2011 Yamaha FZ-16 Review

An impressive new sporty commuter bike


The Yamaha FZ-16 is bringing the company back from the dead in India. After several years hibernating, the Japanese giant has again made a motorcycle that captures the heart of the Indian enthusiast, and it’s become the country’s best all-round 150cc bike. This baby FZ has caused a flurry of activity at Yamaha showrooms, buyers queuing up across India to take one home.

Could a sporty small-displacement bike like the FZ-16 find a home on America’s urban streets?

Rugged and naked, the FZ-16 looks striking, borrowing its handsome lines from liter-class brother, the FZ1. Token fairing pieces clad the bike, with a massive, exquisitely sculpted tank dominating its macho profile. The compact single-cylinder engine sits exposed, and the FZ uses black, slim-spoke alloy rims while its engine, frame and silencer use the same color to good effect.

2011 Yamaha FZ-16

There’s a pseudo radiator cowl, complete with vents scooping air to the hot engine and spark plug region. A conical, halogen-bulb headlight throws a dazzling, well-spread beam. Orange backlit digital instruments look funky, going well with the bike’s youthful persona, and are easy to decipher.

2011 Yamaha FZ-16

A flat and wide handlebar is bolted to the FZ-16’s attractive triple clamp, home to all-inclusive switches, dogleg levers, conventional mirrors and nice palm grips.
 
The FZ-16’s tank knee recesses properly accommodate even a tall rider’s thighs. Alloy footrests, drilled foot protectors and a split grab bar are present. This Yamaha’s muscular demeanor is aided by its wide rear tire beneath a neat hugger.

The FZ-16 uses a 153cc, four-stroke Yamaha heart that pushes two-valves and feeds of a Mikuni CV type carburetor. Large cooling-fins are visible on the air-cooled engine, prominently visible on its sump section.

The latest Yamaha sports a stubby silencer that concentrates its mass close to the motorcycle’s center of gravity. This is achieved by coiling its bent-pipe like a snake in a box just underneath the engine. The FZ-16’s exhaust beat is muted.

Power output is a claimed 14 hp at 7500 rpm, while max torque of 10.3 ft-lb is made at 6000 rpm. Ignition is three-dimensional, considering throttle position – via a Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) – before deciding on the correct spark timing. A single-axis balancer kills engine vibes, while the rocker arms feature friction-slaying bearings.

The FZ-16 comes with a precise-shifting 5-speed gearbox, and it’s a joy to shift through. The tranny has perfectly spaced ratios and is supported by a light, city-friendly clutch.

2011 Yamaha FZ-16

The engine delivers decent low- and mid-range power, but it tapers away abruptly at high rpm. The FZ-16 isn’t the fastest bike in its class, but it’s easy, city-friendly power delivery is a highlight. There’s seldom the need to overwork the gearbox, and the bike can chug away in fifth from speeds as low as 15 mph. The engine occasionally suffers an irritating tendency to misfire and skip a beat at low rpm.
 
The FZ-16 managed a 0-to-36 mph run in 5.59 seconds, on its way to its true top speed of 68 mph. And it takes 4.87 secs to run from 36 to 50 mph in top gear. The FZ-16 engine is refined and smooth, always running with a vibe-free demeanor.

The riding position is perfect, neither too upright, nor putting excessive weight on your wrists. Its wide handlebar provides good leverage, allowing for quick direction changes with minimal steering effort. Flicking this Yamaha from side to side is effortless.

The FZ’s low riding saddle feels a tad soft but makes up with good width.

2011 Yamaha FZ-16

A steel, single downtube frame deploys the FZ’s engine as a stressed member. Fat 41mm diameter front forks are supported at the rear by Yamaha’s ‘monocross’ suspension, mating with a box-section, steel swingarm. Carving through city traffic is stress-free, with fine ride quality that is adjustable in seven-steps at the rear.
 
2011 Yamaha FZ-16

Among the best parts to this FZ are its ample, 17-inch tubeless radial tires providing good traction and a stable feel. The 100/80-17 front works with a wide (for its class) 140/60-17 out back to provide rock-steady handling in a straight line, as well as light, precise turn in. The FZ stitches up tight or high-speed corners with a reassuring feel.

Confident, powerful braking is thanks to a single rotor, 267mm front disc-brake and rear 130mm drum, both offering progressive feel and plenty of bite. We managed to bring the FZ-16 from 36 mph to rest in 48.9 feet.
 
Real-world testing confirms the FZ-16 is good enough for 97.4 mpg in crowded Indian city conditions, with 110 mpg possible on highways.

The FZ-16 is an impressive, built-in-India motorcycle from Yamaha. It easily blows away its competition on those shores, thanks to stylish looks, excellent fit and finish, as well as rock-solid build quality.

2011 Yamaha FZ-16

The FZ-16 additionally enjoys a punchy engine, near-perfect gearbox and allows riders to harness all that potential thanks to impeccable handling manners and brakes. The frame, suspension, tires and brakes package integrate so well, that a rider often feels this chassis is ready for with a few more horses.

The Yamaha FZ-16 slams the nail on the head as a leader among sub-200cc sporty commuters.

However, it seems doubtful the FZ-16 will be imported to the U.S. Yamaha’s American reps tell us there are no current plans to sell them on our shores.

Yamaha FZ-16 Specs
Price (Ex-showroom, India) 65,000 Rupees (approx. US$1,453)
L/W/H (mm) 1975/770/1045
Wheelbase 1335mm (52.5 in)
Curb Weight 137kg (302 lbs)
Engine Single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke
Displacement 153cc
Power 14bhp at 7500rpm
Torque 1.42kgm at 6000rpm
Gearbox 5-speed, 1-down, 4-up
0-60kph (37 mph) 5.59 seconds
0-100kph (62 mph) 22.09 seconds
Maximum speed 109kph (68 mph)
Fuel economy as tested 44.1 kpl (104 mpg)
Front suspension Telescopic fork
Rear suspension Monocross, rectangle section swingarm
Front brake 267mm disc
Rear brake 130mm drum
Tire sizes (front-rear) 100/80 x 17-140/60 x 17 inches

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