Yamaha abruptly discontinued the iconic R6 in November, 2020. Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of naked bikes like Team Blue's own MT-07, the world-renowned supersport was put out to pasture. Yamaha taketh away but Yamaha can giveth too. For that reason, rumors of the R6’s replacement centered on the MT-07 and whether the middleweight torque master will become a fully-faired R7.
We even floated the R7 idea in our farewell note to the R6, but we weren’t the first to see that potential outcome. Before Iwata even confirmed the R6’s demise in Fall 2020, the Japanese publication Young Machine foresaw its fate. By Summer 2020, murmurs of a potential R7 were already picking up steam. When Yamaha ended the R6’s run less than four months later (just like Young Machine forecast), the rumor mill went into overdrive. It’s easy to see why.
With Aprilia’s RS 660 positioned to dominate its twins racing counterparts, Team Blue has to quickly fill the gap between the beginner-friendly R3 and superbike R1. The lowest hanging fruit is the MT-07. Due to the success and versatility of the CP2 engine, Yamaha already has a reliable mill at his fingertips. Of course, the powerplant’s current 74-horsepower peak won’t be enough to challenge Aprilia’s new darling, but a model-specific tune should put the new supersport in reach.
Modifications wouldn’t end with the engine, however. Chassis, suspension, and ergonomics adjustments are needed for an MT-07-derived sportbike to push to the fore. Affordability will also shape the project, as Yamaha would need to position the R7 in contrast to the RS 660. Luckily, the company already reached Euro5 approval for the CP2 engine and that should accelerate development.
Though we can only speculate on the details and specs at this time, insider tips suggest that Yamaha plans to announce an R6 replacement by spring in order to release the bike in fall. We’ll keep an ear out until then, maybe we’ll hear the loping exhaust note of 270-degree crankshaft in a few months' time.