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80% of an OW01?: 1996 Yamaha YZF-750R

1996 Yamaha YZF-750R on ebay

Back in the mid-1990’s the main way most sporbike fans learned about the latest and greatest developments was through a subscription to a motorcycling magazine.   For me, the magazine was Cycle and I can clearly remember reading discussions about the different development philosophies of each major Japanese manufacturer.   These philosophies are reprinted below (or at least as best I can remember them) and I think most people who are fans of sportbikes from this period will agree these are still accurate for the Japanese mid -1990’s machines.

  • The Honda Philosophy–  Strong in engineering and build quality but would sometimes over-engineer or develop something without a proven market.  The model line was refreshed in a phased approach over time instead of all at once.  Styling could be bland/conservative.
  • The Kawasaki Philosophy–  Great engines but suspect braking.  Not really an innovator but decent build quality.  Not as extensive a model line as Honda or Suzuki.  As for styling…well I hope you like green.
  • The Suzuki Philosophy–   Seemed to have a “try-everything-and-see-what-works” mentality resulting in a confusing model lineup.  The lower part of the lineup would sometimes have bikes with lower component quality in order to meet a price point.  Styling varied widely based on the model.
  • The Yamaha Philosophy–  Similar to Honda with great engineers but build quality not quite as strong.   Timeframe for innovation was longer than Honda and seemed more along the lines of trying to improve on a proven/existing concept rather than being a true innovator.  Model lineups were mid-sized but fortunately major components were common across the model line.  Styling choices were hit-or-miss and could sometimes be eye bending (cough-Vance-and-Hines-edition-cough-Marty).


The philosophy review above is relevant to today’s post, a 1996 Yamaha YZF-750R. While the YZF-750R was the base version of Yamaha’s YZF 750 lineup and wasn’t as exotic as it’s lineup siblings, it still had the same basic design. Yamaha tuned the R to be good for both street riding and canyon carving and the R actually won the 1996 Sport Rider magazine bike of the year.. While it didn’t sell in the same numbers as the Suzuki or Kawasaki 750cc machines, he R version still has a very active fan base as evidenced by the EXUP Worldwide forum.

Here is what the seller has to say about this particular 1996 Yamaha YZF-750R.

  • 12,202 miles
  • all original plastics & graphics
  • spotless stainless exhaust with functioning EXUP valve
  • original windshield, blinkers,rear plastic fender
  • No aluminum ever polished or chromed
  • Some new parts  include battery, rear rotor, all brake pads, chain & sprockets, oil & filter.
  • few tiny paint chips on bottom edge of tank & one crack in top of right mid fairing 

In case you are wondering what the YZF would be like to live with today, there’s some good buying advice available on VisorDown here.  I also found a previous post on the RSBFS archives which a nice video of a test of a few older bikes with the Yamaha being one of them (embedded below)

So now we come to the question of the value of this mid-90’s middleweight.  Well a close inspection of the pics show some wear and tear and the spelling errors in the ebay listing are a bit of a concern.  Also given its level of components and condition, its not really a bike that will be likely to appreciate over time.  

That being said, the current bid price is below $1600 which seems stupid low (although reserve has not been met). And even though the 1996 Yamaha YZF-750R is the lowest spec model of the 1996 Yamaha 750cc sportbike line, the Yamaha philosophy means that this is probably an opportunity to experience 75-80% of the performance of the legendary OW01 at a fraction of the cost. Perhaps this one is best suited for our more senior RSBFS readers to experience or relive a bit of the 1990’s 750cc sportbike experience, someone who wants to finally experience a EXUP machine without a huge outlay of monies. And I would be willing to bet you won’t see another one anytime soon at your next bike night.



  • This is how I think of the big 4.

    Honda – Over engineered unique parts for many models.
    Suzuki – Cheap and fast.
    Kawasaki – Faster.
    Yamaha – Parts bin engineering at its finest. The easiest bikes to mod and share parts across model lines.

    This YZF is typical Yamaha of that period. As for it being 80% of an OW01, its the wrong 80% though 🙂

  • Yeah, and looking at the DNA, I’m 80% George Clooney.

  • Yamaha not an innovator? Genesis engine. Deltabox frame. And in more recent times cross plane crank.

