It’s all falling into place.
Before Yamaha confirmed the demise of the segment-defining R6, rumors of its replacement were already circulating. When Iwata officially discontinued its middleweight supersport, speculation centered on a CP2-powered replacement. Found in the MT-07, Tenere 700, Tracer 700, and XSR 700, the 270-degree parallel-twin is Team Blue’s do-it-all darling. California Air Resources Board (CARB) filings suggest that Yamaha could find a new application for the wundermill in a new R7 sportbike.
If the R7 sounds familiar, that’s because Yamaha previously used the moniker for its race-ready yet street-legal 749cc supersport in 1999. However, the middleweight monster produced up to 162 horsepower (with after purchase race kits) and retailed for a staggering $32,000. Though the YZF-R7 OW02 is a classic in its own right, Yamaha is looking to make the new R7 accessible to the everyman with a two-pot engine.
With a vacuum in the brand’s current sportbike lineup, the R7 could be a very welcome addition for street and track riders alike. Thanks to a tractable CP2 powerplant, the middleweight sportbike could appeal to customers lured away by Yamaha’s own MT-07 while also potentially qualifying for popular Twins Cup racing. Aprilia’s sensational RS 660 just secured its place in the MotoAmerica ranks and plans its own Trofeo race series in 2021. Seeing massive growth in the segment, it’s no wonder Yamaha is pursuing CARB certification for a new R7.
Now, we should temper our enthusiasm at this point. CARB filings don’t always equate to a production model and we haven’t heard anything official from Iwata just yet. However, if we’re reading the tea leaves, it sure looks like Yamaha is gearing up for a new battle at the circuit and in the showrooms. With that said, the highest output seen from a CP2 engine is 74 horsepower from the company’s MT-07. Yamaha engineers are going to have to ratchet up the firepower if they’re going to take it to the House of Noale in 2022.