Great bike. Shame about the tim­ing

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - News -

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 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

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