An Incredibly Responsive 3-Cylinder Engine and Taut Chassis Add Up To Major FunThe 2014 Yamaha FZ-09, Yamaha’s eagerly-awaited replacement for the very excellent FZ-8 has finally broken cover and I had a chance to ride the bad boy around the streets of San Francisco today.
Yamaha’s claimed 414 lbs wet weight coupled to some 65 ft/lbs of torque from their all-new Crossplane crankshaft triple adds up to some pretty mouth-watering specifications and the FZ-09 didn’t disappoint.The looks are very much aggressive-urban-naked-upright with a hint of supermoto thrown in for good measure, and immediate impressions from the comfortable seat is a narrow, light, highly maneuverable machine. The narrow waist of the tank and front of the seat will mean inseam-challenged riders will find themselves able to ride the FZ-09 comfortably, and in town they will have less to fear from traffic light stops and parking lot maneuvers.The fully adjustable KYB suspension at the front and rear is softly sprung so it works well in town and on the ridiculously rough roads of San Francisco, but first impression is that damping is excellent and I’m curious as to how it handles at speed–the signs look good.But it’s the motor that’s the real jewel in this crown. Controlled by Yamaha’s YCCT ride-by-wire fueling, the 3x D-modes each have noticeably different response. The default is STD (Standard) and it reverts to that every time the key is off. A small button next to the twistgrip switches modes on the fly as long as the throttle is off. A is more aggressive, and B (Rain mode) has a noticeably softer response–ideal for around town.Overall the motor is snappy in the extreme, and the whole machine feels very reactive to any input. Wheelies are ludicrously easy, but thanks to spot-on fueling they’re beautifully easy to control. Hitting the freeway showed that the FZ-09 has power to spare, and the balanced three-cylinder 847cc motor is very smooth; vibes are simply not a factor. Seat-of-the-pants dyno tells me this machine is quite a bit faster than the 675cc Street Triple and probably not far from the liter-class Speed Triple, but a real test will reveal all.The brakes are radial Advics calipers up front biting on to 298mm rotors for reduced weight and quicker turning; feel is excellent and stoppies are almost as easy as wheelies if you’re so inclined.The seating position is comfortable, and happily Yamaha didn’t fall into the trap of making the tapered aluminum handlebars too wide, leaving them nicely shoulder-width; the new Meter (instruments) are easy to read and now have a gear position indicator as well as MPG and so on.The FZ-09 has been hyped a great deal, and I was not disappointed. Yamaha have clearly thrown all its engineering expertise at this bike and created a super-fun machine that straight out of the box works incredibly well. For a bike with such attention to detail and excellent build quality, it is amazing that it’s priced at just $7990—almost a grand cheaper than the FZ8 if you can believe that! It will come in three colors: Graphite, Red, and Orange.Look for more in-depth testing in an upcoming issue of Ultimate MotorCycling magazine and online. For a preview of the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09, including full specs, click here.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.