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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.

166 Comments

  1. Orbit398 says:

    Again Yamaha makes a big deal out of nothing. Three cylinders – WOW. I am riding around daily on a 1979 Yamaha XS750 Special that is a three cylinder. Is three cylinders supposed to be some big deal? Not.

    And a few years ago, Yamaha claimed to be the hero in the market with the YZ450 and it’s reverse cylinder. Not. They copied Cannondale’s design and claimed it all for themselves a the master motorcycle company.

    They have a bunch of clowns in their marketing division.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The introduction of a 100 hp, 400 lb, clean-sheet bike with what appears to be decent brakes and suspension for $8,000 gets a big WOW from me regardless of how many cylinders it has. Getting that much bike for that kind of money is (sadly) a big deal these days in my opinion.

      For what it is worth, Yamaha used a reversed cylinder in 1988… before Cannondale. A host of other motorcycle manufacturers used the concept as well in past decades starting with Opel in 1922.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “A host of other motorcycle manufacturers used the concept as well in past decades”

        see entry for the sauber built triple used in the foggy/petronas FP1.

    • Gary says:

      I suspect this new triple may be a tad more advanced than your XS dinosaur.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Is three cylinders supposed to be some big deal?”

      no, but crossplaning it might be…? if you notice, yam has yet to elaborate (not publicly anyway) on what this might mean in the context of an i3. we haven’t heard it run, so who knows… it might not even sound like a triple…?

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Wouldn’t an inline triple be naturally “cross-planed”? Seems like any other phasing would create an engine that shook itself to pieces.

        • Norm G. says:

          honestly, I don’t know. it seems to depend on how Yamaha defines the term…? personally I wouldn’t consider the default crank arrangement of any typical i3 to be crossplaned.

          the prefix “cross” literally comes from the idea if the crank geometry is viewed on end, it looks like a cross (+). it’s literally that simple. naturally you’d only get that with throws that are at right angles to each other… ie. 90 degrees so that’s what i’m assuming they did. we only have 3 pistons line a stern so it can only get but so complicated. however, dirk’s report from the dealer meeting says 120 degrees so at this point you tell me what it is and i’ll believe you.

          re: “Seems like any other phasing would create an engine that shook itself to pieces.”

          that’s where the balancer comes in. triples already use one for their 120 degree phasing, so all’s they have to do is machine one to match the imbalances present at 90 like they did for the R1. if I had to guess, this is probably all the R&D for that, but with a cylinder lopped off.

        • Norm G. says:

          ps: the low cost of this bike also seems to suggest they haven’t gone to any great lengths “reinventing the wheel”… or in this case… the crank.

        • Dave says:

          Could be a 2 to 1 with a counterbalancer. Singles do ok..

  2. tzrmark says:

    I hope the 660 tenere is part of the new models coming down the pipe! Its been in the uk and Australia since 2008. The middle weight adventure market needs this Yamaha

  3. robert mccauley says:

    Hondas sweet Cb 1100 could be a template for a new standard style bike.
    Not saying Yamaha should copy Honda but develop their own classic style.

    Ducati has done this made beautiful jewel like machines that harken back to past,but use modern tech . Care and polish go a long way in beautiful and practical design.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Didn’t Ducati discontinue all of their classically styled bikes due to poor sales? Unless you consider the Monster to be classically styled.

      • Don says:

        The classic series were their biggest sellers till they had the sagging tank problem. Perhaps they felt they were taking sales away from their higher price point bikes. After all, for some people, it’s just the fact that “it’s a Ducati” that matters.

      • BikerDad says:

        Yup, the lineup said ‘buh bye’ to all the Ducati Classics.

        While I appreciate the notion of a classically styled bike, I want one that captures the airness of the classics, while truly being a modern bike. Sorry, but an air cooled inline 4 (CB1100) just doesn’t do it for me.

        YMMV.

        I want to see a light, multi-cylinder true multi-purpose bike, aka a modern “scrambler”. As a scrambler, it doesn’t need 9-11″ of suspension travel, 6″-7″ would do quite well, for me. I’m not going to be jumping it, I won’t be ripping across the open desert at 100mph. It should have inexpensive, tough plastics a la dirtbikes, a subframe adequate for carrying a decent load, great accessory power, decent suspension, a comfortable seat (no KTM seat engineers need apply), etc. The new CCM 450 ADV sounds like just the ticket, save the fact that it’s a thumper and has a bit more suspension travel than necessary.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Hondas sweet Cb 1100 could be a template for a new standard style bike.”

      you sly dog, did you just make a reference to the CB1100R…? :)

  4. Michael H says:

    Tip of the Iceberg is a stupid name of a motorcycle, by the way.

  5. Arrowrod says:

    Reading these comments makes me realize how out of the “mainstream” I am. Shaft drive? Fairings?

    Yamaha builds a 100 HP, light, small “standard” motorcycle, for $8000, which I find to be desirable, and this gets translated to people wishing for 2 wheel Winnebagos (with tassels).

    I was going to buy a CB1100, but lifting it off the side stand made me realize how heavy it is. When I was 21, no problem, fifty years later, problem. Now for $2000 less, Yamaha offers a powerful “standard” bike that weighs at least 100 pounds less.

    There is always the Road King for all of you “BIG” bike lovers.

    • Sean says:

      I do want a fairing but that’s about it. I don’t want a shaft drive, I don’t need off road capability, I don’t even need storage (I can put on a back pack). But I usuallly keep a brisk pace so the wind protection (at least a little) is a

      Oh yeah and more fuel please.

    • BlackCayman says:

      calm down…

      They will build more models off this motor

      people want stuff – this is the place where they can say it

    • Lenz says:

      2 wheel Winnebagos – with tassels – you’re crackin me up man

    • Tom R says:

      “There is always the Road King for all of you “BIG” bike lovers.”

      Or a CB 1100.

      • Sean says:

        So u interpret me wanting a fairing on this bike mean I need a road king lol. Or a retro cb1100 which still doesn’t have a fairing? The closest thing to what I’m looking for now is probably the ninja 1000 is love to have this Yammy fully or semi faired and save some coin and weight.

