The star su­per­bikes of 1999 are rarely seen alone these days, let alone to­gether: PS jumped at the chance to ride an Evo ’Blade and an R7 in sunny Spain

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Contents - Words: John Mcavoy | Pic­tures: Si­mon Lee

Two of the very finest ex­am­ples of high-end engi­neer­ing – and two very dif­fer­ent ma­chines

The 90’s were they hey­day for su­per­bike rac­ing: the ac­tion was hard, the bikes were trick, and the grids were full. Today’s races lack the same sparkle.among other fac­tors, the tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions de­signed to cut costs have robbed the world se­ries of the mag­netism it had when Foggy, Ed­wards, Haga and any num­ber of world-class tal­ents slugged it out on tricked-up road bikes.

In the 90’s, the man­u­fac­tur­ers were at war with each other for su­per­bike glory. It mat­tered, so the ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial mat­tered.these limited pro­duc­tion ma­chines be­came es­sen­tial to the man­u­fac­tur­ers if they wanted a sniff of glory.

The Yamaha YZF-R7 OW-02 is the last truewsb ho­molo­ga­tion bike from Ja­pan: all since have been mildly up-specced pro­duc­tion bikes, not trick limited-run spe­cials. It would only com­pete un­til the end of 2000: they pulled out fol­low­ing Noriyuki Haga’s near-miss with the cham­pi­onship (in­volv­ing docked points for banned sub­stances) and his sub­se­quent move to 500GP. In 2004 the ca­pac­ity limit was raised to 1000cc INWSB and BSB as well as reg­u­la­tions tight­ened up, and reg­u­lar pro­duc­tion litre bikes were good enough to build a race bike from un­der the new regs.

The R7 stands out as some­thing of a high­wa­ter mark: the last in the spe­cial breed of bikes unique to the late 1980s and 1990s. De­spite it be­ing rel­a­tively un­suc­cess­ful on track, it’s looks and spec still guar­an­tee it un­con­test­ed­clas­sic sta­tus. So does the Honda Evo Fire­blade, but for a dif­fer­ent rea­son. Just 23 of the Uk-built would-be TT chal­lengers ex­ist, and it’s easy to for­get just how trick they are, de­spite their ori­gins in one of the least-loved it­er­a­tions of the stan­dard ’Blade.

See­ing one is a mo­ment wor­thy of post­ing to any­one’s so­cial me­dia feeds these days, but PS had the once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity to get these ex­clu­sive ma­chines to­gether. So we didn’t do it by halves: we packed them in a van, away from the cold slime of the UK win­ter, for the warm sunny roads (and a race­track) of south­ern Spain.

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