The new 2014 Yamaha FZ-09
will give other naked bikes a run for their money. It marks a return to the 3-cylinder configuration with an all-new 847 cc engine that's full of character.
Absent from Yamaha motorcycles since the XS850 of the 1980s, this type of powerplant has always found a niche in various Yamaha snowmobiles (Nitro, RS Venture
, RS Vector
) and marine products (F30 and F40).
The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 is a striking naked bike that looks nothing like other Yamaha two-wheelers: a two-piece aluminum frame, gold-finished, inverted front fork, narrow fuel tank, die-cast aluminum swingarm, prominent headlight, and upswept tail. The clean package also proves lightweight, tipping the scales at just 188 kg (all tanks full) -- that's 24 kg lighter than the outgoing FZ-8
, and 30 kg lighter than a Z1000
. For the record, the queen of all lightweight naked bikes remains the Street Triple
|The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 is a striking naked bike that looks nothing like other Yamaha two-wheelers. (Photo: Yamaha)
Far from intimidating, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 offers great accessibility and near-perfect ergonomics. The natural riding position is a bit on the sporty side thanks to slightly raised foot pegs that increase ground clearance.
Meanwhile, the small, fully digital instrument cluster includes a MotoGP-style bar graph tachometer; it displays the selected gear and riding mode, ambient and engine temperatures, as well as fuel consumption. All the information is there, although the small screen makes it pretty hard to read while riding. And the ignition contact switch is hard to reach.
The heart and soul
|Far from intimidating, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 offers great accessibility and near-perfect ergonomics. (Photo: Yamaha)
The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09's triple-cylinder relies on a short piston stroke to quickly build up revs. A balancer is used to limit engine vibrations, while a specifically designed transmission handles power. Yamaha engineers -- the same who worked on the latest-generation R1 -- also focused on fuel economy and efficiency.
With the Yamaha D-Mode variable throttle control, riders can adjust the performance characteristics of the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 based on riding preferences or road conditions. The standard mode emphasizes the very linear throttle and torque feel of the engine. A highly responsive A mode allows the rider to enjoy even sportier engine performance in the low-to-mid rpms, while B Mode reduces throttle response for situations that require softer power characteristics, such as slippery conditions.
Right from the start, you'll revel in the uniquely raspy sound effects of the triple-cylinder engine, which make the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 sound eerily similar to a Porsche. The smooth, precise transmission is perfectly geared to make the most of the available power, while the rider-friendly clutch enhances the whole operation.
Acceleration over 6,000 rpm is clean and strong. The engine brake never disturbs the rear wheel, while the torque curve helps minimize gear shifts. The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 happily regains speed even from below the 2,000 rpm mark, which is very nice in dense traffic.
|The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09's triple-cylinder relies on a short piston stroke to quickly build up revs. (Photo: Yamaha)
The fun-to-ride 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 is easy to handle on a twisty road, whether you feel like enjoying the scenery or letting the adrenaline flow. Confident at the helm, you'll discover a nimble, playful machine with a bit of a wild side. It sure knows how to please, regardless of where you ride.
The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09's formidable handling encourages you to push harder from one corner to the next. On the flip side, the adjustable suspension doesn't quite live up to the performance of the engine and the rest of the chassis, but it's still an improvement over the FZ-8, as well as the fearsome Street Triple (which costs $1,000 more than the FZ-09). Meanwhile, the brakes are strong and easy to modulate; they never seem to tire in moderately sporty riding, which proves reassuring given the lack of ABS.
|The fun-to-ride 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 is easy to handle on a twisty road, whether you feel like enjoying the scenery or letting the adrenaline flow. (Photo: Yamaha)
Lighter and more powerful, with a better suspension and more ground clearance than its predecessor, the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 will put a smile on your face everywhere you go. In a segment that's filled with pricier, no-compromise bikes on one hand, and low-budget, low-thrills models on the other, this Japanese newcomer is like a breath of fresh air. It's a great all-around motorcycle, too. As you can imagine, competitors are feeling the heat.
- Lovely engine is super-competent
- Sharper chassis
- Great value
- Good-looking bike
- Small instrument cluster is hard to read
- No ABS option
- Lack of protection against the elements (of course, it's a naked bike!)