Why We Picked It:
The Yamaha YZF-R7 was all-new for 2022, replacing the venerable and well-loved YZF-R6. It was controversial, but the first thing that needs to be said outright is that the R7 is not as aggressive or as fast as an R6, that’s just not happening.
What the R7 is, however, is a racing homologation model to allow a SuperTwin-class R7M to take part in the MotoAmerica SuperTwin Championship.
Sharing the same engine as the “hypernaked” MT-07 with a crossplane crank 689cc parallel-twin, you get roughly 75 HP and 50 lb-ft of torque. The R7 was designed and built from the ground up to be lightweight and up on its tires, making it immensely flickable without flicking you off of it in a highside, and while the HP number may be low, parallel-twins are known for their tractor-like torque out of corners. The same happens with the R7, as you can roll on the throttle as you clear the apex and the bike will just grunt-n-go. No need to wind it up to the stratosphere, just keep the revs anywhere above 2,500 and it’ll pull nicely.
It’s one of those rare beasts that is both welcoming and forgiving for novice track riders, and a scalpel in the hands of experienced one. Because it’s so light and so agile, lean-in and counter-steering is almost telepathic, the front wheel letting you know exactly what is happening in a tribute to the R6 before it. The seat is supportive and narrow, allowing you to hang off the side with your knee slider scraping the tarmac as you clip the apex, and with the low and mid-range grunt of the parallel-twin, rolling on the throttle brings you back upright as you tuck behind the tall windscreen.
It’s very easy to forget that this bike was designed to be a racer first, and a street bike second. Yet, its street manners are those of a gentleman, with the beast inside ready to howl down the front straight at your local track. There are still other bikes you can get for the track, but in the hands of an intermediate rider looking to gain confidence and skills as well as have a great bike for their everyday ride, Yamaha has a genuine winner here.