When someone says “Supersport”, most of us think of screaming R6s, CBR 600RRs, ZX-6Rs and the like. Whether you’re riding them on the road, watching them race on the telly, or racing them yourself, 600cc Supersport bikes have been dishing out bucket-loads of excitement for as long as most of us can remember. But times change. And as far as new bikes go, the Supersport class isn’t really a class anymore; not in the UK anyway. Or maybe it is. Maybe we just need to have a rethink. Perhaps the Supersport class is being reinvented by bikes like this; bikes like the new Yamaha R7.
Now, everyone over 40 and some people over 30 will remember the Yamaha YZF-R7 back in 1999. Yamaha made 500 of these homologation specials so they could race them in WSBK. They were very trick and they cost a fortune. But don’t be fooled by the name, that’s not what the new R7 is.
So what is it? Well if you were to imagine an MT-07 with a fairing, you wouldn’t be a million miles away. The Yamaha R7 uses the same four-stroke, inline twin, DOHC, 4-valve, LC CP2 engine as it’s naked brother. It makes the same 73bhp (@ 8,750rpm) and 67Nm (@ 6,500rpm), too. The frame is effectively the same too – a tubular steel setup with an aluminium backbone. There have been some changes to the geometry to make it feel a little sportier but nothing ground-breaking.
You do get fully adjustable 41mm upside-down KYB forks and a new link-mounted shocker, adjustable for preload and rebound damping. And the clip-ons, rearsets and seat are likely to give the R7 a sportier feel too. But if you ask me, it’s the looks that really set it apart from the MT-07. At a glance, you could easily be mistaken into thinking it was an R6. I’ll let you decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Looks-wise, you’d have to say it’s sportier than its Japanese rivals, the CBR650R and the Ninja 650. On a par with the Aprilia RS 660.
And it might not have the sportiest chassis ever, or the most exciting engine, but it does have a Brembo master cylinder and 4-pot callipers at the front. And it only weights 188kg, wet. So you’d have to say this little thing is certainly going to be a right laugh to ride. And that’s what Supersport bikes are all about.
So maybe we need to have a rethink. The Supersport class that we once knew and loved is, unfortunately, dying a death. So maybe this class of bikes is the one to get excited about. The manufacturers will, no doubt, try and market these bikes to younger, or new riders, but I don’t think they’re the only people that should be enjoying them. Because nobody actually needs 200bhp, do they? And if calling the thing an R7 isn’t an attempt to spark a bit of interest in some of the older, more nostalgic people amongst us, I’ll eat my Tito Rabat (hat).
Yamaha are calling the new R7 a 2022 model, so it won’t be in dealers until October 2021, and they haven’t told us how much it’s going to be yet. As a point of reference though, the MT-07 is currently about £7,000 (£6,902 at the time of writing); I’d expect the R7 to be another grand or so on top of that.
Who else is excited about this?