A segment of our sport that’s seen plenty of attention recently is the “hyper-naked” segment, standard-styled motorcycles that offer more performance and edgier styling than your run-of-the-mill standard. Yamaha Motors USA made that designation official, giving its FZ-07, FZ-09 and FZ-10 models the “MT” moniker, as well as announcing some updates to its FZ…oops, MT-07 for 2018.
Yamaha has filed a trademark application in Europe for the name “Tracer GT,” suggesting a new touring model is on the way. The application was filed April 19 with the European Union Intellectual Property Office for use of the name for “motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, three-wheeled motorcycles, three-wheeled scooters, three-wheeled mopeds and parts and fittings for all the aforesaid goods.”
Since its initial release, the Yamaha FZ-09 has garnered praise for having tremendous bang-for-the-buck. In fact, MO readers named it Reader’s Choice Best Value Bike Of 2015. However, there were still some heretics that felt the grunty Triple didn’t quite live up to its potential. The common refrain was, “Why on earth should an owner need to flash the EFI and upgrade the suspension to get a bike that performs like it should out of the box?”
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.
Earlier this month, Yamaha revealed an updated MT-09 at the Intermot show in Germany. At AIMExpo, Yamaha presented the revised Triple again, this time under its North American market name as the FZ-09. Key updates include an upgraded fork, assist and slipper clutch and a restyled headlight based on the FZ-10’s unit.
If you like the looks of the FZ-10 but prefer a Triple instead of an inline-Four, you are in luck! This morning at the AIMExpo, Yamaha took the wraps off of the 2017 FZ-09. The styling influences of its larger sibling are immediately apparent. Four aggressive, “floating style” headlights give the FZ–09 an pugnacious, insect-like visage that hints at impending trouble. The swoopy radiator shrouds and the updated air scoops add to the visible tension.
Yamaha launched a new series of naked motorcycles in 2013 with the three-cylinder MT-09 (a.k.a. the FZ-09 here in North America) earning strong reviews from the press and consumers. European consumers in particular took to the MT-09, making it one of Yamaha top-selling models in the continent. Now joined by a family of MT models ranging from 125cc to 1000cc, the MT-09 receives its first update, getting a quick shifter, assist & slipper clutch and (at last) improved suspension.
A few months ago during the Shoei X-Fourteen introduction at Chuckwalla Raceway, I was given the chance to spin some laps aboard a Graves Motorsports Yamaha FZ-07, FZ-09, and YZF-R3. The two FZs were equipped with a variety of performance upgrades available from the Graves Motorsports catalog while the R3 was one of the Graves Racing Services’ race-prepped bikes.
Think of the new Yamaha XSR900 as an FZ-09 that went backstage for a costume change and emerged for act II in disguise. In the process the XSR was also wired to perform some on-stage acrobatics of which the FZ is incapable. Ticket prices went up, but so did the bike’s technological accountability.
When Yamaha announced today that the 2016 FZ-07 and FZ-09 would be in dealerships beginning in September, another tidbit was dropped. Collectively, the two models account for two of the top-four-selling motorcycles the company produces. The fact that the FZ-07 has been on sale for less than 12 months makes its placement at number four even more impressive. Yamaha’s PR reps said they expect it to move up the ranks as time goes on.
“Chock full of bland mediocrity” was the original subhead for my second ride review of the 2015 Suzuki GSX-S750. It was a subhead EiC, Kevin Duke, rightly removed. I was a little harsh on the new Gixxus, and now in a group of its peers, the naked bike from Suzuki has proven itself to be quite the contender. Out of the three testers involved in this shootout, John “run-on sentence” Burns and Troy “I’ve ridden the new R1 more than you” Siahaan, it is I who is championing the GSX-S.
Motojournalists lined up to heap praises upon Yamaha’s FZ-09 when it appeared as a new model for 2014, and MO was right there on the bandwagon. There wasn’t anything not to like in the all-new 847cc Triple, with all the modern ride-by-wire trimmings in a designer chassis, for a price substantially less than its Euro-competitors.
The readers have spoken, and their Value BOTY is the Yamaha FZ-09, which is only two digits from also being the staff’s pick for 2014 – the FZ-07, which is a year younger, one cylinder shorter and $1200 lower in price. The critics all loved the -09 when it first appeared in late 2013, including MO.
Almost exactly 14 months ago Yamaha jetted Motorcycle Courier Editor, Troy Siahaan, to San Francisco to sample the 2014 FZ-09, and he came back impressed. Just a little over two months later, MO gathered together four Triples to see how the new kid stacked up against the rest of the three-cylinder class. The results were quite favorable with the FZ-09 finishing second overall and being the editors’ choice if cost were the deciding factor. If it hadn’t been for its little sister, the FZ-07, claiming the Best Value Bike Of 2014, the FZ-09 would have been in a hard-fought battle for the number-one position in that category. That’s how much we love the FZ-09.