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2015 Yamaha FZ-07 First Ride

Monday, June 30, 2014
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2015 Yamaha FZ-07 First Ride Video
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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 video.
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 Yamahas Crossplane Concept 270-degree crank with an uneven firing interval.
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 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 feels solid and stable mid-turn, the muscular Twin ready to punch its way out.
The FZ-07s chassis revamp includes an asymmetrical swingarm and KYB suspension.
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 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.
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. 
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Radman   April 1, 2015 06:35 PM
@box, How truly comforting it is to have a battle-tested 190mph bike. There must be lots of places on the street to cruise that pace. I do not know what point you are making other than your bike is better than any other you have tested. I also do not know what point you are trying to make with the 2013 FZ1, or the 1199 Panigale since your sentence regarding these two rides was incomplete in point. If you are referring to throttle snatch caused by EPA mandated fuel cut I will have to say the 2011+ FZ1 isn't anything like the previous years as a Yamaha has reworked fueling. The FZ-07 also isn't that bad in the fuel cut department. Of course any bike that will be raced off public roads requires to be tuned for that application. Ie. Stripped of EPA required items.
Radman   December 29, 2014 06:41 PM
74HP & 55Lb's of torque is a fair amount of performance. These bikes in stock trim have run flat 12's in the 1/4 @ 108MPH. When I started riding the KZ900 had 80HP & ran 12.5 in the 1/4. The Z1 was king in the 70's & this twin cylinder 700 will whomp it! My street bike that I rode all through high school was a 1978 KZ750 twin. It made 55HP & was fairly quick with a strong top end. This bike is ample enough to learn traffic navigation & road hazards. It will power wheelie in 2nd gear & is entertaining enough for any street rider. I would like to buy this for a 2nd bike. The seating position & handlebar placement is very comfortable. Yamaha has really made a wonderful ride. I hope to get one of these soon.
rclines01   November 22, 2014 10:37 PM
Lots of haters. The fact people are saying 65hp isn't enough is beyond comical. I've had mine for 2 months and 2500 miles, and I'd sleep on it if I could. I love it. If you "need" 100+hp to make a 400 lb bike feel good for you, there is something wrong with you. This bike has PLENTY of power. I'm 6'2" @ 225 lbs.
MCUSA Bart   July 22, 2014 11:50 AM
Box once we get access to a FZ-07 we'll run the dyno, weigh it and do our best to get performance test data. We have never had a manufacturer ask us not to publish our independent data.
Tripleking   July 18, 2014 07:03 PM
I find it humorous to read that a 70 horsepower is underpowered. It find it hilarious to read comments that the FZ-09 (with 115 HP, I think) has good power. I can't believe that we survived for years with 40 and 50 horsepower bikes. I guess my old GSXF 750 Katana is pathetic. It only has 100 HP. Yes, I know 100 HP is nothing these days, but I don't use all the performance the Katana has. I much rather ride my little bikes anyway. It is more fun to ride a small bike quick on back roads than to blast down the highway at 20 MPH over the limit. When I was in my 20s, going really fast was exciting. However, after you have been well over triple digits the first 100 times it loses something. I like the FZ-07. It makes a nice commuter and has MORE than enough power (especially with its light weight) to be a fun bike for someone who can only own one bike. I have not yet tried the FZ-09, but with more power than my Katana and 70 fewer pounds, I won't get board of it. It should perform commuter duty well, freeing up by 79 CB400 and 75 GT380 for weekend duties.
motrhead   July 3, 2014 10:45 PM
I rode the FZ07 and FZ 09 back to back to back today...the 07 is definitely not lacking in hp! It has more hp and significantly less weight than the Ninja 650, and as much power as the late SV650, with less weight. I don't hear a lot of complaints about either of those bikes. The 07 has enough power to be quite exciting. Yes I did wheelie it, and I had no trouble getting it to license endangering speeds. I didn't find any problems with the throttle of either bike. I kept the 09 in A mode and it was just fine. The 07 was almost too civilized. I am 190 pounds and was riding over some broken pavement on secondary roads, and I found the suspension of both bikes just fine, even through a couple of tight corners- no head shaking, nothing to complain about. The seats do suck though. I loved both bikes, but the engine in the 09 is just incredible. I think I have to have own one.
