Earlier this year, we broke news of the existence of the new Yamaha R7, and a couple of weeks later, that Yamaha has plans for more R models to come, with trademark applications in Japan for a number of names from R1 through R9, plus R15, R20 and R25. Thanks to a number of new trademark applications in multiple markets, we believe the next models to follow after the R7 will be the R9 and R2.
Earlier this week, Yamaha filed trademark applications for the names R2, R7 and R9 with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, as well as the respective IP offices in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay (and likely more to follow) [UPDATE Aug. 10, 2021: we can now add the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to the list].
In each case, the individual filings referenced the earlier filings made in Japan, using a process called the Paris Convention, which allows applicants to take an initial filing and apply for similar rights to a trademark in additional markets. This is a fairly common practice in trademark law, as the Convention recognizes the initial filing’s date for all subsequent applications, so applicant’s don’t have to worry about having to apply for trademarks in several markets at the same time.
What’s telling about these recent filings is that protection for only the R2, R7 and R9 names are being sought, suggesting that they are the ones expected to be used sooner. The R7 has already launched, which means the R2 and R9 may be next in line. We have to remind ourselves that trademark filings alone don’t always mean that we’ll see an actual product. They are, however, a sign of what a company has planned, and the selective filing of just these three names in multiple markets is telling.
We’ve been expecting an R9 ever since we caught whiff of the R7. Yamaha’s 890cc CP3 three-cylinder engine is already in use with the MT-09 and Tracer 9, while its earlier 847cc iteration powered the XSR900 and the three-wheeled Niken. With Yamaha’s 689cc CP2 Twin powering the R7, we figured it was only a matter of time before the Triple found its way into an R9.
There’s more mystery surrounding the R2 name. Assuming a displacement in the 200-ish range, there are no existing engines that make sense for a new sportbike. The air-cooled and carbureted engines of the TW200 or V Star 250 wouldn’t be good fits, nor would the fuel injected, but still air-cooled, XT250 engine. For one thing, none of these engines are compliant with Euro 5, making an EU trademark unnecessary. Yamaha offers an R25 in Asian markets, but that’s just a modified version of the R3, with a smaller engine to meet 250cc licensing tiers.
The new trademark applications also highlight a recent trend from Yamaha in de-emphasizing the “YZF” aspect of its sportbikes’ names. Yamaha still uses YZF for its sportbikes in North America and Japan, but in Europe, the sportbikes have dropped this part of their names. The letters YZF stand for “Yamaha Racing Four-Stroke”. The Yamaha part is pretty apparent, and four-strokes have become the de facto standard, making it unnecessary to point out. It never made much sense to have “Z” stand for “Racing”, especially with the R also being part of their names. The shorter names also reflect what people actually call Yamaha’s sportbikes, so dropping the “YZF” may be a smart move.
Going back to the R2 and R9 names, the trademark filings do not provide any indication of when we might see either a concept or production model. A 2022 model launch is possible, but 2023 isn’t out of the question either. It’s important to note that these trademarks have not been filed in the U.S. as yet, but that can always be done later. The R2 might not be likely to come to the North American markets if it does turn out to be a small displacement model, but the R9 is a good candidate to be imported here.
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