“More motor than expected.”
We overheard another motojournalist say this at the press launch of the 2015 Yamaha FZ-07. After spending a day riding it around Seattle and Bainbridge Island, we second that. The 689cc Parallel Twin of the FZ-07 provides immediate blasts of torque thanks to its Twin arrangement, the gratifying grunt even more grin-inducing thanks to crisp throttle response. The powerplant has plenty of familiar Twin character, from its thumping pistons to the snarl of its exhaust. The Twin also produces a buzz in the bars midrange that moves to the tank around 8000 rpm.
The compact engine, a stressed member of the frame, hangs below the steel trellises of an all-new chassis. The frame is narrow and the bike overall is light and lithe, claimed to tip the scales just shy of 400 pounds laden. The chassis revamp includes an asymmetrical swingarm and KYB suspension front and rear, a link system connecting the horizontal rear to the engine. Despite its straightforward design, the chassis is rigid and composed at lean or on the throttle.
On the winding roads of Bainbridge Island, the FZ-07 turns in with mindless effort, the light steering matched by a feathery clutch pull and slick-shifting transmission. It feels solid and stable mid-turn, the muscular Twin ready to punch its way out. This is accomplished from a fairly relaxed riding position, the bars high and back so there’s little wrist pressure, the seat flat and forward lean moderate.
In the shadows of Seattle’s Space Needle, the FZ-07 is a dart in traffic, nimble and fast, its maneuverability enhanced by light steering and light-action controls. Competent brakes come in handy for city driving, the wave-rotor set responsive at the lever, the bite firm and not overly aggressive. Its tank is small at 3.7 gallons, but Yamaha’s claims of 58 mpg put range around 200 miles. But we ’d never reach that the way we rode around the city as its throttle begs to be twisted. Just ask Dylan and Hendrix. (quick clip of burnout maybe?)
At just under $7K, the FZ-07 doesn’t look like a budget bike. Its plastic panels are carbon-fiber patterned, the blue wheels on the Liquid Graphite version look sharp, it has clean aluminum frame accents and a handy LCD. Its bars are no-frills, and for a rider of our height, six-feet, the speedo is just below line of sight.
We’re still buzzing from the fun ride the FZ-07 provided, Yamaha’s little streetfighter a lot of bang for the buck.