2017 Yamaha FZ-09

Editor Score: 89.25%
Engine 18.5/20
Suspension/Handling 12.75/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.25/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Instruments/Controls4.0/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.25/10
Appearance/Quality 9.5/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 9.0/10
Overall Score89.25/100

The fact that most of MO’s editors are quite fond of Yamaha’s FZ-09 is fairly common knowledge. Our readers liked the FZ-09 enough to vote it Reader’s Choice Best Value Bike Of 2015. So, why is it that, up until now, the primary emotion I felt after riding the FZ-09 was disappointment? Frankly, I felt it never lived up to its potential. Two of its strongest attributes – the versatile engine and the responsive chassis – were hamstrung by a slight deficiency in Yamaha’s typically good R&D finish. Well, that was then.

2017 Yamaha FZ–09 Preview

More For Less: $8K Four Vs. $8.2K Triple Vs. $8.7K Twin + Video

Today, I’m happy to report that, after a day in the saddle of the 2017 Yamaha FZ-09, I no longer need to feel conflicted about the missed opportunity of the FZ’s performance. I can embrace it wholeheartedly – and in the way that only the converted can after wandering for years in the wilderness – exclaiming that Yamaha has finally put the FZ-09 through finishing school.

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Triple Play

What’s not to love about an 847cc Triple that rolls out the power via an 120° crossplane crankshaft? Well, in its first generation, it was snatchy fuel delivery, but much of that was taken away in the following iterations. Still, for a rider who values smooth throttle application, the engine wasn’t quite there – until now. For 2017, the EFI received the same settings as the FJ-09 and the XSR900, which finally tames most of the abruptness previously encountered going from off-throttle back on. While some occasional abruptness can appear – though not consistently – in the lower mid-range (think roughly between 4,000 and 5,000 rpm), this trait has been relegated to niggle status and is no longer one of the defining characteristics of the engine. This is hugely good news!

2015 Yamaha FZ–09: New And Improved Fuel Injection!

2017 Yamaha FZ–09 beauty

Now, the rider is rewarded with a smooth, meaty torque curve that in our previous tests twisted out 59.7 lb-ft at 8,600 rpm and a horsepower curve that stayed above 100 hp (peaking at 106 hp) from 9,000 rpm to the 11,250 rpm redline. Finally, even for a persnickety rider like myself, all three D-Modes are completely usable. While most riders will likely stay in Standard Mode, the more aggressive A-Mode is no longer an exercise in frustrating abruptness. Yes, the initial throttle response is noticeably more reactive – a trait riders who like to whack the throttle to its stops at corner exits will surely love – but this doesn’t come at the expense of the ability to precisely meter out thrust as the rider plays out the power requirements of unfamiliar corners. Now, because Standard mode is so smooth, B-Mode might best be relegated to rain-use status.

2017 Yamaha FZ–09 engine

Want to make this shot more exciting? Order the accessory quick shifter that was lifted straight from the R1.

The improved EFI isn’t the only electronic upgrade to the 2017 FZ-09. The left grip features new switchgear to allow for a TC toggle. The FZ-09’s traction control has three settings: 2, high intervention geared towards everyday street riding; 1, low intervention for higher performance sport riding; and OFF, for no TC at all. My time in the FZ’s saddle was predominantly in level 1, though I did briefly sample level 2. The only times I felt TC intervene was in some of the dirtier corners where it did exactly what it was designed to do, namely keep me from landing on my head. Although I may not be of the wheelie persuasion, I noticed that several of the other moto-journos has no issues with lofting the front wheel during photo passes. A quick inquiry netted the information that, no, the TC had not been turned off. Rest assured, hooligans, you can raise hell and have your TC engaged, too, just like on the XSR900 we loved.

2017 Yamaha FZ–09 clutch

Hiding under this cover is the new-for-2017 slip assist-clutch.

The final change in the engine is the only mechanical one made in the transition from 2016 to 2017. Slip-assist clutches are all the rage these days, and for good reason. Our ride started with the urban bump-and-grind and finished with 5 miles of lane splitting. Having a clutch lever with a 20% lower effort is a huge quality-of-life improvement in these situations. The clutch action was so light that it felt like that of a much smaller-displacement engine. Although I never blow a downshift and, thus, would never benefit from the slipper action (yeah, riiiiight), I did test its function for you, gentle reader, and the times that I downshifted and dumped the clutch – again, strictly for slipper-testing purposes – had the back end remaining stable with none of the histrionics of a traditional clutch pack.

