A YouTube video, carrying the tagline “Track. Street. R/World.” It’s not much to go on, but if we’re reading the clues right, this is Yamaha’s first official hint to expect the R7 sportbike soon.
The R7 was one of Yamaha’s most exciting superbikes in years gone by, back when four-cylinder 750s were known for their perfect blend of handling and power—more face-melting grunt than a 600, more corner-carving maneuverability than a litrebike.
These days, four-cylinder 750s are basically done; the Suzuki GSX-R750 is the only machine left in this class, and it’s running sans modern electronics. No traction control, no leaning ABS.
The new R7 does not seem to be built in the same vein as those old 750s. Emissions docs in the US indicate the new sportbike will be built around the Yamaha MT-07 platform. Smart move—this naked bike has been one of Yamaha’s most popular machines in the past decade, thanks to decent power-to-weight ratio, and low cost. This 689 cc liquid-cooled parallel twin makes just under 74 hp at 9,000 rpm, and 50 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm. Wet weight is about 180 kg, and pricing starts at $8,799.
That’s far from the performance of the old four-cylinder 750 class, but Yamaha no doubt sees an opportunity to break into the emerging budget twin sportbike class (see also: Aprilia RS660). Put a full fairing on the MT-07, and Yamaha’s got a machine that comes with good street manners; put on a race kit, and you can hit the track. That’s certainly what the video above implies.
The question is, if we get an R7 based on the MT—what’s next? We’ve already seen the 300 class turn into the 400 class, with race series for these machines all over the globe, even in World Superbike. Might we see a similar run-up for the 700 series next? Maybe that would stop some of the complaining about the performance lag between the new 750s and the old ones.