FIRST RIDE: 2017 YAMAHA FZ-09

Af­ford­able as­pi­ra­tion

Cycle World - - Front Page - By Brian Cat­ter­son Pho­tos by Garth Mi­lan

Parked on a Latigo Canyon over­look dur­ing the Yamaha FZ-09 press ride, look­ing down at the Mal­ibu man­sions high above the Pacific, I couldn’t help but re­mem­ber the first time I came here. I was a wide-eyed 22-year-old astride my trusty 1979 Yamaha SR500 sin­gle, and I vividly re­call think­ing, “Some­day I’m go­ing to live here.” Then I found out how much those places cost.

That sce­nario prob­a­bly isn’t much dif­fer­ent than what mil­len­ni­als think about to­day’s new mo­tor­cy­cles. They re­ally, re­ally want one… right up un­til they find out how much they cost.

For­tu­nately, Yamaha has been buck­ing that trend lately, start­ing with the af­ford­able 2014 FZ09. Three years later the sporty stan­dard re­ceives its first sig­nif­i­cant up­dates: ABS, trac­tion con­trol, LED light­ing, and re­vised styling.

To show off th­ese im­prove­ments, Yamaha in­vited the press to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s rain-lashed Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains. You don’t fully ap­pre­ci­ate ABS or TC un­til you come around a blind cor­ner and en­counter a mud­slide! The ABS is pre­set, but the TC has three po­si­tions (1, 2, and Off), and there are also three Ride Modes (A, B, and Std.). We found “A1” to of­fer ex­hil­a­rat­ing per­for­mance and an ac­cept­able safety mar­gin.

The new 5mm-taller, flat­ter seat is much more com­fort­able, as the rider no longer slides for­ward into the gas tank. And the re­vised sus­pen­sion (with a fully ad­justable fork that’s 83 per­cent firmer) works

great un­til you be­gin to push the pace; then the rear end moves around a bit. We ramped up shock spring preload and di­aled in more re­bound damp­ing, and the ride was much more com­posed.

The orig­i­nal FZ-09 was marred by snatchy throt­tle re­sponse, but now it shares the same map­ping as the FJ09 sport-tourer and XSR900 retro-stan­dard and it’s nighon per­fect. Be­tween that and the new as­sist-and-slip­per clutch, pulling away from a stand­still is pain­less.

All in all, Yamaha has taken one of our fa­vorite mo­tor­cy­cles and made it even bet­ter. As im­pres­sive as the 2017 FZ-09 is, how­ever, the most im­pres­sive thing might be its price: just $809 higher than last year—$8,999. That’s like one month’s mort­gage pay­ment on one of those Mal­ibu man­sions…

The 2017 FZ-09 will come in a Candy Red choice and with no short­age of op­tional ac­ces­sories.

FUN AS EVER:

The FZ-09’S rider aids don’t in­trude on the fun but add to the ride.

The 2017 Yamaha FZ-09 shares many of the same tech­ni­cal fea­tures as the new FZ-10. It’s avail­able at deal­ers now in Matte Sil­ver/neon Yel­low, In­ten­sity White, and Candy Red for just $8,999. There is a full range of per­for­mance, sport­tour­ing, and styling ac­ces­sories.

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