MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

MCN Posts First Video Review of Yamaha FZ-09 Triple

090513top-i-2

We get our first chance to ride the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 850 Triple in about two weeks along with most of the U.S. press corps in San Francisco. The British publication MCN has already ridden the bike and posted a surprisingly thorough video review that you can find here.

With over 400 comments from our readers, the surprisingly inexpensive FZ-09 created a very passionate response on MD.

The European version (essentially identical to the bike we will be testing) is called the MT-09, rather than FZ-09. You can watch the video for yourself, but MCN concludes with a very positive first impression, particularly for the low price (U.S. MSRP is below $8,000), with its only complaints being a “snatchy throttle” response in certain settings (the bike comes with three separate maps) and some vagueness from the front end. Of course, we will draw our own conclusions when we test the bike ourselves.

72 Comments

  1. Roger says:

    I currently own a 2011 yamaha star stryker and i love it but every other bike out their is just like it ( yes i moded it up nicely to make it different ] and i want to go different route and i was thinking either the fz09 or triumph tiger 800 i have 3 dealers with in a fifty mile radious not one has one to test ride. WTF. so now i am thinking screw them go for the FZ09 when i see those phony air scoops i see a spot to add turn signals what do you think?

    Report this comment

  2. RBen says:

    3.7 gal fuel Hmmmm. No sale. What the h*ll is up with the tiny tiny gas tanks ???

    Report this comment

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I completely agree. The move to small fuel tanks seems to coincide with the norm for manufacturers to list the spec for curb weight (in place of dry weight) which would include the weight of a full tank of gas. I don’t know if that is a coincidence or not. Did Yamaha have a certain wet weight that it was hell bent on hitting? It is possible that Yamaha did some research and determined that its target market was perfectly content with the range this bike will provide. We may be in the minority when it comes to affixing high value to range.

      Report this comment

  3. mike d says:

    This bikes looks funner than crap. I would love to see it in a sport tourer edition with some added (minimal) wind protection and fairing.

    Report this comment

  4. joe b says:

    proudly owning a CB1000R, I can see this as competiton for it. But I would like to see it in real life, with it being built to a price point, one would imagine that doesn’t show in pictures, and the video, wants to showcase more rusty old buildings, and water puddles than the actual bike.

    Report this comment

  5. Stromfan says:

    How dare Yamaha produce anything that has a style other than what we expect! This hideous thing should not even be for sale. In fact, I intent to buy one as soon as possible so that no one else has to be affronted by its looks sitting on a showroom!

    Report this comment

    • Doc says:

      Thank god someone is willing to take one for the team. Personally, it’s like a scooter. While it might be a fun ride, I would ride it only at night so my friend wouldn’t see me on it.

      Report this comment

    • Hot Dog says:

      It’s not really about what will sell in the U.S., it’s about what the rest of the world wants. This machine was designed for Euro Chic/Orient Dark side, not narrow minded Americans. We no longer command the undivided attention that we seem to think we deserve. Yep, many in the U.S. will benefit from not having insecurities about what others think, when they see them on a FZ-09. Thanks Yamaha, for thinking out of the boring dun drum of a box we’re in. A bit of fresh air, whiners need not breathe it.

      Report this comment

  6. PN says:

    I’ve liked this bike as soon as I saw it. There are very few contemporary bikes that appeal to me, but this one sure does. That’s a pretty good rider at MCN too. I’m sure a Power Commander will take care of the fluffy throttle response.

    Report this comment

  7. Vrooom says:

    I’d be putting a deposit down if they offered one with an upper fairing. I like the idea, but a naked bike in the Northwet gets used for 2-3 months a year, says a Tuono owner.

    Report this comment

  8. Jay says:

    I want a twin or a V-twin. Like a Bonneville, only a more modern engine and frame set-up. Or like a Ducati or a Buell or a Tuono, only available. Did Yamaha actually release the MT-01 in America? I never see any for sale.

