‘It was the first of Yamaha’s great fourstroke sports­bikes’ Steve Parrish

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Feature -

Pro­duced be­tween 1985 and 1991, the FZ750 is rightly recog­nised as the first of Yamaha's great mod­ern su­per­bikes – but it was a bit of a de­sign gem that never quite sold in the numbers it de­served to, mainly thanks to Suzuki launch­ing its game-chang­ing GSX-R750 in the same year.

Rather than the en­gine be­ing de­signed first and the chas­sis be­ing forced to fit around it (as was com­mon at the time), the de­sign­ers of the FZ were care­ful to in­te­grate the whole pack­age right from the draw­ing board. The 749cc in­line-four en­gine fea­tured a five-valve head with a ra­dial ar­range­ment which helped achieve a very lin­ear power de­liv­ery. The mo­tor was also set at a slight for­ward in­cline to help lower the cen­tre of grav­ity and cre­ate a sweet-han­dling bike.

Jim Lind­say was ed­i­tor of MCN when the Yamaha FZ750 came out in 1985 and says it was the bike to have – at least un­til the GSX-R750 came along. "I was com­pletely blown away when I first rode the FZ be­cause it re­ally was the dog's b*llocks. I owned one and I re­mem­ber we were all pretty ex­cited about the five-valve tech­nol­ogy mak­ing its first ap­pear­ance.

“It was the first proper su­per­bike in a way. It fol­lowed on from the Honda VF750F which had re-writ­ten the rules a lit­tle but the Yamaha took things even fur­ther. The power was just fan­tas­tic. The FZ had the most glo­ri­ous en­gine with loads of pull ev­ery­where and it sounded fan­tas­tic, with a great roar from the air­box. It han­dled re­ally well and was very sta­ble so you could push it hard through cor­ners. I even raced it in the Snet­ter­ton Six Hour en­durance race and we were do­ing well un­til we got wiped out in pit lane.

“The FZ750 was the bike to have (for about five min­utes) but then the Suzuki GSX-R750 came along and blew ev­ery­thing else away!

"I re­cently bought a 1985 half-

Granty got my FZ750 thrown out of the points’ STEVE PARRISH

faired model for £800 and I'm go­ing to re­store it. I still think it's a bike that I could live with and use. Older bikes are of­ten very dis­ap­point­ing to ride but the FZ still feels good to me."

For­mer GP rider Steve Parrish is an­other whose life was changed by the FZ750. “I ran one in the Bri­tish Su­per­stock Cham­pi­onship in 1985,” he told MCN, “and I loved it.

“I should have won the ti­tle but Mick Grant protested and got me thrown out of the Snet­ter­ton re­sults over a wrong­sized pi­lot jet or some­thing stupid like that, so I lost the ti­tle by three points. I got to ride Granty's Suzuki GSX-R750 years later for an MCN fea­ture and dis­cov­ered he'd bloody out-cheated me by us­ing a full race-spec ECU!

“The Su­per­stock se­ries was the main cham­pi­onship in the UK at the time and when I be­came team boss for Loc­tite Yamaha we won the ti­tle in 1986 with Kenny Irons and in 1987 with Keith Huewen. Even though the FZ was a big old girl com­pared to the TZ500S I had been used to rid­ing, it han­dled and was a great pack­age. It was ahead of its time and right up there with the GSX-R. It was the first of Yamaha's great fourstroke sports­bikes but it was never quite the sales suc­cess it should have been be­cause the GSX-R just looked much more sporty – don't for­get the orig­i­nal FZ750 only had a bikini fair­ing. Yamaha tried a big pitch on the FZ hav­ing five valves per cylin­der but it wasn't enough to im­prove sales.”

Is it time for red leathers to make a come­back?

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