Additional photos of this Yamaha OW01 are available here for your perusal.
The increasing popularity of the World Superbike Championship since its inception in 1988 has been responsible for the introduction of over-the-counter road bikes boasting specifications aimed squarely at the racetrack. The most famous of these limited edition ‘homologation specials’ is Honda’s iconic RC30, but Yamaha’s answer, the 1989 FZR750R, better known as the OW01, is even rarer and more exotic with only 500 built.
Although it was a street-legal machine, the OW01 had a spec sheet that was all about racing. And at $16,000 plus a few thousand more for the race kit, the OW01 was easily one of the most expensive bikes on the market in 1989. Yamaha crafted the OW01’s aluminum frame from a higher-quality aluminum alloy than its regular offerings. Emphasizing lightweight, the engineers went so far as to use an aluminum fuel tank in place of steel.
With a Showa fork at the front and an adjustable Öhlins shock at the rear, it was fit for sharp handling. With a small, thinly padded, foam seat, high-up rear sets and low, clip-on handlebars, it was not built for comfort.
At the center of the FZR750R resided an all-new, extremely over square four-cylinder engine with a 72-mm bore, a 46-mm stroke and five valves per cylinder–a development pioneered by Yamaha some years earlier for high-RPM power. Titanium connecting rods were attached to pistons that used just two rings each for low-friction operation.
Fueled by a quartet of Mikuni flatside downdraft carburetors, the OW01 made 121 horsepower, a big number for a 750-class machine in 1989. The engine had an almost two-stroke-like “light-switch” power band that came on hard above 9,000 RPM and pulled to a sky-high 14,000 RPM redline. Yamaha also fitted the OW01 with a close-ratio six-speed transmission that allowed the rider to always keep the engine in the power band pushing around 445 lbs dry weight.
A factory race kit (for several thousand dollars more) included upgraded pistons, camshafts, a race-only ECU and a full race exhaust. The published OW-01 quarter mile was 11.20 seconds at 130.81 MPH, with the bike topping out at approximately 160 miles per hour.
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. This Euro version has cosmetic differences to the US version, such as a smooth front headlamp area and a smooth taillight section.
It’s all stock with all of the right bits and it’s one of the cleanest we’ve found. We had the bike running two years ago and then drained the fluids so that it could be put in the vault.
In Adam’s words, “Why would I sell one of my favorite OW-01’s? Because I found something I MUST HAVE and it’s super pricey! It’s a really bad business decision but when has that stopped me? It’s a bike that’s keeping me up at night. I simply must do one track day on it!” So now it’s time for this Iconic Yamaha to find a new home – will it be yours?