– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Yamaha 2014 FZ-09: MD First Ride



Instrumentation includes a useful gear position indicator.

For those of you endlessly ranting “I need less weight and more power,” your ship finally came in … with a surprisingly low price.  The 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 we just rode in Northern California seems to set a new benchmark in the “light/powerful/low price” sweepstakes.  It is not without its flaws, but overall it is a damned impressive piece of work.

When Yamaha unveiled the FZ-09 a few months ago, we gave you all of the juicy details. Those include an 847cc three-cylinder, fuel injected engine with four-valve cylinder heads and an equal firing interval (that Yamaha characterizes as a “crossplane crank”).

A six-speed transmission transfers power through chain drive to a 17″ cast aluminum rear wheel shod with 180/55 section rubber. The 17″ cast front wheel holds twin, 298mm discs squeezed by a radial mount brake caliper that exerts its force through a 120/70 section tire.

The overriding first impression of the FZ-09 is its small size and light weight, perhaps exaggerated by an extremely narrow width between the rider’s knees afforded by the three-cylinder engine, which is held by a frame designed to take advantage of every millimeter saved in comparison to an inline four. Yamaha’s obsession with making the ergonomics as narrow as possible is evidenced, in part, by the mounting of the swingarm pivot on the outside of the frame.

As our riding impression confirmed, the U.S. MSRP of $7,990 is quite remarkable. The build also underscores solid value, as this is far from a “parts bin” motorcycle with its unique engine and components. Yamaha was fastidious about weight savings and included a new aluminum frame and swingarm employing its controlled-filled, die cast technique that allows precise control of shapes and wall thicknesses. Other lightweight components include a magnesium cylinder head cover, aluminum oil cooler, aluminum triple clamps and handlebar, and forged aluminum shift/brake pedals and footrests.


The wheels are also unique to this model and are lighter than those featured on the now discontinued FZ8. The choice of 298mm front brake discs reflects a desire to reduce reciprocating, unsprung weight for lighter handling as well as improved acceleration and braking. The result is a claimed 414 pounds of fully fueled weight, a remarkable 53 pounds lighter than the FZ8! For comparison, the impressive Triumph Street Triple we recently tested is derived directly from a supersport platform (the Daytona 675) has a significantly smaller engine displacement, less horsepower and torque, yet weighs only 14 pounds less than the new FZ-09.

The first day of our test was conducted in downtown San Francisco where we immediately appreciated the bolt upright, dirt bike-style ergos with increased leg room compared to the outgoing FZ8. The stock seat is relatively hard, and has some tendency to push the rider forward, but it is far from the worst stock seat we have experienced, and provided reasonable comfort for shorter rides.

The suspension, both front and rear, offers spring preload and rebound adjustment.  Our first day exploring the tight, choppy streets of downtown San Francisco was addressed with softer settings that worked quite well at absorbing the abuse doled out by the journalists storming through town.  We rode the steepest streets I have ever encountered, including the famous Lombard Street.  Ultra steep launches and stops tested the new, stronger clutch and brakes.  Both held up quite well to the abuse (more about the brakes later).

The engine is remarkable for both the outright power and its broad spread.  I was told the FZ-09 puts out more torque than a Yamaha R1 everywhere below 8,000 rpm, and I have no reason to doubt this claim.  The counter-balanced engine is very smooth.  Vibration was never an issue during our test, and the triple is characterful, if not as melodious as the engine in the Triumph Street Triple.


The FZ-09 launches from a stop with a fury matched by very few street legal motorcycles … certainly surpassing that of the race replicas (both supersports and superbikes) tuned for peak power output at the upper reaches of the tachometer.  The cages crowded on the city streets were no match for us.  Those cages were also easily navigated by our “dirt bikes on steroids” making for one of the most enjoyable and unique days I have spent at a press introduction.  This might be the ultimate inner city weapon.

On Day 2, we escaped the city via the Golden Gate bridge and stormed into Marin County for a faster, more flowing ride through the gorgeous roads unique to that area (an area favored by many manufacturers for press launches).  For this portion of the test, Yamaha dramatically stiffened the suspension, both front and year.  Spring preload was maxed on both the shock and the fork, with appropriate adjustments to rebound damping.

The higher speeds only made the engine performance more impressive, as the FZ-09 pulled with a fierceness out of sweepers that entertained me all day long.  The new suspension settings worked well, although I took some of the preload out of the fork (two lines) to add a bit of weight to the front contact patch, and increase feel.  Ground clearance was never an issue despite some seriously aggressive riding through the tighter sections of the twisties.  The brakes offered excellent power and feel without any noticeable fade.

The longer ride on Day 2 introduced some seat discomfort.  Padding seemed a bit stiff under my sit bones, and the new suspension settings  seemed to push me toward the tank a bit more than on Day 1.  Otherwise, the ergonomics remained comfortable and functional.  I should point out here that Yamaha will have FZ-09 specific accessories, such as a “comfort seat”, bikini fairing, soft saddlebags, and other items available in dealerships in January of next year.  In addition, there are several current Yamaha accessories that fit the FZ-09. Yamaha’s web site (see link below) should be updated with details shortly.