Finally, Suspenders

My biggest beef about the FZ-09 of old was the suspension. When the pace got too hot or the road got too bumpy, they turned mushy and allowed the chassis to get out of shape. Thankfully, Yamaha decided to address the issue in the front end by adding an adjustable compression circuit to the inverted 41mm fork. Previously, the fork had only preload and rebound damping, which was located in the right leg, leaving the left leg with available real estate for this year’s upgrade. According to Yamaha, the fork has 83% more compression damping, and just like that, the FZ-09 is transformed when the road gets bumpy or the aggro-meter gets turned up.

2017 Yamaha FZ–09 fork

The FZ-09’s fork is now fully adjustable with revised damping, dramatically improving suspension performance

From the moment we pulled out onto the street, the FZ’s additional firmness was readily apparent. This is not to say the suspension is harsh at more sedate speeds, rather I always felt like I knew what the front end was up to. So, when the pace heated up and the road was less than putting-green smooth, I was quite aware of the contact patch’s condition. This is so much better than wondering WTF the chassis was doing as it danced around underneath me as with previous FZ-09s.

2014 Yamaha FZ–09 Review

Reader’s Choice Best Value Bike Of 2015: Yamaha FZ–09

With the increased confidence from the suspension, I was able to use the lightweight, Controlled Fill aluminum chassis for what it was designed for. Side-to-side transitions are quite literally a snap. Diving into a downhill, decreasing-radius corner is more fun with significantly less pucker than before. While the fork’s standard settings worked well for my 190 lbs of motorcyclist and gear, I’d probably add a couple clicks of rebound damping to the rear (if I still had the FZ-09 in my possession) to control the occasional sproing on G-out compression bumps. Alas, that’s the limitation of a one-day ride.

2017 Yamaha FZ–09 action

But Wait, There’s More!

Yamaha didn’t just sit back and say the job was done after addressing the FZ-09’s biggest issues. Instead, ABS was brought into the spec sheet. This is a good safety feature for a streetbike because you never know when someone will do something boneheaded in front of you. And when they do, you might not have the best traction available. The FZ’s brakes have always been good. The Brembo master cylinder combines with the Yamaha 4-piston, radial-mount calipers to deliver great braking performance with good feel in a wide range of conditions. ABS takes none of that away, and in a few full-boogie braking maneuvers that would have had previous generations of ABS intervening a bit early, the FZ remained unfazed. Still, when I mashed on the rear brake to see what it took to get it to save me from myself, the pedal gently pulsed, letting me know it had my back.

2017 Yamaha FZ-09
+ Highs

  • Fully-adjustable fork!
  • Smooth throttle response (finally)
  • TC and ABS
– Sighs

  • Shock not as capable as fork
  • Price increase
  • Weight gain

Braking is the perfect context to point out a small-but-significant change to the FZ-09’s seat. With a flatter profile and a 5mm increase in height at the front of the saddle, the rider is less likely to slide forward into the tank on bumpy roads or during braking. The seat’s narrowness still allows an easy reach to the ground with plenty of room for the rider to move around during different riding situations. Passengers will appreciate the 13mm longer pillion. This was accomplished while still allowing for a 29mm shorter subframe, though much of the credit for this goes to the Euro-style relocation of the license plate to a single-sided aluminum stay that has it hovering over the rear tire.

New Clothes

At last we arrive at the FZ-09’s styling makeover. While not exactly earth-shattering, the 09 has clearly been going to the same gym as its big brother, the FZ-10. The FZ-09 gets an angry, four-beamed battle-mask mounted to the fork. The bodywork below the tank is also more in line with that of its sibling, while the Matte Silver with Neon Yellow color scheme is more than a passing nod to the FZ-10.

2017 Yamaha FZ–09 rear shot

The tail section looks much cleaner with the license plate floating above the rear tire.

Usually, we get to this point in a first-ride review and tell you how long you’ll have to wait to get yer mitts on one of these exciting new bikes. This time, however, you have the chance to do some long-term testing before the Mighty MO Editors have a chance to log a few thousand miles. The FZ-09 is arriving in dealerships now.

One could be yours in Matte Silver with Neon Yellow, Intensity White, or Candy Red for just $8,999. While that is $809 more than last year, you do get improved EFI mapping, TC, a fully adjustable fork, and ABS for those extra dollars. Sample the 2017 Yamaha FZ-09, and you’ll probably think that it was money well spent.

2017 Yamaha FZ–09 action

What are you waiting for?

