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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Yamaha Says FZ-09 is “Tip of the Iceberg”

It has been a long time since I heard anything remotely resembling market optimism from a motorcycle manufacturer at a press introduction here in the United States, particularly when it comes to high performance motorcycles, rather than budget models. That changed at the press unveiling of the Yamaha FZ-09 a few weeks ago at a posh resort in Huntington Beach, California.

Yamaha representatives told the assembled journalists, who were subject to an embargo agreement concerning the then-secret FZ-09, that the Japanese manufacturer felt the U.S. market, in particular, was beginning to “turn around”. In the past few years, Yamaha seemed to be sitting quietly on the sidelines as Kawasaki grabbed larger pieces of market share, and Honda began to unveil a plethora of practical, budget priced models. This will apparently change … quite quickly and dramatically, according to Yamaha.

In addition to the shockingly inexpensive FZ-09 (U.S. MSRP under $8,000), and innovative new motocross bikes announced at the same time, Yamaha says more is in the pipeline … much more.  I had the distinct impression we will see some major announcements this Fall.  There is no doubt in my mind that the three-cylinder engine configuration will show up in several other Yamaha products, as well.

I have pointed out previously that Yamaha is far less conservative than some of its Japanese competitors when it comes to innovative new product.  Three-cylinder engines will provide a very significant product differentiation (leaving aside Triumph and MV Agusta), and could well provide a market advantage for Yamaha.  In a prescient piece I wrote more than a decade ago, I thought Triumph was making a big mistake taking on the Japanese directly with in-line four sportbikes, rather than continuing to develop three-cylinder models.  Frankly, I am surprised it has taken this long for a single Japanese manufacturer to join the three-cylinder party.

As a journalist, it is a pleasure to see the industry righting itself after the horrendous recession that came on so suddenly several years ago.  Kawasaki was bold to continue introducing new product throughout the recession, and was rewarded with big market share increases as stated earlier.  It is nice to see Honda and Yamaha re-engaging the fight, and we suspect Suzuki will not be far behind (the money Suzuki is putting into its MotoGP program certainly tells us something).  Exciting times are ahead.  Once again.


  1. Satoru says:

    I like to see one supersports bike from this engine. It doesn’t have to be a race bike, but a cool canyon carver other than R1 and R6. Sometimes R1 is way too much to handle and R6 is way too peaky.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “It doesn’t have to be a race bike, but a cool canyon carver other than R1 and R6.”

      you’re looking at it.

  2. TheBaron says:

    Yamaha has built a conventional in-line triple with 120 degree crank phasing and some smart Alec in its PR department desides to cash-in on the cross-plane crank bandwagon (which is fair enough) and some Limey writers took off speculating on how Yamaha may have odd-ball crank phasing, which some here seem to have lapped up. The new bike looks as if some children did the design, throwing bits and pieces of various bikes at it. Shame really because the engine has a lot going for it and the bike could be much better looking. But spare us the Winnebago with tassles, the Road King or any of that other malarky. If you want a Road King, buy one. Same with those plug ugly Rocket IIIs that Triumph makes. Yamaha CAN make good looking bikes – the new MT-03 is one such…

  3. Seth says:

    I *thought* the sheeple wanted a WR1200R..(i’d be fine with a WR400R on a 59″ w.b.); what was BMW thinking? btw BMW ought to bolt two airhead engines together for a double-breasted look.