The FZ-09 has a ride-by-wire throttle and three-position engine mapping that allows the rider to select from Standard, A and B modes.  All three modes offer the same peak power, but the “B” mode offers a softer, smoother response off the bottom.  The “Standard” setting is quite aggressive, and the “A” setting is the most aggressive in terms of throttle response.  Off-idle throttle response is abrupt in both the “Standard” and the “A” settings.  The throttle response issue is most noticeable when exiting corners, as it tends  to mildly upset the chassis when you get back on the gas.  Selecting the “B” mode largely resolves this issue, and the bike is still plenty fast, but I otherwise preferred the “Standard” setting for its greater entertainment value on a faster ride.

The transmission and clutch worked flawlessly despite repeated, very aggressive launches and clutchless shifting.  Quite impressive, actually, given the torque they were coping with.

We did not have a chance to test Yamaha’s claimed 44 mpg, so we can’t comment on the range available from the 3.7 gallon gas tank.  I can say we rode hard for several hours on Day 2 with the throttle frequently twisted to the stops without needing to take on fuel.

The new FZ-09 is a remarkable motorcycle for many reasons.  A skilled rider will find the entertainment value off the charts.  Having ridden virtually all of the modern sport bikes and other high performance motorcycles, I can hardly imagine someone being disappointed by the raw acceleration, and usable spread of power offered by this new 847cc triple.  Without qualification, this is a very fast motorcycle, particularly at real world rpm levels.


The power can be abrupt off the bottom, particularly for less experienced riders, and I did spin up the rear tire a couple of times during corner exits.  Most riders would benefit from selecting the “B” mode that tames the low-end power somewhat and softens off-idle throttle response.

At times, I also felt I was lacking some feedback from the contact surfaces of the tires, although I became much more comfortable with the perceived traction level as my test ride progressed.  I suspect that any traction feedback issues relate more to the tires than the chassis, although we conducted our entire test on the optional Dunlops (Dunlop and Bridgestone tires will be split roughly 50/50 on production units).

The bottom line is that, unless you compare the weight of every modern, high performance motorcycle to that of the Hodaka you helped your father carry out to the trash when you were a teenager, Yamaha’s brand new 2014 FZ-09 is hard to fault as a lightweight weapon.  It will wheelie on command, and accelerate like a top fuel dragster, while feeling nimble and able to change direction seemingly without effort.  Huge fun, and affordable, as well, at the $7,990 suggested retail price for any of three available color options (Yamaha has added Blazing Orange to the Liquid Graphite and Rapid Red versions originally announced, and photographs of all three color options appear in this article).  For additional details, visit Yamaha’s web site.



  1. RichBinAZ says:

    Check your insurance costs before taking the plunge (I’ll think I’ll do it anyway) but the 07 bandit i’m trading for it was $200/year via Flo. Same coverage on the FZ is around $750/year.
    Of course, your mileage may vary, but I think the insurance companies have been reading these reviews and declared it a “Hoon bike” and hiked the rates.

  2. Ed says:

    Wow,9 bucks cheaper than a Gladius? I was stunned at the price Suzuki put on the bike I waited 4 years to come back to the USA. Now I know I was right to pass on it. Thanks Yamaha for making that painful decision justified. Guess I’ll go for the red one, too old for purple wheels.

  3. Peter says:

    Buyer beware.I purchased my new FZ-09 two weeks ago and learned today that the top speed is restricted to 132 MPH, about the same as a Ninja 650 parallel twin with 50 or so less horsepower.

    • Dave says:

      Yes, but the way in which it arrives at it’s top speed is an entirely different experience from the Ninja 650, is it not?

    • Dragfoot says:

      Awesome motorcycle! Let me ride a fz-09 and see if that ninja can catch me! I don’t think so scooter!

    • mickey says:

      ONLY 132 mph..tsk tsk what a POS… how fast do you want to go?

      You really be unhappy with the Honda CB 1100 which is speed limited to 112 (or 180 km as legislated in Japan)

  4. joe says:

    Looks like a great bike that will become even better over the next few years as ABS and some two up and touring considerations are addressed. Even in its current form it would make a better tourer than the CB and Nighthawk 750s I had great times travelling on once upon a time. My FJR is nearly 10 years old and an old guy like me would really appreciate a 414 – 450 pound sport touring bike Yamaha. Don’t make me wait too long.

  5. Stephen Douglas says:


    It was good to meet you the other night at In-n-Out. Thanks for the great article. You are an accomplished writer. I thoroughly enjoyed your article on the FZ09, which I hope to add to my stable. Send me an email and I will send you my phone. If you ever need anything, get in touch with me. Take care.

  6. fred says:

    Great ride, will be on my wish list. However their is nothing wrong with low maintenance features if they can be done. See how much a 85 Honda CB700s will go for on ebay!

  7. Motorhead says:

    outstanding bike. Say it again, used bikes just became worth less due to this beautiful new bike.

  8. Mr.Mike says:

    Thank you Yamaha for cutting through to the essence of what motorcycle riding is about for many people, for a reasonable price.

  9. Cinderbob says:

    Let’s see, “the stock seat is ‘relatively’ hard, and has ‘some’ tendency to push the rider forward … and provided ‘reasonable’ comfort for ‘shorter’ rides.” Talk about equivocation! Just say owners will need to budget big bucks for an aftermarket seat, and leave it at that.

    • Randy says:

      I don’t disagree with your assertion. However, sometimes hard seats break in and become more comfy. Soft seats usually just go downhill.

      I hate the fashionable forward cant as much as the next guy, my 03 Multistrada was so bad I bought a only marginal better Sargent and was happy that at least I could go a few miles without having to stand up and un-scrunch the nether regions.