    Report this comment

  9. Craig says:

    Very simply my friend… you can fix the suspension and the looks with a simple walk to your Triumph Dealer…

    A 675 will give this bike fits and fixes everything and for 1k more. Make a deal!! You could even close in on the R model as I did near the end of the year for the base bike price… Shop hard and shop smart and… buy what you like.

    Report this comment

  10. Michael H says:

    These are all pre-production comments, right? Actual comments won’t hit the US market until sometime later this year.

    Report this comment

  11. Norm G. says:

    for the record, any of you complaining about the looks, front end feel, tank size, and throttle response, etc should listen to yourselves… you sound ridiculous.

    you may as well be complaining about an SV650 or a Hyosung which has as many (if not all) of these same short comings. and you know why people (as a rule) DON’T complain about these things on an SV650 or Hyosung…? because they accept that they are buying budget kit. if budget kit isn’t what you want…? look, don’t shop the $7999 price point. simple.

    you don’t go into a Chevy dealer and complain that the wood grain interior of say… a Malibu doesn’t measure up to the burled walnut veneers found inside a Bentley. if that’s what you want…? then the burden is on YOU to come off the dime and go BUY that…? not whine to the Hyundia salesman as you come back in from test driving an Accent.

    Report this comment

    • jake says:

      Sounds as if the bike with a few slight fixes is as good as a bike costing nearly twice as much. No need to expect less from this bike cause of its price.

      People just expect more from the Big 4 than any other manufacturer, and rightfully so. A higher standard is placed on them. Everyone understands that no other manufacturer but one of the Big 4 could produce such a bike at such a price point. The Big 4 are just victims of their own past success and accomplishments.

      Also, I think the bike looks pretty damn good. Don’t know where all the ugly comments are coming from.

      Report this comment

    • Starmag says:

      That’s a fine theory Norm, but it wouldn’t have cost Yamaha any more to style it differently. Although this isn’t as extreme styling wise as a B king, every review I read about that bike said it was a great bike, except, obviously, the styling, and we all know how well those sold despite their performance. Styling matters.

      Report this comment

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Well, in all fairness, he didn’t mention styling at all. The styling is subjective as some will love it, some hate it and some shrug it off. I think it is probably flavored for the European and Asian markets more so than the North American market. I personally think the FZ8 is a better looking bike, but I am not put off by the FZ09. At that price point, I can forgive a lot of things.

        Report this comment

        • Starmag says:

          Yes he did.

          Norm G. says:
          September 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm
          for the record, any of you complaining about the looks,

          As for the fueling and front end feel, wait for more reviews, MCN is notoriously picky.

          Why bother commenting if I don’t like it’s looks? Because I think that it’s probably a great bike I would have liked to own otherwise.

          Report this comment

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            My bad. So he did!

            Report this comment

          • Gutterslob says:

            Ref: As for the fueling and front end feel, wait for more reviews, MCN is notoriously picky.

            Very true, especially whenever they’re comparing something to their beloved Triumph. Oh, and they almost always somehow manage to overlook reliability and finish when reviewing Brit bikes, for some reason. I say this as a Triumph Speed Triple owner, btw.

            Regarding the MT/FZ-09, I’m looking forward to it, and will definitely try to get myself an extended test-ride at a dealer acquaintance. As for buying my own, might wait a year to see what else Yamaha has planned with this 3-cylinder motor, but I do hope they sell enough of these initially in order to justify designing more models.

            Actually, having looked at the pics and video (that MCN bloke is humongous compared to the riders in black, btw) again, I reckon you could make this resemble a flat-tracker style ride with minimal mods.

            Report this comment

      • Dave says:

        Re: “it wouldn’t have cost Yamaha any more to style it differently”

        On the contrary, it looks like they spent a little extra to make it look like it does, because that’s how they wanted it. Styling does matter ant their choices were not a mistake. This is not a B-King.

