YAMAHA YZF1000 THUNDERACE (1996 - 2003) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£300|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Yamaha 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 & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace was reasonably priced when new but, being decidedly ‘old school’, it’s now an outstanding value motorcycle secondhand.
Find a Yamaha Thunderace for sale
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.
Of course, this being a '90s kid there are no electronics or any other fancy business.
|Engine type||20v transverse four, 5 gears|
|Frame type||Aluminium twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||19 litres|
|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|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||35 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||£300|
16 of 17
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||145 bhp|
|Max torque||70 ft-lb|
|Top speed||165 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||10.8 secs|
|Tank range||180 miles|
Model history & versions
1996: Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace launched.
1997: Wiring loom modified to enable fitment of alarms.
2003: Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace discontinued.
Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA YZF1000 THUNDERACE (1996 - 2003)
20 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£300|
Out of all the bikes I have owned, this was my favorite bike. It was my everyday commuter/highway rocket for about 6 years. Never gave me a problem or left me stranded. My biggest regred was selling it in 2007 to buy a Harley Softail.
Handles fantastic, loves backroads as much as long straight-a-ways. Could ride for hours and never get sore.
fantastic power to rate ratio.
Swapped out the stock muffler for a D&D, love the aggressive tone.
Buying experience: Purchased used in 2000 from a local dealer for 5200.00.
Annual servicing cost: £300
I've had this bike from new and done 40k miles on it. I've still never really got my knee down though, it leans all the way and then a bit more... I've seen 155mph on derestricted autobahn and taken it up the Swiss mountains. I've toured the whole UK in a week on it and I did get a bit of a numb bum and achy wrists from sitting on it for hours at a time. I've removed the exup on mine as the flip-flap brass bit was designed too long and seized up really easily. This happened three times and then I got annoyed and ditched it - you just cant get the parts these days. Otherwise, loves Dunlops, fast as hell, and just a wonderful, wonderful bike.
Little bit of vibration through the bars. You get used to it pretty quickly. Otherwise pretty comfy for something so balls-out quick.
Great power, the race guys nick the engines out of these, bung on a big bore kit and slap them in the YZF750 frame.
Exups seizing is the biggest problem on this bike. Also, these bikes are designed to use oil, which is a bit rubbish on long journeys, limping it home avoiding the oil light coming on.
Most stuff is easy to fix yourself. Good to have a tame tuning guy on hand though.
Pulls like a train and a fast one! Try one and you will understand what a great bike it is!
Really good alround bike, take for a spin or ride with comfort at the long highway!
Plenty of power, just remember to have a firm grip on the handle bars!
I know about plenty of these bikes that have 80k km with no problems.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Bought bike as a daily commuter with some sport touring ability and weekend fun. Super smooth - less vibration thru bars and pegs than new 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX. I paid £2300 for a 23k immaculate bike. Valves done. Super comfortable seat and pillion. Mirrors could be in slightly better position but it's a lot of bike for the money - gets a bit hot in heavy traffic but it's ok if you can weave through. Lighter than it looks with good handling. Not a super sport but a sports tourer. BUY ONE!! (I chose this over the Kawasaki Z1000SX because of the huge price differential £2300 versus £10,600 and disappointing vibration thru pegs and bars on Kwaka).
Great stopping power but make sure you use the full force of the fronts before tapping in the rear (as you should anyway!).
Lots of low and mid-range power - lovely sound after 5000 revs. 11000revs sounds a bit harsh...
For a bike of this age it's looking remarkably good - I suspect it's been garage all its life and last owner was a Yamaha dealer mechanic so it's been well looked after.
I've entered £300 as I think that will be about right having spoken to my mechanic but I'm ok with £500 a year.
It's a 2003 model of a late nineties bike so it's not got any features to speak of although I had new Oxford touring heated grips fitted which make a huge difference in winter as we all know with their variable heat settings.
Buying experience: Bought from Ian Bell Motorcycles near Newcastle and spent 6 hours riding it back to London just ahead of rain and a storm! Great dealer - thanks guys!
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 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!
The best brakes I have ever used.
About average for an inline 4. That EXUP can cause issues.
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
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" 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.
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.
20 valve Genesis motor - what more can I say? They put these is sprint cars.
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).
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.
- 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
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 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.
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 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 :)
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
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 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!!!
superb bike, fantastic 20 valve engine, and comfy, A +++
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 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.
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, 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).
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, 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).