      I sometimes wonder why a company like (take your pick) can make such wonderful engines and chassis’s but can’t get the seat right.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “I sometimes wonder why a company like (take your pick) can make such wonderful engines and chassis’s but can’t get the seat right.”

        oh they could, it’s done in car world all the time. unfortunately we’ve sent a clear message that we won’t come off the dime and value their efforts. like a parent disciplining their 6 year old, it’s all quite simple really. behavior has consequences. the consequence is we’ll got nothing and like it. wonder no more.

  10. falcodoug says:

    Would love to have this bike, I guess I am not picky enough.

  11. Randy says:

    I think the FZ09 is a brilliant, in the industry’s face, blast across the bow!

    ABS? For commuters I see this as a real issue – simple solution, get something else to wear out doing your daily grind. Hydraulic valve lifters? You’re absolutely got to be kidding, right? Shaft drive, let’s just start piling the weight back on.

    The modern chain drive is a non-issue, has been for many years. And I’ve never “worried” about a chain drive like I have with shaft drives. I’ve gotten by without a center stand on many Ducati’s and BMW’s, it’s not that hard! Service costs probably won’t be any higher than any other multi-cylinder bike, high would it be?

    Obviously, this bike isn’t a commuter, cruiser, beginner bike, touring bike, adventure bike, etc etc. It’s just a bike – very light, very powerful, and not very expensive. I think Yamaha crushed.

    • Selecter says:

      Well, there’s no way one could ride cross-country on a naked bike with a chain final drive, right? And without cruise control, heated grips, or a multifunction GPS/entertainment center?

      Oh, wait, I’ve done that. It’s not that bad, actually.

      You said it all better than I could have, Randy. This place is ludicrous sometimes.

  12. Willy Hipockets says:

    Most of you whiners aren’t buying, no matter what. Your negatrometers are pegged WFO. When you started riding, that is if you ever did, your fundamentals were polished by simple, functional bikes. What if you had to actually ride a bike, rather than have it monitor all your body functions. Take your shaft drive and stick it, your bladder couldn’t handle the range a extra gallon of gas would give and I’ll bet nobody cares what you look like on a bike, why should you Vanity Boy? Take your protein pill, strap on your helmet and just ride the damned thing.

    • Rocket says:

      Agreed. I’ve lost track of how many dealbreakers people have listed. The sense of entitlement here is on overdrive. How the heck did Ted Simon manage with just a Tiger 100 (Google him people)? And Pirsig wrote his seminal work with a total of 305 Honda cubic centimetres.

  13. JR says:

    OK.. I would take a real interest in this new Yamaha motorcycle “if” it had the following.. Hydraulic valve lifters, no one wants to hassle with labor intensive and costly bucket and shim valve adjustments. Get rid of the rear chain drive.. and install a clean belt drive with fixed rear axle and idler pulley. Again.. no adjustments or maintenance needed. Then install a center stand and lower the seat height. Until then I’ll pass on this one also.

    • MG3 says:

      Bullseye JR, those items would all be great. And to think Honda did the lifter thing 30 years ago. I especially don’t get the seat. Why does it need to stick up out back like that, like some kind of afterthought to the whole design? Occasionally we need to carry a passenger. Please, someone in the moto industry re-think this. Otherwise, absolutely brilliant.

    • GuyLR says:

      The valve check and adjustment schedule on the this bike is only every 26,000 miles and if they hold up as well as my ’92 TDM850 they won’t even need adjustment at the mileage. Non-issue. Belts have pluses and minuses but on this type of bike I think the o-ring chain is the right choice. The chain is relatively cheap to replace and allows for an easier change of gearing if you’re so inclined. The seat height is plenty low on this bike,it’s not a cruiser for novice riders after all. I’ll go along with you on the having a center stand. That would be a nice accessory.

    • Nicholas says:

      This bike isn’t for you, clearly. None of those items would remotely entice me to purchasing this model, and I’m very seriously considering it as a replacement for my 34k mile Honda 919. In short, while you might find those items preferable, you’re looking at the wrong bike if you think they’re deal-breakers. I’m clearly more in the target market, and I’d say this is a bulls-eye for my riding needs.

  14. Randy in Nebraska says:

    Great bike, but why no ABS option for the US market? Not having that proven, life saving technology as optional equipment(those who don’t want ABS would still be able to buy a machine without it)is a deal breaker for me.

  15. Gronde says:

    If you buy the bike and use it for it’s intended purpose, you will be very happy. Can you tour on it? Some would, but that’s not really it’s forte. It’s more of a city/hooligan bike that’s loaded with performance and suited to the experienced rider that is able to use most of it’s performance and handling without griping about the lack of cruise control, hard bags, windshield etc… This bike offers loads of performance for the money and will be a hit regardless of what the “ninnies” that need all the creature comforts say.

    BTW- not that many years ago we used to consider a 500cc bike sufficient to cross the country and nobody thought anything of it. I guess the modern rider is growing a bit soft.

    • Mike G says:

      I believe the modern rider is dealing with UAVs out the ying yang. Even a modern mini van is a robust piece of inertia, typically operated by a distracted, stressed-out nincompoop. I have small displacement bikes, but I also have a 102ci twin so that I can relax on the Interstate and mix it up easily with the UAV’s

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “we used to consider a 500cc bike sufficient to cross the country and nobody thought anything of it. I guess the modern rider is growing a bit soft.”

