2001 Yamaha FZ-1 Hop-up

The FZ-1 Yamaha should have built

Torrance, California, September 3, 2001 -- We've heard that the Good Lord smiles on those who immerse themselves in absurdity. That's not to say it holds true, mind you. We've just heard it somewhere. Maybe it was Hunter S. Thompson. He seems a likely source as any.

It's all about passion, though, these motorcycles we ride. And we'll do anything to evoke it from them, even if it takes a large wad of money that follows a few misguided brain synapses. Some bikes don't deserve any post-purchase attention, but others are just begging for it right from the get-go. And Yamaha's FZ-1 is the greatest case we can make in our defense.

We went gaa, gaa when we heard about the bike. A "Naked R1?" We're sold. Tell Yamaha to put our name on one. Minime's frothing at the maw and this could be his only hope.

Then came the press intro in Spain. A nice enough country with a nice enough language we never took the time to learn.

The intro came and we bowed our heads. Not in honor of said FZ-1, but in shame for letting ourselves get so caught up in the hype. It seemed the new Yamaha was little more than a lighter Suzuki Bandit with a peppier motor, less weight and less capacity for touring. Sure, it was based on the R1, but it was no naked R1 as we'd hoped for. Not a bad bike, mind you, but it was just so blah we were forced to drink a lot at night, looking for stimulus elsewhere. We sure as hell wouldn't find it on the bike.

The stock FZ-1 handled this sort of business well, but our GYT-R modified Fuzz One ups the ante quite a bit. It looks good, too.There was hope, though. Rich Oliver was excited about the bike, but even more excited about the accessories that were on the way. He got us pumped up, wanting to go home, waiting behind our desks, our hands sweaty and clenched as tight as an astronauts anus on take-off.

  This is what Rich was smiling about. Parts like titanium handlebars and carbon fiber bodywork do that to guys like him. We're not all racers here at MO, but we can appreciate these things. So can you. Just because you can't make a porno starlet scream her greatest scream doesn't mean you wouldn't like to cuddle with her for a few minutes. See what we mean?

The first order of business was to inject the FZ-1 with some much-needed life. We've spent thousands of miles on both stock and modified R1s, so we came to the conclusion there must be personality in the naked R1 too. And we were right.

Take a close look and you'll see the details. Carbon fiber is everywhere: side panels, airbox cover, front fender, chain guard, carbon-look seat.

We tested out two different slip-on exhaust cans: The first was a pre-production carbon unit while the second was the production aluminum canister. Both cans easily dropped some poundage from the big Yamaha while livening up the motor.

 The chin spoiler adds a much needed accent to the front of the bike, as does the taller windscreen that keeps the rider in cleaner air. Out back, an aluminum GYT-R slip-on exhaust canister sets off the black bodywork. The sound of either muffler was substantially louder than the nearly silent stock unit while staying far from offensive. Fit and finish of the pre-pro carbon item was a bit rough (as is to be expected) while the aluminum slip-on was as nicely finished as any we've seen.

The result of said exhaust swap was a raspy in-line four sound and a bit more top-end pull than we had stock. Just what the doctor ordered. The only downside to this modification was that the bike was a bit more finicky with cold starts and that it wanted a few more revs than stock when pulling away from a light. Once on the go, however, the carburetion was perfect and never lurched or jerked in any situation.

Another area of concern when we first sampled the bike was how portly it had grown during its transformation from track weapon to street stud. Said change added 74 pounds (459 lbs - 385 lbs, both are dry, listed) to the bike and, when combined with a taller stature, conspired to make the bike feel even heavier than it should have been.

 The lower handlebar clamps and titanium handlebar conspire to make the ergos a tad sportier and, for some, more comfortable. Prodigious application of carbon fiber makes the pilot's view much more pleasing to the eye while shaving some high-placed weight. In stock trim, an FZ-1 pilot sees only gauges, a gas tank and cubic yards of plastic from his seat. We were out to change that and drop a few pounds in the process. Enter the carbon fiber man and his bag of goodies. There's now a beautiful carbon fiber weave strewn across the bow of the ship. This was a much-needed change that not only looks far more high-dollar than the stock plastic parts ever could, but there are weight savings here as well. Sure, we didn't save as many pounds as we did by swapping out mufflers, but we certainly removed at least some high placed mass while improving the bikes looks.

