Yamaha R7

miweber929

2014
CBR650F
650 Alumnus
Staff
Feb 13, 2015
Woodbury, MN
As luck would have it, there was a guy with a brand new R7 at the track today, and he actually let me ride it:
View attachment 11265

It was stock except for the Q4s.

First thing I noticed is how high the foot pegs are. This is not a comfortable bike for commuting, at all. The pegs are back and high. They feel higher than an R6 for some reason, maybe because I just wasn't expecting it, but they seem higher than necessary for the bike's lean clearance. I bet you could lower them with an aftermarket set and still not have any clearance issues.

The second thing I noticed is how svelte the bike feels when you sit on it. It just feels narrow and small, almost like a Ninja 400. That being said, the back of the seat is very wide and easy to scoot around on.

The motor feels the same as a FZ/MT 07. So if you've ever ridden one of those, you know it's grunty and sounds pretty decent. It doesn't like to rev, but there's lots of meat on the bone at most any rpm. The only other parallel twin engine I can compare it to is the Kawasaki, and it's not really a comparison. The Yammie CP2 engine is much nicer.

On track, the bike is noticeably lighter, and way more flickable than the CBR650R. The fairly aggressive front end geometry and short wheelbase means the slightest push on the inside clip-on and the bike falls all the way over into the turn. I've shortened the effective swingarm length and wheelbase of my bike by running a 116 link chain, and I think people would be surprised at how much of an impact that made for turn-in. Well, Yamaha did something similar for the R7 compared to the MT07 (even though they use the same swingarm casting the R7 has an effectively shorter swingarm length by like 10mm or so) and coupled with the aggressive rake and trail of the front end, the R7 is almost 'darty'. This is super fun and makes the bike just laughably easy to steer into lower-speed corners, but I thought it felt a bit unsteady in longer sweepers. Now this feeling might be a result of riding the CBR650R, which is incredibly stable on its side. You get the CBR leaned over and then you can take a coffee break, smoke a cigarette, call your mom, whatever... the bike just holds that line steady as a rock. The R7 never felt near as steady in those long sweepers. This might be something you just get used to, but the geometry that makes the R7 so easy to turn-in also means it's more jittery than the longer wheelbase, more relaxed geometry of the CBR, and it was slightly off-putting. But the turn-in and feel in most corners was just silly easy in comparison to the CBR.

I didn't like the gearbox very much, but again, this comes with caveats. First, unlike a lot of people on this forum, my bike's gearbox is an absolute joy. It's smooth, each gear goes in with a nice, tactile, 'snick', and I never get false neutrals. It's the best gearbox I've ever used on any motorcycle. So the R7 was not likely to impress me here. Second, the shift lever had been adjusted for the owner, and it was a bit awkward for my feet. I would have to adjust it higher relative to the peg for a fair evaluation. And finally, it was new, so it hadn't really been broken in yet. That all said, it wasn't very smooth and I just didn't care for it. Maybe a quick shifter would help.

The brakes were worse than the CBR650R. The R7 lever is a basic Brembo radial unit, which is kind of cool, but the R7 brakes were 'spongier' and not as confidence inspiring. Both our bikes still have rubber lines. I don't like the CBR650R's brakes that much on the track, and the R7's felt even worse.

I think the suspension is nicer on the R7. More adjustability, and the rear shock has a linkage. I didn't get it really leaned over in the bumpy sections (because I'd be so ashamed to wreck this guy's bike) but it felt as composed as mine everywhere else, and I can't help but think the rear linkage will handle the bumpy sections of turn 2 better than the butt-puckering skitter-fest that is the CBR650R when leaned over through that turn.

All in all, I think Yamaha built a bit of an enigma. The bike has the engine of a perfect urban commuter, with the aggressive ergonomics and suspension geometry of a hard-core suspersport. It's a fun track bike. I would look at one as a cheap track bike, except that it's slower on the track than my CBR650R. It gets into most corners quicker, and the engine has great grunt for coming out of corners, but the extra power and stability of the CBR650R had me pulling on him in every sweeper and taking him on the straights. If we were comparing lap times at HPR, I think the CBR would have close to 2 seconds on the R7, stock for stock. Now a used but well-sorted twins cup race bike, that would be something I might consider for a fun track bike in the future.
Great write up. I rode an MT-07 when they first came out and the engine was just so ho-hum I felt like it was bland. And that bike handled very weirdly so I’m glad they fixed that in the R7 but its Yamaha sportbike so I’m not surprised.

I like that they did the the bike and love what it means for club racers, track day riders and people “reintroduced” to a sportbike, but for me personally I’m holding out for the R9; I had hopes that the 2022 Speed Triple RR was going to be that fun, sporty triple that got me on a different bike from the Ducati but alas it’s just not tripping my trigger. I think an R9 would do it.
 

Dankotaru

2019
CBR650R ABS
Jul 5, 2019
7000' ASL, USA
I like that they did the the bike and love what it means for club racers, track day riders and people “reintroduced” to a sportbike, but for me personally I’m holding out for the R9; I had hopes that the 2022 Speed Triple RR was going to be that fun, sporty triple that got me on a different bike from the Ducati but alas it’s just not tripping my trigger. I think an R9 would do it.
I whole-heartedly agree. I'm hoping Yamaha reveals an R9 at the upcoming EICMA.
 

