Review Yamaha YZF-R7

Review Yamaha YZF-R7

In a hurry

While the racing version of the Yamaha R7 is already well involved in the superbike scene, the roadworthy model is arriving with a slight delay. But it’s coming. And how.

What a glitch. The streets and slopes are soaking wet from pitch-black clouds.

Now of all times. Now that we are impatiently maneuvering the R7 out of the van, squinting into every last corner with curious eyes, brushing awe over the black coated aluminum chassis. So, so, there it is, the YZF-R7 with the type designation OW 02. This abbreviation alone is enough and the eavesdroppers are ready to receive. Everything has its story and the OW 02 has a legendary one too. FZR 750 R, known in insider circles under the name OW 01, was the name of the noble device that in 1989 drove the assembled sports club out of their minds and some of them the proud sum of exactly 35,900 marks.
In the best tradition, the OW 02 also has a lot behind its ears. Öhlins fork at the front, Öhlins shock absorber at the rear, in between an ultra-compact, straight and stiff aluminum frame with all imaginable possible variations in the frame geometry, peppered with fine CNC milled parts in Grand Prix quality.
With the gear shafts placed one above the other, the Yamaha R1 engine in layout and
Very similar in construction, the five-valve engine has noble innards. Valves and connecting rods made of feather-light titanium, the mixture preparation with fuel injection via two nozzles per cylinder, short, graphitized slipper pistons with a heat-resistant, insulating nickel coating on the piston heads (allows high compression without burning off the aluminum alloy) and and and.
The big spoiler besides the price of 49,990 marks: the TÜV version strangled to a mere 106 hp. So Yamaha Germany retrofitted the specimen for the racetrack test with the basic engine kit, which cost 5778 marks. Airbox with ram air flow through the modified series cooler, matching control electronics and a few little things get the stove going: 138 measured horsepower and a tight 276 km / h top speed. Just great.
But it’s still raining. Land under in Hockenheim, land under on the Nürburgring. The planet shines only where the sun spoils the wine. So off to Colmar in Alsace to rush the precious metal around the curvy Rhein-Ring as befits its standing.
Sitting sample behind the huge 23 liter tank. Fits. Only the handlebars are spread a few degrees too far. A good grip on the large, board-hard seatupholstered”, elegant knee closure without edges. Just adjust the levers for a moment, pull the racing suit, and off you go. With the extremely long first gear, the R7 drags itself somewhat laboriously out of the pit lane, the injector grumbles unwillingly. He doesn’t like the rumbling. The gas tap opened and the R7 roared. Gentlemen, what a device. The characteristics of a 600, paired with the sheer power of the Yamaha R1. A racer without mercy and the Rhein-Ring from now on from a time-lapse perspective.
Not even half a lap and the R7 flies around the corners in a hurry. In contrast to the Yamaha R1 and R6, both geared towards suspension comfort, the tight, direct damping of the R7 provides the driver with detailed information about everything that happens between the road surface and the tire rubber. Just as it should be for a real racer. When every steering movement on the torsion-resistant 43 mm Öhlins fork is immediately turned into an inclined position and the whole thing hardly requires more force than with the bustling R6, the weird guy on the handlebars gets a big grin on the face.
Before the duet embarks on a really hot dance, the Pirelli MTR 01A and MTR 08 urge caution. Not a bad gripper per se, but the Corsa mixes are quickly overwhelmed by the chassis qualities of the R7. Somewhat unstable and rocky when accelerating out, easy egg dance on the brakes. No offense, but racing tires belong on a racer – nothing else.
Highest praise at this point again for the Swedish Öhlins specialists, because with every click in the right direction on the fork and shock absorber, the OW 02 reacts with increasing sportiness. Even the tire grip increases somewhat with a tightly adjusted pressure level. Simply great.
Also great is the limitless lean angle and the precise steering precision. Likewise, the razor-sharp brakes, which come in a slightly modified form from the R1.
And the engine? Goes like a bullet. But only from 7000 rpm, underneath just a tired rattle. But that doesn’t bother us. We don’t drive suitcases or passengers for walks, we drive in circles. As fast and as weird it can be. And then it fits. Mainly because the five-valve engine tears away with an almost suicide-suspect revving and accompanied by a metallic hiss at a straight gallop. The engine likes to be squeezed out up to 14200 rpm, then the rescue limiter straddles in between. A dynamic and acoustic delight, no question about it.
And he hangs on the gas like Jim Knopf on the thread of the Augsburger Puppenkiste. A quick turn and the injection mercilessly heats up the four cylinders, while remaining nicely controllable with a reliably progressive power curve. Slightly applying the gas in an acrobatic incline, on the other hand, brings the load out of step at speeds below 7000 rpm due to jerky load change shocks, which stabilizes again in fractions of a second thanks to the extremely stiff chassis and tight coordination.
It should also be noted that Yamaha does without the brand-typical EXUP exhaust control on the OW 02. The system that provides more torque and traction in the R1 stands in the way of the flow losses in the electronically controlled flap mechanism, against absolute maximum performance and ease of rotation.
To all R1 and R6 drivers who have to live with cracking gear changes: This Yamaha transmission changes gears as if in sleep. Exact, crisp, precise, silent. Would look good on the street models too. One of the reasons for these virtues: the extremely small speed jumps of the tightly stepped racing transmission, which can only be partially transferred to a street motorcycle.
Which brings us to the topic: country road. Across the Black Forest, super-class bend-whet roads, uphill, downhill, simply fantastic. But not with the R7. Because the handlebar position is now a torture and the racing engine only stays in good mood in tight serpentines via the clutch. Fully turned out, according to the speedometer, the clock is easily 150 km / h in first gear. If you wonder if the R7 does not get out of the quark when sprinting to 100km / h.
What the R7 doesn’t like: city traffic. The racer crawls like a snail from traffic light to traffic light, simmering in the red cooling water area in no time at all. No thanks. Driving the S-Bahn is more fun. And it’s cheaper.
ZOn the other hand, the chassis and engine master the usual curve combinations flawlessly. Not only because the adjustment range of the damping allows an almost comfortable adjustment, but also the front-heavy weight distribution in combination with the stable Pirelli tires ensures peace in the seats and reduces dangerous banging of the handlebars to a minimum. Simply perfect, this OW 02.

The history of the Yamaha superbikes

World championship titles are important, but becoming world champions is not easy. In order to win the Superbike laurels, Yamaha tried in 1988 with a “scaled-down” 750 version of the first FZR 1000. But the windy chassis was good for anything, except for winning a race. That was what the Rumi-Honda RC 30 did under the American Fred Merkel. A year later, Yamaha technicians got it serious. The OW 01 ​​created an excellent base, but others became world champions. Ducati, for example. In return, Udo Mark from the Black Forest won the German Superbike Championship. Brand colleague Bernd Caspers meanwhile kept the competitors in the 750 series class in check. The YZF 750 SP followed in 1993 to replace the OW 01. Much cheaper, but without technical highlights, this attempt to get the World Cup crown also failed. With the Japanese daredevil Noriuki Haga and the new R7, Yamaha once again put together a powerful package for 1999 that was able to record a race win in its first season.


The OW 02 fits perfectly into the new era. MV Agusta did it with the F4 750, Yamaha countered immediately. The finest technology, bundled into a powerful and lightning-fast super sports car. With this, the Japanese prove that the experience from countless GP victories can be transferred to the series. Not only the technology offered, but also the charisma and dynamism of the R7 put the hair on the neck of the committed sportsman. Snappy, fast, fascinating. Simply in a class of its own.

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