        Report this comment

    • MGNorge says:

      “you don’t go into a Chevy dealer and complain that the wood grain interior of say… a Malibu doesn’t measure up to the burled walnut veneers found inside a Bentley.”

      Oh, but they do and they will. Styling is subjective, as we keep reminding ourselves, and if you can’t get past that then move on. For those that can look beyond or have no real issues with the looks, a test ride is the next matter of course. It’s all subjective until then. Glitches in fueling can be problematic, especially to those not as steady as they once were. Steering and suspension issues can be sorted but if the basic design has a flaw that too will need to be considered before purchase.

      What I see the FZ-09 as is a continuance of the march by the industry to provide more interesting and affordable bikes that will interest new and old riders both. Hang onto your helmets!

      Report this comment

    • VLJ says:

      Tank size, throttle response and basic looks are not price-dependent. Plenty of cheap bikes have larger tanks and perfectly smooth throttle response even with EFI, and price has little to no effect on the basic looks of a bike. Some of the things on the FZ-09 such as the fake air intakes that detract from its looks weren’t budget-driven but rather stylistically motivated. They’re nothing more than a regrettable styling choice made by Yamaha.

      Report this comment

  12. Gary says:

    I think it’s hideously ugly. I can’t wait to own one. I’ll take mine in red.

    The touchy throttle will be a software fix.

    I was pleased to see the Akrapovic exhaust.

    The vague front end could come down to tire choice or fork oil. Worst case it’s springs and some tuning…something I’ve done on all of my bikes anyway.

    It’s all win for me. Long live the ugly bike.

    Report this comment

  13. beasty says:

    Heinous. I know how they saved money on this project. They didn’t use the design department. Is that a kite hangin’ off the back of that thing?

    Report this comment

  14. Tom R says:

    Very Fazer-ish. Not sure if this is good or bad, but the overall package seems like a bargain….and more aggressive than the recent offerings from Honda.

    Report this comment

  15. Gronde says:

    Yes, yes, but where can I mount my milk crate?

    Report this comment

  16. Les says:

    My kind of bike. Too bad about the Yamaha styling. MX shrouds make me sad. The same thing with the long armed, sign post, plate holders Yamaha have been using in recent years that makes it look like you are pulling around a trailer or something.

    Report this comment

  17. VLJ says:

    I’m seriously considering one, and “seriously” would turn into “definitely” were it not for these few things:

    1. It really is ugly. From the hideous fake air intakes that have no business being on a modern sportbike (or on anything other than your five-year-old’s Big Wheel) to the incredibly unattractive yet appropriately dubbed ‘scrotum’ (check any picture taken from the left side of the bulbous exhaust collecter) to the Schwinn-style headlight/instruments combo, this thing just screams, “JAPANESE BUDGET BIKE!”

    2. No ABS, at least not for the U.S. market.

    3. No heated grips option, which, for a naked bike especially, is very important if it’s to be ridden year-round.

    And now we come to find out from at least five different published road tests (check the FZ-09 forums to read them all) that the throttle response is bad-to-awful unless it’s in the power-robbing ‘B’ (rain) mode. Yes, those all refer to the pre-production models motojournos from around the globe rode at the Croatia intro, but the bikes are slated to arrive in U.S. showrooms this month, so it’s not as if Yamaha still has lots of time to correct the issue before units ship. The vague front end? Likely just the result of that relaxed riding position with the raked-out forks and high bars combining with an unusually long wheelbase (a good two inches longer than a Street Triple, and even an inch longer than a Ninja 1000) and bargain-basement suspension.

    So, yes, at least for me there is serious cause for trepidation. By all accounts so far the Street Triple R handles better, brakes better, is finished better, has nearly a full gallon greater fuel capacity, comes standard with ABS and braided steel brake lines, offers optional heated grips, a two-year warranty, and is far more sorted out in terms of throttle response.

    There’s an awful lot to argue in favor of the Street Triple, never mind the fact that it’s a proven product.