Motojack

2019
CBR650R
May 26, 2019
Great write up. I rode an MT-07 when they first came out and the engine was just so ho-hum I felt like it was bland. And that bike handled very weirdly so I’m glad they fixed that in the R7 but its Yamaha sportbike so I’m not surprised.

I like that they did the the bike and love what it means for club racers, track day riders and people “reintroduced” to a sportbike, but for me personally I’m holding out for the R9; I had hopes that the 2022 Speed Triple RR was going to be that fun, sporty triple that got me on a different bike from the Ducati but alas it’s just not tripping my trigger. I think an R9 would do it.
I wonder if your expirience with the MT engine is down to what you are used to? When I came from a V-twin (SV) there was definatly a period of adjusment when in came to the CBR's i4.

Now that im used to the revs and the smothness I dont think id go back!
 

miweber929

2014
CBR650F
650 Alumnus
Staff
Feb 13, 2015
Woodbury, MN
I wonder if your expirience with the MT engine is down to what you are used to? When I came from a V-twin (SV) there was definatly a period of adjusment when in came to the CBR's i4.

Now that im used to the revs and the smothness I dont think id go back!
I’ve got experience all over the board with engines, the different styles, personalities, characteristics, etc. so it’s just the way the Yamaha twin feels to me: very little “soul” and very blah. At the time I test rode it I had recently sold a VFR800 and a CBR1000RR, I owned a 600RR, NC700X, a Grom, the CBR650F, had an SV650 track bike and also rode the FZ-09 that day. It wasn’t anything to get used to, it was just how I felt it rode.
 

xorbe

2021
CBR650R
Nov 2, 2021
California
Riding Since
2013
It would be great to see Kari up the power in the Ninja 650

No, the #1 thing I'd ask for my Ninja 650 is better low rpm fueling / ride by wire, it is so janky around low speed corners in town. After that, if you want to move away from a cushy commuter platform, first suspension, then brakes, lastly more power / 270°, but not too much, because then the upright ergos will need to change. Personally I'd like an upscale "Ninja 650+" that had ride-by-wire better fueling and modestly better suspension/brakes, but perhaps leave the overall engine power alone, sort of a premium version of what the current Ninja 650 is without changing the basic formula. If you want a hotrod Ninja 750 twin ask for a separate model, because there is no other bike on the market like the 650 currently (a comfy and punchy faired twin, kinda upright and just over 400 lbs, quick but not powerful enough to prohibit using wot at any given time).

The R7 has a very aggressive body position, it is not a Ninja 650 competitor for street riding, imho.
 
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miweber929

2014
CBR650F
650 Alumnus
Staff
Feb 13, 2015
Woodbury, MN
I sat on one last weekend at the bike shop: SUPER aggressive riding position. Like more aggressive than my old 600RR aggressive. It was sitting there because someone ordered it, sat on it, went to “check their financing” and never returned.

I get what they were trying to do but higher bars and lower pegs would have made it a much better street bike and better seller. And for on the track if they offered OEM lower bars and rearsets as an option they could have made some more $$$$.
 

Motojack

2019
CBR650R
May 26, 2019
Regardless of what you think of YN, some interesting points made in this vid:
Technically an RS660 may be better but I would not fancy owning an italian bike in my country especially with no dealer network.

Honda all the way!
 

victorkkq

2018
CBR650F
Oct 30, 2018
As luck would have it, there was a guy with a brand new R7 at the track today, and he actually let me ride it:
View attachment 11265

It was stock except for the Q4s.

First thing I noticed is how high the foot pegs are. This is not a comfortable bike for commuting, at all. The pegs are back and high. They feel higher than an R6 for some reason, maybe because I just wasn't expecting it, but they seem higher than necessary for the bike's lean clearance. I bet you could lower them with an aftermarket set and still not have any clearance issues.

The second thing I noticed is how svelte the bike feels when you sit on it. It just feels narrow and small, almost like a Ninja 400. That being said, the back of the seat is very wide and easy to scoot around on.

The motor feels the same as a FZ/MT 07. So if you've ever ridden one of those, you know it's grunty and sounds pretty decent. It doesn't like to rev, but there's lots of meat on the bone at most any rpm. The only other parallel twin engine I can compare it to is the Kawasaki, and it's not really a comparison. The Yammie CP2 engine is much nicer.

