Think of it as a (sports) tourer and the big, mel­low, de­pend­able ’ace will not dis­ap­point

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Yamaha Yzf1000r -


YWords: Alan See­ley Pic­tures: Bauer ar­chive

amaha would have been well into the de­vel­op­ment of the YZF-R1 by the time the YZF1000R Thunderace broke cover in 1996. By mak­ing the best of what they al­ready had in their in­ven­tory the Thunderace gave Yamaha a fresh litre-bike that was lighter and faster than the FZR1000 EXUP and brought them closer to the all-con­quer­ing Honda Fire­blade un­til the R1 was ready.

The ba­sic recipe fea­tured a 20-valve en­gine with more than pass­ing re­la­tion to the FZR1000 fit­ted into a frame closely based on the sub­lime YZF750. In­deed more than one 750 owner has per­formed such a trans­plant them­selves.

There was power aplenty from the the bot­tom-end right up to the 11,500rpm red­line, de­liv­ered to the rear wheel via what might ap­pear on pa­per as a one-cog-be­hind-the-times five-speed gear­box but its close ra­tios were ad­e­quate for the big, grunty mo­tor even if many able home me­chan­ics later fit­ted a YZF750 sixspeed clus­ter.

The fair­ing claimed a YZR500 GP bike in­spired drag co-ef­fi­cient of 0.29 and to our eye looks like it might

have in­spired Pierre Terblanche when he came to de­sign the fuel in­jected Du­cati 900SS.

While han­dling might have lagged a lit­tle be­hind Suzuki’s GSX-R750 and of course the Honda Fire­blade, there was lit­tle to com­plain about when it came to the Thunderace’s steer­ing in the con­text of its times. In­deed Yamaha dealer Steve Lins­dell of Fl­itwick Mo­tor­cy­cles, who raced one in the pro­duc­tion class on the Isle of Man, reck­ons that with bet­ter sus­pen­sion, the Thunderace would have bested the ’Blade. Stop­ping­wise, blue spot front calipers were as good as many and bet­ter than most.

Af­ter just two short years the Thunderace would make the in­stant switch from flag­ship sports­bike to sports-tourer in the Yamaha line with the ar­rival of the R1 al­though it would still be on sale as late as 2003.

Big, fast and spa­cious, the Thunderace of­fers old school big-bike per­for­ those who don’t need full-on sports­bike per­for­mance, the Thunderace was and is a good choice, al­though the seat is a bit board-like over big dis­tances.the only chal­lenge now is find­ing a sur­vivor in de­cent shape.

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