Come along for the ride as we sample Yamaha's latest middleweight Twin around Seattle and Bainbridge Island logging riding impressions for our 2015 Yamaha FZ-07 First Ride
We buzzed out of the parking garage of Seattle’s Hotel Max, hornets riled by a stick, the faceshields of over a dozen riders like bug eyes reflecting the angular, aggressive lines of Yamaha’s latest motorcycle. Our swarm of 2015 FZ-07’s have an early morning appointment with a ferry to Bainbridge for a jaunt around the island. The first twists of the receptive throttle hint at the power looming within, torque in-hand from the get, but city stoplights and morning downtown traffic means we seldom see above second gear. With its 689cc Parallel Twin delivering so much torque, front wheels are already popping off pavement, the want to wring out the bike’s throttle growing during the half-hour long ferry ride to the other side of Puget Sound.
Though it’d be easy to dismiss the FZ-07
as a scaled-down version of the FZ-09
, this would deny the bike its due. It is its own beast, nimble yet strong, with a growl when you’re on the pipe like a dog warning you to get back. A new Parallel Twin gives the FZ-07 its own character, its high-tensile steel frame new as well. The Twin-powered FZ sports a freshly designed asymmetrical steel swingarm, too. A cable-actuated clutch replaces the ride-by-wire system of its bigger sibling, the list of differences between the models too long not to recognize the FZ-07 as a motorcycle to be reckoned with in its own right. Because it is.
“More motor than expected.”
We overheard another veteran motojournalist say this during the press launch of the 2015 Yamaha FZ-07. This same journalist spent much of the afternoon on one wheel, pulling wheelies at will through the bike’s first three gears. After spending a day flogging the FZ around Seattle and Bainbridge Island, we second his observation. The 689cc Parallel Twin of the FZ-07 provides immediate bursts 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. It also comes with a Twin’s pounding pulse that produces a buzz in the bars midrange that moves to the tank around 8000 rpm.
The 689cc Parallel Twin of the FZ-07 features DOHC and 4-valves per cylinder. It also has Yamaha's Crossplane Concept 270-degree crank with an uneven firing interval.
The 2015 Yamaha FZ-07 is an urban assault vehicle, nimble, quick, and deft at dodging traffic.
The FZ-07 feels solid and stable mid-turn, the muscular Twin ready to punch its way out.
The FZ-07's chassis revamp includes an asymmetrical swingarm and KYB suspension.
The 689cc Parallel Twin inherits Yamaha’s Crossplane Concept with its 270-degree crank, the technology trickling down from its M1 GP bike. The pistons of the oversquare engine are closely aligned and the offset cylinders have been moved 7mm toward the front of the engine in an effort to reduce friction. The design helps keep the powerplant fairly compact as a result. The 270-degree firing order meanwhile aims to cut down on inertial torque. It also helps spread that wonderful hit of initial torque throughout the powerband in a linear manner, the spread of power generous before fading off on the top end as it approaches its 10,000 rpm redline. It makes for manageable power for less experienced riders, and the fact the Twin has the ability to drop way down and pick back without bogging or requiring a downshift will work in their favor as well. But don’t be fooled by its modest power numbers of 75 hp at 9000 rpm and 50.2 ft-lb torque at 6500 rpm. If you’ve got the skills and want to channel your inner hooligan, the FZ-07 has the goods to get the adrenalin flowin’.
The tightly packaged engine serves as a stressed member of the frame and is slung 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 ready-to-ride. The chassis revamp includes an asymmetrical swingarm and KYB suspension front and rear, a link system connecting the horizontal rear to the engine. The KYB laydown shock offers nine-position preload adjustability. The FZ-07 may not have the aluminum frame and its suspension has less adjustability than the FZ-09, but its chassis is surprisingly composed, staying rigid at lean with no twitchiness on the throttle upon exit. It’s solid and stable mid-turn with a muscular Twin ready to punch its way out of the apex.