        • BlackCayman says:

          Sean, you are one column off. My comment was for Arrowrod and it looks like Tom was too – since he quoted him.

    • goose says:

      It is all in what you want to do with the bike. I like to ride long distances and ride year round. I also do all my own maintenance. That makes me like things like fairings, clean drive systems and decent sized gas tanks. If my rides were a hour or two long I’d have a different wants.

      If you think an “FJR850″ and Tenere 850 are “2 wheeled Winnebegos” and a Road King is big you are not just out of the main stream, you don’t know much about the current market place. A Gold Wing is longer, heavier, wider and generally bigger in every way than a Road King or even the biggest Electra Glide. Most of the big Japanese cruisers are also bigger and heavier than an equivalent Harley. If you want big you go Japanese.

      Goose

  6. goose says:

    Wow, I can’t check the site for a day and look what happens. Lots of interesting comments. The guy who liked his XV920R and the 550 Vision would have loved my XV920, I put the Vision fairing on it. With the Krauser ‘bags it made a really nice bike, kind of a poor man’s R100RS but more comfortable.

    Back to Yamaha, it will never happen but I’m in with the FJR850 crowd. If got the choice I’d take a belt drive, please. Shaft would be OK but in my fantasy the bike comes with 35 liter ‘bags, a 5 to 6 gallon tank, around 550 pound wet and costs under $10K. That would be tough with a shaft. Styling along the lines of the FJR1300.

    An 850 Tenere is a lot more likely, just please don’t hit it with the ugly stick like 1200. I’d prefer a 19″ front wheel (dirt roads only for me), 5+ gallon tank and I’d like Yamaha to look into the past to the XV920’s enclosed chain drive. Even cleaner than an O-ring chain with “chain wax”, less friction than an O-ring chain and keeps the chain clean in any conditions, even off road riding. My XV did 20K miles on the enclosed OEM chain and sprockets back in the eighties with only a couple of adjustments.

    Goose

    • Gary says:

      I’d love to find a clean XV920. One of the best all-around bikes of its time. Did anyone ever come up with a permanent cure for the starter?

      • Provologna says:

        Highly doubtful. The starter was a weak link. That was still a great bike. Never should have sold my 81 silver, which I bought new and had no starter problems.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “but in my fantasy the bike comes with 35 liter ‘bags, a 5 to 6 gallon tank”

      in the fantasy of others, you have your units backwards. they want a 35 liter FUEL TANK with panniers limited to a paltry 5 to 6 gallons. oh, and one of those telescoping flying booms for “in flight” refueling like a KC-135, but in reverse (ground-to-air). the optional shuttlecock/probe setup would then be available as a catalog item. hey, chinook pilots gotta get their gas from somewhere right…?

  7. Seth says:

    Well that’s the trend, a VMAX Adventure SuperSport, with skid plate, chain drive, 6 spd, 27 degree rake (and shorter wheelbase) but at least a 4.5″ trail, seat height I’d guess at 37″ (needed for 19″ tire and dirt bike fender to clear radiator, and upright rake), 58mm inverted forks, crash bars, 130/70-19 front (but same rear), tube tires, removable windscreen, 34″ span sized upright handlebars, removable bags, integrated GPS and Spot, LEDs., dry weight <= 700#. It's doable.

    • Lenz says:

      Just can’t see how 700lb motorcycle can be ridden on anything other than relatively high spec road surfaces. Doesn’t the risk of a heavy bike (700+lbs) being dropped / raised to the vertical again preclude it from isolated areas with uneven, unstable surfaces.

      If I get pinged doin more than 30kph ~ 40kph over the speed limit in Australia my license is gone. To my way of thinking if you want to run at 200+kph the road had better have a well engineered and maintained surface or ending up with your arse on the road is a very real risk. So the search for a road that satisfies the need for speed points to the lesser used roads / tracks which are also generally less well maintained and the risk shifts from burning your license on a good but well patrolled / monitored road to coping with humps, hollows and suicidal wildlife on a secondary road.

      So longer suspension, responsive handling and user friendly braking becomes even more important in a light, simple format design.

      Perhaps the beast you seek is the mythical Goldwing / VMax with more length in the suspension for B grade sealed roads ?

    • BlackCayman says:

      why not two VMAX engines bolted together, Think of the POWER!!!!

      You could use it to haul around gold bars or use it as a short hop delivery vehicle for lead weights.

      • Lenz says:

        Good God Man – I think you’re onto something there !

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “why not two VMAX engines bolted together, Think of the POWER!!!”

          re: “You could use it to haul around gold bars or use it as a short hop delivery vehicle for lead weights.”

          it’s a dozer operator’s wet dream.

  8. Max Frisson says:

    I had a 1980 BMW R80GS that was a grey market import from the old BCW shop in SF, It was one of the first 3 GS in the US. I thought the adventure bikes would really fit in America and hey it only took 34 years to catch on. I’ve owned 3 BMW GS models, a 1000cc V-Strom [too street] and a 950 KTM [too off-road]. I rode the new 650 V-Strom and thought that if it had been a 800+ I would have bought one.

    I’m 61 and I currently ride a Hayabusa, Yamaha has nothing in that category. Unrestricted VMax with a super sport set up?

  9. Azi says:

    Interesting how the Japanese have all but abandoned the v-twin layout for standards and sport bikes. This is in stark contrast to the late 1990s when Ducati dominated Superbikes with their 916. It seems like Suzuki is the only one squeezing any remaining equity from their ageing 650 and 1000 motors.

    In the meantime the parallel twin and the triple is experiencing a revival. Funny how all the magical properties of v-twins being promoted in the 90s and noughties seem to to have fallen off the Japanese PR and development agenda – once again could it just be fashion at work?

