The bril­liance of the FZ750

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CLASSIC RIDE -

Yamaha’s FZ750 is now start­ing to be recog­nised as a real 1980s clas­sic, but it’s not al­ways been so. Why? Well, it was launched at the same time as some rather amaz­ing peers, most no­tably the Suzuki GSX-R750F, their two-stroke RG500, Honda’s two-stroke NS400R and Kawasaki’s ground-break­ing mid­dleweight, the GPZ600R. Out of all these amaz­ing bikes, one of them had to lurk in the shadow of the oth­ers and – strangely – it’s been the FZ. And there’s no rea­son why… the FZ laid the ground­work for Yamaha’s later dom­i­na­tion of the big-cube bike mar­ket. The DNA is all there… The 749cc engine is canted for­ward 45° for bet­ter weight dis­tri­bu­tion as well as to help the engine breathe through those fuel-pump fed down-draught car­bu­ret­tors. Power is around 100-110 claimed bhp and de­liv­ered in a beau­ti­fully lin­ear fash­ion. The frame com­prises a box-sec­tion steel perime­ter. The big hoo-ha was re­served for the valves: five of them, three in­let and two ex­haust. This de­sign stayed with Yamaha’s big sports ma­chines un­til the 2007 YZF-R1 re­verted to a four-valve head. Why a five-valver? Well, it was con­sid­ered that smaller, lighter valves would work bet­ter and faster than fewer, heav­ier ones. It was prob­a­bly more of a gim­mick as it was a de­sign used in Yamaha’s 1980s For­mula 1 en­gines. The FZ it­self car­ried on in Yamaha’s range un­til 1991, by which time the Deltabox framed Ge­n­e­sis FZR1000 had shown up. Changes were min­i­mal, but seat height went up 10mm to 800mm from 1987 as did wheel­base by 5mm to 1490mm. Other changes that year were to the rear sus­pen­sion and swingarm set-up. Tyre sizes even­tu­ally went to 17s at the front too. To­day the days of a rough FZ like Stavros got for a grand are long gone and prices are stronger for a de­cent 750 than the likes of a good Ge­n­e­sis or EXUP: ex­pect to start at a cou­ple of grand. The good thing too is that many parts are still avail­able, even through Yamaha.

RIGHT: Canted for­ward 20-valve engine (45°) helps the mo­tor breathe.

Some mar­kets got the FZ fully-faired.

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