FZR-R: Yamaha FZR750R (OW01) Superbike

Yamaha FZR750R OW01

A Pristine Homologation Special Straight out of 1989… 

In 1987-88, Yamaha’s YZF750 Genesis factory racer boasted successive wins in the highly competitive Suzuka 8-Hours endurance races. Learnings from the YZF would be directly incorporated into the development of Yamaha’s new World Superbike racer, the FZ750R, which featured an all-new aluminum “Deltabox” frame, 5-valve DOHC inline four with titanium connecting rods, 6-speed close-ratio gearbox, and Öhlins suspension.

Yamaha FZR750R OW01

The 1989 Yamaha FZ750R was built to compete against limited editions such as the Honda RC30 and Bimota YB4. Of course, in order to campaign a bike in World Superbike, a manufacturer has to produce a minimum amount of its superbike contender for public consumption. This results in “homologation specials” like the one you see here — a race bike thinly disguised for street use.

“Yamaha’s FZ750R, codenamed OW01, really is a race bike for the road, not a road bike taken racing. Only 500 were built…” –Performance Bikes, 2005.

Yamaha FZR750R OW01

Only 140 examples of the FZR-R were imported to Britain. For the cost of a small house, the 1989 buyer received a bike unlike anything else on the road.

The 20-valve 749cc liquid-cooled oversquare short-stroke four-cylinder was good for 121 hp, and the 43mm Showa fork and Öhlins rear shock were adjustable for ride height, spring preload, compression, and rebound damping adjustment.

Yamaha FZR750R OW01

Magnesium Nissin four-pot brake calipers clamped FZR1000-size 320mm front discs, with 17-inch wheels at both ends.

Yamaha FZR750R OW01

The engine breathed through a quartet of downdraft Mikuni BDST 38mm carbs and a stainless steel 4-into-1 exhaust system.

“The OW01 had Yamaha’s EXUP valve to optimize backpressure and overall horsepower. It worked by what is now a primitive microcomputer driving a servomotor in the exhaust collector box. The result was the valve would alternate the backpressure depending on what revs the engine was using.” –Cycle News

Yamaha FZR750R OW01

The OW01 ran the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds at 130.81 MPH and topped at around 160 miles per hour — dizzying figures for 1989. Just remove the license plate, indicators, mirrors, and side stand, and the FZR-R was ready to race.

Yamaha FZR750R OW01

Though it wasn’t sold Stateside, a few examples managed to find their way to our shores:

“The OW01 was never sold as a street bike in the U.S., but when the AMA altered the rules to allow as few as 15 examples sold to homologate a model, Yamaha USA sold them directly to licensed racers and teams, despite the bikes being fitted with headlamps and a full set of gauges.” –Iconic Motorbikes

Yamaha FZR750R OW01

So how did the FZR-R fare in world competition? Though it was up against the iconic Honda RC30, the Yamaha held its own in Europe and beyond.

“In the World Superbike Championship, the OW01 won races in its first season courtesy of Fabrizio Pirovano and Britain’s Terry Rymer, and continued to be competitive at world level for the next couple of years. On the UK domestic scene, the ‘OW’ fared even better, Rymer finishing runner-up to Trevor Nation’s Norton Rotary in the ’89 British Championship before taking the title the following year for Loctite Yamaha.” –Bonhams

Yamaha FZR750R OW01

The near-perfect example you see here has just 844 kilometers! It comes from a collector in the United Kingdom and was photographed by our friend Roberto Garagarza (@roga______), who shot the 2023 Bike Shed Show for us and those gorgeous photos from the 2023 Normandy Beach Race. A huge thanks to Roberto for bringing us this unobtainium street racer straight out of 1989!

Photography Credit

Roberto Garagarza: @roga______


  1. “Aha May!”

  2. Robin R Bennett

    Beautiful bike, I own a OW02 R7 and love the bike.

  3. Nice! Beautiful! Expensive! But very fun, you better know what you’re doing with this missile..

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