All the carbon pieces fit well and we didn't have any serious problems with things fracturing or the enamel cracking off. The only issue we encountered was on the front fender. The all-carbon item started to fracture at the mounting points on either side of the forks, a not uncommon problem where carbon fenders are concerned.

The only part of the modified bike we couldn't come to terms with was the seat. The stock tires also had to go. A few days after these photos were taken, Metzeler's excellent Rennsports got spooned onto the rims, enabling us to enjoy the modified bike's sportier persona. In continuation of the carbon theme was a carbon-look seat that was made for GYT-R by Corbin. And, as Corbins go, the seat looked good, even if it wasn't the right fit for us. It seemed as though we'd need to consume a few more grease burgers and send them right to the arse in order to appropriately fit the new saddle. We got used to the seat, though we couldn't figure out why GYT-R would spec such a heavy seat. The new item weighs quite a bit more than the stock unit, all but negating all the beautiful carbon stuff we've just shelled out big bucks for up front.

Further transforming the bikes character are the low handlebar mounts and titanium handlebar. Gone is the sit-up-and-beg riding position. In its place is a more sporty (though by no means uncomfortable) arch in the riders spine that lends itself to a machine that has just been infused with a healthy dose of Sport where once there was little.

 With the changes to handlebar, the suspension was changed as well. How, you ask? The lower bar mount requires the front preload to be cranked down to make room for the flat titanium bar. This wasn't a problem for us though, as we tended to set up our stock FZ-1 similarly. We only recommend that rear pre-load be increased as well to better match the front of the bike.

As delivered, the modified FZ-1 would push the front end on corner exits. This was a combination of suspension set-up and the seat that made it hard to keep our weight up front, where it belongs. After increasing the pre-load (two notches from maximum) as well as increasing the compression and rebound damping a bit, we were in business. The bike now handled as it should and it was time for some new rubber that fell more in line with the bikes sporty new persona.

Low-mount titanium handlebars, a chin spoiler and a taller wind screen do an excellent job of improving the FZ-1's silhouette. In fact, just about every part we tested improved some aspect of this great all-'rounder.

A call to the good folks at Metzeler saw a fresh set of our favorite Rennsports at our door just a few days later. This recent iteration of the 'Sports has the same tread pattern as the tires we love on the track, but with a different compound for the street. It was a perfect match. The only other changes made to the bike were little detail things like a shorter throttle cable (to avoid kinked cables with the shorter bars) and a few more carbon fiber bits like the air box covers to really make the bike complete.

So, if you have an FZ-1, do you really need to make all these changes? Absolutely not. But, then again, spome people like plain vanilla. For us, these changes make a so-so bike into a great one. It's rare that we resist giving a bike back to a manufacturer, but we were truly sorry to see this one go. We were overcome with passion where before there was none. A trade we're willing to make at almost any price.

PART                                 PART NUMBER       MSRP
Carbon Fiber Slip-On Exhaust System  ABA-5LV93-CF-SS  $414.00
Low Handlebar Mounts                 ABA-5LV91-60-00  $84.95
Titanium Handlebar                   ABA-5LV75-00-00  $69.95
Throttle Cable,  Short #1            ABA-5LV48-10-00  $29.95
Throttle Cable,  Short #2            ABA-5LV48-11-00  $29.95
Carbon Fiber Front Fender            ABA-5LV11-00-00  $238.70
Carbon Fiber Fairing Accents         ABA-5LV27-71-00  $189.95
Carbon Fiber Side Covers             ABA-5LV09-10-00  $169.95
Carbon Fiber Air Box Covers          ABA-5LV95-20-00  $129.95
Carbon Fiber Top Clamp Accent        ABA-5LV27-52-00  $22.95
Carbon Fiber Instrument Panel Accent ABA-5LV27-51-00  $39.95
Carbon Fiber Chain Guard             ABA-5LV26-30-00  $126.00
Lower Cowl                           ABA-5LV08-00-BK  $249.95
Ergonomic Seat (sim. carbon fiber)   ABA-5LV21-10-00  $399.00
Tall Windshield                      ABA-5LV03-00-00  $79.95

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