YZF-R7

Yamaha YZF-R7 2022 – First Ride Review

Do not mistake the Yamaha YZF-R7 for a replacement model. The all-new R7 brings plenty of riding excitement for the street and track, for under $9k.

It is important to start this review off by addressing everything that the 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 is not. Since its announcement, the internet and social media platforms have been bombarded with both glory and gripes based upon the misconception that the R7 was to be the successor of the YZF-R6. While it is understandable that one could be lead to believe such, I mean… 7 does follow 6. I, too, at first believed this to be the case.

Yes, Yamaha does play things close to the chest as they enjoyed the additional layers of mystique that shrouded this new motorcycle. So, to be clear… The YZF-R7 is not the evolution of the R6. However, it is a process in the evolutionary step of Yamaha’s motorcycle engineering.

YZF-R7

The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 is every bit an asphalt assassin as it is a track weapon. A deeper look into the bike’s specifications sheds some light on the designations used but to get right down to the business, the R7 is quite a brilliant piece of machinery with real-world thrills that paper numbers don’t do justice. The real thrill happens behind the bars… in the saddle.

The press launch for the R7 transpired at Atlanta Motorsport Park, a two-mile contortion of track in Georgia that was designed for cars. The elevation changes, blind corners, and a lengthy sweeping left-hander proved to be a perfect playground to get to know the YZF-R7.

But before throwing a leg over the bike, you must give pause to appreciate the stylings of the new machine. The R7 is slim. Skinny, even. In comparison to the R1, R3, and R6, the R7 is the most narrow bike to be included in Yamaha’s R lineup. I realized how thin the R7 is as I threw a leg over and settled into the saddle. I’m a bigger guy so being able to find my comfort zone in the seat often takes a moment, as was the case here. But once I did, I could appreciate what the R7 offered in the ergonomics department. Yamaha utilizes a “rider triangle” theory when designing the riding position of the R7. The R7’s triangle rests between the R3 and R6 thanks to the height of the clip-on handlebars mounted to a cast top triple clamp and forged lower triple. Sculpted into the fuel tank are deep pockets for your knees. The seat height measures 835mm. The result is a comfortable yet aggressive sport attack riding form on which you have the freedom to adjust your body position and maintain a solid connection to the bike. Even for a big man, such as myself.

YZF-R7

The Yamaha YZF-R7 is powered by a 689cc inline twin-cylinder CP2 engine. This is the same engine platform as the MT-07 but with a few bells and whistles. The R7 is equipped with an assist and slipper clutch, a first for the CP2 engine and it came in handy when running through the paces during the time spent on track. A highlight of the R7’s engine configuration is the implementation of its 270-degree crankshaft that produces a more balanced and consistent delivery of useable torque and power.

YZF-R7

Rolling on the throttle, the R7 responds with smooth and reliable acceleration. There is no herk. No jerk. At open throttle, the R7 behaved with an aggressive performance providing real power throughout the RPM band. After the first few sessions, with several laps in, I upped my gearing at sections of the course with a progressive response. Where I was traveling in second and third gear, I bumped up to third and fourth and found the ride even more exhilarating.

Our test bikes were equipped with the optional quick shift system ($199.99… It’s worth it!) so upshifts were effortless. From corner entry, apex to exit, the R7 offered constant stability that increased my confidence in the job at hand. Comfort and confidence in the R7 came quickly. That left plenty of room to focus on the twists of the track.

YZF-R7

Atlanta Motorsports Park consists of a multitude of left and right-handers and not much in the long straights department. It is more technical than it is fast. However, it is quick. It could be very easy to underestimate the layout and run off the circuit. I was spared any run-off moments, not for lack of trying.

YZF-R7

The braking components of the R7 are premium. At the front end, there’s the Brembo radial master cylinder with a 16mm piston that operates radial ADVICS calipers with 30mm and 27mm pistons that grab the twin 298mm rotors. Managing speed upon corner entry was steady and strong thanks to the feedback from the braking setup.

Through the chicane after turn one and at other sections on the course, the nimbleness of the thin R7 takes high marks. For the frame and suspension, Yamaha employs a steeper rake (23.7 degrees), a shorter trail (88mm), and a 1395mm wheelbase with 41mm KYB upside-down adjustable forks. The R7’s frame is reinforced at the swingarm pivot by aluminum center braces on both sides that provide torsional rigidity. The sum is a motorcycle that is manageable and responds properly to rider input.

YZF-R7

Our YZF-R7s were outfitted with Bridgestone Battlax Racing R11 tires that gripped the asphalt with dominion. The R7 that you purchase from your dealer will be fitted with Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tires sized 120/70-R17 for the front and 180/55-R17 at the rear. Equipped with R11s or S22s, the R7 is primed to perform with either set.

YZF-R7

What Yamaha has created with the YZF-R7 is a truly exciting motorcycle that is a joy to ride. It is an all-new concept of motorcycle for the Yamaha R supersport series that performs duty as a track weapon or street machine.

The myriad of lamentations that overflowed the comment sections of social media platforms in recent weeks is loosely based on the “claimed” loved for the YZF-R6 and the disdain with its departure. More so, the disappointment in the expectation of what was coming after the 6 was to be a replacement model. The love is “claimed” because the R6’s last best sales year was 2008, for new motorcycles. Since then, new R6 sales have decreased significantly. In recent years, used R6 sales have towered over new bike sales, consistently.

YZF-R7

It is in the math. The cost of a new bike has increased over the years and that’s in part due to the implementation of new technology. Electronic suspension, cornering ABS, standard ABS, traction control, lift control, slide control, and everything else that composes modern sportbike technology… comes with a price tag. The secondary market fills the gap providing consumers with, maybe not the latest and greatest, but “new to them” riding features.

The Yamaha YZF-R7 is the response to what the people want. Even though some may not know that it is what they asked for. The R7 is not a replacement bike. It is an all-new motorcycle that is presented to the market to offer an affordable ($8,999.00), attainable, and formidable supersport that talks the talk and rides the ride. No, there is no hefty electronic suite, although ABS is standard. This bike is about getting asses in the seats of a new performance-driven motorcycle. The Yamaha YZF-R7 is the beginning of the “new” for Yamaha, standing on its own credentials, not in the shadows of others.

YZF-R7
Images: Drew Ruiz

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