      Not that many years ago, a bedpan was considered a sufficient place to take a slam. Progress makes us all a bit soft I suppose.

  16. todder says:

    The missing extra gallon is the only thing making me wince away from this great machine.

  17. Norm G. says:

    re: “The power can be abrupt off the bottom, particularly for less experienced riders, and I did spin up the rear tire a couple of times during corner exits.”

    just a walk in the park (ie. Golden Gate park) for Dirck Marquez…!

  18. Norm G. says:

    re: “On Day 2, we escaped the city via the Golden Gate bridge and stormed into Marin County for a faster, more flowing ride through the gorgeous roads unique to that area”

    what…? no press junket down Redwood…?

  19. Gabe says:

    Dirck’s Wheelie Photo>Gabe’s Wheelie photo

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Gabe, that was a kick ass ride you led us on after lunch on Friday.

      • Provologna says:

        I rarely miss home in Petaluma and the SF Bay Area since moving early 07. But I would have enjoyed ripping through Marin County with you folks, if that’s what Dirck refers to.

        Lucas Valley Road was my favorite, second being N bound by the Cheese Factory. My path home from work lead N on CA 101. Often I detoured west at Lucas Valley then N. at Nicasio Reservoir. I got to know both directions on Lucas Valley well enough, but westward was the proverbial “back of my hand.”

        It’s not necessarily good to know CHP officers on a first name basis!

  20. TimC says:

    So, they STILL haven’t fixed the driveline snatch off idle? GRRRRR. Granted, without fairing I won’t be trading up (from FZ6) but can’t a company with this much engine expertise get this right? Seems not to be an issue for most bikes these days.

    Other gripes – what happened to analog tach, fuel tank size…sounds like a great bike but they’ve got to get the fueling right.

    • TimC says:

      Er, “off idle” not what I meant. From 0 to part throttle….

      And no “not closing the throttle all the way ever” as a responder mentioned in a previous post on this is NOT the answer!

  21. Ken says:

    Here’s an uncontroversial comment: A well-written, useful review, with beautiful photos (especially the one with the Golden Gate in the background). Nice job, MD!

  22. Trent says:

    I will chime in here (just because I can). My first bike was a first-gen Ninja 250. To “fix” it, I put decent Pirelli tires on it, and got a Zero Gravity double-bubble windshield because the wind was hitting me right in the chest with the OEM windshield. And I also changed the gearing to make it less frenetic on the highway. When I figured out that I had to really twist the throttle to make it go, everything was good. And the tank size on that little bike was 4.8 gallons. So maybe I’m spoiled, but if a little Ninja can have a 4.8 gallon tank …

    To keep this short, I won’t go into detail re my Z750S, but it also has a 4.8 gallon tank, and a front fairing that does not cause buffeting.

  23. Neil says:

    I like it, but, I don’t like sport subframes and high pegs that cause you to slide into the tank. That being said, the bikes are better like that in the corners since it puts weight over the front. But I grew up riding in the dirt. You slide forward on the seat in the corners and move back on the straights. Simple. There are other bikes for what I am describing though so generally I have to say I like this bike for what it is. Looks cool to me. Dirck and others say it is a hoot to ride. I’d enjoy it. My 919 is pretty great though in and of itself.

    • Colors says:

      I owned a 919 for 10 years. Fantastic bike. If it weren’t a twisted mess in a scrap yard now I wouldn’t even be reading about this yamaha.

  24. vitesse says:

    An unusually glowing report on the performance side, especially for a base model at such a low price point. Very impressive.

    I look forward to Yamaha’s bringing out more refined, upmarket (albeit more expensive) versions.

  25. tori zimbalis says:

    I’m not buying into the naked upright bike craze….I find it amazing what catches on these days in terms of trends

    ever been on a naked bike over 140kmph for any length of time…not fun you never get out of the winds blast…..street fighter ok but how long you wanna fight on the streets… boring 111

    and if the bars are more relaxed for cruising…they force you to prop up your body weight all the time….not comfy for my style of riding sorry….ball of foot on pegs…knees high..forearms lightly supported on your knees…and your tucked in nice and calm

    guess that means I keep my CBR and RSV

    • Ken says:

      “knees high…forearms…supported on your knees…” — Uh, no thanks. I’m sure we’re all impressed with your superior riding ability and knowledge, but you may find a different riding posture more comfortable when you reach… your 20s.

    • Glenn says:

      I’ve never been on any motorcycle over 140,000 mph for any length of time. Or did you mean 140km/h? I agree that a naked bike, though highly effective in the city becomes a chore if riding at highway speed for more than a few minutes. With the right seat though, and some wind protection, my old body that found many a sportbike comfortable in years past prefers this riding position by far.

      • VLJ says:

        Comments like these always baffle me. All my rides are over 300 miles, and they often exceed 500 miles. Much of it is on highways, usually at around 80-85 mph. My last three bikes were upright nakes with no windshields, and I haven’t found them to be any sort of “chore” whatsoever.

        You know what I do find tiresome? Wind buffeting. Adding a windshield to practically any upright naked standard introduces seriously annoying wind buffeting, unles the windshield is so tall as to be comical.

        Nope, give me smooth, quiet windflow every time. No stuggles at all. If it gets cold, I wear the appropriate clothing. Pretty simple.

    • Jamo says:

      I agree. WInd is only good for a limited distance. And only in warm weather.

