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2014 Yamaha FZ-09 First Ride Review

Greg Drevenstedt
September 26, 2013
Filed under Road Tests, Sport Standard + Standard Motorcycle Reviews, Top Stories, Yamaha Motorcycle Reviews

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There must be something magic about $7,990 because Yamaha has introduced two all-new 2014 models priced $10 below eight grand. Yamaha unveiled the Star Bolt in March, followed by the FZ-09 sport standard in June. By all accounts, the Bolt has been selling like hotcakes and so many deposits have been put down on FZ-09s that Yamaha added a third color option and doubled production.

The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 is a light, torquey triple that costs less than $8,000.

The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 is a light, torquey triple that costs less than $8,000.

At last fall’s Intermot show in Germany, Yamaha introduced the Crossplane Concept in-line triple, an engine derived from the YZF-R1 crossplane in-line four, which itself is derived from the engine in Yamaha’s YZR-M1 MotoGP racebike. The R1’s crossplane engine offsets each crankpin 90 degrees from the next and uses an uneven firing interval to reduce fluctuations in inertial crankshaft torque. The result is more linear throttle response, better rear-wheel traction, and a unique engine character.

The FZ-09's crossplane triple has crankpins offset by 120 degrees and an even 240-degree firing interval.

The FZ-09’s crossplane triple has crankpins offset by 120 degrees and an even 240-degree firing interval.

The FZ-09’s crossplane triple has a different arrangement. Each crankpin is offset 120 degrees from the next, and the three cylinders fire sequentially (1-2-3) in even 240-degree intervals. The liquid-cooled, fuel-injected in-line triple displaces 847cc and has an 11.5:1 compression ratio, dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. To enhance sound and feel throughout the rev range, the airbox has a built-in resonator and staggered-length intake funnels. Plated cylinders, forged aluminum pistons and cylinders offset by 5mm reduce friction and boost torque, which is said to be 65 lb-ft at the crank. Similar to the R1, Yamaha’s YCC-T throttle-by-wire enables three Drive Mode throttle maps (Standard, A and B) and a stacked 6-speed transmission saves space.

The cast aluminum frame uses the engine as a stressed member and connects to an externally mounted aluminum swingarm, helping to keep the bike narrow in the middle. A 41mm male-slider fork and progressive-link horizontal shock, both made by KYB, are adjustable for spring preload and rebound, and offer 5.4/5.1 inches of front/rear travel. Dual 298mm floating front discs are squeezed by opposed radial-mount 4-piston Advics calipers, and a single 245mm rear disc is squeezed by a pin-slide 1-piston Nissin caliper. Cast aluminum 10-spoke wheels are shod with either Dunlop Sport Max D214 or Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S20 tires in 120/70-ZR17 and 180/55-ZR17 sizes.

Weighing just 414 pounds wet (claimed) with a wide handlebar and sporty geometry, the FZ-09 slices through corners effortlessly.

Weighing just 414 pounds wet (claimed) with a wide handlebar and sporty geometry, the FZ-09 slices through corners effortlessly.

The FZ-09 replaces the FZ8, and it sells for $900 less. Whereas the FZ8 was a perfectly competent but rather bland sport standard, the FZ-09 looks, sounds and feels different from any other bike on the road. It’s part sportbike, part supermoto and part streetfighter. The FZ-09 has the same 32.1-inch seat height as the FZ8, but its tapered aluminum handlebar is 2.1 inches higher and 1.6 inches closer to the rider, and the footpegs are an inch lower—resulting in a more upright riding position with more legroom. At 414 pounds fully fueled, claimed wet weight for the FZ-09 is 56 pounds lighter than for the FZ8.

Yamaha hosted the press launch for the FZ-09 in San Francisco, where we spent the first afternoon zigzagging through the city, up and down steep inclines, over rough pavement and streetcar tracks, and through dense traffic. With deeply recessed knee cut-outs in the 3.7-gallon fuel tank and a narrow, unforgiving seat, the bike feels extremely narrow, and its light weight and wide handlebar make it easy to flick around corners.

The sculpted swingarm and low-slung exhaust add to the FZ-09's curb appeal.

The sculpted swingarm and low-slung exhaust add to the FZ-09’s curb appeal.

The torquey triple is eager and willing, ready for jackrabbit starts and one-wheeled tomfoolery. Intake growls and exhaust snarls are addictive, encouraging hit after hit of throttle. The FZ-09 cruises smoothly at highway speeds, but some high-pitched buzz can be felt through the grips and pegs. Though not as troublesome when running the stop-n-go urban obstacle course, on the smoother, flowing canyon roads we rode on the second day, the FZ-09’s abrupt on/off throttle response became frustrating, an issue compounded by heavy engine braking in the lower gears. Of the three Drive Modes, “B” has the softest throttle response, “A” is the quickest and “Standard” is in the middle. “A” was downright unpleasant, “Standard” was slightly less so and “B” was better but still not as smooth and linear as the FZ8.

