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

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

2017 Yamaha FZ-09: MD First Ride

When we tested the original Yamaha FZ-09 introduced for the 2014 model year, like most journalists we were impressed with its engine performance, light weight and bargain price. For less than $8,000 U.S MSRP, buyers received a high performance triple with loads of character, coupled with an extremely light chassis and upright ergonomics.

The 2014 FZ-09, despite its surprising price/performance ratio, had its flaws. Notably, an overly snatchy throttle response pointing to a need for further fuel injection tuning by Yamaha, as well as suspension that was simply too soft for riders of any significant skill level.

Nevertheless, the FZ-09  sold well, and it deserved to. Now, for the 2017 model year, Yamaha has made significant changes to the bike that greatly improve its functionality. It has also changed styling significantly.

On the function side of things, the FZ-09 receives several changes that make a real difference this year. A new traction control system has 3 different settings (including Off), ABS brakes are standard, the ECU includes new fuel injection settings to make throttle response smoother, and a fully-adjustable front fork is included for the first time. An “Assist and Slipper” clutch debuts on this model. Finally, another functional change is a flatter, slightly taller seat.

If the traction control system came into play during our ride, we were not aware of it. We left the TCS in the default Mode 1, and it was essentially invisible. When we get a long-term test unit, we should have more thoughts on this new system. Likewise, the ABS braking system never made its presence known during our ride, which could mean one of two things. Either it never came into play because we never came close to locking the front or rear wheels, or it was doing its job so invisibly we didn’t notice.

Other changes were noticeable, and uniformly improved the performance of the FZ-09. The fuel injection tuning is certainly improved, and the standard engine map, which is the default setting, is less snatchy when opening a fully-closed throttle. Engine response remains extremely quick, however, so if you are in the mood to cruise, or commute, you might prefer the “B” setting, which substantially softens throttle response while still providing plenty of power to the rear wheel. The “A” setting is the sport mode, and it quickens throttle response even compared to the standard setting.

The new front fork is a massive improvement. The shock settings, as well, seemed improved from the 2014 model, but the fork is a revelation. Frankly, in 2014 it was difficult for even a moderately skilled rider to push a stock FZ-09 hard, or aggressively, on the street or the track. The suspension was simply too soft, and lacked damping, both compression and rebound. During our tests, we were able to ride the 2017 model aggressively through twisty roads in and around Malibu, California. We never touched the fork settings offered us by Yamaha at the start of the ride, but did add a bit of additional rebound damping to the rear shock.

We always felt that we could not pass final judgment on the quality of the chassis offered by the original 2014 FZ-09, primarily because of the poor suspension action. Now we know just how good the chassis, and overall handling, of the FZ-09 is! The current iteration absolutely shreds canyon roads, finally living up to its potential, and the pedigree hinted at by the tremendous engine performance.  Offering both stability and quick changes of direction, together with good ground clearance and excellent feedback from the tires, the FZ-09 provided tremendous confidence while navigating the beautiful roads near Malibu.

The strong points of the original FZ-09 carry forward, including that tremendous 847cc three-cylinder engine that offers high peak horsepower, a very broad spread of torque, and that character (je ne sais quoi) seemingly only found in inline triples. The brakes, particularly the four-piston front brake, seem very close to state-of-the-art sport bike standards … with huge power and good feel. The extraordinarily light weight of the machine (a claimed 425 pounds with a full 3.7 gallon fuel tank) certainly contributes to the ability to bring this bike to a quick stop.

The riding experience is enhanced by the new clutch with its noticeably lighter pull, and the flatter seat that no longer pushes the rider into the fuel tank. The new seat, in particular, is a big improvement with good support and a large space for the rider to move fore and aft.

The styling changes are significant, as well. Influenced by the new FZ-10, the FZ-09 now features four LED headlights, including two low beams and a high-beam mode where four separate LED lights are illuminated at the same time (we are interested to see how bright this is at night). Other detail changes up front are coupled with a completely designed rear end that includes a shorter tail cowl, integrated LED brake and tail lights and a single-sided license plate holder/fender.