2017 Yamaha FZ-09Specifications
MSRP $8,999
Engine Type 847cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline 3-cylinder 4- stroke; 12 valves
Bore and Stroke 78.0mm x 59.1mm
Compression Ratio 11.5:1
Rear Wheel Horsepower N/A
Torque 64.5 lb-ft @8,500 rpm (claimed)
Transmission 6-speed
Final Drive Chain
Front Suspension 41mm inverted fork; adjustable preload, compression, and rebound damping; 5.4-in travel
Rear Suspension Single shock, adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.1-in travel
Front Brake Dual 298mm discs, 4-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brake Single 245mm disc, one-piston caliper, ABS
Front Tire 120/70ZR17
Rear Tire 180/55ZR17
Rake/Trail 25.0° / 4.1 in.
Wheelbase 56.7 in.
Seat Height 32.1 in.
Curb Weight (Claimed) 425 lb. (wet)
Fuel Capacity 3.7 gal.
Colors Candy Red, Matte Silver and Intensity White
Warranty 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
  • mikstr

    “I felt it never lived up to it’s potential.”
    let’s see – it’s: abbreviation of it is…. so, “I felt it never lived up to it is potential” … your thoughts?

    • Evans Brasfield

      Thank you for spotting my grammatical error. It happens.

      • mikstr

        indeed it does. An otherwise fine review 🙂

        • Evans Brasfield

          Thanks again. The mistake is still embarrassing, but I’ll survive…

          • spiff

            Evans, don’t sweat the petty things. Pet the sweaty things.

        • Numbone

          You didn’t capitalize your I.

          • mikstr

            it’s a style thing, I never intended to… see, again!

          • Numbone

            I like Evans’ style much more than yours.

          • mikstr

            and I like his more than yours too… your turn…

          • Numbone

            I agree

    • Rob Alexander

      LOL… If we’re getting technical, “it’s” is a contraction, not an abbreviation. 😉

      • mikstr

        true… my error….. who’s next? lol

    • Brett Lewis

      I think it would be nice, if we had the option of contacting the author or the editor without going public. But since they don’t give us that choice the only way to correct them is this way. I see the word “change” where the word “chance” should be instead. It would be nice if electronic articles were held to the same standard as hard copy print, with a good proofreader going over the article, but I’ve learned to live with it pretty much. When I do proofread my own writing I catch many similar errors, enough that I’m kind of shocked.

      • DickRuble

        If it makes you feel better, even reputed newspapers suffer from similar editorial lapses in online form. I’ve caught a few in the New York Times (quite rare but still shocking).

        • mikstr

          happens to all of us to be honest. Over time, I have become quite sensitive to the it’s/its, your/you’re, their/there/they’re…. sometimes a simple typing error, sometimes not

          as far as this particular case is concerned, I imagine part of the problem is the mad rush to get the material on the Web (before other media sources do)

      • BDan75

        I can forgive a whole lot more when I’m not paying to read it…

      • Evans Brasfield

        Found and fixed. I thank you, too.

        • Born to Ride

          Haha we don’t like to read no appositives. Although, Chris Kalfelz disagrees with you that internet articles can’t have eloquent prose.

  • JMDGT

    Economy of scale being what it is a word of advice to the manufacturers, build these bikes with the proper components on them from the get go. You guys can buy them for a lot less than we can. That and they would already be on the damn things. That being said this is a very nice bike.

  • John B.

    Great review Evans. I’m convinced that for advanced beginners like me who ride exclusively on the road this motorcycle is a great fit.

  • DickRuble

    The reviews of the FZ-09 of the years past were far less critical of its shortcomings than they come through this review. The testers owe us an explanation, or two. Those were minor inconveniences back then. Now that the new model is out, all of a sudden the 2015 bikes were barely usable pieces of rolling C**P and the new ones are almost perfect. Except, they’re not perfect, and probably, not even good. Abruptness still present, but now unpredictable? Sounds promising. Rear suspension still not quite there? Two years from now you’ll tell us the 2017 bikes were accidents waiting to happen and the 2019 are completely sorted out, almost.

    • matthew patton

      it’s called keeping the advertisers happy enough to not pull the ads. It is just a fact of life. If you want non-sycophant reviews you have to go Motorcycle Consumer News.

      I’m curious to see the innards of the ’17 forks. I have a small garage business fixing Yamaha’s incomprehensibly bad suspension efforts on the FZ09 family of bikes and the FZ07. They saved themselves $100 in Kayaba parts per bike (that’s what it would cost ME to buy them from KYB at retail) and instead delivered crap by deliberate choice.