    In addition to the fueling issue, what other first-year niggles will the FZ-09 have? No one knows.

    But then there’s the flipside. Figure the FZ-09 for roughly ten more rwhp than the Street Triple, 10 more foot lbs of real-world torque, a lower seat height, a more comfortable riding position, less engine vibration (the reports coming back describe its smoothness as remarkable), and a much lower price tag. Also, if it’s like Yamaha’s other sportbikes, you have a 26K valve-adjustment interval vs the 12K (IIRC) interval for the Triumph. It boasts a much greater dealer network, as well.

    Both bikes are rather ugly, to be honest, but at least the Triumph looks like a high-dollar piece. The Yamaha simply looks cheap and ugly. The frame, wheels and swingarm are all nice pieces, and the motor is clearly a riot, but practically every other part on that bike looks like a lowest-bid afterthought.

    Did I mention that it sports grotesque, fake air intakes?

    :-)

    Report this comment

    • mickey says:

      VLJ you also forgot to mention 2 of the reasons you looked down your nose at the CB 1100 when MD tested it. This Yamaha only holds 3.7 gal gas ( less in fact than the CB 11 and much less than the tank on your Beemer) and…. it doesn’t have the magical figure of 75 ft lbs of torque (like your Beemer …. as a matter of fact it also has less torque than the CB 1100)

      Still happy as punch with my CB 1100

      Report this comment

      • VLJ says:

        Mickey, I did mention that the Triumph has nearly a full gallon greater full capacity. I stated that as a positive for the Triumph, but I just as easily could have stated it as a negative for the Yamaha. Adding to that point is the fact that the journos at the Croatia intro reported only very average fuel mileage…

        “The 14.3-litre tank looks like an obvious Achilles’ heel, an amateur mistake by Yamaha. Surely, 17 or 18 litres would have been a better choice. Perhaps they were desperately keen to keep the wet weight under 190kg. Yamaha claim a 150-mile range and it’s rare that a manufacturer is modest when it comes to figures.

        I have to admit, it is a frugal little sucker. During our 190-mile ride which was mostly on twisty roads, using 2nd to 4th gear, my reserve light came on at 107-miles. We filled-up at 117-miles and the tank took 13.3-litres, meaning I had 1-litre left, which means a worst-case scenario of 125-miles until empty. Perhaps they weren’t stretching it when they claimed it’ll do 150-miles on a tank but you’d have to work for it.”

        I don’t know about you, but by my math that sounds like some pretty meh gas mileage. The fuel light coming on at only 107 miles, with just a litre to go?

        Sketchy.

        In terms of your other point, of course it’s not fair to ask an 850cc triple to make the same amount of torque as an 1170cc twin or an 1140cc four. By all rights your bike should easily make as much hp/torque as the R1200R. They’re the same size, they’re both air-cooled, and the Honda has an extra cylinder. Other air-cooled inline-fours of that capacity routinely make 100rwhp/75 foot lbs of torque.

        Btw, I went and checked out your bike again yesterday. Damn, it is just so pretty, and its ergos are absolutely perfect for me. No one ever seems to have an ABS model in stock, though. Every time I find one, it’s the non-ABS version.

        Report this comment

    • George says:

      VLJ,

      Styling is subjective. You don’t like the looks, don’t buy it or buy it and plan to change the looks.

      Yamaha has said ABS will be available on the FZ-09 for additional $ later in the 2014 model year.

      Frankly though, if you are relying on ABS, you need to work on your braking skills.

      Heated Grips are $40-50 add on that only some people will want. If you want them, it is cheap and easy to add them on.

      IMO, comparing the street triple to the FZ-09 is comparing apples to oranges. The only reason to compare the two bikes is because they both are triples. Beyond that they are very different bikes aimed at very different markets.

      The Street triple is basically a sportbike missing the fairing. The FZ-09 is definitely not.