The 2017 FZ-09 has seen a price increase to offset the new standard features, and now retails for $8,999.  Three color options are available at that price, including Intensity White, Candy Red, and Matte Silver with Neon Yellow. Take a look at Yamaha’s web site for additional details and specifications, and to look at the very many accessories available for the new FZ-09.

76 Comments

  1. billy says:

    Good on the fuel injection, but it’s amazing it wasn’t right four years ago when they developed it.

    I bought a brand new, 1998 GSXR750, in 1999 for $7300. Lighter than this bike and 115bhp. Oh, and the Suzuki’s fuel injection was “right” the first year of production.

    • Frank says:

      That Gixxer price works out to $10,753.23 in 2017, under the price of current 600’s now. But over the price of this, and it has a nice bit of kit even for the discount.

    • Travis Quine says:

      It’s not fuel injection that’s the problem. It’s the new ride-by-wire throttle and the emissions requirements. The FZ09 has two fuel maps, a “closed loop”, clean burning/lean fuel map that is modulated via input from the O2 sensor up to 6K RPM. Once you exceed 6K RPM, the bike switches to the “open loop” fuel map and the mixture begins to richen. The switching between these two maps is often what most riders interpret as jumpy throttle, and in the tight, technical sections, it’s very noticeable. ECU Flash will help somewhat, but that only tunes the open-loop fuel map. I installed a Kevxtx O2 controller that modulates the signal coming from the O2 sensor to richen the closed loop map and it helps somewhat. Just have to ride above 6K RPM all the time =)

      Qual: I own a 2015 FZ09 w/ 30,000 miles

  2. marloweluke says:

    Great bike (in 2017 form) but a 3.7 gallon tank kills it for me. Can’t tour on that, which is why they made the FJ-09. But why the adventure look and semi-long travel suspension? Was hoping for a sport tourer, not and adventure wannabee.

  3. dan says:

    I have an FJ-09, what a great engine. This bike (along with the XSR) at 70 lbs lighter must be a blast.

  4. wjf says:

    Finally a bike that is uglier than a vstrom

    • Bubba Blue says:

      I do prefer a more traditional style myself. But they have to change something or you could just buy a used CBR F4i.

  5. NeilInPacifica says:

    I’ve had the 2017 FZ-09 for few weeks now. It is everything the article says it is and then some. I waited patiently for the upgrades; ABS, improved suspension, LED headlights, etc. and am happy I did. This bike rocks! The engine provides amazing torque at all revs in any gear; it’s light beyond belief. I’m looking forward to Spring when the weather improves here in CA and I can carve the canyons with abandon.

    And…I like the way it looks. I got the white one.

    • Chrisgo says:

      Congrats, that is a nice looking bike and I am sure it will be an amazing ride.

    • Scott says:

      You’re not allowed to like your bike, Neill! Didn’t you read all the comments???

      • mickey says:

        Lol you are allowed to like your bike Scott, you just have to have the strength to defend it against many who deem it not worthy.

        Any CB1100 owner can explain it to you.

  6. Cyclemotorist says:

    It’s a dirty shame about the styling. They fixed the fork and the throttle response but then they screwed up the styling.

  7. Artem says:

    It’s too expensive.
    At least for me.

    • skortch says:

      Are there any other options with 105+ rwhp for less than $9k? Plus the ABS, <430 lb wet weight, and now evidently decent suspension and brakes.

      For that matter, have there been any cheaper bikes that could beat those specs and price from the past decade? (Other than the 2014 FZ-09, that is…) Maybe the 2007 Bandit 1250 squeaked below 9k but it also weighed at least 100lbs more and was pretty old tech.

  8. Tom R says:

    “For less than $8,000 U.S MSRP,”

    So, what is the REAL price? The MSRP numbers for most Japanese motorcycles are indeed quite low….but are they too low for the dealers to make a living? Advertised “prices” look like a bargain, but when you actually get there you find additional “set up”, “freight”, “assembly”, or an at least honest “additional mark up” fee that increases the cost from $1000-$2000.

    • VLJ says:

      Fortunately, the consumer usually doesn’t have to pay those additional fees if he doesn’t want to. When the negotiation really becomes serious, nine times out of ten the dealer will back down.

