Great bike. Shame about the timing
YAMAHA GOT EVERYTHING right with the development of the YZF750 except, hindsight tells us, one thing. timing.
The Japanese giant’s all-new superbike, when it arrived in early 1993, was very much a latecomer to the class. By then Kawasaki’s ZXR was well-established both on road and track while Honda’s Fireblade had raised the bar when it came to road bike performance expectations. yamaha, meanwhile, had been lumbering on with its dated FZ750 roadster, concentrating instead on the Deltaboxframed FZR600 and 1000s while, on track, the factory had been persevering with the FZR750R homologation special as launched in 1989. By 1992, both the OW and FZ were more than overdue a replacement.
Though late to the party, theyzf had a lot going for it.as an evolution of the OW01, performance expectations were high even before development started.yamaha’s five-valve engine complete with EXUP exhaust valve promised that elusive blend of high rpm performance and strong midrange; the latest version ofyamaha’s ‘Deltabox’ frame hinted at class-leading strength and light weight; while the very fact that not just one, but two versions were being built, a road-going ‘R’ and a track-orientated ‘SP’, meant that, potentially, it could succeed in both spheres.and it did – at first at least. On the road, theyzf immediately became a big seller, while on track in the UK (it wasn’t entered INWSB until 1994) Jamiewhitham’s Fast Orange example romped to the British Championship title.
So what exactly made theyzf so good – and why didn’t that success continue?
In simple terms, theyzf750 was state-ofthe-art for the time. although based on the outgoing OW01, it was developed to a point where no parts are interchangeable between the two. So, although the inclined, 749cc, five-valve four is outwardly very similar, it featured a redesigned high-compression head with straighter and narrower inlet tracts, bigger-bore carbs and a larger airbox.
Best of all, though, like its FZR1000 bigger brother, the new 750 was also fitted with Yam’s EXUP exhaust valve system which helped to deliver impressive low to midrange performance along with the engine’s intrinsic high-revving power, all adding up to fabulously linear delivery all the way up to the 13,000rpm redline. In short, theyzf had the best of both worlds: class-leading peak power but also a smooth, progressive and
meaty midrange that gave it the jump on most machines out of turns.
And that was just the start. theyzf’s chassis, too, as developed by a Kunihkho Miwa (who went on to project-lead the mould-breaking R1) was also about as good as it got.the frame was the latest evolution of Yamaha’s trademark twin-spar ‘Deltabox’, as pioneered on 1987’s FZR1000 Genesis. Designed to be light, compact and with a short wheelbase it was also strong and, by using the engine as a stressed member, incredibly rigid, too. Meantime, a Gpinspired ‘truss’ style aluminium box-section swingarm was employed at the rear.
Nor didyamaha scrimp on the cycle parts. 41mm rebound adjustable usd forks were used (the following year they gained compression adjustment too) while a fully adjustable single shock was used at the rear.
The brakes wanted for nothing, either. By using massive six-piston calipers at the front, theyzf became the first production machine so equipped. these humongous calipers bit onto equally large 320mm twin discs.
In short (again), theyzf was the fastest, best handling, fiercest braking 750 available. The fact that it looked great and, at £6999, was reasonable value, too, was a bonus. For £3000 more the SP version gained: fully-adjustable suspension; a single seat unit with lighter subframe; 39mm flatslide carbs; peakier cams, a close ratio ’box and an adjustable swingarm pivot.
Of course, all of that was aimed specifically at the track and was enough to helpwhitham to his ’93 title. For the road, however, the R, with its plusher ride and more real-world gear ratios, was by far the better bet.
And yet, although good, theyzf was still overshadowed on the road by Honda’s Fireblade. On track, that British success would be theyamaha’s only significant one until it was too late.yamaha didn’t even enter theyzf intowsb until 1994 and struggled at first.a state of affairs not helped in the slightest by the arrival that year of Ducati’s 916, not to mention Honda’s RC45.
Against that backdrop, maybe it’s no wonder theyzf faded into the background almost as quickly as it arrived.yamaha’s imminent R1 would truly shake up superbikes just two years later.ayzf is still a bargain classic today – but appreciating in value all the time.
Full factory YZF in Tech21 livery