When Yamaha revealed its Inline Triple Crossplane Concept
engine at Intermot in October of 2012 many wondered and speculated when, and in what, the Inline 3-cyclinder would show up in first. The Tuning Fork company just answered that question at its annual dealer meeting with the announcement of the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09.
Replacing the FZ8, the FZ-09 is a naked sportbike that Yamaha
describes as having “an emotional performance character and fundamental value.” More simply put the engine and power output will be exciting and handling will be lively while not costing an arm and a leg. That’s a tall order for an all-new motorcycle with a powerplant that is all-new as well. At $7,990, the FZ-09 rings in $900 less than the bike it replaces. The MSRP also makes it the lowest priced in its class, costing $1400 less than the next closest triple, the Triumph
Street Triple 675.
The FZ-09’s Inline Triple crossplane engine has a displacement of 847cc’s with a 78mm bore and 59.1mm stroke. Dual overhead cams actuate four valves per cylinder. The 120-degree crankshaft’s even firing order is claimed to allow for quick revving yet torquey character. A compact balancing shaft rotates opposite to the crankshaft direction to quell vibes.
Air is delivered to the ride-by-wire YCC-T Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle bodies via unequal length intake runners. Yamaha calls these stacks “variable length,” but they do not change or move so “varied length” would be a better description. Along with the YCC-T system comes Yamaha’s D-Mode variable throttle control system that allows the rider to choose from three different riding modes or maps. These maps are optimized for different conditions on the road, but are not traction control. Another prevalent electronic nanny, ABS, is also absent. With an MRSP so low some tech must be excluded, apparently.
A stainless steel 3-into-1 exhaust system expends spent gases and is mass centralized to keep the center of gravity as low as possible for agile handling.
To utilize the torque character of the three-cylinder engine, Yamaha optimized the gear ratios of the 6-speed transmission to highlight the low- to mid-speed grunt. The transmission’s size has been compacted to keep the cases as narrow as the cylinder block and head.
A new aluminum frame wraps around the compact crossplane mill, and utilizes an externally mounted swingarm. This means the suspension pivot is on the outside of the main frame unit, allowing for a narrow midsection at the footrest area. Up front a 41mm upside-down fork strokes through 5.4 inches of travel. At the rear a horizontal rear shock and linkage give 5.1 inches of travel. Adjustments are preload and rebound at both ends.
Compared to the FZ8, the FZ-09 has a shorter wheelbase and less trail. The new 10-spoke aluminum wheels are lighter by 8.5 pounds, and the bike as a whole weighs 53 pounds less, tipping the scales full of fluids at 414 pounds. All this combines for what Yamaha describes as a light and neutral feel while still being sporty. Ergos on the FZ-09 are more upright and it has a roomy layout with the bars being 53mm taller and 40mm further back. Legroom has increased as well finding the pegs 26mm lower and 2mm back. The 32.1-inch seat height is identical to the outgoing model. With just a moment to sit on the FZ-09 it was immediately clear the seat-to-tank area is remarkably narrow and should take some strain off the hips on long rides.
At a glance there is no mistaking the FZ-09 as a Yamaha and that it’s in the FZ family; it’s updated but doesn’t make a huge departure in styling. New switchgear, LED taillights and a new LCD meter are modern, sporty and high quality.
Units should be hitting dealer floors in October. Will the crossplane concept make it into more Yamahas in the future? In this day and age it does not make financial sense to create an engine design for a singular model. When the Yamaha reps were quizzed on this fact they just shrugged and smiled.