2001 Yamaha Fazer 1000

A New Breed of Muscle Sport?


Seville, Spain, February 16, 2001 -- We can all admire the brute force a race-replica like Yamaha's own R1 provides the user, but it's not anything that the average person will be able to flog and appreciate on a daily basis. Face it, most people would be happier on something that's a bit less hard-edged than a race-replica if they can just stow their egos long enough to make a proper buying decision.

The "aging marketplace" Yamaha says is being ignored has now come into vogue and the term "over-the-hill" has been replaced by the friendlier, "retro," or "vintage," if you will. And while this bike isn't exactly neutered to that extent, it seems to offer the performance that Gen-Xers crave with the reasonable ergos and accouterments even a Gold Wing rider could appreciate.

Parts from the Heart

Straddling the bike, the impression is of a bike that's imminently more upright and "standard" than the R1. But that's not to say the bike has a sit-up-and-beg riding position. The footpegs are still pretty high compared to Suzuki's Bandit 1200S and the reach to the black handlebars is very natural and you immediately feel in control.

A quick glance down at the instrument panel reveals a gauge cluster that's well thought out and informs you of pretty much everything you need to know. The most welcome touch is a fuel gauge which is always appreciated on anything meant to go more than 60 miles in a stint. Conspicuously absent, however, is a temperature gauge that has been replaced by only a high-temp warning light. Also of note is that the digital speedo has been replaced by one of those vintage-style units with a sweeping hand and ever-present numbers. Some might even go as far as saying this strongly shows how Yamaha was going after the record player set with this bike, though we might have to disagree.

Is it a naked-bike or a sportbike? It's both. In black, or maybe blue, this could be the bike for you.About the only thing that catches you out about the ergonomic package on the F-Zed is a universal thing, regardless of age, more dependent on the size and shape of various appendages. The tank's shape puts a bit more girth right in the lap than some people desire. Fuel capacity is increased, though, and that was in direct response to consumer's requests. But maybe they could have dropped a few ounces for a bit more of a cut-away low down in the fuel tank. This isn't much of an issue, really, but it speaks volumes for how light and narrow the rest of the bike feels.

  The double-cradle steel frame houses the motor that now pumps out a claimed 141 horsepower and 78 foot-pounds of torque, thanks to re-configuring (ixnay on the uternay) of the motor's power delivery. This is down seven horses and four foot-pounds, but the motor is still strong, make no mistake about it. The FZ-1 is not in the same territIs this Minime on Yamaha's special road-simulating treadmill or is he blasting down a Spanish backroad? Only he knows for sure. ory as the R1, of course, but it was never meant to be. And in the twisties the rider can definitely feel the additional grunt off the bottom. It's not as strong down there as, say, Suzuki's Bandit 1200S, but the FZ-1 also has a smaller displacement and makes significantly more power up top than the Suzuki. The Yamaha weighs less, too, despite being some 74-pounds heavier than its racier brother.

So what happened internally to cause these outward changes? To start with, a new bank of 37mm carburetors and a re-designed airbox up the grunt quotient while providing more room for the larger tank. Compared to the R1, fuel capacity is increased from 4.8 to 5.5 gallons (which includes a one gallon reserve) which, Yamaha says, should provide 220 miles from a tank. The motor also features a 10-percent heavier crankshaft that's meant to provide smoother acceleration and, basically, lessen the vibes that some people complained about on the R1. Also altered is the compression ratio which went from 11.8:1 to 11.4:1 for more "streetability."

  The magnesium cylinder head cover of the R1 has been replaced with an aluminum unit, yamaha claims, "to improve appearance," though we'd argue it was more of a cost-cutting measure. Thankfully, though, Yamaha retained the use of their EXUP exhaust system on this 4-into-1 configuration. The new radiator checks in at the same 340mm width, but ducks under the "must be this tall to ride" sign of the R1's 298mm height at only 238mm. The new radiator's fan is the same as the R1's, however.

A number of passes on the rear wheel had local Spanish folks lining the sides of the road, cheering and laughing with each pass. In America we'd have been arrested. Aaah, yes -- freedom.

Another sticky bit on Yamaha's R-series bikes has been the shifting. They addressed this by switching to a more compact and lightweight clutch (410 grams lighter) that uses one less clutch plate and one more friction plate. The six-speed transmission then works through a 3mm longer main shaft and a 10mm longer drive shaft to accommodate the new engine location. Overall gearing has also been changed, thanks to a one tooth larger rear sprocket that moves the final ratio from 2.688:1 to 2.750:1.

Suspension-wise, the FZ-1 has very little in common with the R1. The front forks are fully-adjustable 43mm unverted units that are made by SOQI (a Yamaha-owned company) and feature 5.5-inches of travel. They feature dual-rate springs in place of the R1's single-rate items "for improved riding performance in all ranges from low-speed to high-speed." In other words, it's supposed to be more compliant. Likewise with the rear end, though this time it's thanks to a SOQI piggy-back shock that works through a linkage, turning its 65mm of piston travel into 135mm (5.1-inches) of rear wheel travel. Again, pre-load, rebound and compression are all adjustable back here, too

Other changes include a new aluminum swingarm (gone is the heavy bracing of the R1's hind legs) and a rear disc that's now 267mm (the R1's is 245mm) and gets its pressure applied by a Sumitono caliper whose pistons are 4.8mm larger. Oh, and the rear tire is a 180-section in place of the 190-section found on the R1. This is, of course, courtesy of a rim that's one-half an inch smaller (now at 5.5-inches).

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