EVO ’BLADE V R7
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
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.