If you can believe the hype on the Interwebz, Yamaha is going to take the wraps off a touring bike based on the FZ-09.
It seems the story broke on Motorcycle.com, but several other web mags are also reporting Yamaha dropped off a set of trademark applications for a new touring bike built on the FZ-09 platform (that’s MT-09, to you Euro readers). It has that lovely three-cylinder motor, but there’s a big windshield and a re-designed higher seat with integrated luggage mounts.
While it doesn’t seem to be a true adventure bike intended to get dirty off-road, it does have some styling cues from that scene; there’s wraparound handguards and long-travel suspension. However, those design features are increasingly being incorporated into motorcycles only intended for street use; BMW’s new S1000-based tourer will be built along similar lines to this, and Suzuki’s V-Strom 1000 already explored these concepts very successfully; MV Agusta also went down this route with the Turismo Veloce, and the Ducati Multistrada also sells well with a combination of off-road styling and on-road ability.
Will this bike come to North America? There have already been versions of the FZ that haven’t made it to North America. However, there’s a difference between a niche bike like the MT-09 Street Rally, with limited market appeal, and the demand for a competent touring machine. Honda’s VFR800 revival hasn’t appealed to everyone with the bike’s limited upgrades. If Yamaha can offer a bike with more power and functionality at a price below Honda’s, well, Big Red might be looking at a dent in its mid-weight touring market.
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