Gear changes are effortless, suspension compliance is decent, and the brakes deliver good power and feedback with just the right amount of initial bite (ABS is not an option). Even though it costs just $7,990, the FZ-09 doesn’t feel cheap or poorly made. Its 3-into-1 exhaust system is all stainless steel, its brake and clutch levers are adjustable, its brake pedal, shift lever and footpegs are forged aluminum, and its instrumentation is fully digital and packed with info (including gear position, fuel consumption and fuel reserve tripmeter).

The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 in Rapid Red. Other colors include Blazing Orange and Liquid Graphite.

The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 in Rapid Red. Other colors include Blazing Orange and Liquid Graphite.

The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 offers lots of style, character and performance for the money, but its hard seat, abrupt throttle response and limited range are drawbacks. Yamaha claims 44 mpg, but the trip computer averaged just under 40 mpg during our 100-mile ride, which translates to less than 150 miles per tankful. It will be in dealer showrooms in October, in three colors: Blazing Orange, Rapid Red or Liquid Graphite.

2014 Yamaha FZ-09 Specs
Base Price: $7,990
Website: yamaha-motor.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse in-line triple, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 847cc
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 x 59.1mm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Wheelbase: 56.7 in.
Rake/Trail: 25.0 degrees/4.1 in.
Seat Height: 32.1 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 414 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gals., last 0.7 gal. warning light on
Claimed MPG: 44

Radial-mount opposed 4-piston calipers squeezing dual discs provide plenty of braking power.

Radial-mount opposed 4-piston calipers squeezing dual discs provide plenty of braking power.

All-digital instrument panel is positioned to the right of center.

All-digital instrument panel is positioned to the right of center.

An accessory flyscreen is available if some wind protection is desired.

An accessory flyscreen is available if some wind protection is desired.

The FZ-09 is a delight on canyon roads, but it's held back by abrupt throttle response.

The FZ-09 is fun on canyon roads, but it’s held back by abrupt throttle response.

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Comments

16 Responses to “2014 Yamaha FZ-09 First Ride Review”

  1. James Epley on September 26th, 2013 2:01 pm

    Sounds like a fun bike. I’m a bit confused, however, by the marketing term “crossplane”. It sounds like this is some sort of new or innovative arrangement. I ask because Triumph has been using this “crossplane” technology for its triples (Street, Speed, Tigers, Rockets, etc.) for years. True?

    [Reply]

  2. Patrick Duffy on September 26th, 2013 7:14 pm

    Nice bike – cannot resolve the MPG though. Having a new Concours 14 myself the reviews lambasting it for only doing 39mpg average. I cannot get the average below 46.5 and on my trip at legally challenging speeds over 1600 miles of interstates and canyons I averaged 48.5mpg. Guess you all drive around in 2nd gear!

    [Reply]

    John Riggio Reply:

    Patrick, I also cant imagine how ham fisted these testers are. I have an 07 FJR1300 and on my local 6.5 mile commute I average 43mpg. On a trip to Biketoberfest with speeds around 80 (shh!), I had a one tank average of over 58mpg and an overall for the trip of just under 50mpg.

    [Reply]

  3. Jeff on September 26th, 2013 7:46 pm

    It looks ok, probably a nice bike, nothing about it makes me want to run out and buy it though.

    [Reply]

  4. Peter Harris on September 27th, 2013 1:03 pm

    I think you meant to say that the swing arm is internally mounted – not externally.

    Thanks for the review.

    [Reply]

  5. Steve Lowery on October 1st, 2013 8:22 pm

    I’m very interested in the bike. Sad to hear about the abrupt throttle response. I ride a ZRX1100 with ZX11 cams and a Mint stock 1996 ZX11 Ninja. Both are starting to feel to heavy to me at 54 and both seem to be over kill for riding the twisties of Deals Gap, The Ozarks and the 3 twisted sisters which I frequent. Maybe they will fix the throttle in the 2nd year and give me a chance to sell my 2 other bikes, ;~)

    [Reply]

  6. Joe Bruhn on October 2nd, 2013 11:40 am

    What do most of the manufacturers have against us vertically challenged riders?
    Plus, after my son was stung on a new Yamaha Vision many years back Yamaha is a total non-factor in our realm of possible rides. The Vision should have NEVER been let out the door. No forgiveness here.

    [Reply]

  7. Philip Plautz on October 3rd, 2013 7:12 pm

    All reviews thus far are really critical about the abrupt throttle response , what a shame .

    [Reply]

  8. Michael on October 7th, 2013 1:01 pm

    My 2006 FZ1 had the same throttle issue. Apparently the fuel injectors shut off (this is to get it through emissions) when you chop the throttle going into a turn so when you go to pick it back up you get a “snatch” when the injectors start working again. Fortunately IVAN invented a fuel cut off eliminator which solved the problem. Maybe he will create one for the FZ9?
    I wouldn’t buy this bike until one is available. BTW a power commander wouldn’t fix the problem.

