Naked fun on the Yamaha FZ-10

When Yamaha revealed the outlandishly styled MT-10 at EICMA late last year, it seemed there was little chance we’d see it here anytime soon.

The MT-10, which is essentially a stripped R1, seemed like one of those bikes reserved for a European audience, and maybe a bit too extreme for conservative, cruiser-friendly North America. However, Yamaha Canada has decided to bring in the FZ-10, which is actually a renamed MT.

Oh, and despite being available this summer, it is slated as a 2017 model, replacing the half-faired FZ1, which was dropped from the line up this year.

The motor is very similar to the crossplane four-cylinder that powers the R1S, but it has been tuned for better use on the street.
The motor is very similar to the crossplane four-cylinder that powers the R1S, but it has been tuned for better use on the street.

A stripped, detuned R1

The spec sheet reveals the FZ-10 (starts at $15,499) uses many of the same components you’ll find on the recently released R1S, the budget version of the R1. It uses a detuned version of the R1S 998 cc crossplane engine, the same gearbox and slipper/assist clutch, the same frame, steering geometry, discs and calipers, and the same suspension components. It also uses a lower-cost and heavier steel subframe, instead of the R1’s cast magnesium item.

Like most open-class naked bikes based on supersport machines (like the Aprilia Tuono, BMW S1000R, MV Agusta Brutale 1090, and Kawasaki Z1000) the FZ-10 engine has been detuned. It claims 158 horsepower, down from the R1’s 197 hp (Yamaha Canada guards horsepower numbers so we hacked into the European press site for those numbers). But more importantly, it’s been tuned for a broader spread of torque, which peaks at 81.8 lb-ft (just 1.4 lb-ft less than the R1) at 9,000 rpm, or 2,500 rpm sooner than on the R1.

Lower compression pistons, milder cams, smaller intake valves and intake ports, and heavier crankshaft and generator rotor mean more low-end torque. Photo: Roger Yip
Lower compression pistons, milder cams, smaller intake valves and intake ports, and heavier crankshaft and generator rotor mean more low-end torque. Photo: Roger Yip

Inside the engine cases there are lower compression pistons (12:1 vs. 13:1), milder cams, smaller intake valves and intake ports, and the crankshaft and generator rotor are heavier, all of which boost low-end torque. It also has a larger airbox and a different muffler, and the engine covers are made of aluminum, unlike the R1’s lighter magnesium covers.

The heavier components add some weight, and despite having no fairing, the FZ-10 weighs 210 kg wet (463 lb), compared to the R1S’s 203 kg (448 lb). The R1 tips the scales at 199 kg (439 lb).

Supersport-spec electronics mean despite its power, the FZ-10 is user-friendly. Photo: Roger Yip
Supersport-spec electronics mean despite its power, the FZ-10 is user-friendly. Photo: Roger Yip

Supersport-spec-ish electronics

The FZ-10 has standard ABS, but unlike the R1S, the front and rear brakes are not linked. Yamaha’s variable throttle control system, dubbed D-Mode, features three selectable throttle maps: Standard mode, which is curiously the softest throttle mode; A mode which sharpens throttle response at low to mid revs, and B mode which offers the most aggressive throttle response. Why the throttle modes are organized in this order was a mystery even to the folks from Yamaha Canada, but it’s understood that an owner of an FZ-10 would become accustomed to it.

The FZ-10 has a simplified version of traction control, unlike the more elaborate system of the R1, which uses a lean angle sensor. It has three selectable levels, and it can be turned off. While the FZ-10 doesn’t come with the R1’s wheelie, slide, and launch controls, it does have a more street-friendly cruise control. The bike is also wired for an accessory electric quick shifter ($330), which permits clutch-less, open-throttle upshifts.

The instrument panel is a high-tech LCD, which displays a digital speedometer, bar-type tachometer, trip meter, fuel economy, gear indicator, ambient and coolant temperatures, ride modes, and a few other items.

Like most modern machines, you get an LCD display with the FZ-10, with a plethora of information.
Like most modern machines, you get an LCD display with the FZ-10, with a plethora of information.

The ride

After polling a few of my friends it’s safe to say the FZ-10’s styling is quite polarizing. Let’s face it, its nosepiece looks like one of those extraterrestrial robots that change into cars and trucks—you know the ones with the toy lines and the Hollywood movie franchise. Anyhow, you either love the look or you hate it. I fall into the latter category, which isn’t surprising since I’m not part of the youthful demographic the FZ-10 aims to woo.

