2006 Yamaha FZ-1
Yamaha Sets a New Standard with a Sport Standard Standard-Bearer
The new FZ-1 is truly a fine looking motorcycle.
Overall, comfort is very good, with a decent seat, comfortable riding position and very nice wind protection from the low windscreen. I also found the styling very pleasing, with nice curves and balanced proportions. The design is similar to the FZ-6's, but I think it works much better on the bigger machine. The instruments are also nice, with a balanced, visible layout. My only gripe is the very small coolant temperature readout, although it's better than a cruder bar display or Spartan warning light.
The ride to lunch was pretty wet and miserable, although the rain tapered off enough for a certain journalist to attract the attention of the local constabulary by testing the FZ-1's wheelie ability. I found the FZ-1 a little wheelie-resistant, with the long wheelbase and swingarm and tall R1-spec gearing. It takes more than a simple goosing of the throttle to send that front Michelin skyward.
On that portion of pavement, marked by fast sweepers and long straights, the FZ-1 seemed to work very well. The handling is indeed excellent; balanced and neutral while being light and easy to steer. The bike feels 60 pounds lighter instead of just the claimed 24, and that mushy, squashy '76 Lincoln Mark IV feel is banished by the gold-anodized suspension. If anything, the ride was a bit too taut, and I asked that the suspension be softened on my bike for the afternoon.
After a lovely lunch at my favorite Sunday Morning breakfast spot, we did another photo session and headed north on the drying roads along the coast. Highway One north of Point Reyes Station is a flowing, dipping, twisting amusement park ride for a sporting motorcycle, and the FZ-1 really does seem purpose-built for a day of sport riding. The tires are great, too; the Michelin Pilot Powers work equally well on wet or dry pavement. The FZ-1 is comfortable while feeling light and agile, and only a maniac would find this kind of powerplant--with what feels like about 130-140 hp at the wheel--lacking.
However, the bike is not quite perfect. The off-idle abruptness kills the rider's confidence, especially coming out of turns. It almost feels like some kind of drive-line lash, but I'm sure it's fueling-related. I got used to it by the end of the day and coped by being smoother with my throttle hand, but it's still quite noticeable and more pronounced than most of the fuel-injected bikes I've ridden. The engine vibration is also a bit bothersome, and the brakes, although strong and sensitive indeed, don't feel quite as good as the R1's, although the extra 50 pounds could have something to do with that.
Near the end of the ride we had done about 150 miles on a variety of pavement types. I felt rested, relaxed and if my shorts hadn't been wet from Aerostich Crotch, ready for more riding. I passed through Guerneville and came upon that same patch of road where I first rode an old FZ-1. This new FZ-1, in addition to being faster, lighter and better-looking than the old bike, captures the "naked R1" feel that the original never quite had.
You naive Americans say you want Yamaha to just rip the fairing off the R1, slap some superbike bars and a headlight on the front and sell it to you. It's not that easy, even if Triumph and Aprilia do almost exactly that. More so than a supersport, a sport standard must be carefully engineered to provide balance for a huge range of riders, yet not feel bland.
We won't be able to fully pass judgment on this new FZ-1 until we compare it to some other bikes in the category, but my initial impression is of a comfortable, nice-handling bike that has plenty of power. The only niggles were that abrupt throttle response and a little too much vibration, but if you are looking for a big, fast, comfortable bike that pares motorcycling down to the essentials without cramping your budget-or your back-this new Yamaha deserves your attention.
|** Specifications Courtesy of Yamaha **|
|MSRP*||$9,099 (Shift Red; Liquid Silver)|
|Type||998cc, liquid-cooled, 20-valve, DOHC, in-line four-cylinder|
|Bore x Stroke||77 x 53.6mm|
|Transmission||6-speed w/multi-plate clutch|
|Final Drive||O-ring chain|
|Suspension/Front||43mm telescopic fork w/adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.1" travel|
|Suspension/Rear||Single shock w/piggyback reservoir and adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.1" travel|
|Brakes/Front||Dual 320mm floating discs w/4-piston calipers|
|Brakes/Rear||245mm disc w/single-piston caliper|
|Rake (Caster Angle)||25.0°|
|Fuel Capacity||4.75 Gallons|
|Oil Capacity (with oil filter change)||N/A|
|*Claimed* Dry Weight||438 lbs.|
|Warranty||1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)|