First Ride

Niall's Spin: Yamaha YZF750R

You might think it is the best sports bike but its oil problem may get you to think twice

Click to read: Yamaha YZF750R owners reviews, Yamaha YZF750R specs and to see the Yamaha YZF750R image gallery.

THE BEST SPORTS 750 until Suzuki launched their SRAD in '96 and even then a cracking bike. Like all 'Foxeye' Yamahas it's not only a rapid sports tool, it's also pretty comfy and has a decent fairing for those longer trips.

It's a bike with real racer heritage too, as raced by TWO's resident road test hooligan James Whitham (remember the 'Fast Orange' Yamahas?) and in factory colours by the late Yasu Nagai, Scott Russell, Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga, all in WSB, the latter two pairing up in 1996 to win the Suzuka 8-hour.

Look out too for the limited edition SP racer homologation model, which featured a single seat and different carburettors among other less obvious differences.

Later models were bestowed with fully adjustable suspension including an Öhlins rear shock, so are worth seeking out. The forks and shock would nonetheless be needing a full service by now.

The glass-smooth engine produces plenty of power at all revs - providing the EXUP valve hasn't seized. But that isn't the only problem. There is something about the YZF that makes it guzzle oil, which can be an issue. Some point the finger at glazed bores, but in truth it's probably just a sign of a knackered motor, or at least one that is past its best. It is worth checking the end of the exhaust can for signs of excessive oil build up and see how much it smokes when started from cold.

Take a test ride and check for pulsing at the brake lever under gentle braking - it's a sign of warped discs and they'll cost £250 plus to replace. Also the six-pot brake calipers don't stand up too well to a winter's salt and rust attack. If you plan to run one through winter then keep the calipers well lubed and clean, it will save a big bill when summer eventually comes.

All that aside, a terrific bike, arguably better handling than a Blade of the same vintage and with an engine that's remarkably  flexible - certainly a lot more so than the SRAD. Great for track days too. And because it's so often overlooked it can be had for a lot less dough. Cheaper to insure as well.

Key ID: pre-'95 bikes lacked the Öhlins shock. 1996 bikes got new fork top adjusters and corrosion resistant fasteners.

Don't fear: those pink paint schemes - standard still beats aftermarket.

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