      • DickRuble

        I got a sense that the FZ-09 was not all that they claimed it to be when I saw 2015 bikes with less than 2000 miles for sale at around $6000. Some had even gone through the pains of upgrading the suspenders (a couple thousands). There’s got to be more to the story. You’re saying that $100 worth of parts would fix the issues? I know how to rebuild forks and can have the shock rebuilt with the right spring for about $400. What am I missing? I am beginning to think the throttle issue is more severe than admitted.

        • john phyyt

          .. Dick ….PLEASE .. Go and ask the dealer for a Ride.. Bike was $7900 out the door $6000 is about what you would expect. As opposed to a 2015 1290r/Aprilia which drops $4000. I suspect that the new Triumph S will be a better bike but I still really rate the motor..

          • matthew patton

            Triumph actually knows how to build a suspension that’s right decent out of the box.

          • DickRuble

            They also seem to have figured out throttle and ignition pretty well.

          • Dale

            Hello..I am shopping for a bike. 6′,195 without gear, 30 inch inseam. What bike or bikes come with a decent adjustable suspension from the factory? Can you recommend a few that hopefully do not snatchy on off throttle response also or that can be fixed. Thanks in advance.

          • Dale

            What models of Triumph and other brands can you recommend that have a decent suspension out of the box or that can be fixed? I am shopping. Thanks

          • DickRuble

            I asked six months ago and they were flabbergasted that I even considered asking. It seemed that the idea had never occurred to them that a customer could even ask such a thing. “No.. we do not do test rides.”

          • Old MOron

            No test ride? No sale. I don’t know WTF these guys are thinking.

        • matthew patton

          Well, $100 in parts and some actual know-how. Without going into excruciating detail, they put all the valving in the one leg and that has inherit tradeoffs, and they botched the valving and piston orifice size to boot. In the left leg you literally have 90% of a complete cartridge system except they defeated it’s use. So 2 pistons, a mid-valve base and a fistful of shims and you’d have both legs doing the damping. Not to say KYB couldn’t screw that up too, but at least it would have had a prayer.

          It’s my contention yamaha can’t be arsed to hire someone with an inkling of suspension knowledge for any bike that doesn’t cost north of 10K and KYB also can’t be bothered to put any effort into budget bikes, either.

          Showa isn’t perfect by any means but they seem to be somewhat more serious.

      • Evans Brasfield

        If we’re such sycophants, why do you bother coming here?

        Required reading for those who think I’m even aware of advertisers:
        http://www.motorcycle.com/features/evans-off-camber-that-thing-we-do.html

        • matthew patton

          sorry I was not clear. I was painting “commercial reviews” in general, not THIS one.

          • Evans Brasfield

            Thanks for the clarification, and sorry about my crankiness. I got up at 3:00 this morning to write the dang story. 🙂

          • mikstr

            Keep up the good work!

          • Randy Darino

            PMS?

          • Evans Brasfield

            Yes, Publishing Motorcycle Story.

          • Kenneth

            Just my .02, but your reviews and insights (along with Mr. Burns’), happen to carry more weight with me than just about any others, elsewhere. Thanks!

          • Born to Ride

            We have similar work habits. Also explains all the bitching about grammar.

          • Old MOron

            I imagine that you are competing with other webzines to be first-to-publication. Wow, good onya Evans.

            I don’t really bother with other webzines because I don’t enjoy their coverage. So don’t get up so early on my account. On the other hand, I am looking forward to your Saddle Sore 1K story. I guess you’re not competing with anyone to publish that one, so it keeps well on the back burner. Darnit.

          • Evans Brasfield

            I get up early because it is in my job description. The Saddlesore 1,000 is in the works…

          • Old MOron

            No kidding? Reveille at zero three hundred hours is in the job description? What else is in there, “Portage of His Dukeness’s sedan chair”?

            http://c8.alamy.com/comp/D1JKE6/a-roman-consul-from-ancient-times-sitting-on-a-sedan-chair-D1JKE6.jpg

        • Born to Ride

          From all the reviews you guys put up, I got the impression that the engine was the only thing you liked. But it was so good that an otherwise flawed package was worth riding purely for the wheelies.

  • kenneth_moore

    Since everyone seems to be venting here: I’m absolutely furious about the photos in this article. Somebody needs to find the dipsticks that spewed graffiti all over those beautiful locomotives and make them clean every square inch of it off. And then they can scrape and brush any rust off and detail any other rough spots with paint and polish.

    • Larry Kahn

      Good luck with that.