    • John A. Kuzmenko says:

      Just as the V-4 was supposedly going to be THE engine of the future when the 1982 Honda VF-750S Sabre and VF-750C Magna came out.
      By 1987 and the then-new CBR-600F and CBR-1000F Hurricanes, we were being told that V-4s were too expensive to build.
      Hmmmm.
      Guess the V-4 was the Apollo moon mission of the motorcycling world where money killed it, no matter how great of an idea it was. ;)

      Tip o’ the iceberg, huh?
      What would turn me on is a line of new-and-improved off-road bikes in both 4-stroke and 2-stroke varieties.
      I’d love to be able to buy a 2014 Yamaha 200cc off-road 2-stroke that has the styling and features you’d expect from a 2014 model, as well as there being a slew of these bikes from 125cc up to 500cc.

      Then, the alarm clock went off. :)

      I really enjoy seeing new model make their debut, but as a jaded motorcyclist that (quite frankly) is tired of seeing numerous models come out that simply do not live up to their hype, I’m still waiting for something new to come out in the past 10 years, at least, that will make me want to buy something.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “once again could it just be fashion at work?”

      yup, that and cost of manufacture i suspect is about the same as producing a comparable multi, but without the top end and power/weight benefits to brag about should they need them. the rags and e-zine’s can be brutal. doesn’t matter how technically proficient your v-twin might be in real life, if your kit comes in #4 of 4 bike shootout…? it’s DOA.

      at the end of the SP1/rc51’s very short life, it was rumored Honda was just going to strip the fairings off and create a naked standard (ala superchicken 2) but it never happened. the heavy construction of it’s original design intent practically ensured it would get killed in the typical “numbers game”. whatever glory it had originally achieved would be quickly forgotten (if it were ever known to begin with?). consumerism doesn’t care about any of that. consumerism only cares about whether or not something is dirt cheap.

      • Colors says:

        I still sit around day dreaming of an SP-2 engine naked/standard bike. I really can’t see why Honda never did it. I owned a 919 for 10 years and loved it but I always wished they would have used the SP-2. On top of that the CB1000 that replaced the 919 may have better suspension and brakes, but its heavier, offers less torque and is slower than its predecessor. And with what Honda finds as acceptable power and weight in a naked bike the SP-2 would have met and they wouldn’t have had to retool anything for that engine. It would be competitive in the naked bike market as far as power output goes as well, sending 118 hp and 75ish ft lbs of torque to the rear wheel, isn’t that far off from the 3 and 4 cylinder 1000’s. Plus 90 degree V-twins just sound cooler.

        Yamaha seems to have a good thing with this engine, but really its not that notable, and its certainly not a new idea. Nor do I think its going to change the sportbike industry as Yamaha claims. Triples seem great I’ve always wanted a Speed Triple, and once I see some dyno charts I’ll consider this new Yamaha, they certainly got the weight right, but I’m not wet my pants excited over it. And maybe its just because that the late 90’s early 2000’s was the era when I began riding and caring about motorcycles but I miss the V twins, I miss the arguments about which was better, and ya know I miss the 1000ccV2/750 4 class, what indeed did happen to the true middleweights? No one can really deny the vast chasm between 600’s and 1000 4’s. I keep hoping that maybe next year 90 degree twins will become “the thing that changes the motorcycling industry” again. Maybe next year someone will put out something that I simply can’t live without. Maybe next year consumerism will change… but until next year what is the cheapest fastest thing you can sell me?

        • Dave says:

          Re: “Nor do I think its going to change the sportbike industry as Yamaha claims.”

          By offering 115hp/65lb-ft and 414lbs for $8k. This is more than $3k less than 600cc supersports, which were value sport bikes not too long ago. The sport bike industry has changed, before they’ve even delivered the 1st unit.

          The other makes had BETTER come on strong with the cheapest, fastest thing next year, or they’re out of the game.

          • Colors says:

            The price yes, but those specs really aren’t that astounding. Especially when you factor in those numbers are at the crank. At the wheel you’ll probably get 107 hp 60lbs, which I’m not scoffing at I’m just saying its not remarkable power from an engine that size.

          • Dave says:

            For $8k, they really are astounding. It’s 15-20lb/ft more than 600’s for $3k less. Unless the chassis sucks, the 600cc super sport is dead in the showroom.

          • Jim says:

            You are assuming there will be a SS derivative for the same price that will compete (and beat) with the 600’s in all facets. I really doubt this will happen.

          • Dave says:

            No, I am saying this is the bike that kills the 600 SS market. If they do a half faired version w/clip on bars then it’ll be more of a certainty in my opinion.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “If they do a half faired version w/clip on bars then it’ll be more of a certainty in my opinion.”

            hmmn, that’s a good point. well I reckon this pretty much answers whether or not we see any kind of version sportier than this…? A: we won’t. yam obviously competes in the 600 category and i don’t see them cutting off their nose to spite their face.

          • Dave says:

            Re: ” we won’t. yam obviously competes in the 600 category”

            They compete in the 600cc class but it’s a small and shrinking market @ $11-12k. Unless they make a whole lot of money selling r6’s I can’t see them worrying too much.

          • Colors says:

            The FZ is a street bike, not a SS. If they put on SS quality suspension and brakes, wrapped it in plastic, and tuned the engine up to mind bending SS levels it’s gunna get alot more expensive. And well, it’s no longer in the power range of a 600 then is it? So there is no more room for compairing THAT bike to a 600 than compairing a 1000 to a 600.

            I like the Yamaha, and it’s cheap. That’s great, but 600’s have been around a long time for a reason. And I don’t know alot about marketing like Norm seems to, but I do know that Joe Public preceives 600’s to be the right sportbike for a novice. And dealers reinforce that idea. I don’t see 600’s going anywhere.

          • Dave says:

            Re: ” I don’t see 600′s going anywhere.”

            I don’t think the manufacturers see them going anywhere either (in a bad way). The only “new” 600 is a warmed over CBR600rr with very little new tech. New bikes sell poorly because buyers can buy a 2-6 year old bike in good shape that’s exactly the same tech for 1/2 the price or less. They’ll keep making 600’s but they’ve all been looking for something to get the metal moving again and I think Yamaha has found it.

