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Is Yamaha working on a new sportsbike for 2022?

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Over the past few years, with the CV-19 pandemic and spiralling costs, firms want to get the most reward from R&D costs; at first, I thought it was to keep things simple, but it also makes excellent business sense. This process is not new, it’s been going on for decades, but it’s now even more valuable with recent events. Develop one engine use it in a multitude of chassis to cover a broad spectrum of riders and riding types. Notably favoured with Japanese brands and, of course, Yamaha. For instance, the 700cc twin, which powers the MT07, the XSR700, the R7. This is also true with the 125, 300, 900 and the R1’s 1000cc engine.

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And just as we were starting to think Yamaha was having a quiet year, with only minor updates to existing models announced for the 2022 range, documents emerge giving us two new model names, which as yet don’t tally up to existing bike lines. The nicknames of RN82 and 83 are listed on European type-approval applications filled in by Yamaha. Initially, these names give zero away; cracking the enigma code gives us a little more information.

Yamaha R7
Yamaha’s R7

Japan likes a good code; I’ve known this from my old car days when engines types were coded, with a different letter and number meaning other things. For example, the Toyota 4AGE engine (coincidently developed and tuned by Yamaha) was pretty simple. 4A series engine, G signified the use of a wide-angle twin-cam valvetrain and E for electronic fuel injection. The Later 4AGZE added a Z which stood for a supercharger. Simple if you know the code. So what can we gather from the Yamaha code?

What does the Yamaha code mean?

It seems Yamaha utilise a few letters, R, V and D look to show the bike style; R for street, V for Cruiser and D for adventure/off-road bikes. The second letter denotes an engine size with N, M and P used, N 750-999cc, M 600cc to 749cc and P over 1000cc.

RN01 was the gen1 YZF-R1 back in 1998. The RN19, the 2007/08 R1, RN22 – the first crossplane R1 in 2012 and RN78 – the latest generation MT10.

Yamaha MT10
RN78 – the new MT10

By this logic, RN82 and RN83 surely means two street bikes with an engine size between 750 and 999cc. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? You know, that peachy little 900cc triple that powers the MT09, XSR900, Tracer 900 and Niken? Given the four-cylinder engine for the R1 and MT10 is 998cc, this could, in theory, also be an N coded engine, and as much as we do deserve a new R1, the MT10 has just had an update.

What else do we know? Well, Yamaha has recently patented the R numbers from 1 through to 9, plus the R15, 25 and 25, and current R’s in the range include the R6, R7, and R1. Could we see a faired R9 using the 900cc triple? I think it seems likely. The R6 has become a track-only tool and lost homologation for racing, so the natural progression from smaller bikes to larger bikes is missing a big step, one that an R9 could fill perfectly. Whilst Yamaha does have the R7, the R7 is down on power compared to others (looking at you RS660), in a super-competitive road area, but also on the track. The R7 will struggle on longer tracks with larger straights. Surely a new R9 could be the perfect accompaniment to the MT-09.

new R1
Could we be getting a new R1?

Other theories and much of a marmite bike as it is, the Yamaha Niken is overdue an update, at least with a new engine as currently, the engine fails the new Euro regulations. The grace period to use up Euro5 engines ceases in 2022, so if Yamaha wants to keep the Niken around (which they do as they don’t want to lose all that R&D monies), a new solution will be required. despite the Niken not being a common sight on the roads, they seem to be common for sporting event camerawork like the Tour de France.

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I’d love to be ab;e to work out what it is, the consecutive numbers make me think it’s a faired and naked version like the MT10/R1 has, but I have no idea. It is worth noting that these type-approval documents are followed pretty quickly. KTM’s Brabus collaboration was recently spotted in the application list, and the announcement was made weeks later. I guess all we can do is wait with bated breath to see what happens!

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