By Marissa Baecker
TEST RIDE – YAMAHA FZ09
I had just put the liners back in my riding suit for the cooler Fall temperatures when I got this email: “The new FZ09 is here, come ride it.” These words do not require a response but rather an appearance with a license, gear and a helmet.
The 2014 Yamaha FZ09 is the newest introduction into the Yamaha line-up. This naked sport boasts an all new, 847 cc liquid cooled, in line three-cylinder, four-stroke, fuel-injected engine perfectly housed in the frame to bring a low centre of gravity and a solid ride. Yamaha features the Crossplane Crankshaft Concept with this engine – translation “linear torque development in response to the rider’s throttle input.”
As Kelowna Yamaha rolled the bike off the showroom floor, I envisioned the Triumph Street Triple of the same colour and similar characteristics while I mourned the loss of 09’s predecessor, the FZ8 (four-cylinder) yet applauded the replacement, and the 22 pound weight loss (FZ09 wet weight is a mere 414 lb), as it made its way through the front doors of Kelowna Yamaha and out into the afternoon sun. The glistening bold red 14 litre fuel tank, side accents, front fender and red pin-stripped, 10-spoke lightweight cast aluminum wheels with 120/70ZR17 front and 180/55ZR17 rear tires, – are visual tell-tale signs that had me anticipating some hidden secrets and it didn’t disappoint.
Even with a 32” seat height, the ergonomics of the bike make this a perfect ride for the taller rider but smaller riders may want to consider an optional lowering kit. Adjustable inverted 41mm front forks contribute to the easy handling and adjustable single link Monocross rear gives that sporty ride.
Behind the standard sport bars, key ignition beside a single digital display that offers speedometer, odometer, trip, tachometer – red line at 11,000rpm, riding mode, gears, fuel and clock. The guage shape somewhat mirrors the shape of the single headlight. Standing in front of the bike, the 09 could be mistaken for the Triumph Street Triple with its ladybug antenna –like side mirrors and eyelet signal lights however the triple hosts dual headlights to Yamaha’s one.
After turning on the key ignition at the bars, and going to start the bike, the previous two switch, engine on and starter button have been replaced with the starter switch incorporated into the engine on/kill switch. After a simple dial adjustment to the brake lever for my little hands, I was off.
A roll of the throttle and the low mounted three in one exhaust system purrs like a content cat. The FZ-09 is equipped with Yamaha D-mode variable throttle control and offers three separate riding modes, each one a new personality to suit a rider’s mood or present riding conditions. The default standard mode is the auto selection each time you start the bike but can be changed with the push of a button to a rowdy A ride or a serene B.
Getting to know the bike, I headed out into city traffic in B – a throttle controlled ride. Consistent torque, consistent compression – no surprises. A perfect, effortless ride on a sunny afternoon, through the city with enough power to climb hills yet smooth for the constant stop and go of an urban centre.
Switching to Standard mode for those back-country roads will offer low to mid range torque for those slight sweeps but when you get to highway speed or some serious twisties, riding mode A (think aggressive) will lift that front wheel off the ground at the slightest roll of the throttle for a super sport style ride. Release the throttle and instantly experience the full force of cut power.
As I made my way through the six-speed transmission on the highway, my only disappointment was that my ride was too short. This simple test ride has drawn me in and given me the first chapter of this mystery novel. To fully explore this bike, I need to read the whole book.
So far, the 2014 FZ-09 is a fabulous 3 in 1 machine and affordable at MSRP of $8,999 CDN – models are arriving at your local Yamaha dealer now.