footpeg placement and deep knee indents on the fuel tank, so there is a definite ‘crouch’ to the R7 riding position.
Yamaha say they experimented with various bar/seat/peg combinations before settling on the final package, which they claim offers a sporty, yet adaptable riding position with plenty of freedom of movement.
The narrow-at-the-front and wide-at-the-rear seat uses the same material and padding as the R1 seat and also features a bump stop rear, atop which sits the pillion pad. An optional seat cowl turns the R7 into a solo ride.
The deeply sculpted fuel tank means capacity is 12.8 litres, which is down on the 14 litres that the MT-07 offers.
Instrumentation is on an LCD screen, offering similar information to the MT-07, but in a different design. Main elements include a ribbon-type rev counter, large speedometer and gear position indicator, as well as a trip meter, fuel gauge, clock and all the other usual functions, with spot colour accents added. Specific handlebar switches claim to make the display data easier to access and adjust.
Unchanged elements from the MT-07 include 17-inch alloy wheels front and rear, with a 120/70ZR17 and 180/55ZR17 tyre package, and while the front and rear brake discs are the same size as the MT-07 (298mm front and 245mm rear), the four-piston front calipers are radially mounted, while the adoption of a Brembo radial master cylinder is a Yamaha first.
In terms of its appearance, the R7 is defined by its fairing, which has similarities to the R1 and R6.
Said to be MotoGP-inspired, the central air intake duct mounts a bi-functional LED headlight, with narrow position light ‘eyes’ either side in the style of the current R1 and R6. These and the tail light are also LED. Front indicators are mounted low on the fairing, which looks odd, but presumably has its purpose.
The aerodynamic properties of the R7’s fairing makes it the fastest of any CP2-engined Yamaha, but what’s notable with this bodywork is that, combined with the narrow frame and CP2 engine, it gives the R7 the narrowest cross section of any current ‘R’ model – including the R3 and R15.
The R family DNA continues with the tail unit, which is compact and sharp, with the tail light incorporated into the point of the tail and the rear indicators on the number plate mount.
Two colour choices will be available, Team Yamaha Blue and Performance Black, with the former limiting Yamaha’s signature colour to the wheels, fuel tank and upper and lower fairing, separated by satin black sections. The latter colour is a high gloss black.
Given the R7’s heritage, one may have thought a red-and-white livery in the style of the original YZF-R7 OW02 Superbike would have been offered, but that may come in the form of a future special edition.
Yamaha identification and R7 branding are subtle, arguably moreso than the rest of the R family
Australian release of the 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 is scheduled for December, 2021, with ride away pricing of $13,999 for the LAMS version and $14,999 for the HO version (at time of writing, subject to change).
Several options will be available from launch, but some of these will be limited to the HO model.