by Staff

Yamaha recently unveiled its 2009 model-year lineup in Las Vegas, Nevada. While the headlining news is a totally new R1 literbike with a unique new engine, budget-minded riders will be tempted by the new FZ6R middleweight funster, while cruiser fans will be eager to see the new 942cc V Star cruiser.


The original FZ6 was a stylish, half-naked, do-it-all middleweight that was let down by a dearth of midrange power and a clutch with a very narrow engagement point. While that model remains in Yamahas 2009 lineup, it is joined by a similarly named brother with little in common.

Dont let the R in the name fool you. The FZ6R isnt racier than its stablemate. In place of the FZ6s aluminum frame and swingarm are rudimentary steel components, resulting in a 10-lb weight gain. Simpler front brake calipers, 4mm smaller throttle bodies and a narrower 160mm rear tire are indicative of the bikes newbie-friendly intentions.

Although the 6R shares the basic engine architecture of the 6 (based on the previous-generation R6), it is fitted with a new cylinder head, crankcase, clutch and shifter. Yamaha reps have told us that the new motor has much better mid-range power.

Chassis geometry has been relaxed for a more stable platform. Its 26.0-degree rake is 1-degree shallower, and its trail goes up slightly (0.3 inch). Wheelbase remains at 56.7 inches. Newbies will appreciate a reasonable seat height of 30.9 inches, which feels much lower than the 31.3 inches claimed for the FZ6. Ergonomics are customizable with a seat that can be raised 20mm and a handlebar that can be pivoted forward 20mm.

While the FZ6 has a tidy quarter-fairing for wind protection, the FZ6R is endowed with a wide full fairing and much taller windscreen. It looks svelte in profile, but its a bit bulky looking from the front end. Another key styling detail is the under-engine exhaust system.

The FZ6R will hit dealers in January. Pricing starts at just $6,990 for the Raven version; add $100 for the blue, white or yellow models. The FZ6, meanwhile, retails for $7,290.

Star Motorcycles

The big news out of Yamahas subsidiary is the arrival of a new cruiser, the V-Star 950. Star sees its newest addition as an entry cruiser, although were not sure what that would make the V-Star 650 or 250. Regardless, its a big-style cruiser without a heavyweight price, and engineers took into account the female market when designing it.

The V-Star 950 is built around an all-new 942cc V-Twin motor with cylinders placed 60 degrees apart. For an authentic look and simplicity, its air cooled, but theres some modern technology also built in. Fuel injection precisely meters the intake charge while a single overhead cam operates four valves per cylinder via roller rocker arms. Pistons are made from forged aluminum, and cylinders are coated with a ceramic material for efficient heat dissipation. A five-speed transmission throws power rearward via a belt drive.

Yamaha/Star promise big cruiser character and pulsing torque feel from the engine and its two-into-one exhaust, plus best-in-class acceleration.

Star describes the styling of its new bike as sport classic"

Holding the wheels 66.3 inches apart is a double-cradle steel-tube frame that uses the engine as a stressed member. Smaller riders will be happy with a seat holding a riders butt just 26.6 inches off the ground. Suspension duties are handled by a 41mm fork and a single shock. An attractive 18-inch aluminum front wheel holds a 130/70 tire and a single 320mm front rotor. At the rear is a 170/70-16 bias-ply tire and a 298mm disc. Full of fuel, it is said to weigh in at a reasonable 612 lbs.

Star describes the styling of its new bike as sport classic, though were not quite sure what that means. Like all Stars, it is fitted with gen-u-wine steel fenders. Polished cylinder fins and chrome-plated head covers add the requisite bling. Compared to the V-Star 1300, the 950 has its handlebar pulled back nearly 2 inches, and it has lower and further-forward floorboards.

The V-Star 950 will retail for $7,890 when it debuts in November. A Tourer version equipped with a windshield, leather-wrapped hard saddlebags and passenger backrest has an MSRP starting at $8,890.

More 2009 Model News

FJR1300: Quicker shifting from neutral to first gear on electronic shift (YCC-S) AE models.

R6: ECU has revised YCC-T settings for better midrange grunt at the expense of a slight amount of top-end power. MSRP now starts at $9,990 and goes up to $10,190 for new orange or white versions.

The FZ1 and YZF-R6S remain basically unchanged

Other Star Stuff

Royal Star Venture: A six-disc CD changer is added to the existing MP3 port.

Stratoliner: Brushed aluminum components added to the base version.

Roadliner: Ghost flame paint treatment offered.

Raider: More flames.

Road Star: Fuel-injected.

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