            With all the successful high performance naked bikes on the market a “sport” bike is no longer defined by fairings and clip-on handlebars.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “I can’t see them worrying too much.”

            in AMA, yam’s R6 just dominated proceedings finishing 1/2 on Saturday, then 1/2/3/4 yesterday at barber. cross pond in WSS, r6 mounted (and relative new comer) sam lowes sits atop the standings beating 3x champ sofouglu (no mean feat in itself) by a considerable 39 pts.

            be not confused… they’re worried.

          • Dave says:

            Re: “be not confused… they’re worried.”

            Suzuki de-funded AMA superbike after dominancek never seen before or since by Matt Mladin and the GSXR. Yamaha left WSBK shortly after Ben Spies dominated that series.

            Has any of this dominance translated into strong sales figures? Given that they left and haven’t developed new products in 5+ years, I’d bet no.

            If R6 sales were strong, Yamaha would never have released a more powerful sport bike at $3k less. 600’s were always about bang for the buck. This bike will surely take sales out of that category (especially in non-displacement restricted markets). It’s as light, more powerful, looks cool and is cheaper to buy and insure.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “Yamaha would never have released a more powerful sport bike at $3k less”

            but it’s not a sportbike. it’s a “sporty” bike. once it’s on the floor, this standard won’t get a look in edgewise. if it’s not fully faired…? with “boy racer” graphics down the side…? it’s a wrap.

            re: “Has any of this dominance translated into strong sales figures?”

            actually yeah. recession not withstanding, my local franchise moves R6’s 3 almost 4 to 1 vs. Honda and kawi. omg, don’t let a late model used R6 show up, they don’t last a week. the only model who matches that or perhaps even beats it ironically is suzuki’s gsxr. mladin’s gone but his legacy has shifted to “street cred”.

            re: “It’s as light, more powerful, looks cool.

            you’re out of touch with this target consumer. to them, NONE of this looks cool. the only thing that looks “cool” is what their friends are riding.

            older gents are the only one’s with the maturity to think individually and buy kit based on brochure specs.

            in contrast, those purchasing R6’s are about conformity. they don’t need to no “stinking badges” and they sure as hell ain’t reading no stinking brochure. the 600 class is a borg collective, an extension of the herd mentality from high school. be damned if anybody’s going to be the odd man out.

          • todd says:

            Huh? The R6 is quite a bit more powerful; it’s putting out 134 horsies (that’s around 640 ft-lb of torque at the rear wheel in first gear!) and weighs about the same as the FZ-09. The FZ is geared a bit higher (12.6:1 compared to the 15:1 R6 in first gear) meaning revs will be lower at any given speed, giving up horsepower too. Then there’s the more-upright riding position and taller suspension; though it makes the bike more comfortable, it limits the amount of power that can be put to the ground before the front wheel lifts. Perhaps its 2-1/2″ longer wheelbase makes up for that.

            It’ll be a close drag race at least.

        • Norm G. says:

          Re: “i really can’t see why Honda never did it.”

          3 words… Gear driven cams.

          Not the cheapest mechanism for lifting a valve off its seat. Another example of tech that the average consumer doesn’t comprehend so they don’t give a rat’s about. And honestly it isnt necessary away from the racetrack. It’s a niche value… only purists need apply, and they’re rarer than hen’s teeth.

          • Jim says:

            Agreed. It was an expensive engine to build for its stock performance placement in the line-up. They (Honda) ruined the VFR as well. V-TEC in place of gear-driven cams? What a joke.

          • Gronde says:

            The VFR was was cooler with the gear-driven cams. I also think that V-Tec was a bad move for the VFR. The new VFR is not exactly a sales success and I hope it brings HONDA back to reality and brings a lighter and less expensive VFR to market.

      • Azi says:

        “…but without the top end and power/weight benefits to brag about should they need them.”

        I have a feeling the whole v-twin fad was just a by-product of weird SBK rules giving twins a 250cc advantage over the 4-cylinder superbikes. It just so happened that Ducati capitalized on that loophole, so all the others tried the same too until the rules got changed once again.

        With this history in mind, I think Yamaha has been clever with their engineering. As far as I know they pretty much invented the ‘crossplane’ concept with the 270 degree crankshafts in the TRX850 and TDM900, then the current R1 engines – effectively maintaining the lower cost of manufacture inherent in the inline twin or four. It’s only logical that the next step was to eliminate the inline four’s unresolvable disadvantage compared to V configurations – the engine width – by lopping off one cylinder.

        Ergo, Yamaha have come full circle; in the course of trying to mimic v-twins and v-fours they have ended up in a roundabout way where Triumph has been all along, ever since John Bloor simply chopped the end off a Kawasaki GPZ900R motor in the first generation Hinckley Trident!

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “I have a feeling the whole v-twin fad was just a by-product of weird SBK rules giving twins a 250cc advantage over the 4-cylinder superbikes.”

          i’ll buy this for a dollar. the rules drew ‘em in, but as colors eludes, many stayed for the experience…

          “90 degree V-twins just sound cooler”

          re: “It just so happened that Ducati capitalized on that loophole”

          for the record, it’s not loophole or “a tumor”.

          • Dave says:

            The 916 was far slower (engine) and twice as expensive as the Japanese bikes at the time and yet it sold like hotcakes. It was really just that the Ducati rode so well and looked so good. It also arrived at a time when Americans had a lot of disposable income. When they did the 998 with the conventional swing arm, the look was wrong (despite it being a great bike) and the sales figures sent a clear message about which direction they needed to go but by then the economic forces were swaying away from their favor. Notice that the last gen 1199 sold for the same retail $ as the 916 did 15 years before.

    • Michael H says:

      The problem is cost. V-twins need two cylinder blocks, two heads, etc. An engine with an inline configuration has only one block, one head, one cam drive, etc.

      • soi cowboy says:

        The original vf750 had a silver painted steel perimeter frame. I guess the plan was for aluminum, but they used up the budget. The fact that Suz has gone to an inline four from a v4 on their gp bike is another nail in it.