It’s so unsightly (to me) in fact, that I wanted to put a paper bag with two holes punched into it over its repugnant mug while riding it. And it’s too busy everywhere else, with angular covers, sharp lines, and just too much clutter. It looks like it’s a big two-wheeled magnet that random objects stuck to as it rode by. [Hey – I kinda like it. Ed.] But I digress …

A face only a mother could love -- are we talking about the rider, or the bike? But seriously, folks ... Photo: Roger Yip
A face only a mother could love — are we talking about the rider, or the bike? But seriously, folks … Photo: Roger Yip

Fortunately there’s some redemption when you swing a leg over it. The tall, wide handlebar puts you in a relaxed, upright riding position, though the footpegs are still on the sporty side of high. The fuel tank rises high, giving the impression you are sitting on a much larger machine, though the bike feels light between the legs.

Fire up the engine and a very characteristic exhaust drone that is unique to Yamaha’s crossplane inline four greets you. It has a low-pitched, offbeat rumble that sounds more like a twin than a four-cylinder. And the torque! The FZ-10’s smooth, flat powerband and offbeat sound combine to belie its brutish acceleration.

In B mode (the most aggressive), an enthusiastic twist of the throttle in the lower gears lifts the front wheel effortlessly, and in the higher gears gets the speedo deep into the triple digits quicker than you might expect. The bike is, in fact, geared shorter than the R1 (43-tooth rear sprocket vs. 41t for the R1). Power delivery is so broad, however, that the bike could probably do without the additional ride modes, and if in doubt, the traction control is there to save the day anyway.

The bike handles back roads like the supersport from which it is based — even better, due to the more relaxed riding position and increased leverage provided by the wider, taller handlebar. Turning transitions are almost 600-class quick, though the bike did exhibit a slight twitchy nature, also due to its wide handlebar.

The suspension is fully adjustable at both ends, though I left it as delivered, which was about in the middle of its range, and on the firm, sporty side of the spectrum. A softer adjustment setup would probably be more appropriate for the daily commute, while a firmer setup would probably handle a fast track day pace without worry. And the bike is certainly capable of weekend jaunts at the local racetrack, especially if you spoon on a set of sticky race rubber.

You'll save money on the MSRP and insurance by going with the FZ-10, but you'll still have a motorcycle capable of very high performance. Photo: Roger Yip
You’ll save money on the MSRP and insurance by going with the FZ-10, but you’ll still have a motorcycle capable of very high performance. Photo: Roger Yip

Conclusion

Yamaha did the right thing to bring the FZ-10 into Canada. More and more riders are looking for supersport performance and handling in a more comfortable, and less conspicuous package (by insurance standards, that is). In those respects, if you can look at the FZ-10 without gagging, it just might fit your needs, and by choosing it over the R1S, you can pocket about a grand and a half to boot.


SPECIFICATIONS

Bike  2016 Yamaha FZ-10
MSRP  $15,499
Displacement  998 CC
Engine type  Inline four, DOHC with 4 valves/cyl, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke
Power (crank)*  158 hp
Torque*  81.8 lb-ft
Tank Capacity  17 L (4.49 USG)
Carburetion  EFI
Final drive  Chain
Tires, front  120/70-ZR17
Tires, rear  190/55-ZR17
Brakes, front  Twin 320 mm discs with 4-piston calipers
Brakes, rear  Single 220 mm disc with 1-piston caliper
Seat height  N/A
Wheelbase  1400 mm (55.1 in.)
Wet weight*  210 kg (463 lb)
Colours  Matte Dark Metallic Gray with Black, Bluish Gray with yellow wheels (+$300)
Warranty  12 months, unlimited mileage
* claimed

GALLERY

Check out all the pics that go with this story!

7 thoughts on “Naked fun on the Yamaha FZ-10”

  1. As an owner of a (still beautiful and still awesome) first gen silver FZ1 I was hoping this would be a proper replacement.

    Yamaha has done a lot of things right with this new FZ-10, but I don’t think I could ever get over the look. I’ve seen it in the flesh and it’s true that (at least the black version) it is less awful than in pictures. But less awful just don’t cut it for me, for a car maybe but certainly not for a motorcycle. Sorry Yamaha, now if only Triumph could import their new Tiger 1050…

  2. Yup not so pretty. But then again if i was riding it i couldn’t see it anyway so that’s not a real concern. How it compares to the Suzuki GSX1000 or the kawasaki Z1000 ( Both of which are a bit Fugly too) would be of interest though.

  3. It looks better in person than in pictures, the engine reminds me of a Ducati, and the seat is as comfortable as the proverbial vinyl-covered 2 x 4. Which probably is of little consequence ’cause you’ll probably being hanging onto the handlebars like a streamer in a hurricane. The thing is a hoot to ride.

  4. I’ve been traveling in Europe for a while now and you see a few of these around, naked bikes are certainly the second most popular next to adventure touring, and you can definitely pick it out of the crowd from a styling point of view. Yamaha should have designed bags for it.

      1. If the only thing that is debatable, is its looks, then that is OK. For every person that doesn’t like the look, there is another that does. It is a shame that Costa focus’s on the style instead of the facts. A tester should give us the ride feel and leave it up to the reader to decide on the look.

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