It doesn’t get any more fun than this. Comfortable upright ergonomics, so light you can throw it around with ease, and with the torquey spunk to accelerate hard around town and on twisty mountain roads — the 2015 Yamaha FZ-07 is all this, and more.Benefiting from the trickle down technology of MotoGP racing, the FZ-07 gets the crossplane crankshaft we have seen on the R1 inline-4 and FZ-09 triple. The FZ-07’s twin utilizes the uneven firing order of the 270-degree crossplane crank, which makes for novice-friendly low to mid-range power.
Easy to handle thanks to a sub-400 pound claimed wet weight, and slim chassis, the FZ-07 has a manageable 31.7-inch seat height with a narrow seat/tank junction to assist in reaching the ground at stops.Around town the FZ-07 is pure pleasure—almost bicycle-like in ease. The power characteristics suit less experienced riders, with its plentiful supply of smoothly delivered low-end torque, and that same pull can benefit an aggressive, skilled rider.There’s little need to shift the 6-speed gearbox once you’ve found your groove. Cruise down the boulevard as casually or energetically as you please, adjust your speed as needed with your right wrist. When red lights present themselves, you’ll be hard pressed to resist taking advantage of the ease in which it sneaks through lanes to the front of the queue.At maximum freeway speeds, the windblast off the naked 07 is fully in your face, which is somewhat of a deterrent for over-riding the speed limit. That is not a bad thing, though there will be times when you will twist the throttle hard and hang on, savoring the carefree feeling the 07 evokes.Providing the confidence to push fast requires a stable chassis and the security of a good pair of brakes, both found on the FZ-07. With a 55-inch wheelbase the bike feels solid and handles pavement transitions and rain grooves confidently, and vibration from the twin is minimal.On the practical side, commuting is an absolute joy. Not only does the FZ-07 have excellent low-end power for negotiating constantly changing traffic snarls, but the response off throttle is great if you need to take evasive action or if an opportunity to spurt through an opening appears. The upright seating position affords a clear view of the road and keeps you visible to other traffic.Clad with the smallish 282mm wave discs and petite calipers that are not radially mounted, you might not expect much in the way of serious stopping power. In spite of the disc diameters, the front brakes do an excellent job of slowing the featherweight FZ; action is initially soft, then progressively stronger, which inspires full confidence. For slower speed modulation, the rear brake is nicely effective with good feel at the pedal.When the weekend comes, the 07 is best enjoyed on the back- roads or canyons, twisting the throttle and zipping along, taking advantage of the supermoto-like ergonomics (minus the tall seat and long-travel suspension).The FZ-07 truly excels on tight roads. I was nipping on the rear tire of my riding buddies on faster, sportier bikes because of the 07’s agility and responsiveness—that is always great fun.There is good leverage at the handlebars with the upright seating position and, combined with the bike’s light weight and aggressive 24-degree rake, you can maneuver the bike intuitively.Surprisingly, the bike is not nervous, and some credit is surely due to the conservative profile of the Michelin Pilot Road 4 sport-touring rubber, which sticks well in the corners thanks to a grippy compound on the shoulders (the center of the tire gets longer wearing rubber).Suspension is decent on the cost-conscious bike, favoring the street/urban side over the fast weekend romp in the hills. Despite the less-than-taut feel when riding aggressively and braking hard, the FZ-07 never felt insecure, and there was no undue flexing from the minimalist steel frame, or pushing from the conventional, non-adjustable 41mm KYB forks.Transitions are effortless, and mid-corner corrections can be made at will. With knees securely hugging the comfortably shaped tank, and confidence oozing from the FZ’s willing personality, it’s easy to lean deep enough into a turn to scrape a peg, which is when the ability to dial in firmer suspension would be a nice feature (and I only weigh 115 pounds).While the powerband suits novice riders to a T in tight canyons, experienced riders can enjoy a significant rpm rush from 7K on up to redline. There’s plenty enough spunk in this bike to get your adrenaline going and put a big smile on your face, regardless of the status of your skills.However, once the canyon opens up to big wide sweepers, the FZ-07 loses the advantage built up in the tightest twisties. Tapped out in 6th gear, the FZ does fell stable, though. I can’t complain, and I haven’t even mentioned how easy the bike is to wheelie. The dash is laid out well and easy on the eyes with large digits that can be read day or night, and includes much appreciated bonus info such as a gear indicator, air temperature, and a reserve mileage count.Big bike styling cues, including a MotoGP-like shorty exhaust and asymmetrical swingarm, means you won’t be visually tagged as a beginner, even if you are, elevating the 07 from being simply a sensible purchase. Options from Yamaha Genuine Accessories, both stylish and functional, allow factory personalization, and there will undoubtedly be a huge aftermarket for this bike.Sometimes a bike comes along that so clearly meets the needs of a chunk of the riding audience that it’s hard to under- stand why it didn’t already exist.Yamaha’s 2015 FZ-07 is one such bike. With a sporty and friendly personality that satisfies both new and seasoned riders, covering the practical and the discretionary, the FZ-07 delivers more than expected in a seriously enjoyable manner, and that is always a winning formula.Riding Style:Helmet: Arai Signet-Q Bomb Faceshield: Arai Pro Shade System Jacket: Joe Rocket Ladies Trixie Gloves: Racer Women’s Matrix Jeans: Uglybros Guardian-G Boots: Sidi Livia RainPhotos by Riles & Nelson
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!