(Top) The FZ-07 employs a more traditional halogen (and less expensive) headlamp as opposed to the Monster’s super bright LED set-up. (Center) The FZ-07’s instrument display is easy to read however we prefer the old school style analog tach needle gauge of the Suzuki. (Bottom) The FZ-07 is powered by a marvelous 689cc Parallel-Twin that delivers good low-end power and tons of fun loving character.
If fun and affordability are atop your purchasing checklist then take a spin on Yamaha’s all-new FZ-07 ($6990). Powered by a playful 689cc Parallel Twin that inherits Yamaha’s signature crossplane crankshaft design, the FZ offers the ideal blend of torque and amusing character making it a blast to rip around town.
Being the new kid on the block can have its advantages, and the Yamaha’s fresh face is one of them. True, its appearance is a tad utilitarian, but we prefer its understated, purposeful shape to that of the bulky-looking Ducati and older Suzuki. Although the FZ employs a nice bright LED taillight its headlight is more old school with a halogen bulb compared to the night riding-friendly and fully LED-equipped Monster.
While its all-digital instrumentation lacks the number of vital stats of the feature-rich Monster, the Yamaha dash is easier to read, and we like that it incorporates a fuel gauge. But where the FZ-07 does come up short is in the electronics department, offering a traditional, fully manual riding experience… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag right away but hands down this motorcycle was far better than the others,” reveals Colton. “I’m just glad someone produced a motorcycle that fun to ride at the entry-level [price] it’s at.”
Lift it off the kickstand and the FZ-07 is clearly the lightest bike in this contest. With its 3.7-gallon fuel tank topped off (smallest in class, but less than a pint down on the SFV), the FZ measures 398 pounds. That’s 55 pounds under the Ducati and 47 fewer than the SFV. It also features the shortest wheelbase and feels the slimmest between the rider’s legs.
While its seat is a little taller than the Suzuki and the Ducati (in its lower setting), the Yamaha’s ergonomics were favored unanimously. The spatial relationship between the handlebar, seat and footpegs is adeptly proportioned, equating to a natural and cozy position to work from. Another plus is its engine is nearly devoid of vibration.
“The cockpit felt pretty neutral and the bars were in a good spot,” Jason explains. “The FZ-07 really more feels like a supermoto than anything. The seat was super comfortable, too.”
“It’s light and agile and almost has that confidence that you kind of get out of a supermoto,” agrees AC. “But it doesn’t have that single or small displacement motor that’s vibrating your hands to death down the road. This is the bike that I by far had the most fun on today”
Around town and on the freeway is where the FZ excels. Here it is both maneuverable yet relaxed, which lends itself well to everyday riding. But get to a curvy stretch of road and the FZ comes up a little short during spirited rides. Here its softy damped fork isn’t nearly as planted as the well-sorted Suzuki or the Ducati. This inhibits canyon shredding missions to an extent.
“Cornering was a little bit too active. I felt like it could have been more planted similar to the Suzuki,” notes Abbott.
“With a couple quick fixes I think it would be an awesome, awesome motorcycle,” AC agrees in regards to the only handling complaint we had.
Although the Yamaha shares the same basic brake componentry and hardware of the Suzuki, the FZ’s setup delivered more lever feel and was friendlier to use. It also proved more effective with it achieving a 3.3-foot shorter stopping distance. Compared to the Ducati’s excellent ABS-equipped setup, however, it was a ways off.
But the area where the Yamaha really shines is in the powertrain department. True, its Parallel Twin engine doesn’t have as much muscle on paper as the L-Twin Ducati, but behind the handlebar it actually feels peppier especially in the lower gears. We’re also big fans of the Yammie’s rambunctious exhaust note that’s both ear pleasing but not excessively loud, as evident by its modest decibel ratings from sound testing.
“It was really snappy off the bottom. If it was going to be a holeshot race it would definitely take the lead in the first couple of gears,” explains Colton.
“The power was real lively,” says Abbott. “It was fun to ride. The thing was a wheelie machine but it had get up and go [too].”
Looking at the dyno chart shows how early the FZ’s engine come online in terms of torque. While its peak figure is less than one lb-ft more than the SFV it arrives sooner in the rev range making the Yamaha feel faster.
“In a straight line, it didn’t have as much top-end as the
(Top) The only weak link in the FZ-07’s otherwise excellent package is the performance of the fork which comprises how hard you can ride the Yamaha thorough turns. (Center) We’re big fans of the Yamaha’s cozy yet playful demeanor on the road. (Bottom) Even though it was the quietest in sound testing, behind the handlebar the FZ excites with its rambunctious exhaust note and snappy response.
Ducati but getting there was a lot quicker,” tells Abbott.
The only downside is power tapers off earlier compared to the rev-happy Ducati and Suzuki, explaining its modest peak horsepower figure that’s 31 ponies down on the Monster and five less than the SFV. And that top-end power deficit hurt the FZ in acceleration testing. It registered 0.2 seconds slower to 60 mph versus the Italian Twin, but 0.10 seconds ahead of the Suzuki. Through the quarter-mile it again split the difference, slotting ahead of the SFV but behind the Ducati by nearly a second at a 13 mph slower trap speed.
In the fuel economy department the FZ was at a slight disadvantage compared to the miserly Suzuki, recording a 45.1 mpg average. Fuel capacity is also slightly less, netting the shortest range between fill-ups (166 miles).
“I think they did a great job developing a package that almost anyone can go purchase that has good brakes, it’s got great handling, and it also has that fun factor that you know you can kind of abuse the bike a little bit and it’s going to give you feedback but you’re also going to have fun on,” sums up AC.
From the moment we lifted the kickstand the Yamaha impressed with its form-fitting ergonomics, elevated level of comfort and fun-loving engine dynamics. While we appreciated its light nimble feel around town, spirited riding in the corners isn’t one its strengths. Still you can’t deny the exceptional bang for the buck the FZ-07 delivers making it a clear winner in this battle of the Twins.
- Peppy, fun-loving engine
- Agile and comfortable around town
- Highly attractive price tag
- Fork set-up could be better for sport riding
- Lowest-in-class fuel capacity
- You’re going to spend too much time riding!
1999 Buell S3T Thunderbolt
1999 Buell X1 Carbon Fiber
1999 Buell X1 Lightning
1999 Buell X1 Racing Stripe
1999 Cagiva GC900 Gran Canyon