YAMAHA YZF1000 THUNDERACE (1996-2003) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"Proved to be a better big bore sports touring motorcycle than out-and-out superbike"

Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Riding

"Proved to be a better big bore sports touring motorcycle than out-and-out superbike"

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

The Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace started out as Yamaha’s last throw of the old school superbike dice, and resulted in the final incarnation of the FZR1000 EXUP. But ironically the Thunderace has proved to be a better big bore sports touring motorcycle than out-and-out superbike – albeit a humungously fast one. If you like your superbikes big and brash and with room for two, the Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace now represents great value.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

The standard of modern superbike handling may have moved on, but the big ol’ Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace is still no slouch with its YZF750R-derived chassis. Being a less focused motorcycle than the latest 1000cc weapons means that with the Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace you can get on with destroying distances in relative comfort thanks to its broad and comfortable seat, less extreme riding position and a fairing which gives good protection as well. Serious thrashing will have the undercarriage grounding out, but the the YZF1000R Thunderace was raced in the Isle of Man production TT so it’s not an insurmountable problem.

Engine 4 out of 5

The Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace's big old 1003cc five-valver is a meaty, proven and fast motorcycle. 147bhp may seem old hat today, but the Yamaha Thunderace’s torque spread reminds of Kawasaki’s ZZ-R1100 and is smooth, solid, glitch-free and versatile… even if the transmission is a touch notchy.

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

Yamaha never has had the best reputation of the Japanese factories for quality finishes and the like and the YZF1000R Thunderace is another example. Heavily wintered bikes suffer, sometimes alarmingly, but look after your Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace and you’ll be OK. Mechanically they’re solid and proven motorcycles.

 

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

The Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace was reasonably priced when new but, being decidedly ‘old school’, it’s now an outstanding value motorcycle secondhand. As long as you don’t mind riding a machine generally considered to be out of fashion.

Find a Yamaha Thunderace for sale

Insurance group: 16 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Again, ‘old school’, meaning the Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace is pretty lavish by modern superbike standards. This motorcycle has decent pillion provision, a large fairing, comprehensive switchgear and instrumentation etc, even plenty of luggage mounting points. The Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace also marked the first appearance of Yamaha’s awesome one piece, four-piston brake calipers that have also adorned the R1 which are two-finger powerful and make a mockery of some six-piston designs.

Owners' Reviews

16 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA YZF1000 THUNDERACE (1996-2003) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your YAMAHA YZF1000 THUNDERACE (1996-2003)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.6 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.4 out of 5
Engine 4.8 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.8 out of 5
Equipment 4.1 out of 5
3 out of 5

Warp speed express

22 July 2016 by Davagixxer

This was featured in What Bike? Annual review and said it was the "fat dad of the R1". And that sums it up perfectly. I had to get rid of this before it (a) killed me or (b) put me in jail. Why? It's a very easy bike to ride quickly. I've had all... Read more sorts over a 40 year career, but can honestly say I never managed to get the throttle to the stop. You look down on the motorway thinking you're cruising but leaving everyone for dead - and you're showing 140mph. It is EFFORTLESS. Problems - watch out for those brake calipers seizing (in Japan We put salt on chip only....) in winter with the roadsalt (I must be a nutter,I remember riding mine in thick snow), the EXUP seized on me as well putting it into limp home mode, but overall, a very cheap way of going VERY fast!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
The best brakes I have ever used.
Engine
5 out of 5
Ohmigod.............
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
About average for an inline 4. That EXUP can cause issues.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Enough to inform without being flash. After a break of 14 years I'm going to get back in,I left it having written off a SV650S due to Mr Twat in his Merc doing a 3 point turn on a blind summit and also had a GSX-R600 and GPz500 as a winter hack at home at the time. What am I looking at? Although the SV650 is derided, it is brilliant. No. A Thundercat will see me genly eased back n
5 out of 5