  26. Tim in Texas says:

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I’m sure Yamaha will sell every one of these they can make. The triple is very intereting, and I’m excited to see what other applications we will see out of this engine.

    • BlackCayman says:

      the adventure version makes the most sense in today’s marketplace…although I’m hoping for the ST

  27. Hair says:

    We ask and they deliver. How cool is that?

  28. powermad says:

    I imagine someone will build a quarter faring for this bike, I think such a thing, color matched is pretty close to all I need, maybe having the seat reworked a bit as it looks a little think. If thats all it takes though I consider it pretty minor, tailoring really.

    • Chaz says:

      It doesn’t appear that that Yamaha will be long in producing a faired version. The odd fake scoops probably cover the area where the fairing will attach. The FZ8 Fazer, FZ6 Fazer and the FZ6R full fairing woud not need much modification to fit the FZ-09.

  29. Bud says:

    I’m not sure I can tell which photos are of the red bike and which are orange. #1 is red and #5 is orange?

  30. Tom R says:

    Seems like an outstanding motorcycle for the intended purpose and market. Great job Yamaha.

    Like a few other posters, I would like a sport touring version based on this model. Appropriate windscreen/bodywork, panniers, belt drive (I love this on my current F800ST, prefer it to shaft), 5-gallon tank, ABS and traction control, heated grips, and a smallish rack for a soft bag, about 480 pounds. Can they do this for $11,000 MSRP?

    Heck, I might even be willing to pay most of the greedy $1000+ “freight and set up” mark up that most of the Japanese bike dealers tack on in my neck of the woods.

    • Bones says:

      Trouble with belt drive is if it dies you’re stranded, like the guy on the F800S a few years ago on the Taconic Trail in New York. Stopped to help but there wasn’t anything to be done. BMW shop was mercifully close (<50 miles), flatbed had been dispatched but they didn't have a belt in stock so it had to be ordered. Is that such a big deal? Maybe not for everyone or every bike, but I think it's an issue on a bike with touring aspirations because the whole idea is to go far. Throw a chain and any motorcycle shop can fix it. You could probably get it fixed at a farm equipment shop. Carry a master link and you just might be able to fix it yourself by the side of the road and keep going. Throw a belt and who knows how long before you're on your way because you need a very specific item and a complicated mechanical procedure to install it because it's an endless loop. A chain also lets you easily modify the bike's gearing. A shaft or a chain for me. My $.02

      • Tom R says:

        So if a drive shaft or final drive gears fail, aren’t you still stranded? Are there any parts on any bike that may not be in stock at the nearest dealer, and therefore would require a Plan B? Of course.

        My point with the belt was how it works, with virtually no drive train lash or “clunks” at low speeds when compared with every shaft drive bike I have ridden (and that number is in the dozens). Also, belts have been successfully used on Harleys, Victorys, and Japanese cruisers-far bigger bikes than mine or the one I proposed above-for many years.

        My last chain drive was six bikes ago, and I have had about ten of them so I know well what they are about…and I will never go back to them. But by all means, use what works for you.

        • Bones says:

          When you’re touring to distant locations, it’s worth considering how long you could be stranded and at what cost. I won’t say that belt drive would necessarily be a deal breaker if a bike otherwise appealed to me. If Yamaha put their new 847 triple into an FJR style bike and gave it a drive belt I’d still be interested, but if I bought one and planned to ride it a long way (and that’s what I do) I’d carry a spare belt and learn how to replace it.

          +1 on Jeremy in TX’s comments about chains.

        • todd says:

          Tom R, I’d propose the problems you mention is specific to you and your bikes. I’ve ridden and owned many shaft driven bikes (BMWs, Yamahas, Guzzis…) and have never experienced the sort of problems you mention.
          The splines on my K bike do look a little worn but it would have been on its umpteenth chain by now.

        • Provologna says:

          I owned about 75 bikes including many with driveshaft, and test rode at least another 75, probably more. Without question my 82 and 83 Yamaha Vision had the smoothest shaft drive of all shaft drive bikes I rode. They weren’t slouches either (for the era), quarter mile easily in the flat 13 second range @ 100mph.

          In fact, the entire driveline of those bikes among the smoothest I know of. Never, ever N to 1st gear clunk of any kind.

          I still miss those suckers. The 83 with fairing removed ripped. On tight roads I knew well that bike flew by every shape of race replica including Yamaha and Suzuki 500cc 2-stroke gray market variety.

          Fifteen years ago professional mechanics said you’d have to pry their carburetor out of their cold dead hands because FI was impossible to fix on the road.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I can change the belt on my Buell in about thirty minutes on the side of the road. It is the only belt-driven bike I’ve ever had, so I don’t know how the procedure goes for the F800ST for instance. The down side of course is I have to carry a spare belt (which mercifully fits easily under the seat with the tool kit.) I love not having to keep a chain adjusted, cleaned and lubed.

        That said, chains are still my preferred final drive. Failure is very rare, you can easily tell when they should be replaced, and a change in gearing if desired is a snap.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I might even be willing to pay most of the greedy $1000+ “freight and set up” mark up”

      keeping the lights on and meeting payroll isn’t greed. more accurately I contend, the TRUE embodiment of greed is the consumer desire to “hitch hike” on the backs of the industry, when nothing more than personal recreation’s at stake…?

      • Tom R says:

        Basic economic law is to sell for what the market will bare. If a seller can get $1000 or even $10,000 over sticker from a willing buyer, that is OK.

