The one-year-old Yamaha FZ8 is a naked bike based on the larger FZ1
, the Japanese manufacturer's 1,000cc standard sport bike. Aggressive styling, compact size, an exposed engine, two-tone paintwork and anodized forks highlight this neatly finished package.
Similar to its sibling, the Yamaha FZ8 uses a 16-valve, four-cylinder engine. In this application, it totals 779 cc and 106 horsepower. The air box features different intake funnel lengths for the inner (150mm) and outer (125mm) cylinders, which results in a wide torque curve that doesn't really compromise top-end power.
While mid-range performance is good, the engine definitely prefers the higher revs. It forces riders to stay between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm most of the time. In these conditions, the vibrations through the handlebars feel slightly irritating. The rubber footpegs do a much better job of neutralizing these vibrations.
The powerful four-banger wastes no time revving up and explodes beyond 7,000 rpm, almost like a raging superbike engine. On weekdays, its flexibility allows you to use a higher gear while still getting enough responsiveness to perform quick, sudden moves. Although precise, the FZ8's transmission demands a bit more effort than the average competitor. However, it all becomes moot when you pick up the pace.
Natural riding position
|Similar to its sibling, the Yamaha FZ8 uses a 16-valve, four-cylinder engine. In this application, it totals 779 cc and 106 horsepower. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
Riders can tilt their upper body slightly forward and have their feet neither too high nor too far back. The seat is nicely sculpted and just firm enough to deliver pretty decent comfort for this type of bike, while the big fuel tank keeps your knees relatively far apart.
Since the Yamaha FZ8 is a sporty machine, your passenger will have to make do with a thin, narrow seat and bend the legs a little more than on the smaller FZ6R. It's still way more accommodating than the extreme R1.
The FZ1-derived chassis combines aluminum in the main section of the frame with steel in the rear section. The dual 310mm front brake discs are squeezed by four-piston monoblock callipers for progressive stops. Moreover, the FZ8 rides on a specific wheels as well as tires that match the size of the R6's (120/70-17 front, 180/55-17 rear).
|Riders can tilt their upper body slightly forward and have their feet neither too high nor too far back. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
It doesn't take long to fall in love with the near-perfect riding position and mass centralization of this Yamaha. City riding feels so effortless that you'd swear you're dealing with a genuine streetfighter. The FZ8 proves nimble like a small-displacement sport bike and shoots exactly where you want it to. At the same time, it displays surprising poise and stability at higher speeds. Such great balance means wicked fun on small country roads, highway ramps and any other place where you can lean the bike.
Despite a soft, non-adjustable front fork, the FZ8 is perfectly capable of matching the riding experience of a sport bike. Plus, you don't have to suffer because of a radical riding position. On the other hand, the lack of wind protection at high speeds quickly becomes an issue. You'd be wise to add the optional windscreen (see picture).
The 2012 Yamaha FZ8 is a versatile and friendly machine with attractive lines and, most importantly, a spirited powerplant that simply loves to play. It delivers more performance than a 600cc model while proving easier to ride than a 1,000cc model. Expect tons of fun for years to come.
|On the other hand, the lack of wind protection at high speeds quickly becomes an issue. You'd be wise to add the optional windscreen. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
Excellent mix of agility and stability
Displacement and power for any situation
Soft, non-adjustable front fork