Ace is right

28 February 2016 by Jake Majba

I've owned this bike for six years and I'm not thinking of selling it anytime soon. After graduating from a GPX250 then a CBR600F4, the thunderace is the final weapon. I've dialed in each system and it's become a Swiss watch. If you happen to be 6'3"... Read more you'll find this bike was made for you. A lot of people complain that it's too bulky, they just don't know how to ride it. You have to get forward on the bike with your eyes over the triple clamp to really understand what the engineers intended. It has an ergonomic riding position where you sit "in" the bike rather than on... and it is ridiculously nimble.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
It's an all rounder. The perfect city bike as well as an excellent long range missile. If you keep fit, this bike is fantastically rewarding to ride. Just because this bike tours well doesn't mean it isn't a sport bike with sublime handling.
Engine
5 out of 5
20 valve Genesis motor - what more can I say? They put these is sprint cars.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
If you are pro-active with maintenance they age extremely well. The Thunderace was a premium Japanese bike in the day and it shows with all the little features. (They sold for 16 grand in Australia 20 years ago).
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
One of the last old school super sports which is why they smell like fuel - the good kind, 91 unleaded! Easy to maintain yourself, ie. plugs, oil, filters, exup valve, bulbs, etc. Change the oil and gap the plugs every 6000 k's, replace filter and plugs every other. When it's time for a major service take it to the guy who works on race bikes and has the highest hourly rate.
Equipment
5 out of 5
- Get the suspension professionally set up for your weight - Go 1 tooth up (or 2 max) on the rear sprocket (530 x-ring) - Get braided hydraulic lines, a jet kit, slip-on exhaust, K&N filter - Michelin road pilot 4 tyres (37psi), Castrol 15w50 + chain oil - Get a fan switch that cuts in 10 degrees lower - Replace the cam chain at 84 thou k's. - Cut a turn off the carb return springs, it lightens the throttle nicely - Get a 12 point, thinwall long reach socket for the plugs - Get Dynacoils (it's the last upgrade you'll probably do) - Get a front fender extender to protect the radiator, make one out of plastic and bolt it to the swingarm to protect the rear shock
5 out of 5

28 February 2016 by Jake Majba

I've owned this bike for six years and not thinking of selling it anytime soon. After graduating from a 250 then a 600, the thunderace is the final weapon. I've dialed in each system and it's become a Swiss watch. If you happen to be 6'3" you'll find... Read more this bike was made for you. A lot of people complain that it's too porky, they just don't know how to ride it. You have to get forward on the bike with your eyes over the triple clamp to really understand what the engineers intended - it's ridiculously nimble.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
3 out of 5

Its ok i suppose

19 October 2013 by 1308lee

ended up buying a thunderace because im young and daft as a brush... i was knocked off my CBR400rr which was an amazing bike, by a van (the old 'sorry mate i didnt see you'). i rode that bike near enough to its limit! i had my knee down at every... Read more corner, every roundabout and even in a straight line! i thought long and hard about what bike to get next considering im only a baby and it was the insurance i had to worry about. the average sport bike quote was 10k+ so i thought id challenge myself and see what its like to ride a 1000cc! my reasoning was if i can ride that hard being a big heavy lump i can ride anything! iv had her nearly 3 months now and im still dragging knees but its a lot less 'responsive' than my little 400, which is understandable as i used to outhandle more or less everything on the road. the power delivrey is fantastic. once i got a good set of tyres and tweaked the suspension i fely much more confident riding this monster machine. the only thing im struggling with is low speed manouvers and walking the thing backwards as iv only got little legs and the bikes way to heavey to be flying round tiny tight bends. apart from this the bikes great, hasnt really let me down as yet although they all burn a fair bit of oil when you tater them a little! all in all, id deffinately reccomend it to most people. its not great for racing but it certainly keeps up. im looking at trading it in for a k8 GSXR750 next year though as i find it much more comfortable for how i ride however anyone who's ever ridden my Ace has mentioned how comfortable it is. i dont find it all that comfy to be honest? must just be me :)

Ride Quality & Brakes
2 out of 5
-
Engine
3 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
2 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Bags of fun!

09 February 2012 by deaves

Had my Ace 11 years now and LOVE IT !Great bike once suspension sorted. If you can ride no worries keeping with newer faster bikes Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

LOVE IT!

28 January 2012 by Anonymous

I have had this bike for 1 year, 1370 quid from ebay(P reg with 24k), took a chance and im glad i did! burns no oil, looks great in red/black and sounds even better with the Scorpion exhaust. Only downside is the exhaust rotting, i was lucky to be... Read more able to weld mine so look out for this before buying.Im 18stone and ive been for a 300 mile journey with full panniers and the Mrs and bike returned 50mpg. Compared with a brand new Speed Triple 1050 which i test rode this is more fun and looks better...although the triple was good i just couldnt justify the extra cost. Buy one!!!

