‘The Fazer was prob­a­bly the best bike I've ever had’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Feature -

‘ We rode it to count­less race meet­ings as well as wed­ding re­cep­tions and all sorts…’ MCN READER ANDY KENNEDY

If Suzuki’s Ban­dit 600 was the bike that be­gan the boom in bud­get mid­dleweights, it was Yamaha’s Fazer 600 that took the class to a whole new level.

In fact, though only ar­riv­ing in 1998, the more pow­er­ful (95bhp), bet­ter­han­dling and more ver­sa­tile Yamaha, was so good it in­stantly be­came a best seller which sur­vived through four in­car­na­tions over 10 years and spawned a whole fam­ily of Faz­ers.

Reader Dave Mac­don­ald is typ­i­cal of a whole gen­er­a­tion who had Faz­ers as their first big bikes. “I bought an orig­i­nal Fazer 600 back in 1999 as my first big bike,” he told MCN. “To this day it was prob­a­bly the best bike I've ever had. Great for a day out, com­mut­ing and gen­er­ally all-round bril­liant.”

That first 600 Fazer had its pub­lic de­but at the Paris Show in 1997 and made an in­stant im­pres­sion due to its more modern (com­pared to the Ban­dit) 95bhp in­line four (de­rived from Yamaha’s YZF600R Thun­dercat), more sophisticated and rigid steel chas­sis and higher-spec cy­cle parts which fa­mously in­cluded R1-alike ‘blue-spot’ one-piece brake calipers.

Craig Bray, a reader who bought a Fazer in 2001 af­ter ten years off bikes, was im­pressed. “I had to sell my X7 in 1987 to buy a Reliant Robin due to the birth of my first son,” he told MCN. The Fazer was the first ‘big’ bike I’d owned so I was very im­pressed how easy it was to ride. It ticked all the right boxes in per­for­mance, com­fort and more.”

Bet­ter still was the way Yamaha man­aged to keep its Fazer ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion. First, in 2000, it was joined by a big­ger brother, the equally im­pres­sive FZS1000 Fazer. Sec­ond, in 2002, just as the Yamaha mid­dleweight’s star was be­gin­ning to wane, it was given a facelift with a new fair­ing rem­i­nis­cent of the 1000 and new, more an­gu­lar dou­ble head­lights.

Then, in 2004, it was re­placed by an all-new model – the FZ6 Fazer, com­plete with alu­minium frame, R6-based mo­tor and un­der­seat pipes. And, if all that wasn’t enough, a naked ver­sion, the FZ6, was of­fered as well. The pair con­tin­ued where their pre­de­ces­sor had left off and, if the new­comer’s success wasn’t quite as brazen as be­fore, cus­tomers still lapped them up. Around 30,000 were sold glob­ally that first year.

Nor was that the end. In 2007 the Fz6/fazer was up­graded fur­ther into the S2 ver­sion com­plete with alu­minium swingarm, new brakes and de­tail im­prove­ments. And al­though sub­se­quently re­placed by the XJ6 with the Fazer name only liv­ing on in 800 and 1000cc form (with both of those fi­nally killed off in 2015), this later 600 still made a huge im­pres­sion.

Reader Lukasz Re­j­man told us: “I got mine as my first bike af­ter Di­rect Ac­cess and couldn't be hap­pier. It’s proven it­self as a daily com­muter year round and has never let me down.”

The best, how­ever, we’re sav­ing for last. Reader Andy Kennedy still owns the orig­i­nal Fazer that his dad bought new in Au­gust 1998. “When it first came out I was 10 with a grow­ing bike ob­ses­sion,” Andy told MCN. “Dad was af­ter a new bike and ended up buy­ing one. We went to count­less race meet­ings on it and when my dad was made re­dun­dant it be­came our only form of trans­port and we ended up tak­ing it to wed­ding re­cep­tions and all sorts.

“When my dad passed her down to me, she was my first big mo­tor­cy­cle and now, af­ter 75,000 miles, has never missed a beat.”

Sportier than it had any right to be and a breeze to ride too

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