First Glimpse: Yamaha FZ-09
I saw the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 online this past spring, and my first thought was “those Europeans get all the cool bikes”. I really didn’t think that this naked triple would be sold in North America, but low and behold, we’re getting a high-performance, middleweight naked bike.
FZ8 owners: it’s ok to weep a little. The FZ-09 is lighter, more powerful and CHEAPER. The fact that Yamaha finally put a decent-looking stock muffler on a bike is just icing on the cake.
When I heard that Atlantic Recreation finally had an FZ-09 in stock, I had to dart out for a look. My initial impression was that the bike is very aesthetically pleasing, and doesn’t seem to be a bargain-basement mish-mash of spare parts. The headlight and swing-arm look fantastic, and the bike has that hunkered-down, streetfighter look that I love.
The air intakes are reminiscent of the late 1980’s Yamaha Fazer, or pre-2008 Vmax. I think it works well with the lines of the bike. The FZ-09 is probably the most “naked” of all the naked bikes on the market currently. It’s uncluttered with plastic shrouds, with the engine and radiator clearly visible. The only part of the bike that I find fault with is the rear fender. It’s just odd, and looks like an afterthought. No doubt most of these will be lopped off shortly after leaving the showroom floor.
Of course I had to sit on it. The bike feels incredibly narrow and light, along the lines of the Ninja 650R. The ergonomics are great, but I’m not entirely convinced that the seat is comfortable. The tiny instrument cluster is offset to the left, which I found a bit strange but passed it off as Yamaha trying to be “funky” or something. Leave it to Mark to realize that it’s offset to provide a better view of the road when you’re on the back wheel. The small 3-gallon tank also makes it easier to get the front wheel off the ground. It’s as if the Yamaha engineers deliberately designed a hooligan bike!
I think that Yamaha has created a game-changer with the FZ-09. It provides a lot of bang for the buck, and could very well generate growing interest in the naked bike segment in this part of the world. One can hope, anyways.
I just hope that I get the opportunity to test-ride one next summer, but I think there will be a long line-up for this one on demo day.