    [Reply]

  9. Steve Lowery on October 7th, 2013 6:44 pm

    Thanks for the info on Ivan and his kit. I’ll be looking to see if 1 becomes avail. I have a ZRX1100 and a ZX11 Ninja right now but that 414 LBS. has me drooling just a bit. Want it for most of my riding which is twisties. the 15 MPH to 80 MPH twisties and my ZRX1100 is just too much bike. Like Sammy Hagar, I can’t get my bike out of 2nd gear. And the ZX11 is like taking the fat girl to the dance, no she’s better suited to go to the rodeo. And I noticed it did take throttle control to engine brake in @ 9,500 to 10,000 RPMs and get back on the throttle @ 6,500 to 7,000 RPMs and be smooth on the throttle not to upset the bike leaned over. Just seemed like the guys on the DRZ 400SM’s were having so much more fun than me hustling this 550 to 575 LB. beast thru The Dragon, or down Moonshiners HWY 28. I’m hoping this turns out to be the bike they say it is.

    [Reply]

  10. Peter on October 12th, 2013 3:49 pm

    Buyer beware.I purchased my new FZ-09 two weeks ago and learned today that the top speed is restricted to 132 MPH, about the same as a Ninja 650 parallel twin with 50 or so less horsepower.

    [Reply]

  11. Robert on October 14th, 2013 6:33 am

    Test rode an FZ-09 Saturday and walked away with the following…

    1.) The motor is truly excellent
    2.) The light weight of the motorcycle really contributes to the overall package and fun feel of it.
    3.) Fit and finish and overall design are nice EXCEPT for the turn signals and the license plate toe-nail. Can you say new turn signals and tail tidy??The front signals will be a pain to replace as they are molded into the headlamp ass’y.

    Downsides (let me mention that I ride a BMW R1200GSA and a 2012 S1000rr which means some of the best brakes and suspension out there.

    The suspension is much too soft for “really” spirited riding although a rider with good throttle control could make it work. Same for the throttle response. If you have practiced good throttle-brake and brake-throttle transitions and matching downshifts with engine RPM, you can make it go pretty smoothly in B mode. I did and absolutely loved the riding position.

    The brakes aren’t super, but this could have been 50% new pad syndrome and a touch of glaze.

    I compared this mc to the Triumph Street Triple R, the other “tardy” standard I have been looking at. The triumph “whoops” it on suspension and brakes but costs almost 5K more.

    So…

    1.) Resprung and revalved front forks for genuine upright sport riding
    2.) New rear shock and spring – same
    3.) EBC HH or DP pads and braided lines to improve brakes
    4.) Fix on throttle response.
    5.) Bar snake and some vibration absorbing grips.

    Could you do this w/o exceeding the cost of the Street Triple R? I think so and still have some change in return…

    Wouldn’t a programmable Bazzaz (newest edition) allow you to adjust throttle response a bit and add a little fuel to the mix when off-throttle to cut down on the large amount of back-down torque. I’ve found with my GS that giving a little richer mixture at idle softens the throttle response of a large torquey motor a bit.

    As I said, the motor is utterly well done, and the reviews I’ve read are pretty spot on.

    [Reply]

    VLJ Reply:

    With an msrp of $9,999, a Triumph Street Triple R costs $2K more than the $7,999 FZ-09, not $5K more.

    While the 675cc STR will never have quite as much power as the 850cc Yamaha, that extra $2K does buy you excellent ABS, smooth on/off-throttle response, fully adjustable (and very good) suspension front and rear, better brakes including standard steel braided lines, brighter dual headlights, clear turn signals with amber bulbs, a much larger fuel tank and superior fuel mileage, a programmable shift light, a lap timer, less weight, a two-inch shorter wheelbase, and two years of full factory warranty vs one year for the Yamaha. In addition, the Triumph offers optional heated grips, a quick shifter, tire pressure sensor monitoring, etc. Also, Triumph recommends 87 regular for the STR, vs Yamaha’s recommendation of the pricier grade for the FZ-09.

    Lastly, for those who care about such things, the Triumph has no electronic top speed limiter. The Yamaha is limited to 132 mph, while the Triumph is free to run all the way out to 155 mph.

    [Reply]

  12. Kevin on October 14th, 2013 9:44 am

    I’ve heard that if you leave the bike in “B” mode, or whatever the middle drive mode is, the throttle response is much cleaner without sacrificing any power.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    Lower end pull notably stronger in a setting.

    Ran in Standard / Mid Setting this weekend on Palomar.

    Bike did well with a 230 Lb. , 61 year old rider.

    You Tube: http://youtu.be/3CnqFE64mtg

    [Reply]

  13. FZ-09 cylinders, plated or sleeved? on January 11th, 2014 12:51 am

    […] Mark- I found the reference in a Rider review- 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 First Ride Review "Plated cylinders, forged aluminum pistons and cylinders offset by 5mm reduce friction and […]

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