My scaled down passion – Yamaha R7

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10 Years ago I got my first die-cast 1:18 scale model motorcycle from my aunt for Christmas, a 2003 Ducati 999s. Little did she know that this would start an obsession that will last a lifetime. All of my models have some significance or meaning to me. Every week I’ll blog about a motorcycle from my collection, in chronological order, telling you more about it, why it’s important and where I got it from.
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1999 Yamaha R7

1999 Yamaha R7

Make & Model: 1999 Yamaha R7
From : A friend
Date : 19 December 2005
Purchased : Unknown

This is one of my favourite motorcycles from my collection. I received this model as a gift from a friend. Little did he know I already had one of these, but I did not have the heart to tell him that. To be honest, I don’t mind anyway because I much prefer this paint scheme to the orange and black of the other one I have.

The R7 has a 749cc 4-stroke In line four motor with 5 valves per cylinder. It was built as a race homologation motorcycle, to be used in the Superbike World Championship and Suzuka 8 Hours endurance races. It was only produced for 4 years, from 1999 to 2002 and is an extremely rare motorcycle, only 500 were made and most of them were used in racing.

In stock form the R7 was built to be competitive on the track, so you could purchase an optional race-kit which would boost the engine to roughly 160bhp at 13,700rpm; enough for a top speed of 290km/h. In stock form, it only produced around 105bhp. Out of the box suspension on the R7 came courtesy of Öhlins. In the front you have 43mm inverted, fully adjustable, telescopic forks with the rear unit also being fully adjustable.

In the R7’s SBK debut year of 1999, in the hands of Nori Haga, the motorcycle showed a lot of potential by taking 4th place at Kayalami. Round 4 at Albacete, saw Haga take the R7 to its first win in Race 1. Race 2 at Misano was another highlight of the 1999 season, because only Haga and the R7 could challenge the factory Ducati of Carl Fogarty and Troy Corser. Unfortunately Haga crashed during the second half of the race and was unable to continue.

The following year (2000) saw many enhancements to the R7 and in the hands of Nori Haga took spectacular victories in races at Hockenheim and Assen. However all the hard work and success of the season was lost to a controversy with the FIM’s drug policy. This revolved around the drug Ephedrine, a naturally occurring drug found in a lot of over the counter medicine. Part of Haga’s pre-season program was to drop weight. To assist in this goal he included an herb (which included Ephedrine) to help lose the weight. Because of the nature of Ephedrine, it isn’t out-and-out banned by the FIM from being in the systems of athletes, but limited to certain levels. At the first round in Kyalami Haga took some cold medicine (which unknowningly contained Ephedrine). This medicine combined with Haga’s diet program put him over the allowed level of the substance when he was tested after the race. Carl Fogarty said he almost suffered the same fate but was lucky enough to have had someone stop him from taking a sports drink before the race that would have put him over the allowed levels also. Many people questioned the FIM’s handling of Haga’s case but nobody ever questioned Haga’s talents, abilities and level of sportsmanship. Most felt it was an honest mistake and with Haga’s clean record and reputation for being a great ambassador of the sport, a fine would be the best and most appropriate way to handle this situation, while preserving an extremely exciting and competitive 2000 season. The FIM felt otherwise and handed Haga an extremely harsh punishment (especially when considering the nature of the infraction and being a first time violator), not only stripping him of his points for the win but also banning him from the last round at Brands Hatch. In doing so they not only killed any title hopes Haga and the R7 had, but also robbed the fans of a last round title shoot out which was building between Nori and Colin Edwards. As a direct result of the FIM decision Edwards would go on to win the 2000 SBK title with Haga finishing second.

At the end of the 2000 season Yamaha announced they would no longer have a factory team in the SBK, thus sealing the fate of the R7 project after only two seasons.  Despite never getting over the power deficit issue (perhaps a direct result of the canceled factory team), in the hands of very capable riders the R7 showed that it was a very competitive machine.


About the author

Buks has had a passion for two-wheels since childhood. After his first motorcycle, a fire-breathing two-stroke Yamaha TZR250, he realized he was hooked. When Buks isn't writing for UltimateVelocity he enjoys practicing martial arts, gardening and spending time with his family.