      The seating position (I have sat on both at Laguna Seca MotoGP) is much more upright and relaxed on the FZ-09. I am sure the extra HP and torque of the FZ-09 will provide a broader, more relaxed powerband.

      Report this comment

      • VLJ says:

        George, yes, styling is subjective, and by my lights the styling on the FZ-09 is awful. Worse, much of what makes it awful can’t be easily fixed. For example, that enormous fake intake system isn’t going anywhere. We’re stuck with it. So, too, regarding that fugly exhaust collecter, at least here in California. Talking to my local dealers, they are now forbidden from even ordering replacement exhaust systems; even simple slip-ons. They can’t even do the “for off-road use only” waiver anymore.

        Yes, it’s gotten that bad here.

        As for ABS, don’t bother trotting out that hoary old cliché that it’s a crutch for people who don’t know to brake well. That dog won’t hunt. ABS isn’t for controlled environment stopping distance comparos, it’s for sudden nightmare scenarios that occur in the wet. I’m an experienced rider with something close to a half-million miles and countless track days under my belt, and still on a wet February morning in the mountains I’m glad to have the safety nets of ABS and traction control. To be honest, I’ve now had three bikes with ABS/TCS and not once have they ever come into play, and still I’m reassured by their presence.

        Bottom line, in the real world ABS is nothing but good.

        And the Street Triple is hardly an apples/oranges comparo with the FZ-09. It’s the one comparison every single magazine will make, as will most shoppers. Why? They’re both upright and naked; they offer similar wet weights; they’re both marketed as sportbikes/hooligan rides; they’re both liquid-cooled triples of similar displacement, boasting similar hp.

        Sure, the Yamaha will be more comfortable, a bit more powerful and somewhat less sporty, but from Day One those two are going to be natural enemies on the sales floor.

        Report this comment

  18. John says:

    Hoping Yamaha builds a Tenere version – sounds like that engine would be perfect in a slightly more touring oriented package. Even if it does end up with a beak.

    Report this comment

  19. jake says:

    Sounds like 2014′s Bike of the Year to me. Snatchy throttle and vague front are probably easy fixes which either Yammy or an owner can easily remedy to a large degree.

    Report this comment

  20. vato_loco says:

    The early press previews looked promising but MCN’s comments regarding the snatchy throttle and so-so suspension are deal breakers. And the more I look at the FZ-09, the uglier it gets. I’ll pass for now…

    Report this comment

  21. roadrash1 says:

    When I 1st heard about this bike, I thought I wanted it. Then I took a demo ride on a 2013 FZ8. I think the 9 will be a great bike for many folks.
    I jumped on the chance to get a new 2013 FZ8 this Summer, while I still could. I got a good deal, and I have to think some choices had to be made, to produce the FZ9 at this price point.
    I’m really happy I bought the 8.

    Report this comment

    • Gronde says:

      I just test rode an FZ8 and had a blast! I’m waiting to ride the FZ-09 (if that’s possible) and see how it compares to the 8. The 9 s/b lighter and more powerful and a hoot to ride. You did well though, as the 8 is a really sweet ride.

      Report this comment

  22. skybullet says:

    I can’t think of a bike I have anticipated more so I hope the throttle snatch issue is cured because I would not buy it if it isn’t. Jerky throttle action in a corner just takes the fun out. I can overlook kooky styling and a smallish gas tank since it should ride and handle well. Or maybe I will just wait for the more refined Adventure version… unless the competition comes out with something more appealing.

    Report this comment

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “unless the competition comes out with something more appealing.”

      well the competition’s already gone and done that… you just have to pay all the money for those bikes.

      Report this comment

    • Neil says:

      On my 919 I leave the throttle slightly open unless I am stopped at a light. Not at all hard to do. Shifts are nice and smooth. I don’t need to chop the throttle shut and then get on it again. I just hold the throttle so it matches the next gear and downshift. I am controlling my throttle. It is not controlling me. I don’t even think about it. You can really get used to never closing your throttle unless you are stopped. I just consider 2k rpms my zero. People said the same about the 919. My wife’s Mitsubishi is the same as is a friend’s Audi. I don’t think it is ugly. Looks kind of dirt bike hooligan. Just my take.

