A new take on the naked bike |
The FZ-09 was introduced to replace the FZ8 in the Yamaha lineup and stays true to its roots.
I enjoyed fostering this 2015 Yamaha FZ-09 for a short period, and despite its jerky throttle, it ultimately won my affection. The FZ-09 was introduced to replace the FZ8 in the Yamaha lineup, and stays true to its predecessor’s naked and sporty feel. There has been a significant number of improvements, such as the introduction of three modes, and overall reduction of weight to a surprisingly low 414 pounds wet. Combined with the 847cc this machine sports, I thought it was more than worthy for a ride and full story.
However, I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight for me with the FZ-09. At first glance, the fender and the signals look cheap and sort of flimsy. For a naked bike, it looks a lot less beefy than I would like it to. Nevertheless, it is one of the sportier naked bikes out there; its appearance from the front is aggressive and edgy. Putting the key in the ignition is more of a hassle than I would have expected; it is awkwardly located behind the multifunction instrument cluster at the back of the handlebars.
When I threw a leg over for the first time, I noticed that the seat is quite low. At 5’11”, I can plant both feet on the ground with ease. The frame of this naked Yamaha is slim and fits snugly between my knees. The pegs have also been raised since the FZ8, but not enough to make the seating position uncomfortable. The ergonomics of it are supermoto-inspired, but I find that the forward-tilted seat constantly pushes me into the tank. That being said, the seat is cushiony and comfortable for longer hauls. Turning it on, the dash is well-organized and informative. It has a digital layout that’s a bit different than what I’m used to, but I really do like it. The electronic start whirs into action without any hesitation.
Clicking it into first, I am immediately greeted by a rush of torque with the slightest twist of the throttle. A smile rips across my face as the bike accelerates with eagerness. The amount of power out of the Yamaha FZ-09 is surprising, and the acceleration is absolutely exhilarating. The power is spread well throughout the entire rev-range, tapering off at the 10k mark. The inline three-cylinder roars as I fly through the gears effortlessly. The transmission requires a bit of a stern nudge and the clutch’s slip-point is a touch too far in for my liking, but otherwise shifting is smooth and easy. The throttle is responsive and highly precise, but can be frustratingly jerky, even with the smoothest roll of the wrist. This occurs especially in the more aggressive modes, STD and A. In mode A, the smallest bumps in the road can cause unwarranted lurches. Putting the bike in mode B solves the problem of the jumpy throttle, but also cuts the power significantly, stealing away a bit of the grin-inducing acceleration.
Stopping power is adequate, though the front stock brakes could be a bit grabbier. It’s important to know that the FZ-09 is not available with ABS. The suspension is very cushiony and handles unruly surfaces well. That being said, the adjustable forks should be tuned for maximum preload and maximum rebound dampening if you plan to push this machine harder. In the same class, the Triumph Street Triple offers a better suspension system, but the FZ-09 has much more torque. The low centre of gravity of the bike combined with its light overall weight and wide handlebar gives the rider amazing control at low speeds.
Dipping into a turn, the bike is not exactly confidence-inspiring at first, but, in the hands of an experienced rider, the FZ-09 does exactly what you want it to. Power when you want it, stopping power when you need it. That being said, I would not recommend this bike to an inexperienced rider. The amount of torque is substantial, and due to a shorter 56.7” wheelbase, aggressive acceleration at any point makes the front wheel want to lift. Above all else, this FZ-09 is an incredible joy to ride. The inline-triple sounds great, and the throttle’s accuracy is sublime.
I recommend the FZ-09 to any experienced rider looking for a highly enjoyable city or street commuter. Uneven road surfaces and potholes can be tackled with ease with the plush suspension, and the low to mid-range torque focus combined with the light frame is ideal for dodging risky situations that may arise in the city. Despite the slightly flawed throttle-by-wire system, Yamaha succeeded in building a charming and affordable street bike with the FZ-09. Coming in at $8999, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 is a bit more affordable when compared to its counterparts, such as the Street Triple at $9999.
2015 Yamaha FZ-09 Gallery