2001 Yamaha Fazer 1000 (2)
An upright R-1
Torrance, California, September 1, 2000 -- Go ahead and laugh. Make snide remarks about how some engineers in Japan have castrated your beloved R1. They've turned it into this bland and overbearing, upright -- and proportionally uptight -- monster that will soon sit on salesroom floors polluting the very air said R1 must also breathe. Darwin is turning over in his grave, for sure. If this is not dilution of the gene pool, you don't know what is.
Fine, then. Go into the loo and Stridex those pimples away. Run off to school and don't forget your homework or that sack lunch mommy made for you with love.
Wonderful. Now that the kids are gone, we can introduce to you a bike for people who appreciate performance and comfort in a package that is stylish without being garish, edgy without being too mod-architectural in design; Yamaha's new Fazer 1000. Think of it as an R1 for adults, if you will.
According to sources at Yamaha, "everything about this bike is awesome." Of course we expect them to say that, but judging by some of the numbers we've seen, we will not attempt to counter that statement. How does 143 horsepower at the crank with a dry weight of 450 lbs and fully adjustable suspension sound to you? To us, that sounds like about a peak of 122 bhp with a hefty torque curve wrapped in a brand new, tubular steel double cradle frame. In all, probably weighing in at 485 pounds wet. If these numbers hold true, that's about twelve more horsepower and 35 less pounds than Suzuki's Bandit 1200S.
Yamaha's new Fazer 1000 is being labeled as an "R1 for the real world."
Yamaha acknowledges the fact that there is an aging marketplace that needs to be addressed. These are people who are a long way from walkers and daily pill planners, but who have progressed beyond a Neanderthal-esque racer crouch on bikes with peaky powerbands and acid-trip graphics but still want uncompromising performance. What their engineers came up with is a standard with a hard edge or, as it's being called in Europe, a "Muscle Sport" that's being labeled an "R1 for the real world."
Usually, when a manufacturer takes a class-leading sportbike and tries to make it more "user-friendly" they end up taking the fun out of life. Yamaha says they have gone to great lengths to ensure that this is not the case with the new Fazer. For instance, the motor has all the updates as the Year 2000 R1 and even uses the now-famous EXUP system as well as the eco-friendly AIS (Air Injection System). The chassis sports the same long swingarm trick -- first seen on the R1 and now copied on the new GSX-R750 -- to ensure, Yamaha hopes, the best handling and power in the class.Yamaha claims that the motor on the Fazer puts out seven fewer horsies at the crank than the R1. That's not a lot, but where did that power go, anyway? It went to things that most people who buy this bike would rather have than a few extra ponies way up top -- torque. The Fazer's motor inhales through a bank of 37 mm Mikuni carburetors which are horizontally mounted (side-draft) so that the fuel tank can be recessed even further, bringing capacity up to 5.5 gallons. The carbs also necessitated the use of different intake tracts that flow a bit less of the fuel/air mixture used on the R1. Once the gasses are ignited and exit the cylinder they are shoved out through a four-into-one exhaust system which uses 35 mm diameter header pipes and retains Yamaha's EXUP system. At the very rear the titanium exhaust canister of the R1 is replaced by a stainless steel unit which helps keep costs low. Also helping to keep cost reasonable is an aluminum valve cover that replaces the magnesium cover on the R1.
Internally, the crank shaft inertia has been increased by 10 percent "to improve around town riding." Additionally, the clutch is a smaller diameter unit than the one employed on the R1, though it uses one extra steel plate and one extra friction plate. The motor is liquid cooled by a radiator that retains the same 340mm width as the R1, but is 50mm shorter at 238mm. This should not cause any overheating concerns, however. As powerful and good-handling as this bike is supposed to be, there's little chance of it having to endure the type of stresses and extremes that a racetrack places on a motor. Like using a meat locker to keep a six-pack cool, sometimes you might be better off with just a styrofoam box -- or a smaller, lighter radiator in this case.The double cradle frame will be made of steel and not aluminum. Sure, aluminum may be lighter and more rigid, but it also transmits more shock into the rider's hands, feet and buttocks. Besides, Yamaha's engineers are convinced that the steel frame they have come up with is sufficiently rigid for any sort of use -- no matter how closely that borders on abuse -- a rider is likely to subject it to.
Suspension compentents bolted to that steel chassis have changed to better suit this bike's intended use. Where the Fazer's racier brother has inverted forks, this machine will use 43mm conventional forks sourced from Kayaba, who will also manufacture the piggyback-style rear shock. Both ends of the bike are fully adjustable -- compression, rebound and spring preload can all be tweaked -- with the front axle moving through 140mm of travel while the rear shock moves through 65mm of stroke and works in conjunction with a rising-rate linkage to control the rear wheel.
Slowing things down up front are the same calipers and rotors (four pots squeezing 298mm rotors) as used on the R1. The only difference is in pad material that provides a less aggressive initial bite on the rotors. In the rear, the caliper is the same, but the 267mm rotor is slightly larger than the disc used on the R1 (245 mm on the R1). Our guess is that, even with these less aggressive pads and larger rear rotor, the Fazer should have no problem entertaining even the Rothwell-types among us.Judging from the photos, the bodywork is obviously R1-derived which the marketing types love; it's that "brand identity" thing, don't ya know? Those brake lights are straight off an R1, too. The front fairing features cat eye headlights that resemble that of the R1, R6 and R7, but looks like it received a bit of the new Bandit 1200S' influence as well. That's not a bad thing mind you, we kind of dig that bike's lines. Any way you look at it, the fairing is distinctive, if not stylish. Don't like it yet? Keep staring at it; she'll grow on you.
Other nice touches and attention to detail are liberally sprinkled throughout this bike. Behind the fairing is a full set of gauges that include a clock and a much-appreciated fuel gauge -- nice touches on a bike that's sure to see as much sport-touring duty as it will backroad blitzing. The center stand is standard issue as is a five-position adjustable clutch lever. The passenger grab rails look like they're metallic when they are, in fact, a composite resin material that is much lighter.So many nice features and all the specifications point towards a bike that should be one of the most enjoyable do-it-all bikes of the year. Throw some knobbies on and it'll probably challenge BMW's R1150GS, the current king of the "there's-nothing-I-can't-do" crown. But that's not the point, is it? The Fazer is all about providing the end user with what is essentially an R1 for the real world, and it looks like that's just what Yamaha has done.
There's just one caveat, though: Despite so much of the input for this bike coming from the United States, as of right now the Fazer will be available only in Europe. A Yamaha U.S. representative could not confirm or deny any plans to bring this bike over here. Still, we cannot imagine why they would not -- especially when the bike would sell for roughly $8,500 US dollars (which is nearly $2,000 less than an R1 and only $1,000 more than Suzuki's new Bandit 1200S). So all we can do right now is voice our opinion about whether or not this bike should be sold in the good old US of A. And the only pearl of wisdom we can offer you in this matter is the very thing that gets MO what we need when we're standing in the face of adversity: Beg.
Note: Since this story went up, Yamaha U,S, has confirmed that the Fazer will be sold here in the U.S. as the FZ-1 -- Minime