  10. Halfbaked says:

    When they’ve got the CP3 motor in a 1.2 litre size I’ll be all over that hopefully in a Supermoto format.

  11. hasty hughie says:

    let me be the first to get in on this blog asking for the 1100cc triple R1 replacement, a free breathing rocket with low down and midrange punch! and if this ugly 800 is the tip of the design iceberg then I have to ask where they got their designers, off the titanic …

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “let me be the first to get in on this blog asking for the 1100cc triple R1 replacement”

      oops, you’re the 296th.

      re: “a free breathing rocket with low down and midrange punch!”

      someone’s just revealed not only have they never ridden the barely 5 yr old R1 who’s crossplane engine is the product of a multi-million dollar investment…? they don’t even know anybody who owns one.

  12. Seth says:

    An ADV version of the V-Max would get a smaller rake angle for nimbleness, also allowing a higher seat and shorter wheelbase, and add’l goodies (see my 1st post) like crash bars and HD spoked wheels…and a new designation, “Adventure-SuperSport”, and I’d like to see dry weight no higher than 750lbs.

  13. Lenz says:

    Wow – there’s certainly a diverse range here of “Please Mr Yamaha, I want you to make this for me

    To me there are already a surplus of heavy (try pickin it up off a sandy track a couple of times or pushin it through boggy sections), large engine capacity, electronic intensive, high priced “adventure” touring motorcycles on the market.

    If good design is to be a feature of adventure touring models using variants of this Yamaha engine then the over-arching theme must be that “less is more”. The more bells and whistles, the more weight and format bulk, the more cost – the ripple effect rolls through the entire finished product. Traction control and various performance map modes can be replaced by that simplest but most efficient modality – THROTTLE CONTROL.

    The wish list:
    (1) Delete any plans for electronic suspension control, electronic traction control and performance map mode systems
    (2) Divert savings into high spec, easy manually adjusted suspension components
    (3) Use a dry sump engine lubrication system to keep the engine as low as possible
    (4) Separate the wet clutch oil volume from the engine oil volume. This allows the 2 conflicting friction requirements of engine (doesn’t like friction) and clutch (likes friction) to be addressed optimally with oil additives plus keeps clutch wear debris out of the engine.
    (5) O ring chains and sprockets last a very long time if lubed with high teflon sprays. Chains and sprockets also allow variation of final drive ratios where shaft drives don’t. The addition of auto chain lubrication systems based on distance not elapsed time are also very useful at reducing the mtce effort required for chains.
    (6) Bore / stroke ratios for engines with max power at 10,000 – 12,000 rpm do not match the versatility expected of race / roadsport engines. Please make the engines with broad performance characteristics with perhaps an emphasis of output from 25% ~ 70% rev range

    • Lenz says:

      Point (6) should read:

      (6) Bore / stroke ratios for engines with max power at 10,000 – 12,000 rpm do not match the versatility expected of NON race / roadsport engines. Please make the engines with broad performance characteristics with perhaps an emphasis of output from 25% ~ 70% rev range

    • Dave says:

      There is no need for some of those attributes. Low engine position is not necessarily desirable and separate oil is unnecessary. Abs braking would be a good trade for them. They already have variable maps @ $8k.

      While I agree on the engine power characteristics, history has shown that a low HP number in class is a sales killer.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “history has shown that a low HP number in class is a sales killer.”

        yup, throw a generous helping of consumerism into the mix and…

        it’s over johnny… it’s OVER…!!!

  14. John says:

    An Adv Tourer is a must for this motor, and a ~550cc 2-cylinder version would be sweet as well.

  15. freddie says:

    I had a 750 3 cyl. back in the 70’s. I remember it as one of the few Jap bikes that had a little soul.

  16. Starmag says:

    Love the motor. Can’t wait for the rest of the models.

  17. George says:

    I put a deposit on an FZ-09 yesterday. Delivery in August they say.

    I hope Yamaha takes this 3 cylinder seriously. I would like to see:

    a 1/2 faired version at 850cc and 1000/1100cc
    an adventure version at 850cc and 1000/1100cc
    a 675cc R6 replacement and
    a 1000/1100cc R1 replacement

    They could also use the same 850cc power plant as a basis of a twin to go head to head with Honda’s 500 twin variants.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “a 675cc R6 replacement and a 1000/1100cc R1 replacement”

      negative ghost rider, the pattern is full. no replacement. you don’t “fix” things that aren’t “broken”.

    • Husafe570 says:

      Yamaha already has a sweet 80hp 500cc twin in their Phazer snowmobile. Even in the realm of 2-stroke dominated snowmobiles it is a lot of fun. I would love that motor in the WR250R chassis.

      • Dave says:

        Wouldn’t it be great if they answered Honda’s cb500’s with something wrapped around that engine?

      • Jim says:

        How reliable is that motor? I haven’t rad much about them not being a snowmobile guy.

  18. Seth says:

    I want a V-Max based adventure bike, a Tenere on steroids if you will. Goodies like 130/70-19 front, 62mm inverted forks, 6spd trans, removable windscreen, 9″ ground clearance, 34″ seat height, KLR650 sized handlebars, removable bags, integrated GPS.

  19. Adam says:

    Don’t forget the good ol Yamaha XJ750 and 850 seca’s. God I miss my 750, 3 cylinder bliss. Nothing sounded quite like it. Great machines, sporty, gobs of power, shaft drive.. mmm..

    • Dave says:

      The XJ 550/600/700/750/900/1100s (no 850) – both Maxims and Secas – were all in-line 4s; the XS 750/850s (Specials and Standards) were the in-line 3s. Seemed most reviewers and owners preferred the XS1100 (in-line 4) as it weighed about as much as the 3s but had much more power and was smoother.
      That all said, I’m also looking forward to a closer exam of the FZ-09 as it looks like something that will accommodate taller riders right out of the box.

  20. ziggy says:

    Just can’t say enough good things about what Yamaha is doing or the approach they’re taking.