        In the automotive world this is known as “Additional dealer profit”. It should be called what it really is.

  31. Don Fraser says:

    Nice, seat can be changed, can’t wait to see what else the tuning fork guys have up their sleeves.

  32. Jay says:

    I don’t think there’s enough room for my legs under that seat. Forward controls anyone? And what about some wind protection? Other than that, what am I going ever to do? We’ll have to see what Triumph has up it’s sleeve on October 14th.

  33. Jeremy in TX says:

    Good work Yamaha. This is the bike the Gladius should have been: an SV650 for the new age. Can’t wait to see what else they do with this engine and frame.

  34. Gerhard says:

    We’ve been cursed with 4cylinder DOHC 4valve engines from the Jap four for 50 years. Good to see Yamaha go back a little in their history. Hopefully they will update the XS650 and I may buy a Yamaha again.

    • x-planer says:

      Cursed? Good grief. Apparently you didn’t have anything useful to add about the FZ-09 then?

      • Gerhard says:

        Just saying that the Japanese have been stuck producing the same basic engine configuration for a long time and seem to have lost initiative and market share. I actually like the throwback xs750 update and think it may be time to look at other such changes.

        • todd says:

          Doesn’t everyone? Harleys have stuck with their 45 degree twins, BMW has their opposed twins, Guzzi with their orientation. Singles, twins, triples, fours… that’s typically what attracts a certain buyer.

          I’d suggest Yamaha has been historically the most flexible in this regard; they have (or continue to have) singles, both two stroke and four, parallel twins in both two and four strokes, V-twins, inline triples, V-fours in both two and four stroke, and inline fours of both two and four strokes. Not many other manufacturers can claim that much diversity.

  35. NORKA says:

    The bike sounds great until 3.7 gal tank. Any bike I have to stop for gas ever 120 miles is not for me. If you are on the road at 100 mile you have to start being aware of where the next gas station is.

    • Neil says:

      You can always buy a touring bike. These bikes are not made to tour on, so after 100 miles you’re gonna feel like stopping in all likelihood. 44 mpg comes out to much more than 120 miles. I get 50 on my Honda 919. Who rides ham fisted for 150 miles? – Sometimes we are quick to complain about new bikes. But they are what they are, on a price point. I don’t want to pay $15,000.00 for everything. There are other companies for that. I like that the Japanese companies make compromised but affordable bikes.

      • NORKA says:

        I have a Concours for long distance touring, But a good standard for sporty weekend riding would be nice. A 4.5 gal tank would be ideal on this bike and would have been easy if Yamaha had not gone style crazy with that ugly tank.

      • motowarrior says:

        Agree! I always get a chuckle out of people who would buy the bike if it only had 180 hp, a 6 gallon tank, 50 mpg, weighed 395 lbs, had spectacular handling, was comfortable for touring and cost $5995. This appears to be a sensational bike for what it is intended to do, and Yamaha should be thanked for offering it to us at a fair price. Some of you guys need to get real.

        • powermad says:

          An excellent post. Except you forgot about the part where it retails for $5995 but they should be able to buy it at a discount.
          “Build me my dream bike and then give it to me for nothing.”

          • Norm G. says:

            re: ““Build me my dream bike and then give it to me for nothing.”


        • Gary says:

          Chuckle away. I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask that a bike have close to 5 gallons of petrol capacity. For those of us actually interested in riding, rather than just posing, small tanks can be a distinct PIA.

          • Ken says:

            So, if you only need to go 150 miles at a time, you’re “just posing”? Yep, more of the “I’m the REAL biker” crap.

          • Dave says:

            The definition of “riding” is not universal, far from it.

          • Gary says:

            Yeah, believe it or not … there are primo riding roads that have gas stops farther than 120 miles apart. Some of ’em run through high mountains and remote canyons. Sonora Pass on the way to Mono Lake comes to mind. A bike ain’t much good if it leaves you on the side of the road for want of gas.

            On the other hand, if you just want to scoot to Alice’s Restaurant to see and be seen, why, 3.7 gallons will do you just fine.

          • x-planer says:

            And even more of it…

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “Yeah, believe it or not … there are primo riding roads that have gas stops farther than 120 miles apart. Some of ‘em run through high mountains and remote canyons.”

            AAO. your burden, should you choose to accept it…


            as seen (not on TV) but Indiana.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Oh come one guys! He’s not complaining about the weight or the power or the non-Ohlins suspension or the lack of Brembo brakes or some other nonsensical farkle at this price point. The only thing on his wish list would be a larger tank, something no one would complain about on this bike. At best you are looking at a 150 mile range with a few vapors for reserve assuming the bike actually will get 44 mpg. The extra gallon was sacrificed either for aesthetics or for a specific wet weight target, and I don’t think he is alone in preferring the extra gallon over these other two “benefits”.

        But like you said, this bike is what it is. Yamaha may have something with a larger gas tank up its sleeve with this frame and engine: it just may not appeal to naked bike aficionados.

        • goose says:

          Don’t worry Jeremy or Norka. These guys live is what is, at least in my 40+ years of riding, a fantasy. People who actually ride motorcycles know fuel range is freedom.

          This sounds like a great bike but if you try to ride north out of Las Vegas on Highway 6 it will run (assuming 40 MPG) run out of gas 10 or 15 miles short of the next gas station.

