Yamaha FZ-07 Launch: Time spent with a twin

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Photos: Yamaha

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.

It's new for 2014 (actually an early 2015 model), and available in red, grey or white. And, 'Arris likes the ride.
It’s new for 2014 (actually an early 2015 model), and available in red, grey or white. And, ‘Arris likes the ride.

WHAT’S NEW

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 motor makes a claimed 74 hp and 50 ft-lb of torque.
The motor makes a claimed 74 hp and 50 ft-lb of torque.

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.

The motor is a stressed member of the frame; the top of the rear shock attaches to the engine.
The motor is a stressed member of the frame; the top of the rear shock attaches to the engine.

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.

Yamaha claims the FZ-07 can get 24 km per litre, but Rob didn't manage that mark during his extended ride on the bike.
Yamaha claims the FZ-07 can get 24 km per litre, but Rob didn’t manage that mark during his extended ride on the bike.

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.

Those 17-inch wheels will take sportbike tires, so you can have plenty of traction if you want to buy sticky tires.
Those 17-inch wheels will take sportbike tires, so you can have plenty of traction if you want to buy sticky tires.

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.

The FZ-07 has old-school tubular handlebars, like every good naked bike should.
The FZ-07 has old-school tubular handlebars, like every good naked bike should.

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.

THE RIDE

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.

The upright riding position helps you keep speeds at a level acceptable to local law enforcement.
The upright riding position helps you keep speeds at a level acceptable to local law enforcement.

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.

Rob found the suspension was basic but handled BC's back roads just fine.
Rob found the suspension was basic but handled BC’s back roads just fine.

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.

ABS isn't available on the Canadian FZ-07, but is an option on the European version (known as the MT07).
ABS isn’t available on the Canadian FZ-07, but is an option on the European version (known as the MT07).

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 seat is OK, but if you were touring, you'd probably want to replace it.
The seat is OK, but if you were touring, you’d probably want to replace it.

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.

Yamaha figures their machine is a good step-up model to a rider who's moving on from their CBR250, Ninja 300 or other starter model.
Yamaha figures their machine is a good step-up model to a rider who’s moving on from their CBR250, Ninja 300 or other starter model.

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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.

There's minimal bodywork on the FZ-07 thankfully. It avoids the Transformer look so many bikes err towards these days.
There’s minimal bodywork on the FZ-07 thankfully. It avoids the Transformer look so many bikes err towards these days.

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.

It was a bit small for his lanky frame, and he reckons ABS should be available, but Rob liked the FZ-07. It's a fun bike at a good price.
It was a bit small for his lanky frame, and he reckons ABS should be available, but Rob liked the FZ-07. It’s a fun bike at a good price.

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.


GALLERY

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.


SPECIFICATIONS

Bike  2015 Yamaha FZ-07
MSRP  $7,299
Displacement  689 cc
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
Carburetion  EFI
Final drive  Chain
Tires, front  120/70ZR17
Tires, rear  180/55ZR17
Brakes, front  Dual 282mm discs, four-piston calipers
Brakes, rear  Single 245mm disc, single-piston caliper
Seat height  805 mm
Wheelbase  1400 mm
Wet weight*  180 kg
Colours  Grey, white, red
Warranty  One year
* claimed

19 thoughts on “Yamaha FZ-07 Launch: Time spent with a twin”

  1. Great review, I see you got to ride in my neck of the woods. The road to Gold River is a blast, especially on a light little bike like the FZ. I got out for a test ride with the Yamaha demo guys last week. I rode the FZ 09 first and said before my ride on the 07, “I doubt I will like it after the 09”. Was I wrong! What a fun little bike, so light and still plenty of power to hoist the front wheel, even in third gear…without the clutch. Now I just have to figure out how to convince my wife I really need a new bike!!

  2. Loved it!

    Had a chance to try this bike out during the yamaha power tour, Procycle, Dartmouth. Buckets full of torque! My height(5’9″) every thing fit like a glove.

    With a decent wind deflector on there, I’d redirect beer funds, to buy one!

    1. What, and abandon the Ninja? Say it ain’t so!

      I have yet to scam a ride on one, but everything I hear says fun fun fun. It seems Yamaha is in the business of making fun motorcycles these days, as that Bolt I had last year was mucho enjoyable, despite the crap suspension!

    1. I second that…I was drooling on my keyboard by the end of the article.

      The bolts mounting the front signal lights are begging to have a mini windscreen mounted on them!

      1. Photos were shot by Matt Filion (@FattMilion). Glen – A mini windscreen will be available from Yamaha.

  3. I agree with Wilfred in terms of wanting adventure style bikes based on the -07&09, but until then I will just have to remain very happy with my 650 “Glee” Strom. While were at it can I also wish for a modern RZ350 stroker from Yamaha before my mid-life crises ends?

    1. I have only had a brief chance to sit on a DL-650 but it seemed to me that the seat was deeply dished so my knees were still quite bent. Oh well, I guess there is nothing for it but to sell the Bandit put the old (93) KLR 650 back on the road. Maybe Rob has some spare bits around from his upgrades. 🙂

      1. Check out the long term report that Editor ‘Arris did – lots of higher seat options and foot peg extensions available for the Glee. I am 6’1″ and find it very good ergo wise. My friend is 6’5″ and has a taller aftermarket saddle and it suits hime fine.

      2. Wilfred, let me assure you the DL can be tweaked to fit the awkwardly tall. I’m 6′, and found the stock Wee Strom fit me very well. Now that Rob’s had his grubby mitts all over the Strom, not so much. But, it fits him very well now.

        1. I will take another look. I forgot about the wee-strom article and was surprised by the relatively low cost of the high seat from Suzuki. If Rob ever heads back through Belleville on it I have to nab it for a quick spin.

          1. Hi Wilfred,

            I’m pondering about selling it if you’re interested (especially since I’ll be picking up a F800GS Adventure long termer on Friday). Drop me a line if you are.

            What KLR bits are you looking for?

            Cheers, Rob

  4. I am also 6’4″ and like the FZ-07 and 09, but given my height I would like to see an adventure style version of the bikes. I don’t really need off-roadability (just down the occasional dirt road), but my knees just cant handle the sharp bend that would be needed to fit on the 07 or 09.

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