  21. fred says:

    I would want a sport touring model with belt drive, if BMW can do it with their 800 I see no reason Yamaha can’t do it to.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      Belt or a light weight (is that possible?) shaft drive. Overall, a low-maint, lightweight, tourquie sport-tourer (with clipons)would get me to sell my zx6r. Just make sure its got 4+ gallon fuel cell.

    • Provologna says:

      Japanese generally dislike outsourced royalty/license fees for technology. Toothed belt drive is USA-licensed technology by Gates Rubber. The only belt drive Japanese exceptions that come to mind are Kawasaki GPz305 twin and Suzuki 650 cruiser single whose name escapes me.

      • Dave says:

        Gates is the only supplier currently supplying an OEM with belts. They don’t have any ownership of the technology. Most scooters are belt drive. A make just needs to decide to do it, doing it is relatively easy.

  22. The Other Tim says:

    When Yamaha announced the FZ-09, I strongly felt that they would spread the development costs across multiple bikes. It would not suprise me at all to see a Versys/V-Strom/Tiger 800 competitor, an R-8 to take on the Suzuki GSX-R750 as a mid-weight Super Sport, and likely a mini-FJR; akin to the Honda NT700V. What do you guys think? Am I out of line with my thinking or does it make sense? Also, since Honda seems to have created a great deal of interest in their CB1100, I think it would be a good time for Yamaha to bring over the XJR1300 with the Ohlins rear shock. Thoughts? Comments?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “It would not su(r)prise me at all to see a Versys/V-Strom/Tiger 800 competitor, an R-8 to take on the Suzuki GSX-R750 as a mid-weight Super Sport, and likely a mini-FJR; akin to the Honda NT700V. What do you guys think? Am I out of line with my thinking or does it make sense?”

      it makes sense. well everything ‘cept the mini-fjr chatter. leave it out. adventure touring’s “top o’ the food chain” for the foreseeable future.

    • Brian says:

      I’d buy an XJR13 if it were available in the US…

    • Vasco says:

      The idea’s good on paper.. but there are unavoidable shorcomings… An engine powerful enough to challenge a GSX-R 750 will be nowere near as low-down torquey as necessary for a FJR-like bike.

      Notice how Triumph did it, they have TWO middlewheight triples, one short-stroke 675cc for sporty bikes (daytona and street triple) and a torquey 800cc more suitable for adventure trails and tourers.

      Honda’s three new 500s are essentially the same bike with different clothing. The CBR500 is as sporty as the CBF500. And the CBX500 is no more trail bike than the CBF500. So the naked CBF500 is the base bike, the two others are siblings with cosmetic changes (I prefer the CBX500).

      So I’m wondering what’s Yamaha ideia at this.. I admit being a bit dissapointed about the FJ-9 after all the hype with that “dark side of Japan” thing. I would relate that ideia to the V-Max, not this bike. It looks a bit different from naked bikes, having more upright ergos, looking almost as a cross between a naked and a supermoto bike. But the jury’s still out, I will have to see it for real, as happens so many times, bikes you thought where uninteresting in pictures look fantastic in the showroom/street

      Same feeling about this Yamaha concept… let’s wait and see more of it! :-)

  23. Andrus Chesley says:

    Okay Yamaha, surprise me with an XT 650 FI with 5+ gallon fuel capacity and I’ll sell both my 1250S Bandit and KLR650 for it.

  24. Gpokluda says:

    I have always been a Yamaha fan. I’ve owned more of this brand than any other bike and I have owned lots of bikes. I still pine for a TRX850 which never made it to the States. I hope they come out with something will slap me upside the head and force me to put my Suzuki DL650 on Craigslist.

    • The Other Tim says:

      Agreed. I have always wanted a TRX850. I have a ’92 TDM 850, and always wondered what that engine would be like in a sport bike frame.

  25. Raven says:

    The Adventure Bike category is HOT. How about a less expensive competitor to the Triumph Tiger 800XC & BMW F800GS?

    • Mark says:

      DITTO DITTO!
      I have had my Tiger 1050 for 5 years and I ready for a change. The Tiger 800 and BMW800 are simply too expensive and a little bit underpowered for my taste.

  26. allworld says:

    I ride Triumph Triple’s and it is a great configuration, MV has been churning up the surf with their new power plants and now Yamaha. No doubt Yamaha has some big plans for this engine and it’s variants. I look forward to some of the “first ride” reviews. It will take a lot to pry me off my Triumphs, so bring it on.

  27. Modsquad says:

    If they ever build the Sakura, I’m in line with cash.

    • Azi says:

      Ditto!

    • Provologna says:

      Woah! Forgot all about that sweet show/concept bike. Reminds me of my 80 and 81 Yamaha XV920R’s, which I still miss. I owned about 70 bikes. It’s funny to think about it, but same as another poster above, I think the largest number were indeed the “Tuning Fork” brand.

      My all time favorite was probably the 83 XV550R Vision, full fairing with leg vents for cool or hot air (pure genius), dual front disc, adjustable damping shock. I absolutely loved that bike, which handled superbly. World class torque for its class, smooth as silk, shifted like “buttah,” carbureted like injection, good fuel economy, large tank…Rode it with and without the full fairing at various times, employing parts from naked 82 model for the latter.

      On one particular back road which I got to know intimately I blew by a gray market late 70s/early 80s Yamaha 500cc 4-cyl 2-stroke ridden by a fast club racer who knew the road pretty well himself.

      Man I miss that bike.

      • ducatidon says:

        (You and I were the only ones who bought one.)

      • Brian says:

        Spent a fair bit of time on Visions, and while they get slammed regularly in print, I remember it as a fun and peppy bike, a Hawk GT/SV650 forerunner…Kinda ugly without the fairing, but fun and the styling isn’t as bad now as it was then, something you can’t say about a number of other bikes…If I came across a clean one, I’d grab it!

  28. Sam Jones says:

    Let me see this triple (or maybe a 950cc),115 HP/70 ft.lbs.torque in a VFR/SprintST/F800ST configuration under 475 lbs.(wet)and 19/20 liter fuel tank (chain drive is fine with me)and (small-ish) factory bags and I’ll grab my check book..!

