Yamaha R7 Test by Wayne Vickers, Images by RbMotoLens
Admission time – I was positively frothing at the thought of Yamaha putting an R7 into production when I read the announcement headline. And then my shoulders slumped when I realised it wasn’t going to be a fire breathing Nori replica, full fruit, in-line four-cylinder, corner carving beast. Harsh words were said under my breath. I was just as grumpy the day Honda announced their first CBR that wasn’t an in-line four. Sacrilege. But I digress.
I’ve been banging on for ages to anyone who’ll listen that mid-sized sports bikes (think 800 cc-ish, 120-150 hp) make the most sense now and I thought Yamaha were going to back me up. Yeah nah. Having said that, I do very much like the direction Yamaha are taking with their engine repurposing and I’m excited to see what else they might do.. *cough* R9 *cough* please.
The new R7 is in fact, essentially a fully faired sports bike version of the MT-07 that I tested a while back. I loved that little bike. Nicely balanced, a great honest little tool. Plenty of fun.
This particular bike, is the LAMS version. And while the full fat version punts out around 75 horsepower, this LAMS version see’s that cut by a third to just over 50 horsepower.
That’s by virtue of a different engine configuration that drops displacement to 655 cc (instead of the 689 cc in the HO version). The big question in my mind, is that while it makes sense to run that learner friendly tune in a version of the naked MT-07 – does it make sense in a fully faired sports bike?
The reality is, you’re better off to think of this bike as a big R3 rather than anything resembling an R6 or above. Because performance-wise, it’s not remotely in that ballpark. This is very much entry level stuff. So with expectations clarified – let’s dive a little deeper.
It certainly got the family looks – No doubt about that. I think it looks pretty ace actually, especially from some angles. Which in some ways make it all the more confusing that it’s not a rocket ship. Because it looks like one.
The finish is good, components are solid, it’s well kitted out and is clearly a build level up from the basement-budget R3 mentioned earlier. That’s reflected in a price tag that’s significantly higher. Which in itself is another problem.
Throwing the leg over you are in no doubt that this has a proper sports bike cockpit geometry with the requisite aggressive ride position. Elbows on the knees sort of deal. Proper racey.
It sure made for a contrast when swapping to and from a Harley Sportster I can tell you… It’s not cramped though. It’s actually quite roomy and has a deceptively long seat allowing you to push your backside back a lot further than you might think.
I thought the dash was a little hard to read in terms of contrast, but other than that it was ok. Switch gear was all pretty standard, solid stuff – and when you prod it into life the exhaust note is very socially conscious at idle. On the road at highway speeds you can barely hear it at all. No doubt a slip-on would help that aspect. I thought it was unnecessarily quiet under everyday riding.
Instant impressions when easing the clutch out go something like this: ‘Ooh thats a nice usable clutch and it’s got a decent bottom end, this is going to be nice’. But, that’s where the excitement ends from the engine department unfortunately. Because once off the bottom, the urge doesn’t ramp up, it stays flatter than a shit carters hat.
While it revs out just fine, the torque curve is very much all at the bottom. There’s nothing wrong with fuelling, the throttle feel is quite good actually. But the LAMS config feels like everything above the bottom has been backed right off.
I think personally it would benefit from a tune that moves that torque swell into the mid-range a little more – even if that had to mean the bottom end was a little softer. That might sound counter-intuitive, but it would give the engine a more rewarding mid-range which is where you spend the most of your time.
That wheelie shot took some doing, but I knew Trev would get grumpy if I didn’t manage it. He’s still not happy about me not getting wheelie shots on the Speed Triple. Which is probably fair enough…
Handling and brakes-wise is where the R7 comes up trumps though. You can push and push and push in terms of corner speed and lean angle and still it giggles at you as you explore its cornering limits on the road. It feels like it’ll lean over pretty much onto its side before there’d be any grip issues. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the way it turns on the road. Nice and agile while utterly surefooted.
I had to remind myself a few times that I didn’t have sliders on my jeans as I’m used to throwing the knees out in the breeze on sports bikes. It feels quite low overall for a sports bike, possibly due to the relative thin width between the knees. The seat height comes in at 835 mm but feels lower than those numbers suggest.
Nor is there anything wrong with the way it stops for that matter. I didn’t get the chance to do repeated hard stops like you would at a track day, but I doubt you’d ever have an issue on the road. The twin 298 mm Advics four-piston stoppers definitely do the job. Good lever feel too.
ABS comes standard. Though you’re either working really, really hard, or messing something up to get them to kick in… Besides, when a bike is this capable in the corners, you don’t really need to use the brakes much… and when it only has 50 odd horsepower, momentum is crucial!
So you have a hot looking, sweet handling bike that’s been a bit hobbled in the grunt department. So how does it stack up? Well, ride away, the R7 LAMS will set you back around 14 grand which is 1,500 bucks more than the equivalent MT-07 LAMS which probably makes sense, but it’s starting to get up there.
If you’re a genuine learner, those fairings are going to look expensive to replace if you factor in the chances of you accidentally dropping it in the car park. That price compares to 15 grand for the full fruit R7, which by comparison starts to look pretty good. Moving the other way, the next rung down is eight and a bit grand for the R3 but that is arguably much less bike. But for a bike that’s likely to be moved on within a year or two, I don’t think it’s a slam dunk.
I could throw a spanner in the works by comparing it to something like the excellent Triumph Trident for 12-and-a-half which shows that the R7 LAMS has got some stiff competition. Yamaha fans though, might not be looking at the Trident so that might be a moot point. They’re arguably going to be considering the MT-07 LAMS for slightly less, then trade up to the R7 HO. But I remember when I was on my Ls and all I wanted was a race rep… so… grains of salt and all.
Further thought – much like the old CBR250RRs, FZR250Rs and the like in their day, these will likely hold their value well and should be mechanically pretty strong. As such they’d likely be a good prospect for the second hand market in a few years time too… so that’s got to be taken into account. Maybe Yamaha are playing the long game here, which would be a pretty smart way to get new blood on the brand now that I think about it that way.
Why I like the Yamaha R7 LA:
Hot looking, well built entry level sports bike.
That steers and stops like you’d expect it to.
I’d like the Yamaha R7 LA more if:
Could be a bit cheaper for an entry level bike.
Or had a bit more hump – but that’s the HO for you then, non learner version I guess.
2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 LA (LAMS) Specifications
2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 Specifications
Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC inline twin-cylinder; 4-valves per cylinder
LA: 655cc / HO: 689cc
Bore x stroke
LA: 78.0 mm x 68.6 mm / HO: 80.0 mm x 68.6 mm
11.5 : 1
Constant mesh six-speed w/ A&S clutch
High tensile steel Deltabox
KYB 41 mm USD forks, preload, rebound and compression adjustable; 130mm travel
Linked monoshock, preload and rebound adjustable; 130mm travel
Dual 298 mm rotors, radial four-piston calipers, Brembo radial master-cylinder
Wayne loves all things motorsport, but lives for two wheels. Mountain bikes, dirt bikes, adventure bikes, road bikes, race bikes, the lot.
An ex riding coach and road racer wannabe who simultaneously ran out of talent and money. Rides about a million kilometres a year and has been known to enjoy an occasional wheelie.
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