  9. Gary says:

    All this talk about how ugly the FZ is – and Yamaha’s in general – is surprising. This has been Yamaha’s design language since the mid 80’s with the introduction (and evolution) of the VMAX. Really, there is nothing new or ground braking here. Is it beautiful? Heck no! Does it stand out? Sure does.

    Quite frankly, the detailed look of a bike is about number 17 on my list when bike shopping. I’ve loved many an ugly bike. Some bikes are just beautiful (MV Agusta) and everything follows that, other bikes become legend not for how they look, but how they work (CBX).

  10. Ken House says:

    The review is all “pros,” and no “cons.” Not a single thing you’d like to see changed or improved?

    k

  11. PN says:

    Good bike! The styling still doesn’t move me from all angles but I like Yamaha. I would get this bike but give a long look at the new Kawi Z1.

  12. Trent says:

    The headlight is ugly, but that wouldn’t stop me from buying the bike, and I like the dual lights at either low or high beam. I also like all the improvements, especially the slipper clutch. The exhaust doesn’t seem large to me; you can see 80% of the rear tire on the right side of the bike. If I bought one it would have to be the red one, the other two colors make the bike look even uglier 🙂

  13. Bubba Blue says:

    Too many nice bikes to choose from.

  14. slipjoint says:

    What’s not to like? Light, powerful, well suspended, nimble, traction control, abs, and a reasonable price.

  15. VLJ says:

    So…

    New engine mapping that finally works? Check.

    Lighter clutch pull? Check.

    Stiffer/fully adjustable forks? Check.

    Stiffer shock? Check.

    Better brakes? Check.

    ABS? Yep.

    Traction control? You betcha.

    Taller seat? Yeah.

    Added a few pounds? Okay.

    Hmmm. What we have here, folks, is a much uglier version of my XSR900, which received all those same upgrades two model years ago. So, gawdawful looks notwithstanding, this new FZ-09 is sure to be a thoroughly excellent motorcycle. Good thing, too, since the upcoming Street Triple was all set to curbstomp the FZ-09 had it retained the flaccid suspension and crappy throttle response of the previous iteration. The new Triumph will still be the better dynamic motorcycle, but at least now the Fizzer 9 will have enough refinement that it won’t only be able to fall back on its lower price tag.

    • Ron says:

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think the XSR900 is a good idea in theory, but it doesn’t look cohesive. Someone should be shot for the choice of tail light. Just horrendous. They got 80% right. The Kenny Roberts color bike looks better of the two, but the tail light and boxes stuck on the frame near the steering head look like afterthoughts and are deal breakers for me. I am actually going to buy a bike this year. I have a Yamamha Stratoliner cruiser now, but I want a lighter bike to rip around town and the country with. Lots of choices this year. I was going to pass on the FZ-09 because of the shite suspension and poor fueling….but now I will certainly consider it. Waiting to see the the new Z900 and Street Triple 765. Dealers are also damn near giving away GSX-S1000’s. They have gotten great reviews but have fueling issues (ECU flash can fix that) and the naked version looks plain stupid. What the hell is wrong with Japanese designers? For the last 10 years it’s like they’re all on acid! They need to go hang out in Italy for a few years to cleanse their style palates. Seriously, how do you build a bike as good as the GSX-S line and have people not buy it in large part because of the inexplicable styling?

      • VLJ says:

        The XSR900’s tail light doesn’t bother me in the least. The boxes at the front of the frame are awful, but so are the Fizzer’s fake air scoops, so six of one, half a dozen of the other. At least the boxes on the XSR are functional, not fake.

        They suck, but in no way are they a deal-breaker. If something that trivial is a deal-breaker, you’re simply looking for reasons not to buy something.

        Conversely, as much as I hate the Transformers look of this new FZ-09, I wouldn’t let it keep me from buying the bike if I really wanted it.

        Look on the bright side. At least it’s not one of those hideous Anime Kawis!

      • mickey says:

        I looked at a new Z650 today and it looks a lot better in person than in the pics. Actually didn’t look bad, except the seat would be a solo adventure for sure with the driver locked into 1 position. The Pearl White looked better than the black IMO.It did seem rather small.

