NEW Yamaha R7 Review (2022) - Track & Road Tested

 

It’s no secret the supersport 600 market has witnessed a dramatic decline. In Europe it dropped by a staggering 77% from 2000 to 2020. Yet racing remains hugely popular, particularly MotoGP, WSBK and BSB (in which classes Yamaha are having notable success in this, their 60th anniversary year).  And while the popularity of track-focused 600cc machines has declined, smaller sports bikes have seen an increase in sales, particularly Yamaha’s R125 launched in 2005 and the R3 launched in 2015.

With the legendary R6 now only available as a track option, there’s a void in Yamaha’s sporty range between the R3 and R1, and the Japanese automotive giants spotted as an opportunity. Creating a new bike based on the hugely popular and sales chart super success, the MT-07, was a no-brainer – in fact, I’m surprised it’s taken them so long. This isn’t a replacement for the inline-four R6 and is similar to the original OW-02 R7 in name only. The 2022 YZF-R7 promises to deliver a balance between road and track riding; is affordable, accessible, and still carries the brand's R-series style and look.

For 2022, Yamaha launches this brand-new model, the R7. The R7 uses the same parallel twin found in the MT-07, but that is where the similarities end. A re-designed chassis with more frame rigidity, a steeper head angle, new inverted forks, revised shock and brakes, not forgetting the dramatic styling… and it looks great.

Yamaha invited us to southern Spain to test the new machine on both road and track. First impressions are favourable, this bike really could be the machine to re-energize the mid-capacity sports bike and could become a sales chart hit in 2022.

 

For and against
  • Easy yet entertaining ride
  • Sporty looks
  • Can cut it on track, if that’s your bag
  • Cable routing across the clocks
  • Quick-shifter not standard
  • Some may not like the lack of rider aids
2022 Yamaha R7 on road and track
Chad introduces us to the new Yamaha at the press launch where he got to test the bike on road and track
Yamaha YZF700 R7 2022 Review Price Spec_035

 

Yamaha R7 (2022) Price

How much is the 2022 Yamaha R7? £8200

Yamaha has jumped into a new market segment, which historically has been dominated by Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 (£7399). Heavily modified 650 Ninjas have dominated road racing in the Lightweight/SuperTwins class and is the first-choice bike for many for the road and track.

However, Aprilia entered the fray with the impressive RS660 launched this time last year. I first rode the sporty twin in Italy and returned full of admiration. The sexy Italian is the most expensive bike in this class but comes with a plethora of tech goodies, including lean sensitive rider aids, which the others don’t have. But it is pricy at £10,149.

Honda’s CBR650R (£8149) can’t be ruled out either. Fractionally cheaper than the R7, the inline four-cylinder machine makes more power, and the rev happy engine makes it fun to ride. Arguably, it is not as desirable, especially compared to the R7 in its white anniversary colours (which will cost an extra £300).

 

Power and torque

The parallel twin, with its unique 270-degree crank, is taken directly from the MT-07. Bore and stroke, compression ratio, gearbox… everything remains the same as the engine updated in 2021 to be Euro -5 compliant. This means peak outputs of 73.4PS (54kw/72bhp) @ 8700rpm and 67Nm/49.41ftlb of torque @ 6500rpm.

However, Yamaha have fitted a ‘first assist and slipper clutch’ which not only improves engine braking but also reduces the clutch lever pressure by 33%. The throttle pully routing is more direct to give a sharper, quicker feel and the gearing is longer, down from a 43-tooth rear sprocket to 42. With the R7’s improved aerodynamics, Yamaha claims the new bike has an 8% higher top speed than the naked MT-07 but wouldn’t confirm what that was.

 

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

There are no electronic rider modes to select or rider aids to increase or decrease because there aren’t any! Simply jump on and ride because the fuelling and delivery are as friendly as a hug from granny.

On the road the R7 is, as you’d expect, very much like the highly acclaimed MT-07. The throttle delivery is soft, fuelling is excellent, and the 270-crank gives the parallel twin a smooth feeling compared to similar engines with a 180-crank.

Power delivery is linear without any peaks and troughs. At almost 80mph, the rev counter hovers below 5750rpm, still with plenty in reserve. Fast touring isn’t a problem for this ‘entry-level’ sports bike either. Tuck in behind the reasonably protective bodywork and 135mph will appear on the (rather plain) digital clocks. Stretch the cable and try a little harder and an indicated 140mph could be achievable. Obviously, we tested this on track but you know, if you fancied a bit of fast touring in Germany on those autobahns…

For the track part of the test, Yamaha fitted their optional Quick Shift System (QSS, £134) which works on upshifts only. You need to keep the little engine buzzing, and the QSS becomes essential as you live in the upper 25% of the rev range. On the road, the MT-07-derived engine will happily pull cleanly from low down in the rpm, but on track loves to be thrashed, with upshifts only made when the shift lights illuminate.