          Weekend play bike? One of the most popular ride in my area is Highway 58 to Mckittrick. It is 80 miles from the last gas station out for breakfast or lunch and 80 miles back. Can’t do 160 miles? No problem, just run to the nearest gas, 23 miles away. That’ only 46 mile of dull, boring heavily patrolled roads while all you riding buddies stay at the hotel/ restaurant/ bar and laugh at you. No problem!

          Finally, I often come into a small town with a gas station and look at my trip meter. Humm… 80 miles on the tank, 50 miles to the next town. Want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere? Better stop for fuel. 120 miles of range turns into 80 miles of range in the real world.

          Another gallon of fuel weighs roughly 6 pounds, I’ll SWAG the 1/2 pound for the extra metal in the tank. Really, for 6.5 pounds you guys think it makes sense to hamstring a bike with a 3.7 gallon tank? The Street Triple Dirk uses as a comparison hold 4.6 gallons, why can’t the Yamaha?


  36. Jmess says:

    I guess I am at an age where I don’t really care about looks. That bike is awesome and sounds great by the review. Yamahas usually do have more flaws than say Hondas, but they have more character and really give people what they want. Great bike/fair price!

  37. John says:

    Fantastic bike, I even like the looks of it. Kudos to Yamaha. If I didn’t already have too many bikes in the garage I’d be all over this one.

  38. Lenz says:

    I’m lookin forward to a ride on this beastie when they grace the shores of Oz. No doubt Yamaha Australia will gouge buyers the usual 30% – 40% over the US price.

    For those who would have “curved radiator, more graceful exhaust, round headlight, analogue instruments, centre stand and no air scoops” – I’m sure you’d complain if you were gettin diamonds poked up your ar$e.

    Love to see a low weight adventure version Mr Yamaha San.

  39. Dave says:

    It would seem a fine replacement for my CR not as much power but I don’t use all of it anyway!!!

  40. Azi says:

    Dirck, nice first ride report. I was wondering if you have anything to report on its city manners? How did you find the gearing ratios and clutch action in traffic, and any hint of overheating (given its city-centric design)?

    • Dirck Edge says:

      City manners are excellent. Clutch pull is very reasonable in terms of effort. Throttle response a bit abrupt in “A” and “Std” modes.

  41. stinkywheels says:

    Why do they keep doing this to me? I want one. Agressive looks, light weight, GREAT PRICE! All the Nancy boys will claim it clashes with their purses, but it’s good to go. As usual I wish for a little more fuel capacity but I seem to be in the minority.

  42. Alon Walker says:

    I see the next V Max motor, a 1700cc V6!

  43. VLJ says:

    So, after reading this article (as well as every other one concerning the FZ-09), can we finally put to bed any and all notions that this bike won’t be directly compared with the Street Triple?

    Once that real-world truth has been established, it seems to boil down to this:

    Sharper handling, less weight, a much shorter wheelbase, a more well-sorted chassis, a smoother throttle-tire connection, cleaner looks, fewer cheesy add-ons, better brakes and suspension (with the R-spec version), greater exclusivity/resale value/warranty, more complete instrumentation, a better seat, ABS brakes with braided steel lines, more available factory accessories, a fully developed package without any potential first-year glitches, greater fuel capacity/tank range, brighter headlights, and a cooler soundtrack…


    Lower price, more power, less required maintenance, potentially greater longevity, smoother motor, more upright (perhaps too upright?) ergos, a lower seat height, and a superior dealer network.

    The three things about the Yamaha that most intrigue me are the lower price (of course), the smoother/more powerful motor, and Yamaha’s 26.6K-miles major service interval (assuming that’s still in play with this new triple). Overall, though, I’d rather have my new Street Triple R. Funky-looking headlights aside, it’s flawless right out of the crate. Since it’s already plenty powerful enough, I’ll gladly trade that little extra power for the STR’s superior handling, greater build quality/all around refinement, and cooler British character.

    For $7999, though, especially as a multi-purpose urban weapon, this new Yamaha looks to have no peer. If someone wanted to hand Yamaha the 2014 MotY award right now just for bringing this bike to market at that price, I would have zero qualms with such a suggestion.

  44. red says:

    I love it. Good work Yamaha, I hope you sell a crap-ton.

  45. EZ Mark says:

    I wish my arthritic knees could bend like that.

  46. Krisd says:

    Hey Dirck
    How’s the America’s Cup looking from there? (photo next to the golden Gate) 🙂

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Saw the Kiwi boat fairly close. Those boats are amazing! In stiff wind they rise up and fly!

      • Krisd says:

        Yeah I bet- on TV they look incredible I can only imagine what they’d be like in the flesh.
        Looks like I better book my ticket to San Fran for the next Americas Cup. Go Jimmy Spithill!…….but I digress, sorry…..Great bike Yamaha!

  47. Tom R says:

    So, is this bike light enough for all you anorexic motorcycle lovers?

    • xlayn says:

      Never enough for MD!! we expect swisstool capabilities close to no cost and even some contradictions implemented in each and every aspect to satisfy everybody around.
      Last milestone, replaceable beak for the Sus VStrom 1000 :P.

      Joke aside the weight is in line, the reference to being just 15 pounds heavier than the race inspired TT675 make a point, add to it the aforementioned mountain of torque and you are in first line to “not here anymore” land offs 🙂

  48. Michael H says:

    How can this bike come from the same company that delivered the Bolt?

    • dino says:

      Tank seams cleverly hidden!

      So you CAN build a modern bike that doesn’t weigh a ton!! Hope this starts a new trend..

