2017 Yamaha FZ-09 First Ride Test |
The 2017 Yamaha FZ-09 isn’t an all-new motorcycle by any means, but the tuning forks folks have definitely upgraded the middleweight sport bike—and we were already fans.
- The 2017 Yamaha FZ-09 doesn’t ride radically differently. From a ride perspective, the big change is full adjustability of the fork, and the separation of the compression damping in the left leg with rebound in the right. Base compression damping rate is 83 percent firmer than last year, according to Yamaha. This follows in the footsteps of the XSR900, although the FZ-09 is still not as firm as its Sport Heritage brother. In practice, the fork does feel firmer when riding aggressively, without sacrificing comfort on bumpy surfaces. The FZ-09 is definitely sportier for 2017.
- Electronics are a big part of the new FZ-09. Although the smooth and torquey Crossplane Concept inline-3 powerplant is untouched, this year, the Yamaha FZ-09 gets a new standard electronics package that includes ABS and traction control, as well as updated fuel mapping. The occasional notchiness when transitioning from off- to on-throttle is reduced from last year, and is now the same as the XSR900–reasonable.
- Traction control is defeatable; ABS is not. You get full-time ABS on the 2017 Yamaha FZ-09, and it is possible to initiate it for both the front and rear wheels when riding hard—pulsing can be felt at the controls. There are two levels of TC (easily switchable while riding), plus off. Like the ABS, TC will let itself be known when riding hard. If you like wheelies, shut it off (you have to stop to do so) and let ’er rip.
- The drive train is updated. In addition to an optional pre-wired, plug-and-play quickshifter, the FZ-09 also gets an assist-and-slipper clutch. Thanks to engine torque assistance, the clutch pull is 20-percent lighter this year. Miles of tortuous lane splitting on Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades on our first ride confirmed that this makes a real-world difference for urban riders. As before, the six-speed transmission is flawless with gear ratios perfectly matched to the power output.
- The 2017 Yamaha FZ-09 has a new back end. In addition to a new rear subframe, the FZ-09 also has a new seat and swingarm-mounted single-arm license plate bracket. The seat is flatter and roomier, and a fraction of an inch higher. In practice, it’s much easier to move around on the FZ-09, and the seat doesn’t try to push you toward the tank. The back of the bike looks clean, and works better than before—the KYB shock is unchanged.
- You can’t help but notice the FZ-10 inspired headlight. Four LED headlights give the front end of the FZ-09 a new modern look, and we love the way the instrument pod projects from the deflector that flows back from the headlights.
- Plastic has been updated, too. The radiator now has plastic camouflaging it, while the plastic accent on the tank has been enlarged, plus there’s a plastic spoiler under the headlights assembly. Also, while not strictly plastic, the tail cowl and muffler cover have been reworked and are more contemporary.
- The 2017 Yamaha FZ-09 is a superior motorcycle to its predecessor. Yamaha teased some of these improvements with the XSR900, and it’s nice to see the FZ-09 made sportier. It is a great urban bike, and just ready for city-bound hooliganism, yet it is an incredibly agile canyon carver that invites aggressive riding. Much faster than the FZ-07, and easier to ride than the muscular FZ-10, the Yamaha FZ-09 stakes a solid claim to the middle ground.
Photography by Garth Milan
Helmet: HJC RPHA 11 Pro Skyrym MC-3
Jacket: Joe Rocket Meta-X
Gloves: Joe Rocket Pro Street
Pants: Joe Rocket Stealth Sport
Boots: Sidi Roarr
2017 Yamaha FZ-09 Specs
Bore x stroke: 78.0 x 59.1mm
Compression ratio: 11.5:1
Maximum torque: 64.5 ft/lbs @ 8500 rpm
Redline: 11,250 rpm
Valve train: DOHC, 4vpc
Fuel delivery: Denso EFI w/ YCC-T
Ignition: TCI; 32-bit ECU
Lubrication: Wet sump
Clutch: Wet multi-plate disc; assist and slip
Final drive: Chain
Frame: Controlled-fill die-cast aluminum w/ subframe
Front suspension: Fully adjustable inverted KYB forks; 5.4 inches of travel
Rear suspension: Rebound damping and spring-preload adjustable horizontal KYB shock; 5.1 inches of travel
Front wheel: 17 x 3.5” 10-spoke cast aluminum
Rear wheel: 17 x 5.5” 10-spoke cast aluminum
Front tire: 120/70 x 17
Rear tire: 180/55 x 17
Front brakes: 298mm discs w/ four-piston calipers
Rear brake: 245mm disc w/ one-piston caliper
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
Wheelbase: 56.7 inches
Rake: 25 degrees
Trail: 4.1 inches
Seat height: 32.3 inches
Fuel capacity: 3.7 gallons
Curb weight: 425 pounds
Colors: Matte Silver w/ Neon Yellow; Intensity White; Candy Red
2017 Yamaha FZ-09 Price: $8999 MSRP
2017 Yamaha FZ-09 First Ride Test Gallery