Since launching in 2010, the Yamaha FZ8
has been trying to make a name for itself in a very competitive market segment. Despite offering good build quality and a lovely 4-cylinder engine, this racy Japanese bike's ride has disappointed, due in large part to a non-adjustable suspension.
Well, that's all changed now. Addressing complaints from the media and customers, the 2013 Yamaha FZ8 gets an all-new Kayaba fork and firmer shock -- both fully adjustable -- that make for a sharper, more determined package during spirited riding, as well as safer, more progressive dynamics overall.
Rigorous and more mature
The aluminum, twin-spar frame derived from the 2009 R1 puts the engine well in front to accommodate the longer swingarm. A 43 mm fork and dual 310 mm front discs with 4-piston calipers boost confidence. Oddly enough, ABS is still nowhere to be found on the Canadian version of the 2013 Yamaha FZ8 (it is optional across Europe).
Unfortunately, ground clearance hasn't increased very much, so the foot pegs and riding boots still often scrape the ground despite a slightly raised tail. On the other hand, rock-solid stability around apexes, enhanced by a much more accurate and responsive front end, helps attack corners at high velocity.
While the stock Bridgestone BT21s (durable, but slow to warm up) remain excessively touring-oriented, front tire traction is no longer an issue on rough pavement -- no more disturbing hopping in corners and under hard braking. The 2013 Yamaha FZ8 proves smoother and with more grip, allowing some trail braking around twists and turns.
Similar to the more powerful FZ1, the FZ8 now offers predictable handling in any situation. Whether you go to work, cruise around the country or go full-throttle on an open stretch of road, it will always obey your commands and behave nicely, even when the pavement starts to deteriorate.
|The aluminum, twin-spar frame derived from the 2009 R1 puts the engine well in front to accommodate the new, longer swingarm. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
Ever delightful engine
Not to be overlooked, the 2013 Yamaha FZ8's output impresses with a long, steady powerband that allows you to make the most of any conditions.
The friendly and charismatic 779cc engine wonderfully fits the naked-bike philosophy. Some might complain about a lack of spirit at higher revs, or a tendency to buck under 4,000 rpm, but it does an excellent job overall.
Material selection, fit and finish (already a strength of the Yamaha FZ8) keeps improving in 2013. The new model also gains translucent turn signals, a sweeter-sounding exhaust system, as well as a non-slip seat with revised sculpting and thicker padding for superior comfort.
In the end, the 2013 Yamaha FZ8 is a playful machine that finally handles like a good, naked sport bike -- a pleasantly sized package that offers more than a 600cc model and proves easier to ride than a 1,000cc variant.
|The new model also gains a non-slip seat with revised sculpting and thicker padding for superior comfort. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
- Great engine
- New adjustable suspension
- Increased comfort
- Good overall quality
- Stock tires not sporty enough
- No ABS