MCUSA Bart   July 2, 2014 11:26 AM
I have to second GAJ's statement. While I haven't ridden the FZ-07 yet, it seems like a smart play by Yamaha. The FZ-09 and FZ1 are great bikes, two of my all-time favorites actually (and I've ridden quite a few). But the various FZ models all target different buyers. And of all the manufacturers, Yamaha is one of the most revealing when it comes to explaining its market analysis during press intros. The FZ1 is a full-bore sportbike, with fully-adjustable suspension. It's got a half-fairing and is really versatile, and the ones I've seen on the road are often kitted out as sport-touring rigs. The FZ-09 is hooliganish, but the suspension is setup softer for street/urban duty. The 09's major selling point, besides its playful Inline Triple, is its sub $8K price range (the FZ1 is nearly $3K more). The FZ-07 is a step down from the 09 for sure, but it's also only $6995! That's an amazing feat. One of the big stories in 2013/2014 is how Yamaha came in with super aggressive pricing for its new models - and I was told during the FZ-09 launch that it's not a coincidence that new Bolt and FZ-09 both register just under the $8000 barrier. This FZ-07 pricing is even more remarkable when compared to its class rivals: the Kawasaki Versys/Ninja 650 is $7999 (price of FZ-09) and Suzuki sells its SFV650 for $8149?! What's Honda's closest model? The NC700X I suppose, which is $7799. I wonder how Yamaha's making any money off these bikes (maybe poaching rival sales), but consumers should celebrate the variety of options!
GAJ   July 2, 2014 10:54 AM
I've checked out the reviews of this bike in the Euro press, who have had access to it longer, and all have been as complimentary as this Moto USA take. I appreciate OutOfTheBox's impressions but it just seems a bit absurd to compare it to a Ninja 300 which, while 15 or so pounds lighter, dynos out at 35 rwhp while the FZ 07 will likely dyno out at 65hp+. Hard to believe the Ninja 300 at 9hp per 100 pounds is nearly as fast as the FZ07 at near 16hp per 100 pounds. Sounds like another winner for Yamaha. I liken the FZ07 to a much improved SV650; a huge hit for Suzuki back in the day.
cggunnersmate   July 2, 2014 06:43 AM
Just busting your balls a bit Brian. No offense meant, you guys provide for free on the internet what we have to pay for to read in one of the bike magazines. And most of, if not all of us would love to get paid to ride and review motorcycles for a living. And when you're writing articles for a bunch of bike nuts we're gonna jump on even silly honest mistakes like writing cable clutch instead of throttle. And it's easier to do over the anonymity of the internet.
weitzman   July 1, 2014 06:26 PM
For a grand more you get a 900cc triple that is much more powerful, smoother, loads of other features with a still small size. Why would you buy this 700? Spend another $20 a month and buy the 900 triple.
Poncho167   July 1, 2014 02:14 PM
It gives a feeling of being fast and powerful only after getting off of a Harley.
harley1   July 1, 2014 08:57 AM
OK, rake me over coals for writing "throttle" instead of ride-by-wire. I made a mistake and admit it. I was trying to get the point across that the cable-operated system of the FZ-07 doles out power more evenly than the YCCT system of the FZ-09. It's less abrupt and it's powerband is more linear. Both the 41mm inverted fork and horizontally-mounted shock of the FZ-09 are adjustable for preload and rebound. The FZ-07 only has 9-position preload adjustability. Once again, I'll eat it for not being clear. I meant to point out that riders have more adjustability to the suspension of the FZ-09, yet the basic set-up on the FZ-07 isn't bad. Yes, it was a little underdamped for me at 225 pounds, but I didn't attempt any adjustments on the rear so didn't feel like I could report on that before trying to get it dialed in first. As far as the engine goes, I'm sticking by my guns. This thing pulls strong for a 689cc Twin. It's not a superbike, and at $7K it isn't meant to be one. But for what it is and for the targeted rider, it's a lot of engine with surprising power.
woodco100   July 1, 2014 05:36 AM
you can get a Sportster for the same price.
cggunnersmate   July 1, 2014 05:21 AM
Someone call an editor he's saying things that don't make sense. "A cable-actuated clutch replaces the throttle-by-wire system of its bigger sibling" A cable clutch and throttle by wire (I think he means fly by wire throttle) are two completely different things. Once actuates a the clutch engagement, the other controls the fuel going to the motor. And too much regurgitation of corporate gobbledygook. And I don't think the FZ09's suspension is anywhere near fully adjustable and seems to be the biggest complaint of that model and in serious need of fixing at the factory level. I was hoping for an honest opinion of the FZ07's suspension and if its as overly soft and under sprung as the FZ09's.
AM   June 30, 2014 10:28 PM
"A cable-actuated clutch replaces the throttle-by-wire system of its bigger sibling .... and fully adjustable suspension of the FZ-09. Mr. Harley, where that come from?
JSH   June 30, 2014 09:51 PM
"The 689cc Parallel Twin inherits Yamaha’s Crossplane Concept with its 270-degree crank, the technology trickling down from its M1 GP bike." ------ LOL, I love the marketing speak. Yamaha had a 270-degree crank twin way back in 1996; it was called the Yamaha TDM850. I'm sure this 270-degree crank twin has nothing to do with the TDM and is a direct decedent of a Moto GP bike.
Piglet2010   June 30, 2014 07:37 PM
Good to see the manufacturers starting to focus on something other than the one-upmanship that creates bikes that may be fine for a weekend blast by people who can afford to lose their driver's license, or how much fancy paint, chrome, and cubic inches can be parked out in front of a bar. Now add some reasonably priced commuting/light touring accessories, and we can get some more cagers using two wheels for real world transportation (and still having fun while doing it).