Value Bike of the Year Winner: Yamaha FZ-07
By Troy Siahaan
What’s that, you say? Motorcycle prices have gone through the roof lately? With 600cc sportbikes fetching five figures and 155cc Vespa scooters commanding more than 10 grand(!), it’s a bleak world for the discerning shopper looking for a competent yet affordable motorcycle. This is where the Yamaha FZ-07 comes in. At just $6,990, Yamaha’s budget funster is appealing enough to make consideration for our coveted Motorcycle of the Year award. There was no question the ’07 was top choice for best value this year.
Sure, an affordable price tag goes a long way in this category, but like all our MOBO winners, the bike in question has to excite us in some fashion. With its torquey and sporty 689cc, 270-degree Parallel-Twin engine, the F-Zed just oozes character. A throaty exhaust bark is met with equally exciting forward thrust, delivering performance an uninformed rider might think comes from a motorcycle costing thousands more. Ride ’er hard and put ’er away wet while taking comfort in the fact you can squeeze out more than 50 mpg. This means fewer visits to the pump and more cash in your pocket. Dough you can one day use to upgrade the suspension to suit higher levels of sport riding.
Bah, that’s not something to worry about in the short term. At ten bucks under seven large, and a fun ride to boot, it meets the two most important criteria necessary to be our value bike winner: cost and fun factor. It’s hard to fault the Yamaha. Just go out there and ride one. Then you’ll understand.
Honorable Mention: Honda CB500
By John Burns
While it’s true that Honda hasn’t built much in the way of exciting new sportbikes lately (unless you include the RC213V Marc Marquez just rode to 10 MotoGP wins in a row), it hasn’t exactly been resting. It’s been turning its corporate attention to building motorcycles for the real world, and not exclusively the first one. If you value engineering, simplicity, and extracting the most motorcycle from the least raw materials, then you have to appreciate the three CB500s Honda introduced in 2013: F, R and X. All are powered by the same 471cc DOHC fuel-injected parallel-Twin, which really is as mechanically advanced as it sounds, and extracts around 55-62 miles from each gallon of gas. The good part is that these Hondas have fun doing it.
While 45 horses and around 30 ft-lb of peak torque doesn’t make them fire-breathing sportbikes, there’s enough power on top to put the hurt on traffic when blasting around town. All three bikes offer enough performance to satisfy experienced riders, and they’re even pretty good on the highway. At the same time, they’re lightweight and user-friendly enough for beginners. With competent suspension, great brakes and even cool instrumentation, these are not first bikes you’re going to outgrow immediately.
The “F” is the naked model, with upright ergonomics thanks to a dirtbike-style handlebar and just a vestigial windscreen, for $5,799. For $500 more, you’ve got your choice of the CBR500R or the CB500X The “R” would be the sportbike of the trio, serving up a racier seating position behind a full fairing. The “X” wants to play in the adventure-bike category. Longer fork tubes give it a taller seat height than the other two and a little more legroom; its layout is ideal for taller riders looking for an an entry-level motorcycle.
The versatile CB500 platform offers a lot of value for the dollar and gives riders the choice of three styles of motorcycle priced nice. All are great options for riders new to the sport, and they perform well enough to still satisfy after having years of experience. These are the old Hondas you’ll be seeing on the streets 30 years from now, knock on wood, still going efficiently about their business.