On track, the bike is noticeably lighter, and way more flickable than the CBR650R. The fairly aggressive front end geometry and short wheelbase means the slightest push on the inside clip-on and the bike falls all the way over into the turn. I've shortened the effective swingarm length and wheelbase of my bike by running a 116 link chain, and I think people would be surprised at how much of an impact that made for turn-in. Well, Yamaha did something similar for the R7 compared to the MT07 (even though they use the same swingarm casting the R7 has an effectively shorter swingarm length by like 10mm or so) and coupled with the aggressive rake and trail of the front end, the R7 is almost 'darty'. This is super fun and makes the bike just laughably easy to steer into lower-speed corners, but I thought it felt a bit unsteady in longer sweepers. Now this feeling might be a result of riding the CBR650R, which is incredibly stable on its side. You get the CBR leaned over and then you can take a coffee break, smoke a cigarette, call your mom, whatever... the bike just holds that line steady as a rock. The R7 never felt near as steady in those long sweepers. This might be something you just get used to, but the geometry that makes the R7 so easy to turn-in also means it's more jittery than the longer wheelbase, more relaxed geometry of the CBR, and it was slightly off-putting. But the turn-in and feel in most corners was just silly easy in comparison to the CBR.

I didn't like the gearbox very much, but again, this comes with caveats. First, unlike a lot of people on this forum, my bike's gearbox is an absolute joy. It's smooth, each gear goes in with a nice, tactile, 'snick', and I never get false neutrals. It's the best gearbox I've ever used on any motorcycle. So the R7 was not likely to impress me here. Second, the shift lever had been adjusted for the owner, and it was a bit awkward for my feet. I would have to adjust it higher relative to the peg for a fair evaluation. And finally, it was new, so it hadn't really been broken in yet. That all said, it wasn't very smooth and I just didn't care for it. Maybe a quick shifter would help.

The brakes were worse than the CBR650R. The R7 lever is a basic Brembo radial unit, which is kind of cool, but the R7 brakes were 'spongier' and not as confidence inspiring. Both our bikes still have rubber lines. I don't like the CBR650R's brakes that much on the track, and the R7's felt even worse.

I think the suspension is nicer on the R7. More adjustability, and the rear shock has a linkage. I didn't get it really leaned over in the bumpy sections (because I'd be so ashamed to wreck this guy's bike) but it felt as composed as mine everywhere else, and I can't help but think the rear linkage will handle the bumpy sections of turn 2 better than the butt-puckering skitter-fest that is the CBR650R when leaned over through that turn.

All in all, I think Yamaha built a bit of an enigma. The bike has the engine of a perfect urban commuter, with the aggressive ergonomics and suspension geometry of a hard-core suspersport. It's a fun track bike. I would look at one as a cheap track bike, except that it's slower on the track than my CBR650R. It gets into most corners quicker, and the engine has great grunt for coming out of corners, but the extra power and stability of the CBR650R had me pulling on him in every sweeper and taking him on the straights. If we were comparing lap times at HPR, I think the CBR would have close to 2 seconds on the R7, stock for stock. Now a used but well-sorted twins cup race bike, that would be something I might consider for a fun track bike in the future.

Edit:
TL/DR version: It's a really fun bike, it tips in and changes direction freakishly easy, looks awesome, has more suspension adjustability than the 650R, and has lots of grunt coming out of any corner. The brakes are pretty meh, it feels a little twitchy when really leaned over in long sweepers, it's not comfortable for anything but aggressive riding, and the power drop-off at 9k rpm leaves you wanting for more. While I think the CBR650R is likely faster at most tracks, the R7 is a better track tool. I wouldn't want to ride one every day or do double-duty with it like I do my CBR650R, but it makes me excited for what an R9 could be.

Dankotaru Dankotaru

Awesome analysis and technical write up.. very much appreciated :)
"I've shortened the effective swingarm length and wheelbase of my bike by running a 116 link chain, and I think people would be surprised at how much of an impact that made for turn-in". Is yours it still a 525? I am running the stock 118 now on 525, I wish to shorten the wheelbase like you.
 
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Dankotaru

2019
CBR650R ABS
Jul 5, 2019
7000' ASL, USA

Awesome analysis and technical write up.. very much appreciated :)
"I've shortened the effective swingarm length and wheelbase of my bike by running a 116 link chain, and I think people would be surprised at how much of an impact that made for turn-in". Is yours it still a 525? I am running the stock 118 now on 525, I wish to shorten the wheelbase like you.

I run a 520 chain, 116 links, with a 14 tooth Vortex front sprocket and a 41 tooth Superlight rear sprocket. This shortens the wheelbase and effective swingarm length by about 20mm.
 

victorkkq

2018
CBR650F
Oct 30, 2018
I run a 520 chain, 116 links, with a 14 tooth Vortex front sprocket and a 41 tooth Superlight rear sprocket. This shortens the wheelbase and effective swingarm length by about 20mm.
Hi Dankotaru Dankotaru
I plan to maintain the stock for the time being (525, front-15T and rear-42T).
Is it possible just to remove 2 links to shorten the wheel base to 20mm like your?
 

Dankotaru

2019
CBR650R ABS
Jul 5, 2019
7000' ASL, USA
Hi Dankotaru Dankotaru
I plan to maintain the stock for the time being (525, front-15T and rear-42T).
Is it possible just to remove 2 links to shorten the wheel base to 20mm like your?
Hi Victorkkq, if you pull out two links on the stock chain with the stock gearing, I think you'll shorten the wheelbase too much for the rear axle to fit through the swingarm.
 
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