        Hopefully the Z900 will look ok too.

  16. Doc says:

    Could be like the Honda haters on here and rip this bike apart. But there is no need. One picture of this bike says more than I could in one page.

  17. Mick says:

    I will just be happy when the motorcycle market reinvents a rear end that prevents the rear tire from pumping water and filth all over the rider when it rains.

    Weather happens. I would like my motorcycle to be prepared for that eventuality thank you. I have fat bikes for getting filthy in the rain on. They do a fantastic job. And that’s enough.

  18. Tim C says:

    Welp, it’s official. Ever-tightening bike emissions/noise regs have now gotten completely ridiculous.

    Now, as far as this bike goes, too bad the current design language is what it is – MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE which is not a good thing in this case….

  19. Jim W says:

    Sounds like a blast to ride and fortunately not as insect like as the FZ-10, but that bloated exhaust tumor looks like it’s about to reach critical mass! Cover that thing or at least paint it black!Damn!

  20. mickey says:

    I have ridden the 14 FZ09 ( unrideable) the 15 FZ-09 ( much better) the 15 FJ-09 ( pretty nice) the 15 XSR 900 ( best of the lot imo) and my son’s 2016 FJ-09 completely dressed ( a little better than the 15 FJ-09) and I think each year they are getting better and better. Will be interested in riding the 17 FZs, XSRs and FJs to see if the trend is continuing.

    Personally an FJ09 with shaft drive would probably get me to open my wallet. Doubt I will ever see one.

    • Snake says:

      What I don’t get is why it not *only* took 3 years for Yamaha to get all the problem points on the FZ09 fixed, ***why all the motorcycle media was so willing to hype said bike for the 3 years it was, really, a dog***.

      Talk about hype!! All the writer-racer boys were all a-twitter over this bike but everyone else who rode it, or actually bought it…needed to fix it.

      But the hype machine stayed in overdrive, all 3 years.

      So, why are we constantly paying attention to a media that no longer serves our best interests?

      • mickey says:

        actually a replay for Yamaha who made the same exact mistake with the fueling on the 06 FZ-1 which came out and was un-rideable and took about 3 years to fix

        and I do believe MCDaily made mention of the terrible fueling,on several occasions

        also the media hyped Ducati’s for about 3 years, every magazine, every cover, every road test…. my son fell to that hype with an overpriced bag of bones that spent quite a few rides on a trailer coming home and to the shop.

      • mickey says:

        reply in moderation but in part I said

        and I do believe MCDaily made mention of the terrible fueling, on several occasion,

        and I was referring to the fueling on the FZ-09 (don’t remember what they said about the 06 FZ-1)

      • Dave says:

        None of the original bike’s flaws were deal breakers to all the riders who bought them.

        The media fawned because the flaws were minor and the price+performance were extremely compelling, especially considering that so few exciting motorcycles had been released at reasonable prices in the previous 10 years. If this bike had failed, it could’ve been a big setback for the US Moto market, which has been struggling for a long time.

        • mickey says:

          It was a deal breaker for me and my son. There is no way I would have put up with that fueling. It was like riding a “twitchy brick” because not only did the fueling suck the seat was hard as a brick, forced you into the tank, and extremely uncomfortable to ride.

          We tried again in 2015, but still not good enough. But in 2016 after they sorted the fueling and suspension some, my son bought one, well an FJ-09.

  21. Rapier says:

    Did they upgrade the FJ 9 as well? Maybe it didn’t need it as much as the FZ. The FJ was the bike I always thought I wanted, but I am not buying just yet. Then too I ask myself if the 1000 Versys would suit me better? As if anyone cares.

  22. Mr.Mike says:

    Looks don’t bother me at all except for the license plate holder, but that can be fixed. A little sad they raised the price so much but that’s just business. Overall great job from Yamaha.

  23. Dino says:

    Maybe someday soon, it will be a daring move to use a round headlight…

    Then, I’m all in. Candy red, please. Hold the superfluous design panels and angles, just good clean fun!