Got the thunderace as my first bike beacause i wanted a sports bike and the ace was 1/3 cheaper insurance than the 600cc sports and even cheaper than a fzr600. With no biking expierience i had my worries about buying such a powerful bike but after just a few miles they were gone. It's so easy to get along with,smooth and comfortable that anybody can ride it with confidence. The brakes are amazing and then there's the speed.Every speed limit broken in less than 4 seconds without changing gear,and it pulls like that all the way to 160+ Amazing. Managed to get a 99 plate with 16,000 miles for under £1800 and in 3000 miles its needed a service and a brake bulb and it always starts on the button. It does use oil but im told this is common so i just keep a bit under the seat. Overall i think this bike is amazing and would recomend it to anybody, old or young novice or expert
I have owned my Ace for about a year now. It was very cheap to buy and it is very reasonable to insure. Nothing has really gone wrong so far although I did have to replace the downpipes (I managed to pick up a second hand set cheap but new ones cost a fortune) I find it has more than enough power for me and if you keep the revs above 6000 there is still not much on the roads will get past you. Better comfort than it looks and I have done 500 miles in 24 hours on it recently. Although I needed a rest after that it wasn't too bad. The handling seems pretty good to me and it gets round corners nice and quick even in the wet if you keep it smooth. Again it is actually quite flickable because although heavier than most modern counterparts it still has a low centre of gravity which makes it feel lighter and instills confidence through the bends. One last thing. If you ride one every day and take it easy the fuel econony is exceptional.On a fairly steady 75mph motorway run I got 59mpg!! Strengths: Power, balance, cheap purchase price, relative comfort and economy. Weaknesses: Looks a bit dated now, uses a bit of oil, not much good for pillion.
I have had my Thunderace for 2 years and am still very pleased with it. This bike is not just a weekend tool, but is my only transport so I get to find out more about a bike than most. Since owning this bike I have done 16'000 miles of relativly trouble free riding, but I did repair/replace a few things soon after buying it. The rear shocker was knackered, (had this rebuilt for £95 inc. postage) and did all the usual stuff, oil, plugs, filters, tyres (Mac X100's) chain/sprockets, fork oil, brake pads. The bike already had braded lines and an Art carbon can on it, and I had a cat 1 alarm/imobiliser fitted. Just recently the Throttle Position Sensor went on it, £120!!! No Thanks, I got one from a breakers, gauranteed working for £27 delivered. My ace has done 38K miles and uses a little oil but only a litre every 6 months and I avarage 55 MPG. I'll often run up over 200 miles before refueling, and I don't dawdle around either. I also got 8000 miles from my last tyres (Mac X90). Strengths: The ace is fast, comfortable and well handling. MPG is good, hasn't stopped running yet. Weaknesses: You need to make sure you keep that EXUP working properly otherwise there is NO power until atleast 4000 RPM.
I bought the Thunderace with some reservations. But at the time money was tight and while I wanted a sports bike for the rides my little er5 weren't really suitable for and I couldn't afford a gixer or r1. So the ace was a compromise between cost and performance and only just won out over a suzuki rf900. I didn't really expect much from the bike and a couple of little mishaps early on certainly didn't do the bike any favours. But after a long trip to Cornwall (from Yorkshire) and a week on the Isle of Man, my mind has certainly been changed. The handling really isn't far off more modern kit and its settled nature in the corners really helps your confidence. Comfort is on a par with my old zzr-1100. Even with a recently broken wrist, all day riding is easy. I think the engine is lazy, and unless you work at keeping the revs up. Mine drinks oil, lots of oil. But that does seem to be quite common with these bikes. Strengths: It's not right on the edge performance, but it's close enough to embarass blades and R1s and would complement a rider where a more focused bike would punish them. This is an awful lot of bike for your money, a very good buy.<br>Weaknesses: It drinks oil and the clutch is a bit grabby - like hayabusa clutches, all on or all off - which can make the traffic light grand prix a touch lairy. Mines an older bike and the electrics are a bit, erm, tired.
This is by far the best motorcycle I have owned. I have owned the ZZR1100, FZR1000, FZR1000 exup RU, CBR1000 and many different other Honda's and have thousands of miles experiance. This is the best handling, performance and reliability I have had and all I think I'll need. I travel at least once a year around Europe covering in total 1500 miles per trip. The Thunderace is good for all roads from 130mph bends to 20mph mountain switch backs. Its no R1 but it is an excellent all round bike with grunt where you need it. I've seen an indicated 170mph on the clock which is enough for anyone and has kept me happy. It has a good tank range and a fair seating position and can and has riden all day. Strengths: The whole package....<br>Weaknesses: Not found one, but then again I'm no Mick Doohan.
This bike, although not as cool looking as the more streamlined new sports bikes, is a great 2 up machine. It has oodles of power and does not get left behind, although a bit slower in the twisties. It will match most modern bikes on a normal everyday rideout. (And my missus likes it!). Strengths: Power, brakes and comfort are spot on. Weaknesses: Weight.