      Report this comment

  23. 70's Kid says:

    While the design of the bike is definitely not to my taste, there is no denying the high bang-for-the-buck factor at play here. To draw upon a car analogy, this reminds me of when Subaru introduced the WRX. I remain most curious to find out where the bike is manufactured and how the build quality holds up with time.

    Report this comment

  24. allworld says:

    At this price point, I for give a lot. In a year or so Yamaha will most likely smooth out the rough spots. Overall it seems like a winner. I won’t be trading in my Streety for one, any time soon.

    Report this comment

  25. SmokinRZ says:

    All I see is a motorcycle that looks like a lot of fun at a great price.

    Report this comment

  26. Starmag says:

    This hurts my eyes and I like naked bikes. Fake scoops for your inner 10 yr old. B-king level ugly tank,exhaust and tail. A real shame because it seems like a sweet value otherwise.

    Report this comment

  27. goose says:

    Wow, that is a positive review, given the source. I really wish the tank held another gallon, it will be interesting when we get real road tests and find out what kind of milage it gets. If it get good (50 MPG+) milage the tiny tank could be forgiven. The next thing will be finding out if you can fix the poor throttle response. Both short range and poor throttle response are deal breakers for me.

    I’m surprised by the negative comments on the styling. I’m not a fan of the “throw random shapes at the bike and see what sticks” school of motorcycle styling but it doesn’t seem that ugly to me. Of course, seeing it in real life is when you find out how the bike really looks to your eye, pictures and video ain’t IRL.

    Cautiously optimistic,

    Goose

    Report this comment

  28. Philip says:

    Looks good enough to me. I’ve found that if a bike is fun, looks then quickly fall down the list of negatives. Exhaust, fuel controller, mirrors, red one, done.

    Report this comment

  29. Bill C says:

    I really wanted to like the FZ09, as I am a big fan of both triples and Yamaha in general.

    But when I saw it in the flesh at the Indy MotoGP, I couldn’t find an angle that appealed to me.

    The black one with blue wheels isn’t too bad, but then I saw the red one, all of a sudden the old FZX700 Fazer popped into my head.

    Ugh!

    Report this comment

  30. Dave says:

    I see reasons, both functional and brand aesthetic, for most of the design elements. I guess I’m not seeing what you are.

    Report this comment

  31. takehikes says:

    I’ll be interested in reading about it but seriously…is there anything other than the engine and wheels that doesn’t look tacked on at random? Horrible design, just awful.

    Report this comment

    • Hot Dog says:

      And the flip side of your opinion is, my buddies and I sat on one during the Indy Moto GP. We were all surprised at how tiny the damned thing was, although I must admit that my buddies are well over 300 pounds. I thought that the casting for the frame and swing arm was beautiful and flowed with the lines of the bike. The flat handle bars were in a perfect position to sit comfortably. A flat radiator was used rather than a curved one as I suppose this is a cost cutting feature. The instrument pod and front of the tank is faceted and angular. Us old dogs grew up with round gauges, tanks and now our bellies, so it probably will not appeal to all. I think it’s a beautiful machine, sort of like a cross of a Transformer and The Borg.

      Report this comment

    • SecaKid says:

      Reminds me of the 86 Fazer.

      Report this comment

    • Neil says:

      Any one of our parents might have said the same thing when we were fresh out of the crate! ;-)

      Report this comment

  32. Kawatwo says:

    Argh, why can’t Yamaha get low speed fuel injection right? I have the same problem with my FZ6. I want a fairing anyway. Hoping Kawasaki will make something for me :)The FZ9 looks amazing other than that and the small fuel tank though.

    Report this comment