    • Scott says:

      They put the round headlight and “conventional” styling on the XSR900, and everyone here still complained about the looks. You’re never going to win here, since most of the posters hate anything on two wheels that was designed after 1975…

      • Dino says:

        Forgot about that one, thanks.. I did like the XSR900 much better. Wonky taillight, but a MUCH better overall package!

        • Scott says:

          I love my XSR, tail light and all. It’s a fantastic bike. And honestly, riding ANY bike is more fun than sitting at a computer nit-picking every new bike and coming up with reasons NOT to buy one…

  24. Gary says:

    Yamaha needs to poach the Director of Design from Ducati.

  25. ApriliaRST says:

    The dinosaurs have spoken.

    \/

    • Shmitty says:

      Amen to that.

    • Snake says:

      Dinosaurs?

      Nope.

      I’m certainly not young but I spoke to a young FZ09 rider at a stoplight once. What did he have to say about it?

      Mixed blessings and wondered if he should have bought something else, THAT’S what he said.

  26. RD350 says:

    Who are the manufacturers trying to appeal to with this endless stream of alien-transformer-insect styling exercises? Guys, the street-fighter thing is so over. How about a nice ’86 FZ750 Lawson rep, but with this motor, and updated suspension/brakes? Hey a guy can dream can’t he?

  27. bad Chad says:

    I’d like to like this bike, I really would, but good god, it’s ugly. That thing growing out of the exhaust header looks like it was made for a Bus. And whats with the pointless rear fender eliminator? It’s more ugly than the fender it replaces!

    • Snake says:

      Wait, I missed that: They made the seat TALLER on their mid-market 900? Is that actually possible considering the previous seat height?

      At 32.3 inches, only Yamaha could manage to make a streetfighter middleweight taller than a Triumph ADV-based XR *and* XRx. Good going, guys!

    • Scott says:

      How many FZ09’s do you ever see with a stock rear fender? Now they’ve made it even easier to remove! And believe it or not, some FZ owners actually like the new piece better, so buyers of ’17’s can sell their fenders to them, and it’s a win for everyone…

  28. beasty says:

    Taller seat, Great. Still ugly, Great. Another thou, Great. Bootheels under your ass, Great. Cow udder exhaust, Great.

    • Snake says:

      Wait, I missed that: They made the seat TALLER on their mid-market 900? Is that actually possible considering the previous seat height?

      At 32.3 inches, only Yamaha could manage to make a streetfighter middleweight taller than a Triumph ADV-based XR *and* XRx. Good going, guys!

  29. Bill says:

    If the current styling trends continue, I’ll not be buying another Japanese designed bike.

  30. Geoffrey Hill says:

    Looks like a bike I would like if only they quit trying to make the front end look like some scowling animal in attack mode.The first picture looked promising, what a let down.Other than that not as cartoonish as most others.

  31. Trpldog says:

    Only good looking after 2:00AM.

    • Snake says:

      Pre-crashed for your convenience.

      Don’t get all upset when you trash your bike! You’ll never know the difference with our “advanced” styling!

  32. xLaYN says:

    That photo with the train as background and the last one are amazingly BRUTAL! (the other ones are standard MD excellent!).

  33. Randy in Ridgecrest says:

    Hmmmm…. well, I’m for it. I never thought the first gen looked all that good but what really turned me off was the suspension. Now it has a great engine and suspension, might still be somewhat ugly, but I don’t see that when I’m riding.

    Bravo Yamaha for stepping up the game!

  34. bmbktmracer says:

    Ugliness eclipsed only by the FZ-07.

    • Brandon says:

      Gotta disagree there. There’s a reason the FZ’s are selling really really well.

      • Brandon says:

        The FZ-07’s I mean.

        • Dave says:

          Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (I don’t mind any of the FZ’s) but a big part of the bike’s success is a market that’s returned to buying sensible value priced bikes and there are really only a few choices in FZ-07’s neighborhood (Ninja 650, SV 650, CB500f, etc.).

  35. nickst4 says:

    All very promising if you like this sort of thing, but why no proper pictures of the bike? Or is the scenery the thing?

  36. GoodlyRun says:

    I noticed you only used far off shots. Still ugly at a distance.