Yamaha FZ-07

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How cool is it that the next-to-least expensive bike here, the $6990 Yamaha FZ-07, squarely trounces all the other Twins right out of the Yamawomb, winning the Engine, Transmission/Clutch, Ergonomics/Comfort and Instruments competitions, coming up second in Handling, Brakes, Quality, and both Cool and Grin Factors.

Our FZ-07 was equipped with an array of accessories from Yamaha’s Accessories catalog. They provided extra bling but added a hefty $949.41 to the FZ’s bargain-level MSRP, which penalized its Value rating on our scorecard.

The Gilles Tooling adjustable brake and clutch levers really are a nice upgrade; great feel and adjustability.

The Gilles Tooling adjustable brake and clutch levers really are a nice upgrade; great feel and adjustability.

Light weight is the most expensive part of any sport vehicle. A Ducati Superleggera weighs 390 pounds and costs $65,000. The FZ-07, granted, doesn’t make quite the horsepower of the Ducati, but it only weighs 403 lbs (and 3 of those are the Yamaha accessories our bike is wearing), and costs about a tenth as much as a Superleggera.

Lightness also means that even if its engine were only on par with the other Twins here, it would still win with a superior power-to-weight ratio, but the FZ’s engine is superior also. Its peak horsepower number is right there with the SV at 67.1 horses at 8900 rpm, but the FZ uses its extra cc’s to out-torque the other Twins, cranking out a healthy 46.7 lb-ft at a lowish 6500 rpm; that 2400-rpm spread from torque peak to hp peak is a remarkable achievement, and it squirts the FZ out of corners quicker than any other bike here but the Duke. Like the “crossplane” crank in Yamaha’s R1, the FZ’s crankpins are 90 degrees apart, giving it a very similar sound and feel to a 90-degree Twin while allowing the tighter packaging of a parallel.

Speaking of packaging, this bike is a perfect example of how racing improves the breed. Though it makes no claim to being a real supersport bike, it pulled a 9.2 (out of 10) average rating in the Handling Dept. when we remove Sean’s 7, because he’s simply a little too heavy for its rear shock spring. If you pay attention to MotoGP, you know that a big key to handling is tuned chassis flex, a big part of which depends on how the engine is mounted.

“The FZ feels tight, narrow and like you're almost over the front wheel,” says Troy S.

“The FZ feels tight, narrow and like you’re almost over the front wheel,” says Troy S.

On the FZ-07, the engine is a stressed member, but the two big front mounting bolts ride in plastic bushings that probably quell a little vibration, but mainly serve to allow a little lateral engine movement. The secondary front mounts are thin steel ears that descend from the main frame and bolt to the rear of the head on either side of the bike, also allowing a little lateral movement. It’s all very YZR-M1, on a cheaper scale, the end result of which seems to be a bike that turns now and lets the engine, with its heavy gyroscope of a crankshaft, catch up later.

Under those aluminum bronze plugs from the GYT-R accessory catalog, the FZ’s front engine mounts ride in plastic bushings that allow a little lateral movement; so do the steel “ears” that bolt to the back of the cylinder head. Cheap but MotoGP-effective ...

Under those aluminum bronze plugs from the GYT-R accessory catalog, the FZ’s front engine mounts ride in plastic bushings that allow a little lateral movement; so do the steel “ears” that bolt to the back of the cylinder head. Cheap but MotoGP-effective …

The handlebar risers ride in the same stiff plastic (or so it appears) as the front engine mounting bolts instead of rubber ones, like some other bikes.

Whatever’s going on, the FZ’s a hoot to ride on tight backroads, always nipping at the Duke’s heels and diving into corners and squirting back out with the same confident hyperactive puppy energy and excellent road feel, some part of which is down to its excellent stock Michelin Pilot Road 3 radials in big-boy sizes front and rear. It does everything quicker and with less effort than the other Twins here, including stop: Careful when you hop from any of the other bikes onto it; its brakes will easily lift the back tire. (Say, those four-piston calipers look exactly like the ones on my old 2000 R1.)

“I like just about everything about this bike. I feel like I’m riding over the front wheel on a unicycle or directly connected to it with my brain – like Clint Eastwood in that cold war era movie Firefox. No matter the road, bumpy or smooth, I could put the FZ-07 where I wanted it in a corner just by thinking.” – Evans Brasfield

When you’re done playing Valentino Rossi for the day, well, these are all really good streetbikes, but the FZ again just has a little something extra. That extra bit of low-rev grunt and a clutch with a wide engagement band make stop-and-go traffic almost enjoyable, because its ergonomics and seat are top of the heap. You sit so forward on the bike, the turn signals glow out ahead of you at night. (When the weather cools off a little, we’ll ask Yamaha where’s the GYT-R flyscreen?) The thinnish seat is narrow toward the tank for easy flat-footing, but broader toward the rear to spread the load on long drones.

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Its LCD instrument panel is cleanest, clearest and most comprehensive too, with numerals big enough to read and a bar-graph tach you don’t really need to consult much. Its average fuel consumption meter seems to be unusually pessimistic, hovering at around 45 mpg while we usually got more like 50 mpg in urban and freeway use, where its supple suspension and wide seat serve up a smooth ride, nicely augmented by its smooth-running Twin, (whose valves only need inspecting every 24,000 miles). Are you hearing us? This is a great motorcycle for the money. Heck, this is a great motorcycle for quite a bit more money.

Legible, logical, simple.

Legible, logical, simple.

“The FZ is the best all-around motorcycle of this group. For Yamaha to sell it for a lower price than all but the CB500F makes it an incredible bargain, justifying it as our choice for Value Motorcycle of the Year.”Maximum Leader EIC Duke
+ Highs

  • Fat midrange plus light weight equals most fun
  • Sweet, compliant suspension and spot-on ergonomics
  • Excellent controls and 6-speed gearbox
– Sighs

  • A little too soft for big guys
  • ABS option would be nice
  • It’s too hard to criticize
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Troys’ First Ride of the FZ

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