Yamaha YZF750R: Retro Road Test
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Yamaha YZF750R: Retro Road Test

By BikeReview - 24 August 2021

Words: Peter Pap/Jeff Ware Photography: Heather Ware

In order to give you an idea of how good a YZF750R is a couple of years before the bike was wrecked I picked up a cheap 2001 GSX-R750 to replace the YZF750R and after a week of commuting and a Sunday scratch I put the Gixer on eBay and kept the YZF.

Why? Well, the only thing the Gixer had on the YZF750R was more power, everywhere else the YZF750R had it licked. So, what makes it so good?

After a transformation this sample looked more modern, see the previous articles on this build to find out more.

The YZF750R has a great engine with really good fat useable torque. Power was 125HP with 80Nm of torque. On the dyno my bike made 101HP at the rear wheel - no contest power wise but it is the way you can use that power which makes the YZF750R special. The throttle is so crisp and nice that you never have any dramas, with the YZF750R you get the smoothest punch off turns - you feel like the throttle is connected to the rear wheel on the YZF750R. You can almost hear the fuel being sucked down the carbie's as it growls.

Another stellar quality of the YZF750R is its suspension and handling. The front forks are so good that only in recent years I have found bikes that mimic its breadth of quality. The older bikes were either too hard, harsh or had a narrow window of performance. The YZF750R is smooth, stable and holds a beautiful line on road and track.

Geometry is straight out of WorldSBK, the magical 750cc era from the 1990s.

On the road the YZF750R is brilliant, smoothness, room and old school riding position. The suspension’s brilliance shines on poor roads where the forks soak the bumps so well you hardly get thrown around and the feel from the front end is as good as many a modern day bike. The rear shock is brilliant too and the rear brake is spot-on. I used to commute every day on the bike and when the weather turned nasty and wet it stayed planted on the road.

The fantastic fuelling made it very confidence inspiring to ride. The other thing is the YZF750R is like an old Valiant - very basic, starts every time and never breaks down or overheats in traffic jams - just bullet-proof.

The YZF750R handling is as good as most modern bikes, 25-years on…

The YZF750R’s Achilles heel is its brakes - they are fine for the road but I warped them the first day at SMSP. Original OEM discs cost a fortune so I got some aftermarket ones instead. If you track day it a lot I think the best thing to do is get rid of them altogether and throw some R6 or R1 calipers and discs and then it would be sensational.

The gearbox is quite good and you’d have to do something stupid to miss a gear. I prefer the close ratios of the old bikes unlike the tall ratios of the new bikes.

Pappy rode the bike against a variety of machines and enjoyed the YZF the most...
Peter Pap, co-founder and ex publisher of Rapid Bikes Magazine, ex Streetbike and Two Wheels magazine staffer.

There is something about the old YZF that made it a cult bike and they can be had for cheap dollars these days. It was just a well-honed package that worked brilliantly on road and track. In this day and age of manufacturers chasing high horsepower it’s proof that 125HP is all you need. Imagine if Yamaha built a YZF750R with a small big bang engine. Now that would be something!

Peter cranking into turn three at The Farm on his YZR750R


1994 Yamaha YZF750

Colours: White/Purple, Green/Red

Claimed Power: 93kW[125hp]@12000rpm

Claimed Torque: 80Nm[59ft-lbs]@9500rpm

Weight: 195kg

Fuel Capacity: 19L

Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 20-valve, in-line-four, four-stroke, 11.5:1, digital ignition, four-into-one exhaust, six-speed gearbox, wet multi-plate clutch

Chassis: Cast aluminium Deltabox, alloy swingarm Wheelbase: 1420mm

Suspension: Dual 41mm inverted forks. Monoshock, fully adjustable

Front brakes: Dual 320mm rotors, dual six-piston calipers

Tyres: 120/70 – 17, 180/55 – 17

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