  29. sherm says:

    ABS standard on all the street bikes. Leather bar end tassels optional.

    • George says:

      I am very pleased they left off ABS. I don’t need or want the weight, complication or expense.

      I know there are people that like/want ABS, I am just not in that crowd until you have some huge behemoth of a bike that is over 700 lbs or more. At that point the extra weight is irrelevant and most riders in that class want to driver a 2 wheel car anyway.

      • Tom R says:

        Do you REALLY believe that you would notice the 8 or 10 extra pounds of a modern ABS system?

        Besides, since most riders I see could stand to drop some weight anyway, after a couple weeks’ of smaller meal portions and a bit of regular exercise, the total mass of an ABS bike + rider would be down to that of a non-ABS bike + (previously fatter) rider. Safer, healthier, AND a touch more attractive!

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “Besides, since most riders I see could stand to drop some weight anyway”

          quit looking at my gut… i’m working on it…!!! (middle aged man)

  30. ElTigre1 says:

    Half-fairing, 1200cc, shaft drive and 500 lbs or less. Sign me up.

  31. Provologna says:

    850cc triple x2 (parallel) = Inline 6 cylinder 1.7L Whoohoo! Undercut the Beemer by about $3-4K and there’s your “BOTY” Bike of the Year right there my friend!

    • Michael H says:

      If Yamaha added a fourth cylinder to this triple, (850 x 1.33), they’d have an awesome 1130 cc fourple. It could be that this is a modular engine. If they remove one cylinder (850 x .667), they’d have a cool 565 cc twople.

  32. Michael H says:

    I’d like to see it in a shaft-drive supersport adventure touring cruiser scooter with a 21″ front wheel. Keep it light, though.

    • Provologna says:

      You’re killing me, especially the 21″ front wheel! Sign me up. Ewan and Charlie will have to re-do Long Way Round.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’d like to see it in a shaft-drive supersport adventure touring cruiser scooter with a 21″ front wheel. Keep it light, though.”

      don’t forget the much sought after Zamboni.

  33. Marty O says:

    A new Fazer muscle bike/cruiser/mini v-max like they had in 87 would be sweet with an 850 or smaller triple! Keep it light though. That was one of the best looking bikes of all time.

  34. jake says:

    Does this mean Triumph is toast?

    • thoppa says:

      Triumph are moving into India and other markets that favour small capacity bikes sold in high volumes. I went to Hanoi recently and saw what this can mean – Honda must have sold a million scooters in Vietnam in recent years. Triumph are doing so well they can now grow into markets previously dominated by the Japanese manufacturers, so it’s about time the Japanese starting trying to get a piece of the pie Triumph has been selling. So, no, not toast, just competition, which is great for us. I wonder when a US manufacturer will try to compete… they seem even more conservative than the Japanese. Can you imagine Buell making a triple ? Forget Harley, Indian etc. They’ve nailed their fate to the big v-twin.

      • BlackCayman says:

        Indian (Polaris) hasn’t nailed their fate to the Big V-Twin…yet.

        All we know is they have a brand new big V-Twin motor going into a Big American Cruiser that will be released at Sturgis. No doubt that the Big V-Twin bike is the mainstay of the rebirthed brand – BUT….we don’t know what else they will do.

        OK, I admit it…I am hopeful that the reborn American Brand becomes a full line motorcycle manufacturer – similar to how Triumph came back. They already tried matching bike to bike agaisnt HD with Victory MCs.

  35. Don Fraser says:

    lets not forget the 250 market that Kaw has dominated. How about an RZF350?

  36. Al says:

    Yamaha isn’t being as daring as you might think. Companies are returning to past successes and making them even better this time around. Not talking retro projects but in this case, Yamaha is returning to the triples it had during the later 70’s. My first street bike was a 1977 750 triple with shaft drive and I loved it.

  37. Norm G. says:

    re: ” Yamaha says more is in the pipeline … much more.”

    something like 20+ new models over the next 4 years. not just street, but across all the categories.

  38. Skybullet says:

    Yamaha, this is even better news. I will place my deposit tomorrow for a Dual Sport style 850 with or without shaft drive. Chain drive might be even better with lighter weight and lower cost.

    • Tim says:

      The Tiger 800 is a great bike, if you want chains and a triple motor, that niche is already filled. Not to mention there are the 800cc twin BMW GS’s, and the 650 Kawasaki singles not to mention the V Stroms and Versys That market (medium displacement with chain drive) is pretty saturated.

      As someone who likes to take long trips and do a lot of miles in a day, I would prefer not having to adjust / maintain the chain every day or two that I’m on the road, but I don’t like how big and heavy the shaft drive adventure bikes have become, not to mention how expensive. I’d gladly take marginally more weight over a 850 chain drive and pay a few more dollars for shaft drive. I just think it would be a big seller, given the popularity of adventure bikes these days. They could probably price it around $11,000 and sell tons of them.

      • HotDog says:

        I just rode my Wii Strom 4000 miles last week and lubed the chain once, so chains are the way to go for simplicity, weight and reliability. As far as a giant Adventure bike, don’t kid yourself, it’s for pavement only. We rode the White Rim Trail and I had to pick my Wii up 3 times. If you pose and want to look pretty, don’t go off the pavement. If you don’t have a lick of common sense, go for it, hell I did.

        I’d like to see a small, lightweight adventure bike with a 5 to 6 gallon tank. A test on the sales floor, would be to lay it on it’s side and see if it can be picked up. Ok, that won’t happen, but it will happen in the real world.

        I’m betting his format will bring a small 350ish Adventure and a 1100ish R1.

  39. smithe says:

    Yamaha, please put this motor in a bike made for taller guys! I’m “only” 6’3″ and I feel cramped up on all too many bikes. Heck, my knees are buried in the bodywork of the Tenere, which I was very interested in and I am on the edge on my FJR!

