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2023 Yamaha YZF-R7 Review - Yamaha's trendsetting supersport revival

Did Yamaha stumble upon the secret formula for the future of sports bikes with the YZF-R7? We review the R7.

Modern sports bikes have a problem, and its a bit of a catch-22. You see, sports bikes have gotten so good at going fast - arguably their primary purpose for existing - they've become nigh on unusable on public roads.

Add to that the fact that with most litre-bikes producing more than 200hp at the rear wheel, the technology needed to tame such beastly performance has pushed prices skyward and essentially killed off the class.

But things seem to be changing, and more and more manufacturers are turning their gaze towards providing a mid-capacity sport bike that is not only a sharp looker in line with their hero machines but also offers a fun platform that is actually usable on public roads at a fraction of the cost.

Picking up the Yamaha R7 to review, it appears Yamaha has led the way here with its YZF-R7 - a bike that takes the cult favourite 689cc CP2 engine from the MT-07 and Tenere 700 and slaps it into a sporty chassis for just $15,099.

That isn't where the appeal ends either, as you can swing a leg over an R7 no matter what licence you have thanks to Yamaha offering a sleeved 655cc LAMS version.

rear 3/4 shot of a Yamaha R7

But let’s have a disclaimer straight out of the pits: I wouldn’t recommend an R7 for a complete motorcycling novice. While the engine is an absolute gem, and incidentally one of the first designed specifically to comply with LAMS legislation, the aggressive supersport riding position and tight steering lock make the R7 an involved bike to swing a leg over. Novices riders would probably be better off with the more neutral riding position, but the same excellent engine, found in Yamaha’s MT-07 or XSR700 offerings.

With that said, our test bike was the LAMS variant of the YZF-R7, and it proved to still be a giggle out on twisty back roads thanks to its torquey power delivery and well-set-up chassis.

The CP2 has earned its fans with a throaty 270-degree firing order and smooth power delivery making it a perfect companion for multiple genres. Since its release in 2014, it has found its way into almost every corner of Yamaha’s lineup. Just look at the aforementioned MT-07, XSR700, Tracer 700 and Tenere 700. Now that it’s found its way into a supersport Yamaha has almost all bases covered with this gem of an engine. 

a Yamaha CP2 engine

The engine’s capacity is the only key difference between the LAMS and High Output models, giving restricted class riders a bike that is visually identical to the full-power version but with the benefits of being able to be legally ridden on a learner licence. You’ve got that YZF-R1-inspired fairing, clip-on handlebars and angular rear cowling that all scream go fast bike no matter what angle you look at it. 

There’s also the option for a quickshifter which helps snap through the 6-speed gearbox even faster like the racebike the R7 aspires to be. Even in LAMS guise, the R7 puts down a pleasing amount of power and with the quickshifter fitted gets up to speed nicely. 

Yamaha has designed the R7 to be a bike of balance; a sports bike that isn’t too much for the road - which arguably every 1000cc option has now become -  but cuts corners like a knife through butter.

A quickshifter on a Yamaha R7

That means the YZF-R7 isn’t just a great engine in a sporty-looking package. It’s got the chassis to back it up. Up the front, you’ve got adjustable 41mm upside-down forks from KYB to keep the front wheel planted firmly onto the road while the monoshock out the back has preload and rebound adjustability. It is a far cry from some of the ultra-premium electronic suspension systems found on modern superbikes, sure, but with the R7 priced at just $15,099, it’s a solid setup that more than does the job on our twisty roads. Even more so, the Yamaha is one of the only bikes in its class with that level of suspension adjustment with its closest competitors in price all featuring non-adjustable suspension.

This chassis and engine combo hit a bit of a sweet spot in the marketplace, where the YZF-R7 has very little in terms of competition, with Honda’s four-cylinder CBR650R and Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 being its main rivals currently. The YZF-R7 HO has firm competition in the new Suzuki GSX-8R (which also lacks the same level of suspension adjustment), and an argument could be made that the R7 also competes with the much more expensive Aprilia RS660 despite the latter bike's much more premium price point.

Yamaha R7 dashboard

In the cockpit, Yamaha keeps things quite simple which doubles down on the minimalistic race bike aesthetic but also means pricing can remain attainable. In this mid-capacity segment finding a balance between price and features is crucial, and Yamaha has managed to thread the needle well with the R7. The dash unit is an inverted LCD and gives the rider the important info at a glance without drawing too much attention to itself. I’m not normally a fan of the inverted colour scheme LCD dash, but on the R7 it visually works well.

Yamaha has put together an appealing offering in the R7 in a segment that has until recently been largely ignored by the majority of manufacturers. The R7 leads the way in the rebirth of the class with its well-set-up chassis and that gorgeous CP2 engine behind that race-inspired fairing. It's a bike that on debut few manufacturers had a real answer to.

The tide does appear to be changing with more manufacturers returning their gaze to the sports segment and we are already seeing other options creeping into the class that could bring true competition. Time will tell if Yamaha’s blend of great tunable chassis and the cult-favourite CP2 engine has what it takes to keep punters off bikes with more power and electronics.

front 3/4 shot of a yamaha R7

With the recent announcement that Yamaha Europe will be pulling the flagship YZF-R1 from showrooms due to emissions regulations, the R7 will soon be the only outright supersport Yamaha you can buy for the road in that market - unless Yamaha has something else up their sleeve they aren't telling us about...

Could the long-rumoured YZF-R9 - based on the MT-09 - bring the near 1000cc sports bike class back to a usable reality? Based on the YZF-R7, I wouldn't put it past Yamaha to achieve just that.


Price: from $15,099

Engine:  655cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel-twin (LAMS) 689cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel-twin (HO)

Power: 73.7hp/55kW @ 8750rpm and 68Nm @ 6500rpm (HO version)

Pros: Looks the part, well put together, optional quickshifter is fun

Cons: Supersport riding position isn’t particularly learner-friendly, competition in this segment is growing stronger 


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