Best Value Motorcycle of the Year: Yamaha FZ-07
Bang for the buck. That’s what it comes down to when you talk about value. Whether it’s refrigerators or motorcycles, getting a good value boils down to receiving more than expected for an item’s price tag. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when that price tag is a mere $6990, as is the case with the Yamaha FZ-07, Motorcycle.com’s returning champion in the Value category.
What makes the FZ-07 a good value is its 689cc, 270-degree parallel-Twin. It’s a gem of an engine that doesn’t sound or behave like your typical inline-Twin. However, what makes the FZ a great value are the line items you won’t see on a spec chart. Simply put, the bike makes you smile. Twist that throttle and the bike comes to life, easily whooping up wheelies in the first two gears (and the third one, too, if you’re really good). That wonderful engine is supported by brakes that also perform better than expected for the price. Sure, the suspension could use an upgrade to suit heavy and/or aggressive riders, but it handles surprisingly well with the budget KYB suspension. If you consider the FZ a blank canvas just waiting for customization, its value increases even more.
In addition to winning our Value category last year, the FZ-07 scooped up a few other awards, too. In our 2014 Middleweight Mash-Up Six-Way Shootout, the Yamaha proved that low price doesn’t have to mean boring performance, as it went on to win top honors in a test among its peers. It punched so high above its weight class, we even awarded it Honorable Mention for our coveted Motorcycle of the Year award in 2014. We love the bike no less this year, but the crop of new entries means the MOTY runner-up spot won’t be going to the FZ. Still, how can you beat a bike that’s as fun and affordable as the FZ-07? Yamaha calls it “the ultimate sportbike for under $7k,” and you know what? We agree.
Honorable Mention: CSC Cyclone RX3
When it comes to an Adventure-Touring motorcycle in size 250cc resembling a BMW R1200GS or Triumph Explorer, the CSC Cyclone RX3 is the only game in the U.S.A. Dimensionally, the RX3 isn’t too big nor too small. Its 31.3-inch seat height is shorter than full-size A-T bikes but minimally taller than the 250cc/300cc sportbikes from competing OEMs such as Honda’s CBR300R or Yamaha’s YZF-R3. At 386 pounds (claimed curb weight), the Cyclone isn’t the lightest 250 to be found, but it’s sub-400 heft is much easier to manage in off-road circumstances than traditional full-size A-T bikes.
Zongshen is the name you’ll see on the fuel tank badge, but CSC is the U.S. representative responsible for selling the bikes, spare parts, accessories and addressing warranty issues. CSC Motorcycles is probably best known for its line of modern Mustangs, while Zongshen is one of China’s largest motorcycle manufacturers, producing in the neighborhood of 4,000 engines per day. Cyclone RX3 sales are consumer direct from CSC Motorcycles, but don’t be nervous, CSC recently hired Gerry Edwards, former service department manager at Brown BMW and RideNow, as the company’s service manager, indicating CSC’s commitment to providing customer service and support.
For $3,495, plus shipping ($500 max) the Cyclone RX3 comes exactly as pictured (after being either self-assembled or assembled by a local mechanic), including luggage and crash guards. The lockable hard bags don’t hold much and don’t have a quick-release function, but they’re standard equipment on a $3,500 bike!. Missing are handlebar brush guards, included are passenger grab handles. CSC offers a two-year unlimited mileage warranty further increasing the RX3’s value. If we’ve piqued your interest, make sure to read our review of the RX3 or check out the company’s website.