  • Jonathan

    Damn guys, he is right the mapping was horrendous…. but I ride an FJ09 and the throttle snatch still sucks. However there is a solution. No one likes to be forced to spend money as soon as they buy a new bike but throttle mapping and suspension upgrades are the solution. Bike rides amazing and has more power after the remap. Just sayin’

    • DickRuble

      Off idle and re-applying throttle control is snatch free after remapping? I read on forums that it takes a lot more than just a remap to sort it out.. There’s nothing more unnerving than a bike doing nothing when you try to turn in front of incoming traffic. Then you apply more and all of a sudden you’re headed wide at 50mph toward the stop sign on the curb.

      • Jonathan

        I have heard fantastic things about the flash. I mod a forum for the FJ 09 and have seen many positive reports. Currently I do not have the flash. I am using something called Kev’s O2 mod. A cheaper but not really complete fix. I will most likely buy the kit and do my own flashing this year.

    • matthew patton

      agreed. 2WDW or vCycleNut. And of course Ivan. Graves has a map too I believe. Come over to fj-09.org and fz09.org and you’ll find out anything you need.

      I’ve ridden stock, with DJ5, and with flash. The last is by far the best solution and at I think $300

      • Jonathan

        lol, I’m a moderator at fj-09.org

        • Jonathan

          also I ma using Kev’s O2 mod. No tas good as a flash but works wonders at low rpms.

    • Strat

      I’ll bet the next ride review I read of this bike states that the abrupt throttle is still there. I’m not even sure I’m reading it is gone in this review.

      • Jonathan

        part of the situation is fuel economy and emissions standards. This bike is so cheap out the door getting a tune kit is absolutely worth the investment. No bike is perfect and many have no way of fioxing them. You can get this deal of a bike, invest money in mapping and suspension and then move (very quickly) on with your life.

        • DickRuble

          I think it takes a complete remap of the ECU. This is not a basic tune-up. If it fixes the issue and you then do a tail pipe test (not sure any state does it, but still) you’ll likely fail it spectacularly.

          • Jonathan

            It would probably fail but we don’t test bikes here and spectacularly is an overstatement. I can also guarantee you that a ridiculously rich flash on this bike wouldn’t come close to the emission of all the 80’s/90’s bikes on the road today.

          • DickRuble

            True, but the 80’s 90’s bikes are not tested for emissions, while those that come with a cat from factory do in some states.

          • Jonathan

            well, i guess its a personal decision based on local laws. I have not flashed my ecu yet but I probably will soon. The emissions change is negligible compared to almost every other vehicle on the road, excepting electric of course. I will take smooth throttle with increased power because Im selfish 😉

  • allworld

    Well Yamaha did not disappoint with this updated version. Taking a good bike up a few notches and keeping the price very reasonable is a winning formula.

  • Chris Noblett

    Thanks for the review!
    I also read your review of the 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS.

    Based off that review and this one it seems like a regular Triumph Street Triple at $9.9k would be a better choice than the Yamaha.
    The Triumph will have even better suspension, similar power, and is ~40lbs lighter.

    What do you think?

    • Kevin Duke

      I think a victor will be difficult to declare without riding them alongside each other. The suspension and brakes of the base Street Triple might not be better than the FZ, and its power will likely be less. I suspect the weight difference to be less than 20 lbs when we get them on our own scales.

      • Born to Ride

        If it doesn’t destroy the FZ on “cool factor” I’m coming after you guys with a pitchfork.

  • Nice write-up! You didn’t even sound bitter, despite the fact that Tom was being wined and dined in Catalunya and you’re riding bumpy So-Cal roads and lunch was probably catered by Panera in Irvine.

    • Born to Ride

      That comparison metaphorically sums up my impression of those two triples.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Lunch was actually really good. I even had seconds – of the kale salad!

      http://www.pedalersfork.com

      • John B.

        How much jet lag is there when you travel to Calabasas?

  • TheMarvelous1310

    Man, Yammie Noob’s gonna be pissed! He just bought another Daytona.

  • Bubba Blue

    I prefer a small fairing. I don’t really buy into this naked bike thing. They push it because they can sell it less expensively and they need a hook. There’s too many bikes on the used market. Why is this bike any better than a lightly used CBR F4i or VFR or whatever for $4,000?

    • Evans Brasfield

      I guess you’ve got to decide if you want the new technologies: ride modes, TC, ABS. For some, that’s not an issue. For others, it’s a big selling point.

  • Justin R.

    I dunno, I bought a leftover 2015 FZ09 in early 2016 for $7100 out the door. I threw on an Ohlins rear, upgraded the front cartridges, added a quickshifter, exhaust and custom tune…and I am still less than the $9,000 price of the 2017 FZ09.

    I kind of wish I had those LED headlights though!