Classic or crusher? Yamaha YZF-R7 OW02

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Quite possibly the most beautiful homologation special ever, 1999's YZF-R7 signifies everything that was glamorous about the 750cc superbike era. When it came to the R7, Yamaha gave its designers a blank chequebook and told them to build a WSB winner – they very nearly succeeded. But with only TWO still registered to ride on British roads, is it destined to be a classic, or was it really a crushing disappointment?

nly produced for two years, the YZF-R7 OW-02 was the second no-holds-barred Yamaha homologation special, following on from the FZR750RR OW-01. Costing £20,000 the R7 only carried lights for show – this is a pure race thoroughbred and not a tweaked road bike like the YZF750SP.

Inside the engine forged aluminium short-skirt pistons run in an over-square bore with titanium conrods, titanium valves and a lightened crank. Whatever was needed to win in WSB, Yamaha put it on the R7 – although the road bike only made 106bhp…

In order to sell the bike all over Europe, Yamaha neutered the R7 by turning off the secondary fuel injector to each cylinder. A new fuel pump, ECU update and pipe would see 135bhp but even that was paltry when you could get an R1 with 150bhp for half the price.

But an R1 isn’t an R7, it doesn’t have a 500GP chassis or Öhlins suspension and in 2000 it didn’t have Nori Haga at the controls. If only he had eaten salad instead of ephedrine the R7 would have achieved its goal of WSB success…

Out of the 500 YZF-R7s built, only 2 are still road registered in the UK with a further 25 on SORNs. We shudder to think how many ended up embedded in tyre walls…

Classic or crusher? Your call

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MCN

By MCN

The voice of motorcycling since 1955