    If you look back far enough you can see most innovations are a refinement of a concept that was previously tried or pioneered. You should have been reading Cycle World and Kevin Cameron. 🙂

    I do recall one of these languishing on my local dealers sales floor as new but non current model year inventory for quite a while. I think the semi dayglo colors and the skin rip style graphics don’t do it any favors. But it was far better than that light purple with yellow wheel version they had tried.

    • As far as 80% of an OW01 I think that actually fits in this case. Missing the Ohlins rear shock, dry brake setup, Ti con rods, 2 ring pistons, shorter stroke spec on the motor, Mikuni flatslides, and the close ratio transmission. Unless I am missing some other trick bits it is not that far off at all. Most of those parts are really more suited to dedicated track duty anyway. They are expensive additions for what amounts to tenths of a second improvements in lap times or seconds saved in the pits in the case of the dry brake. Price out a set of 4 trick flatslide Mikunis on the Sudco site. They are proud of em.

      Heading down to your local bike night or for some fun in the twisties this YZF will fit the bill nicely. Way more bike than 80% of the guys or girls who will ever swing a leg over it can fully exploit.

  • 98 R1 first production 1000cc in a 600 size frame. Yamaha set quite the standard with that bike.

    • OW01 unique magnesium Nissin calipers, OW01 unique light weight adjustable forks, OW01 unique YZR500/YZR250 steering stem and yoke size/spacing, Aluminum fuel tank, Fiberglass bodywork, OW01 unique front wheel in YZR500 brake rotor offset and 17mm axle.

      The OW01 is not easily duplicated with other Yamaha street bits. It is very closely dimensioned to the YZR500/YZR250 & the 1987 YZF750 Suzuka bike.

  • The YZF750R is an underrated bike. The SP version (with the flatslides, close-ratio trans and adjustable swingarm pivot) was the homologation bike for that era and doesn’t differ much from the bike in this auction. Like Taylor Swift says, hater’s can hate, but the YZF750SP won the Daytona 200, Suzuka 24hrs and had some success in SBK when ridden by Collin Edwards and Haga. It also dominated in the British SBK Championship. YZF750s have also done well recently in the Golden Era class in the UK.

    The guys that love these bikes spend stupid money collecting YEC kit parts. So, parts availability (the trick ones) are a problem. I was lucky to find a set of vintage Attack Racing rearsets and FINALLY found a set of Marvic magnesium wheels that I could afford after looking for a few years. I have a carbon tank, Fox shock, Brembo calipers and iron rotors but the YEC kit stuff is out of my league. I think swingarms are $5000!

    I follow this site a lot and I get that a lot of you love the small two-strokes and there are some serious collectors for the OW01/ZX7R/GSXR 750 Limited etc., but the YZF is a good choice if you love bikes of this era and want a bike to RIDE. I built a WERA-legal V7 club-racer out of my 97′ and love riding it so much that I parked my Aprila V2 track bikes after one weekend riding them back-to-back. I found the YZF less fatiguing, easier to ride and I was faster. And, if it tumbles down the track and the frame cracks, it will only cost me a few hundred dollars for a used one.

    Peter Day in the UK does some very nice work on these bikes (you OW01 lovers should know who he is): http://www.peterdayyamaha.com/yzf750.htm

    Louis summed it up nicely: “Heading down to your local bike night or for some fun in the twisties this YZF will fit the bill nicely. Way more bike than 80% of the guys or girls who will ever swing a leg over it can fully exploit.”

    • Golden era class in the UK sounds cool! I love the bikes from this time period.

      If I ever become independently wealthy 75% of the bikes I would collect would probably come from leads on this site. Most of the users who comment here do seem partial to the 2 strokes. And I love those too. But you can’t beat a good old diesel for reliability and ease of use. I always learn some cool tidbits and details from the listings and the comments.

  • sold for 4050 USD

  • Without seeing the bike and knowing for sure, it looks like someone might have gotten a great deal.

  • I bought a 97 yzf750 this spring and I love this bike. Always wanted one when they came out but was too busy playing with the cbr900’s at the time. These are amazing handling bikes, so solid in the turns. The author mentioned he couldn’t see these becoming too collectible. I totally disagree. I think for the amount of these out there, which aren’t that many, that within the next 5 years these will have a huge price jump. Classic 90’s styling sport bike and love that delta box frame!

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