I like what Yamaha is doing these days. They’re playing with engine configurations and pricing on their road bikes, moving away from relying on the Japanese standard of the inline four and into the more new and interesting triples (FZ-09) and twins (Super Tenere and now the FZ-07).
The new FZ-07 (known as the MT-07 in Europe) is being released in Canada ahead of the States and adds to their FZ naked roadster class, complimenting the FZ-09 released last year and likely to displace the aging FZ6R with its four-cylinder motor and the same amount of power.
The push into this class is justified by sales figures showing almost 40% growth in the category over the last three years, joining bikes such as Honda’s NC750, Kawasaki’s ER6-N and Suzuki’s Gladius.
Further more, Yamaha is hoping to be able to offer a step-up machine to the CBR125/250 and Ninja 300 riders, which saw over 8,000 bikes sold in the last three years, or just the person that wants to start into motorcycling at the 600-700cc class. It helps that the bike is affordable, too.
Well, being a new bike, everything is. Although it is made in Japan and only costs $7,299, it’s got some surprisingly good specs.
But let’s start with the new motor that’s an inline twin with an 8-valve head. Its rather unusual 689 cc is tuned for the low- to mid-range — as you’d expect on a naked bike — and produces a claimed 74 hp at 9,000 rpm and 50 ft-lb of torque at 6,500 rpm.
The 270-degree crank layout (one piston up while the other is at mid-stroke) imitates the sound and feel of a 90° V-twin. This also keeps vibration at bay (further aided by a balancer shaft to minimize secondary vibes) and produces a rather lumpy firing order, which Yamaha reckons offers better traction too.
The motor is also a stressed member, which keeps the frame minimalistic and light and doubles up as the top mount of the rear shock. Yamaha are also keen to emphasize the valve adjustment is only every 40,000 km with the oil filter and plug located at the front and easily accessible for the home mechanic, keeping maintenance costs low.
Talking of maintenance, the FZ comes with an easy access diagnostics plug that supplies ‘freeze frame’ data information so any previous issues are recorded and can be used by the technician to get an idea of any historical problems. No more trying to describe a problem that seems to have cured itself just when you get the bike to the shop, or so the theory goes.
Fuel consumption is claimed to be 24 kpl (yay, no silly l/100km!) or 68 miles per imperial gallon, which translates to a theoretical range of 336 km from the 14-litre tank (though it’s a little optimistic judging by our test – read on). Oh, and that’s regular fuel too – no high-octane needed.
As you’d expect for the price, the frame and swingarm are made from steel (cheaper than aluminum but heavier), which you’d think would make it rather porky, but with a claimed 180 kg wet weight, it’s a svelte machine and significantly lighter than its competition – with about 22kg on the ER-6N, 24kg on the Gladius and a massive 36kg on the NC750S. That’s pretty impressive.
Suspension consists of traditional non-adjustable forks with a pre-load option at the rear that is laid flat for a small benefit of better centre of gravity. Brakes are from the old R1, with four-piston twin calipers up front, though they come fitted with less aggressive pads so as to not confound the newbie rider.
The 10-spoke mag wheels are similar to the FZ-09 but come with different hubs and accommodate sportbike 17” rubber so you can get as sticky and as expensive as you like, which somewhat reminds me of my night in Vancouver, but I digress.
An interesting design feature is that the only colour on the FZ is found on the tank – which is metal and covered by three strips of plastic. This has the benefit that should you drop your ‘07 and dent the tank, you can just replace the plastic covering and pretend nothing untoward actually happened.
As becomes a naked bike, there’s an upright riding position, regular tubular handlebars but no wind protection whatsoever. Thankfully the FZ-07 also avoids the transformers makeover that seems somewhat popular these days, with a simple sporty design.
I think we may have a winner here. For starters, the motor is a charmer, with plenty of torque and a nice turn of power. I like this size of bike – it’s such a sweet spot of power and weight and the FZ-07 hits it dead on.
Power is delivered in a very linear fashion and the torque adds a sense of push to the process, enabling the bike to pull quite strongly from low rpms. The twin design also gives it character that a four lacks and a reasonably attractive exhaust sound. Any vibrations are kept within the pleasing spectrum thanks to the 270-crank arrangement and balancer shaft (it would be nice if this motor find its way into an adventure bike someday).
I tended to find that I kept in fifth most of the time, popping into sixth on the highway and down to fourth for quick passing. Talking of which, the gearbox is so smooth and slick it should be selling used cars. Honestly, you don’t even have to think about changing gear it just happens and the light clutch is pretty well optional.
The suspension, albeit pretty basic and non-adjustable, worked just fine on B.C.’s rougher roads and the bike feels light, tight and composed through the twisties. The steering is light and the wide 180 rear tire offers good grip.
The front brakes do lack a hard initial bite but they work well and never had a moment with over-braking on the wet roads either. The rear can lock up quite easily though, and sadly there’s no ABS option, which is a little odd, especially since there is on European models.
The lack of any wind protection and relatively upright rider position does hamper cruising speed (though the flow of air is very linear) and I found myself sticking around an indicated 110 km/h unless tucked in for added protection/speed. This is quite fortunate in B.C.’s authoritarian seize-your-bike-for-doing-40-over ruling, though the sprite handling and great torque doesn’t help you in the many reduced-limit bendy bits.
Comfort-wise I like the riding position and the seat’s hard but not too bad, though I’d go for a more comfortable accessory seat if I planned to go on any tours. My main gripe is the size – despite a reasonable 805 mm seat height at 6’4” I found my knees lay atop of the tank cutaways, which splayed them out somewhat and the high pegs left my knees somewhat cramped (something worth checking if you’re on the lanky side before buying).
The dash is an easy read at a quick glance (120? Oops, better slow down!) though I found the ‘eco’ light a little useless as it came on every time I released the throttle and then off once opened again (duh). The wide bar-type tach bulges out around the 4k to 8k sweet zone and the gear indicator reminds you that you’re cruising and should really pop it up to sixth.
I didn’t have much use for the mirrors, which are vibe-free but only show my elbows and not whether a police cruiser is waiting for me to hit the magic +40 km/h mark.
And how about that fuel economy claim? Yamaha reckon 24 kpl, and over my 750 km test I saw 20.3 kpl or 57.5 mpg, which is a tad lower and would give a rough range of about 285 km.
If you haven’t guessed by now I was quite enamored by the new FZ-07. It’s light, compact, produces ample power and torque, is fun to ride and comes at a great price too.
If you want to make it into a bit of a mileage gobbler than I’d recommend exploring the screen, comfier seat and wider mirror options, but the low price and maintenance bills should leave plenty of dosh left over for that.
The only real issue I have with it is that it’s a little small for me and since Yamaha is pushing this to relatively new riders, they should really offer an ABS option too. But if it rubs your happy spot and you fit on it, then there’s not much that should prevent it from ending up in your garage.
The FZ-07 is an early release 2015 model and should arrive in dealerships in mid to late June. It will come with 20 OEM accessory options including a comfort seat, luggage & mounts and the usual bling-type items.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.
|Bike||2015 Yamaha FZ-07|
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled parallel twin, DOHC, four valves per cylinder|
|Power (crank)*||74 hp @ 9,000 rpm|
|Torque*||50 ft-lbs. @ 6,500 rpm|
|Tank Capacity||14 litres|
|Brakes, front||Dual 282mm discs, four-piston calipers|
|Brakes, rear||Single 245mm disc, single-piston caliper|
|Seat height||805 mm|
|Wet weight*||180 kg|
|Colours||Grey, white, red|