The Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace's big old 1003cc five-valver is a meaty, proven and fast motorcycle. 147bhp may seem old hat today, but the Yamaha Thunderace’s torque spread reminds of Kawasaki’s ZZ-R1100 and is smooth, solid, glitch-free and versatile… even if the transmission is a touch notchy.
Ride and HandlingMCN rating
The standard of modern superbike handling may have moved on, but the big ol’ Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace is still no slouch with its YZF750R-derived chassis. Being a less focused motorcycle than the latest 1000cc weapons means that with the Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace you can get on with destroying distances in relative comfort thanks to its broad and comfortable seat, less extreme riding position and a fairing which gives good protection as well. Serious thrashing will have the undercarriage grounding out, but the the YZF1000R Thunderace was raced in the Isle of Man production TT so it’s not an insurmountable problem.
Again, ‘old school’, meaning the Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace is pretty lavish by modern superbike standards. This motorcycle has decent pillion provision, a large fairing, comprehensive switchgear and instrumentation etc, even plenty of luggage mounting points. The Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace also marked the first appearance of Yamaha’s awesome one piece, four-piston brake calipers that have also adorned the R1 which are two-finger powerful and make a mockery of some six-piston designs.
Quality and ReliabilityMCN rating
Yamaha never has had the best reputation of the Japanese factories for quality finishes and the like and the YZF1000R Thunderace is another example. Heavily wintered bikes suffer, sometimes alarmingly, but look after your Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace and you’ll be OK. Mechanically they’re solid and proven motorcycles.
The Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace was reasonably priced when new but, being decidedly ‘old school’, it’s now an outstanding value motorcycle secondhand. As long as you don’t mind riding a machine generally considered to be out of fashion.
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1996: Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace launched.
1997: Wiring loom modified to enable fitment of alarms.
2003: Yamaha YZF1000R Thunderace discontinued.