2006 Yamaha FZ-1

Yamaha Sets a New Standard with a Sport Standard Standard-Bearer

The motor wasn't overwhelming. It feels softer in the midrange and at high RPMs than the R1, but a bit stronger off idle and on top than the old FZ-1. Power delivery is too abrupt off-idle, and I noticed some buzzing through the right handlebar grip and footpegs, despite the FZ-1's profuse use of rubber mounting. It's not that intrusive or annoying (unless you press your feet against the engine covers), just noticeable on a bike that admittedly wasn't through with break-in.

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.

I just know I left that submarine around here somewhere.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
Compression Ratio 11.5:1
Carburetion Fuel injection
Ignition Digital TCI
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
Tires/Front 120/70-ZR17
Tires/Rear 190/50-ZR17
Length 84.3"
Width 30.3"
Height 47.4"
Seat Height 32.1"
Wheelbase 57.5"
Rake (Caster Angle) 25.0°
Trail 4.3"
Fuel Capacity 4.75 Gallons
Oil Capacity (with oil filter change) N/A
*Claimed* Dry Weight 438 lbs.
Warranty 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Key Features:
  • All-new FZ1 is more powerful, nine pounds lighter, great handling, tougher and just plain cooler.
  • All-new compact aluminum frame, current-generation fuel-injected R1 engine, standout styling and more aggressive naked-bike stance guarantee excitement.
  • Adjustable suspension at both ends lets the FZ1 be dialed in for a wide range of uses-everything from track days to urban assault to sport touring.
  • Engine:
  • Current generation 998cc DOHC 20-valve R1 engine is tuned for tremendous mid-range punch.
  • R1-style fuel injection with computer-controlled sub-throttle valves provides precise fuel/air mixture for superb power delivery across the entire rev range.
  • Closed-deck cylinder block provides great strength while allowing a narrow engine in spite of big, 77mm bores.
  • Narrow-angle five-valve combustion chambers produce a highly efficient 11.5:1 compression ratio. Big valves and high-lift cams flow plenty of air.
  • Carburized connecting rods with fractured big ends produce a quick-revving engine with excellent high-rpm durability.
  • Four-into-one chamberless short-style exhaust contains stainless steel EXUP and three-way catalyst with O2 sensor for outstanding power delivery throughout the rev range and low emissions.
  • High silicon-content ceramic-composite cylinder sleeves ensure great heat dissipation for consistent power delivery and reduced friction.
  • Curved high-capacity radiator with twin ring-style fans keeps everything cool under all conditions.
  • Chassis/Suspension:
  • Aggressive chassis geometry for quick handling: the engine's carried 1.3 inches farther forward for excellent handling.
  • More aggressive ergos: new 4.75-gallon tank is 2.5 inches shorter and shaped to move the rider forward into a position of total control-supersport-like 51 percent front wheel weight bias means confident, quick handling.
  • All-new 52-percent-lighter aluminum frame uses a special mold casting technique that allowed engineers to minutely vary metal thicknesses for optimal rigidity throughout.
  • Stressed-engine design holds the engine in place with six mounts, for excellent vertical stiffness and handling.
  • Two-inch longer and more rigid Controlled Fill aluminum swingarm reduces drive chain-induced suspension movement for excellent handling, tire grip and looks.
  • 43mm fully adjustable inverted fork contains compression damping circuitry in the left leg and rebound in the right- proven effective on the YZR-M1 MotoGP bike-as well as stiffer springs for excellent handling.
  • Two 320mm front discs squeezed by monoblock four-piston calipers and a 2mm bigger master cylinder for strong stopping power; 20-percent lighter, 245mm rear disc with thicker pads for longer life.
  • Removable subframe for easy maintenance, and detachable passenger footpeg mounts for even more stripped-down style.
  • Lighter (10-percent front, 8-percent rear) R1-spec five-spoke wheels and fat radial tires, including a 190/50-ZR17 rear, complete the look.
  • Additional Features:
  • Fairing features a half-cowl design with R1-style headlight layout that creates a super-aggressive naked bike profile.
  • Restyled high-tech instrument display features analog tachometer, digital speedometer, etc.-also a fade-in lighting feature with adjustable brightness.
  • Two-piece seat serves up great comfort along with total control.
  • Passenger grabrails for riding comfort.
  • Durable O-ring-sealed drive chain provides longer chain life.
  • Dual 12V 60/55-watt multireflector headlight features a sleek, R1-type profile for superb aerodynamics and visibility.
  • Standard toolkit located in convenient storage compartment under passenger seat.
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