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

superb

12 April 2011 by BUSA666

superb bike, fantastic 20 valve engine, and comfy, A +++ Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
3 out of 5

ThunderAce

01 November 2010 by TheChamp

A little more than a year ago, a friend crashed my beloved CBR1100XX into a wall, and I was left without a motorcycle. This went on for several months and in the Spring I could stand no more! Just about that time I found a 1997 YZF1000R for $700! It... Read more had bee layed down, and had alot of cosmetic damage and was missing the turn signals, also it neaded tires badly, but it ran well and rode as it should, so I jumped on it. I used it for the summer and found it to be an enjoyable motorcyle, especially considering the cost. I never had any mechanical issue with the bike, and it always fired up faithfully and easily, suprising for older carburated bike. The handling was okay, I could tell it was lighter than the XX, but it wasnt as confidence inspiring. It rode okay too, but couldnt really be called smooth. The brakes were very good. The 5speed tranny was okay, and I never wanted for a 6th gear. The motor was strong, and at high RPM had the same "instant transmission" effect as the CBR, and any number of big modern bikes, though it wasnt as flexible, wouldnt be lugged. My time with the bike came to an end recently. Someone stole it, made it ~400m then crashed, destroying both himself and the bike. I now have a 1995 CBR1000F, which for the record, is not nearly as good as the Yamaha. The ThunderAce was made as a more street oriented and cheaper alternative to the R1. I dont think Yamaha did enough to differintiate the two, as the difference between th Busa and the Gixxer, or the Fireblade and Blackbird is much greater. If you want a big, fast comfy road bike go with the CBR1100XX, GSX1300R etc. If you want a race bike get an R1 etc. Not that the YZF1000R is a bad bike in isolation, its just in a no mans land between genres and you can do better on either side.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Fantastic Bike!

11 April 2010 by Daddle

Just bought an Ace three weeks ago. Born again biker, well sort of, so was a bit worried about buying such a powerful bike but it kept on cropping up as a good buy in the reviews and it ticked all the right boxes. What a bike! Comfortable,... Read more ridiculously fast, looks good (and looking better each day), amazing MPG, got mine for well less than £2k, a 97 with only 14k miles on the clock! What more can you ask for? Would agree with some of the other reviews, it is an easy bike to ride and would suit beginners as long as they are physically capable of riding the bike. HOWEVER... if you're anything like me you'll quickly find that the national speed limits seem very slow. The bike loves to go fast and it's so smooth and planted that you don't realise just how fast you're going (that's my excuse anyway). Tame enough to ride around town but twist it's neck and it's like the Millenium Falcon making the jump to light speed. I use mine for a 60 mile commute on A roads and through town, it eats it up. Can't wait for some long trips in the summer with a tent strapped to the back. If you're thinking of buying one, just do it. You will have no regrets, just watch you're speed - like I said, it just loves to go fast (Note to self - read this review before riding my bike).

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Fantastic Bike!

10 April 2010 by Daddle

Just bought an Ace three weeks ago. Born again biker, well sort of, so was a bit worried about buying such a powerful bike but it kept on cropping up as a good buy in the reviews and it ticked all the right boxes. What a bike! Comfortable,... Read more ridiculously fast, looks good (and looking better each day), amazing MPG, got mine for well less than £2k, a 97 with only 14k miles on the clock! What more can you ask for? Would agree with some of the other reviews, it is an easy bike to ride and would suit beginners as long as they are physically capable of riding the bike. HOWEVER... if you're anything like me you'll quickly find that the national speed limits seem very slow. The bike loves to go fast and it's so smooth and planted that you don't realise just how fast you're going (that's my excuse anyway). Tame enough to ride around town but twist it's neck and it's like the Millenium Falcon making the jump to light speed. I use mine for a 60 mile commute on A roads and through town, it eats it up. Can't wait for some long trips in the summer with a test strapped to the back. If you're thinking of buying one, just do it. You will have no regrets, just watch you're speed - like I said, it just loves to go fast (Note to self - read this review before riding my bike).

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
Read all 16 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1996
Year discontinued 2003
Original price -
Used price £1,700 to £2,900
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 16 of 17
Annual road tax £82
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 145 bhp
Max torque 70 ft-lb
Top speed 165 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.8 secs
Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Tank range 180 miles
Specification
Engine size 1002cc
Engine type 20v transverse four, 5 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Seat height 795mm
Bike weight 198kg
Front suspension Preload, compression, rebound
Rear suspension Preload, compression, rebound
Front brake 2 x 298mm discs
Rear brake 245mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17 in
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17in

History & Versions

Model history

1996: Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace launched.
1997: Wiring loom modified to enable fitment of alarms.
2003: Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace discontinued.

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Engine
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Engine
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Engine
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Engine
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Engine
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Engine
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace motorcycle review - Side view
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