Around the Andalucía racetrack in southern Spain, I anticipated that the R7 would feel like an underpowered R6 and leave the rider a little deflated, like drinking alcohol-free beer. Glady, my predictions were wrong.

The R7 has a character of its own: it’s punchy out of the slow corners, and despite the lack of rider aids you can get on the power incredibly early. On a larger bike, hard acceleration out of corners often means leaning on electronic rider aids. But on the R7, inherent mechanical grip (R11 Bridgestone’s were fitted for the track test) combined with unintimidating power output translates to a quick exit.

Yes, on the long straight it’s not arm-ripping quick: fourth and fifth gears feel long, and sixth is almost too tall for the track. But again, I can see the benefit for inexperienced riders. The lack of extreme power gives you time to breathe and relax. Corners don’t rush towards you; you have time to focus on the line and have fun. Riding an R6 or an R1 can be hard both mentally and physically, but the R7 isn’t. You won't be packing up early on your next track day.

 

 

Handling, suspension and weight

Many will compare the new R7 to the MT-07, but this is an entirely new bike and not an MT-07 with some attractive bodywork added. The chassis has more rigidity, the steering head angle is steeper, the rear had been lifted via a new linkage and a revised rear shock, wheelbase is shorter (by 5mm), and there are completely new KYB forks, now inverted and fully adjustable. The centre of mass has moved forward while the rider, a large percentage of the overall mass of course, is positioned much more R6 than MT-07.

So what does this all mean? Despite its racy and aggressive looks, the R7 is actually very forgiving. The ride is on the soft side of sporty, by which I mean this isn’t like a harsh supersport machine. On the road, Yamaha’s R6 is too firm, with little static sag, and needs to be softened to work on the road. But the R7’s focus is on real-world bumps and road decay. The suspension has plenty of travel and movement, which translates confidence to the rider, especially helpful for those with less experience.

You can feel what is happening beneath you and feel at home on the R7 from the off. At a brisk road pace, it’s involving and tremendous fun. Riding in the mountains devoid of traffic and police I didn’t want to stop for lunch. Knee-down left to knee-down right with minimum effort – at one stage I thought I might run out of knee sliders. I can’t remember the last time I rode any bike on the road with so much gusto while remaining serenely composed.

As you ‘only’ have 72bhp to play with and the chassis is compliant, you’re in control, not the other way around. You have time to work out the corner, see it open up, and get on the power early. Alternatively, you can leave the R7 on its side, knee skimming the road, just for the hell of it. Grip and feedback are truly excellent.

Okay, when you push on to track day speeds on the road, the standard suspension needs more support. Brake heavily and the forks dive very quickly with too much travel, and the rear is on the soft side. But this bike is aimed at new riders, or those lacking experience, not former racers pushing the boundaries of grip.

For this track test Yamaha cleverly fitted track day rubber and tweaked the suspension to match. Again, like the motor, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, the little R7 was a real surprise.

Considering the R7’s price point, the chassis and suspension perform above expectations on track. The Andalucía track is hard to learn and demanding, but the R7 made light work of it. With the tweaked suspension, I could now brake later and with more fork control. The turn-in and roll into the corner were lovely, not razor sharp, but easy enough. Once on its side the R7 devours corner speed and will carry radical levels of lean, to elbow-down levels if necessary. Toe sliders touch, but I had no problem with ground clearance. On exits, the rear shock takes the strain of the relatively low power, the sticky rear Bridgestone grips, meaning you can get on the power early – again and again. Absence of electronics is completely forgotten.

 

 

Yamaha R7 (2022) Comfort and Economy

Yamaha claims the R7 is the most aerodynamic in the R-Series. It is narrow at the front and the seat too, which makes it easy to get both feet on the ground for short riders (seat height is 835mm). However, this aerodynamic package, with ergonomics closer to the R6 than I was expecting, does make the R7 on the small side. I’m 5ft 7in, or 172cm, and felt at home in the racy riding position but riders over 6ft may find it a little cramped. The screen is reasonably large for fast motorway riding, and at slow speeds the ‘bar position wasn’t too extreme.

Given that the engine is from the MT-07, it should deliver 55-60mpg. The R7 is more aerodynamic than the MT, but also little heavier, by 4kg, and will most likely be ridden harder. Tank size has also dropped a fraction from 14 to 13 litres. I’d estimate you’d need to start worrying about fuel around the 140-150-mile mark.

The dash includes a digital fuel gauge, plus the usual trip and mpg data. My only gripe is that it is a little dull, and the cable routing makes the data at the bottom a little hard to read, though taller riders may not have this problem.  

 

Brakes

The R7 is equipped with radial-mounted four-piston ADVICS front callipers with a Brembo master cylinder gripping 298mm discs. The latter appear to be the same as the MT-07, but that’s all.

