2017 Yamaha FZ-10 First Review

2017 Yamaha FZ-10 Price
2017 Yamaha FZ-10

I thrashed the 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 hard for a full day on a very demanding route, including the Tail of the Dragon, and I came away very impressed. Forget price for a moment, the FZ-10 is an incredibly capable sportbike that checks all the right boxes—for any price. It is amazingly powerful and easy to ride fast in safety. It is most definitely an expert-class motorcycle, but if you’re a sportbike aficionado then you will absolutely fall in love. Here are 14 Fast Facts about the 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 that you need to know.

1. The world is getting naked—and comfortable with it. Yamaha quoted industry figures and, for the first time in many years, sport bikes (high performance naked/upright/standard machines, but excluding dedicated sport tourers) are now outselling supersport (committed race replica style) machines quite handily. In June 2011, it was a 45/55 split in favor of supersport, but in the last five years those numbers have turned, where 73 percent are now sport, and only 27 percent are supersport bikes. In fact, sport bikes have seen a 214 percent sales increase in the last 3 years alone.

2. The FZ Family is now complete. Following the mega success of the FZ-07 and FZ-09, Yamaha needed a flagship FZ, and the 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 is the answer. It is (quite considerably) the fiercest FZ on the street.

3. The FZ-10 is a thinly disguised R1 and compromises are minimal. The 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 contradicts the Japanese penchant to heavily dilute a supersport flagship to make it more “streetable.” The FZ-10 retains the latest R1 crossplane motor and chassis, with only minor tweaks to improve its performance in the real world.

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4. The 2017 Yamaha FZ-10’s motor is smooth. The motor has little to no noticeable vibration, and throttle response is very smooth too. The FZ’s motor feels incredibly strong and the low note of the crossplane drone hides how rapidly the engine is spinning.

5. The 2017 Yamaha FZ-10’s power delivery is exemplary. The feel at the throttle is excellent and with three power modes, it’s easy to change on the fly and select the one best for the current riding conditions. Power wheelies in the first three gears are easy, and exits from slow corners are as aggressive as you need; the FZ-10 just digs in and launches out of turns, often with the front wheel effortlessly floating off the asphalt. The crankshaft has slightly more inertia than the R1 to make the FZ a little less snappy and more user-friendly; slightly shorter gearing with two extra teeth on the rear sprocket helps the FZ-10 react quickly at any speed.

2017 Yamaha FZ-10 Motor6. The motor has not been detuned, but it has been slightly retuned for the street. The R1 motor was deemed a little too track oriented so the FZ-10 has different camshafts to boost low- and mid-range torque, different throttle bodies (but the same size) to allow for the cruise control, a larger airbox to compensate for the reduced ram air effect of the R1, and a single fuel injector, as the second one on the R1 that comes in at high revs is not needed on the FZ-10. The FZ-10’s compression ratio has been lowered slightly to 12:1 to prevent overheating challenges.

The FZ-10 redlines at 12,200 rpm, lower than the R1 by 2,300 rpm. However, peak torque is the same on both machines at 82 ft/lbs, and on the 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 it comes in lower down the rev range at 9000 rpm. Low- to mid-range power is increased by 18 percent over the R1.  On tight twisty roads the FZ-10 motor feels much more torquey than the spec-sheet implies, and acts more like a triple or V4.  

7. The FZ-10’s gear ratios are identical to the R1. However, the final drive ratio is slightly shorter on the FZ-10, with an extra two teeth (from 41 on the R1 to 43 on the FZ) on the rear sprocket. The FZ-10 is quick to react and leaps from corner to corner and the torquey feel encouraged me to often run a gear higher than I would normally with an inline-4. My run on the Tail of the Dragon was mainly in second and third gears and, although for the very slow corners to begin with I would drop to first, in the end I left it in second and allowed the amazing low down torque to push me hard out of the turns. The engine never feels even close to stressed or overly busy.

8. The electronics suite on the 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 is one area of compromise from the R1. The FZ-10 omits the R1’s Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), so the bank angle sensor and very sophisticated electronics package is reduced on the FZ-10. Non-adjustable ABS operates the same brakes as the R1. There are three levels of Traction Control (plus off), as well as three riding/power modes.

9. New power modes are used on the FZ-10. As before, the default mode is STD, but now Yamaha calls the next most aggressive mode “A” and the most aggressive mode “B”. Full power is delivered in all three modes—it is simply the level of responsiveness that changes and the differences are noticeable and very useful. I used the B mode (most aggressive, and the settings remain when the key is turned off) for most of my ride, and I enjoyed the instant yet smooth and highly responsive throttle connection (wheelies are available on command even in TC 1 and 2). However, when I was riding the Tail of the Dragon, I switched to STD (least aggressive) and it suited the slow corners perfectly. Changes can be done on the fly to both Power and TC settings as long as the throttle is closed.

10. The chassis is straight off the R1. This makes the handling precise and neutral, and the 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 is incredibly agile without flopping into turns. It handled fast sweepers impeccably, and even when hustling though some really slow corners on Tail of the Dragon, the FZ-10 would turn-in with plenty of feel and no reluctance as it went to maximum lean angle. Direction changes are swift and precise. The sub-frame is steel to allow for carrying passengers, and for Yamaha’s (coming) accessory luggage of panniers and even a top box.

11. The R1 wheels have high-end rubber. The 5-spoke R1 aluminum wheels are shod with Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S20 tires with a 190/55 on the rear. They behaved impeccably on the ride and even in some wet conditions there was simply no hint of sliding despite my brisk pace.

2017 Yamaha FZ-10 suspension12. The suspension has not been compromised. Again, same as the R1, the 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 carries the identical, fully adjustable KYB forks and shock with high- and low-speed rebound damping at the rear. This gives the FZ-10 the same firm sporting feel of the R1, but the ride never got harsh or jarring. The rear shock has no squatting at the back, so there is zero understeer coming back hard on the throttle; the FZ-10 went exactly where I wanted it to go. The stock settings were perfect for the Tennessee and N. Carolina roads, with no wriggling at the rear. The speed-sensitive steering damper prevented any shaking at the handlebars.

13. The FZ-10 is as expected, incredibly comfortable. The triple clamps hold perfectly positioned tapered handlebars that set your hands about shoulder-width apart. The footpegs are slightly forward and lower than the R1, but not by much, so the FZ-10 is still a hard-core sportbike. The seat is very comfortable and Yamaha made the effort to reduce the forward slope, which certainly helps.

The headlight and mini cowl (that reduces buffeting well) are frame-mounted to take weight off the front for lighter steering and improved front end feel according to Yamaha; I had absolute confidence in the front end, so I don’t doubt the claim. Overall, the riding position is very seated-in  and the tank rises in front of you, so I felt nicely integrated with the bike. After a hard-riding day of 170 miles of super-twisties, I had very few aches and pains, and felt like I could do it all again.

14. The 2017 Yamaha FZ-10 is an astonishing value at $12,999. When you consider how much of the remarkable Yamaha R1 superbike is included in the 2017 Yamaha FZ-10, how closely they are related, and that Cruise Control and a 12vDC outlet socket are included too, then the price is even more amazing. The FZ-10 comes in two colors—Armor Gray with neon wheels, and Matte Raven Black.
Photography by Brian J. Nelson

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2017 Yamaha FZ-10 First Review Gallery

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