    • geeker says:

      I am 6’4″ and I am right with you. My Tiger 1050 fits me best so I can ride on the 200 mile trips I love to take, so I hope the adventure bike with this engine goes with at least a 34″ seat. Loved my first bike, 2009 FZ6R, so I know Yamaha makes awesome bikes. Awaiting patiently!

  40. Mike Simmons says:

    I’d like to see a shaft drive sport-touring bike for those of us who don’t want all the ooomph the FJR offers.

    • denny says:

      Excellent idea; me too!

      • Bob says:

        Me three! And I’m an FJR owner. 850 triple, clean styling, no crazy graphics, 1/2 fairing (lowers optional) (FJR-ish) and around 450 lbs. I’m in!

        • ko0616 says:

          Now that sounds great! A little less mass to move around for us older riders.

          • BlackCayman says:

            IF they make this motor into a smaller SPORT-touring bike (which I want them to do), its highly doubtful it would have a shaft due to incresed weight and cost.

            But keep dreaming

          • Bob says:

            I could live with chain drive….never had any issues. Maybe a single-sided swingarm? Yep, dreaming is a good thing.

  41. Marloweluke says:

    A midsize FJR850 triple would be perfect. Keep the same platform as the FZ-09, but give it a 19 liter tank and at least a half fairing, fairly upright riding position and decent passenger accommodations. Keep it light, well below 500 lbs wet weight and I would buy that. No added weight of shaft drive. A sporty tourer, where the VFR800 (disappointing and heavy) left off. I see a hole in the market for such a bike. I would trade in my Triumph Tiger 800 for that in an instant.

    • Bob says:

      Well said….I agree totally. (I have had 5 VFR’s – last “real” VFR was 98 – 01 model)
      I’d buy it too, if around $11,000 or less.

  42. John says:

    Oh man, a mid-size Tenere with a 21″ front wheel and this engine under 9k. SOLD!

  43. Sean says:

    The FZ-1 needs an update. A big triple with an msrp under 10k would be amazing.

    • Dave says:

      With the power this engine products and the light weight of the bike, this is pretty much it. Just needs a bikini fairing.

      • Sean says:

        This is a great middleweight set up but it won’t be competitive against the big boys like the Tuono v4, streetfighter 1199 the super duke the Kawasaki 1000 or even the honda cb1000r To be fair the price points are much different but that’s what I’m saying Yamaha should have something to truly compete in this class.

        • Dave says:

          Competitive how? These aren’t super-sports and they don’t get raced. A small handful of people are always going to buy EU made bikes for the same reasons that people buy German or Italian sports cars over the often superior Corvette – exclusivity.

          Spend a part of the $2-5k you save on this in suspension upgrades and it’s a winner. Honda and Kawi might as well discontinue their bikes now. They just became worthless at retail.

  44. andy1300 says:

    Yea, and I could see that motor working out good in a side by side 4X4 ATV too….

  45. Brent Meeker says:

    Looks great in the pics above. Good concept. Good engineering and I’m sure Yamaha can make it perform. But then they let some idiot “style” the bike so it looks like a cross between a mutant insect and a junkyard crash. Yeah, I know that’s the “style” now and they want to look unique…just like every other manufacturer. I’ll just hold my $$ until we get back to form-follows-function.

    • MUSTAFA IBRAHIM says:

      Brent Meeker is right – there is no styling. This is one of the most hideous looking production bikes Yamaha has ever made. The engine looks cool, so why can’t anything be done about looks? This from the company that gave us the XS650?

      • Dave says:

        It’s just not your style. Most of the moto guys I know love it. It’s not what I’d design for myself but I readily admit that an older, more standard look (like the newer Norton 961) just wouldn’t sell.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “This is one of the most hideous looking production bikes Yamaha has ever made.”

        wait, this thread is not about the Vmax 2.

    • beasty says:

      Woof. I’m sure it’s an engineering marvel, but……………damn, it’s ugly

    • Tim says:

      Just goes to show different strokes for different folks. I love the look of the bike. You guys probably don’t like the looks of an MV Agusta Brutale, either.

      I especially like the exhaust solution. In the days of constantly larger, uglier cans, this is a great looking solution. It’s not a Brutale, or Bimota, but it is 1/3 the price, and given the price point, I think it looks great.

  46. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Yamaha motors are always so pretty..

  47. brinskee says:

    Love to see a liter triple. Fully faired, race replica.
    Maybe that would prompt Triumph to develop a more advanced 1050, be awesome to see a redesigned Daytona 1050. Triples triples everywhere!!

  48. Tuskerdu says:

    Yeah Yamaha! Waiting for the mid-sized Tenere’!

  49. Tim says:

    I’m ready! How about a 3 cylinder, 847 cc adventure bike with shaft drive? The adventure bikes keep getting bigger and bigger, and if you want a shaft drive, you pretty much have to buy a 1200. There are a couple of nice 800’s, but they’re chain drive. Seems like an 847 cc triple with shaft drive would be a great compromise. A little lighter and less powerful for off road / trails, but still smooth on the highway, and the long distance reliability of shaft drive. That would be a winner in my book.

    • bagadonitz says:

      I agree. I have a relatively young family so getting the 1200 S10 and actually getting away for days at a time to use it are not practical for me. An 850 triple adv with a shaft drive however for several thousand less would be much more palpable and would make a great all rounder. Bring it on.

      My brother put a deposit on an FZ8 last week. I’m begging him to do without it for this year and move his deposit to the FZ-09 as I think it would be a much better bike for him, and cheaper.

    • HotDog says:

      I’ve had 3 shaft drive failures in 600,000 miles. I’ve never had a chain drive fail me. Perhaps a trailer and a belt drive might be the real answer for you.

  50. Bones says:

    OK, Yamaha, please bring on the mid-size FJR, Tenere and Fazer models powered by this new triple. Just need to decide which one, checkbook at the ready.

    • Rusty says:

      I can’t help think that a midsize love child of the FJR and Super Tenere would make a sweet one up touring machine. 500 Lbs, 3/4 fairing, torquey motor, ABS, shaft drive,luggage capacity. I love my FJR but sometimes a little lighter would be nice.