Supersport gap filler: Yamaha MT-07 dresses up to replace R6

Sportsbike based on the Yamaha MT-07
Sportsbike based on the Yamaha MT-07

Yamaha are working on a faired MT-07 to fill the gap left by the outgoing R6 according to sources in Japan. Rumours of a new model have been circulating for some time but the latest information suggests Yamaha will unveil the bike this spring to arrive before the autumn.

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The writing has been on the wall for the R6 for years, with declining sales and ever-tightening emissions standards making continued investment (and profit) steadily less likely. Then, late last year, Yamaha announced the R6 would be no more in Europe, with just a few track-only models available for die-hard trackday enthusiasts and racing teams.

With the R6 gone a chasm is left in Yamaha’s sportsbike range between the A2-friendly R3 and the range-topping R1. Sources tell us that this gap will be filled by a new bike, powered by the CP2 engine from the new MT-07.

The parallel twin in the latest MT-07 produces 74bhp, so it’s clear that unless Yamaha give it a massive overhaul the new bike would compete with the Kawasaki Ninja 650 or Honda CBR650R rather than the Aprilia RS660. The CP2 engine is arguably the best bit of the MT-07, delivering a fun and engaging ride without brain-warping power.

Yamaha MT-07

Even with a huge update, we think Yamaha will still want to keep the output nearer to 80bhp, so it doesn’t become an R6-style exercise in chasing the redline. That said, this could well be a useful option for people who fancy mini-twin racing.

To help keep costs down, which will be key to the success of the project, the chassis will be similar to the one in the existing MT-07. Yamaha already have form modifying this chassis, such as on the Tracer 7, so it shouldn’t require huge work. Wheels, suspension and other running gear are likely to be similar, to help keep the budget under control.

That budget could be the key to the new bike’s success or failure, much as it was with the original MT-07 and the thrifty adventurer Ténéré 700 (which also uses the CP2 engine). If Yamaha can keep the new bike’s price under £7500 they could be onto a winner.

There's also a question mark over what the middleweight sportster will be called. Yamaha’s naming convention would point to it being an R7 but since that was a WSB homologation special race bike, which Yamaha are very proud of, we expect the firm will give this bike a fresh label.

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Jordan Gibbons

By Jordan Gibbons

News Editor, owns some old bikes. Should know better.