On the winding roads of Bainbridge Island, ferns and fauna are sheets of green in our periphery as we race by, the land lush and thick. The FZ-07 turns in with thoughtless effort, the bars up and in providing solid leveraging. The bike is light and carries much of its weight low, and though we feel up a bit up in its saddle at 31.7-inches, it transitions fluidly.
The motorcycle’s light steering gets an assist from a two-finger clutch pull and slick-shifting transmission, gears smoothly slipping into position with the faintest pop. Though the FZ-07 lacks the sophisticated YCC-T ride-by-wire system and rider modes of the FZ-09, its cable-actuated clutch works quite well, teaming with spot-on fueling for clean, crisp throttle response.
Yamaha tweaked the riding position of the FZ-07 compared to the FZ-09, the bars 40mm higher and 24mm farther back so there’s little wrist pressure. Its seat is narrow at the tank allowing riders to snug up tight to the bike, the saddle fairly flat and forward lean moderate. Its foot pegs have been moved 70mm forward and lowered by 28mm compared to the FZ-09, the added legroom appreciated by a six-foot-tall rider. Between its seat and riding position, the FZ-07 provides a comfortable riding platform though admittedly our continuous stints in its saddle were limited.
In the shadows of Seattle’s Space Needle, the FZ-07 is a dart in traffic, nimble and quick, its deft maneuvering enhanced by light steering and light-action controls. Competent brakes come in handy for city driving, the wave-rotor arrangment responsive at the lever, the bite firm and not overly aggressive. The front features dual 282mm wave rotors paired to an Advics four-piston caliper while a single-pot Nissin caliper squeezes the 245mm rear. Since the bike doesn’t have much mass, the brakes are more than up to the task of scrubbing speed quickly. In keeping the bike’s price point down, ABS is not an option.
The riding position of the FZ-07 sees a taller handlebar closer to the rider while the foot pegs are more forward and lower compared to the FZ-09.
The 2015 Yamaha FZ-07 comes in Rapid Red, Pearl White, or Liquid Graphite w/blue wheels & frame at an MSRP of $6990.
Though the fuel tank on the FZ-07 is small at 3.7 gallons, Yamaha is claiming the bike’s capable of 58 mpg and a range of approximately 200 miles. Yamaha says factors that attribute to the lofty mpg are the use of a torquier engine rather than a high rpm one, the bike’s light weight, and the efficiency of its offset cylinders. Realistically, to achieve this you’d have to keep it in the “Eco” range that flashes in its digital display when the motorcycle is operating at maximum fuel efficiency. But the way we were riding this thing around the city, heavy revs between stoplights, we’d never achieve this range as its throttle begs to be twisted.
At just under $7K, the FZ-07 doesn’t look like a budget bike. Its plastic panels sport a carbon-fiber pattern, the blue wheels on the Liquid Graphite version look exceptionally sharp, it has clean aluminum frame accents, wave rotors and a handy five-way adjustable brake lever. Its LCD display is large and useful, a digital speedo and gear indicator joining a bar-graph fuel indicator as primary readouts. It also has a bar-type tach, neutral indicator, dual tripmeters, a clock, and ambient temperature gauge. From our position in the saddle, the display sits a little below our line of sight and requires a quick downward glance to read. Its bars are no-frills, the back-to-basics approach a common theme in the overall design of this bike, like its ability to run on 86-octane unleaded gas.
In releasing the 2015 FZ-07, Yamaha believes it is filling a perceived niche in its sporty offerings, one with subtle differences in engine character compared to the FZ6R and a bit more rider-friendly than the FZ-09. Yamaha says that market conditions recently have seen an increase in sales of street-oriented bikes that are more usable than pure sportbikes. Yamaha also said its big brother, the FZ-09, is one of the reasons company sales are up 12%. With a price point of $6990, we believe the FZ-07 has the capacity to continue that upward trend.
We’re still buzzing from our time aboard the FZ-07. Its Parallel Twin is a torquey son-of-a-gun, its throttle quick to respond, steering light, and handling sharp. These traits serve riders well in a city, and become even more fun when you get outta dodge and into back country. The 2015 FZ-07 rides like an angry hornet with a serious sting, with a bang for the buck that’s hard to beat.