On the road I had few complaints. There’s good feel at the adjustable lever, and new or inexperienced riders will feel at home. On the track, the brakes are more than powerful enough to control this lightweight bike.

At the end of the fifth gear back straight, the ABS was a little intrusive and trying to feel the last percentage of braking power was hard work. You can’t feel the pads gripping. If you wanted to race an R7, you’d need to remove the ABS and upgrade the pads for a better feel.

 

 

Rider aids, extra equipment and accessories

The lack of rider aids will divide opinion but then it is built to a particular price tag. I did not feel short-changed just because the R7 lacked any traction control or cornering ABS. The fuelling is manageable, the suspension feedback is excellent for this type of bike, and we rode in perfect conditions. However, I grew up riding angry two-stroke without any rider aids, and this bike is aimed at new or inexperienced riders who will probably ride all year round. In cold or damp conditions, will the lack of rider aids concern some buyers, especially when other models have far more advanced rider aids?

As mentioned, Aprilia’s RS660 comes equipped with lean sensitive rider aids and optional riding modes but you’d be paying £2000 extra. But even KTM’s new RC390, which isn’t a direct competitor but is certainly sporty, has basic lean sensitive rider aids and is expected to be under £6000.

For the racetrack, Yamaha unveiled their GYTR race bike, which showcases the racing accessories available for the R7, from race bodywork, suspension, ECU and wiring harness, to brake lines and ABS emulator to remove the ABS – everything to go racing. The full race exhaust from Akrapovic sounded great, by the way, and don’t be surprised to see a one-make race series. (Yes, please, I want a go.)

There is also a more practical range of side tank bags and soft side bags. If it was me buying an R7 I’d definitely opt for the 60th anniversary colours and QSS, which was fitted to our track bike – shame it doesn’t come standard.

 

Rivals

 

Power

Torque

Weight

Price

Aprilia RS660

100hp (73.5kw) @ 10,500rpm

49.4ftlb (67Nm) @ 8500rpm

183kg (kerb)

£10,149

Kawasaki Ninja 650

67hp (50.2kw) @ 8000rpm

47.2ftlb (64Nm) @ 6700rpm

193kg (kerb)

£7,349

Honda CB650R

94hp(70Kw) @ 12,000rpm

47.2ftlb (64Nm) @ 8500rpm

207kg (kerb)

£8,149

 

Above: Available in blue or black

 

Yamaha R7 (2022) Verdict

It was an obvious and clever decision for Yamaha to produce this bike. They already had the excellent MT-07 and their line-up was missing a middleweight sporty road bike. It was a tough job, producing an affordable, attractive machine capable of cutting on the track and being easy to live with and manageable – but they have done that. Young and old will appreciate the styling, especially for the price. On the road, it’s fun and easy – and can seriously cut it.

Tweak the suspension and the praise continues on the track. So long as you’re not up against fast bikes on a fast track, then you’ll wear a demonic smile all day long. I did. On the track, and on road ridden at pace, I felt 25 again, enjoying sporty riding without doubling the speed limit or scaring myself. There’s enough power to raise your heart rate and the front wheel, but not enough to send your brain into panic mode.

This is a great bike, one that re-ignites this market segment and makes it even more attractive. The R7 deserves to attract a wave of new young riders to the joys of sports bikes. And, no, I don’t care that they called it an R7… After all, most potential buyers weren’t even born when Yamaha launched the limited edition OW-02.

 

Above: the full factory GYTR-spec race bike, with all the goodies

 

Yamaha R7 (2022) Technical Specification

New price

£8200

Capacity

689cc

Bore x Stroke

80 x 68.6mm

Engine layout

In-line 2-cylinder, DOHC

Engine details

Water-cooled, 4v per cylinder

Power

54kw/74hp @ 8700rpm

Torque

67Nm/47lbft @ 6500rpm

Top speed

130mph (EST)

Transmission

6-speed

Average fuel consumption

57mpg (4.96/100km) (EST)

Tank size

13 litres

Max range to empty

162mph (est)

Rider aids

Standard ABS

Frame

Diamond

Front suspension

Inverted KYB 41mm inverted 130mm Travel

Front suspension

Fully adjustable

Rear suspension

KYB single rear shock 130mm travel

Rear suspension

Preload and rebound

Front brake

2 x 298mm disc, four piston calliper

Rear brake

245mm disc, two-piston calliper

Front tyre

120/70 ZR17 Bridgestone S22

Rear tyre

180/55 ZR17 Bridgestone S22

Rake/Trail

23°/90mm

Wheelbase

1395mm

Seat height

835mm

Dry weight

188kg (wet)

MCIA Secured rating

3 stars

Warranty

Unlimited miles / 2 years

Website

www.yamaha-motor.eu

 

Photos & Video: Ant Productions / Yamaha Europe

Video editing: Too Fast Media

 

Yamaha YZF700 R7 2022 Review Price Spec_MCIA

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

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