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        And build it at a very reasonable price. An amazing example of manufacturing planning and efficiency.

  49. Mike says:

    How does it compare to MV Agusta Brutale 800?

    • Wendy says:

      Only 9 grand difference. Who knows?

      • Mike says:

        Makes you wonder how much of that $9,000 difference is capability versus name brand!

      • Selecter says:

        9 grand difference? Where are you getting your numbers? Brutale 800s MSRP at $12,000 in the US. Sure, $4,000 difference is pretty significant, but it’s not over double the price!

        • Gutterslob says:

          The other $5,000 goes towards MV SOUL.

          Definition of MV SOUL:
          Servicing costs, fuel costs incurred riding a 1000 miles to the nearest authorized service center, parts replacement for when stuff breaks (and they will), compensation for the inconvenience suffered while you’re stuck at home while waiting for said parts to arrive, and possibly costs of return shipping since the said replacement parts will probably fail anyway.

        • Mike says:

          Thanks, Selecter. I was just repeating Wendy, but thanks for the price clarification! Now the question is, is the $4,000 worth it? Subjectively, the MV looks better to me. I do like the single sided swingarm on the MV as well.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Maybe just as good a question is, “What can you do to the FZ with that extra $4,000?”

          • Selecter says:

            Always quite the question there. I wonder the same about the really nice aftermarket exhaust systems. I could spend $1000 on a snazzy full system for my ZX-6R, then $300 for an FI tuner, then another $150 or so for a dyno tune… but it’d gain me what, 10HP?

            $4000 could potentially buy an FZ-09 owner some better forks, a better shock, and probably the full intake/exhaust work-over, but would it be $4000 “better”? Depends on the rider, I’d guess.

            I like the MV a lot. I don’t have the cash burning a hole in my pocket for one, though, and that $12k becomes pretty tough to justify in the face of a $8000 Yamaha that might very well be a great naked sportbike, or even the $10000 Street Triple R, which most folks that have ridden them are said to be peerless in that category. The MV *looks* much better to me, but not $2000 or $4000 better relative to its competition.

  50. Silver says:

    Aftermarket exhaust will drop another 10lbs. Amazing they were able to make it this light for 8K

  51. Gutterslob says:

    I quite like the looks. It’s not pretty, but it does have some character. Those faux-scoops are a bit poseur, but I reckon we could remove them, change up some stuff a bit and it’ll resemble a chunky street-tracker of sorts.

    How tall are you, roughly? I know you’ve stated your height in previous articles/reviews, but I can’t seem to recall. I’m asking in order to get a sense of scale (the bike’s, that is). Also, are those throttle maps changeable on the move, and if so, is there any jerkiness as you change maps/modes while moving? You reckon a Power Commander and some fettling could sort out the abruptness?

    • vince says:

      If I’m not mistaken , he’s 5’11”. Dirck: it seems from your pictures the bike has a lot of legroom. Have you ridden the V4 Tuono? If so does it have more leg room than it? I have the V4 tuono and it’s too cramped for my 50 yr old legs (I’m close to your height). I’d be interested to hear what you think. Thanks for being the first in North America to publish a ride review!

    • DCE says:

      You can go to, put in your body dimensions and see your profile on this bike (look for the Yamaha MT-09 – the European designation).

  52. Gary says:

    I think the bike looks great- everything except the ugly view of the cat converter from the left side. Maybe a black out job to at least that side would do the trick. Great job Yamaha!

  53. Bob says:

    This bike needs a curved radiator, a more graceful exhaust,a round headlight, analog instruments and a center stand. And get rid of the fake scoops. They need me on their design team!

    • denny says:

      I am with you on that. I’d also add small fly screen.
      Otherwise this bike has what it needs to sell.

    • Dave says:

      You’re asking for $500+ in cosmetic changes. They’ve done a great job with this bike. BTW, where in any of the press releases does it say the scoops are nonfunctional? The air box is right behind them after all.

      • rg500g says:

        The photos when blown up clearly show that the air intake scoops are blocked off. I thought the screw heads might be holding mesh in place, but no, it’s a solid panel. It would be a stretch to believe that the scoops were functional, just temporarily blocked off for some unknown reason, or the mesh was so fine that it still looked solid when the photo was grossly enlarged.

    • Neil says:

      That bike you describe is the Bobaha 900. When you get wealthy enough to found your own company, or any of us for that matter, you can design as you wish a la Erik Buell. I like the exhaust. Headlight is modern in keeping with the young people who will likely buy it and the Japanese who designed it, and the Europeans who will flock to it primarily. I use Pitbull stands to work on my 919. Center stands add weight, ugliness and something to scrape in the corners. Yeah, if you told me it was cloudy I would likely say it will be sunny next! 🙂

  54. Azi says:

    I like the look of the riding position. The ergonomics of today’s ‘upright street nakeds’ like the Street Triple and Monster would have been considered very sporty in the late 80s and early 90s.

  55. raivkka says:

    MD readers never fail, you all hate everything!

  56. motorock says:

    Would you recommend it as a sports-tourer, two-up? (esp over the FZ8- and esp if one doesnt want to spend the $$ on a Ninja 1000)

  57. allworld says:

    It would seem to be a good bike at a good price, but with a bit more refinement it could be a great bike. Exposed radiator cap, and hoses with those big orange lollypop directionals that Yamaha puts on every vehicle, attached to the plastic headlight bezel make it look cheap. And to give it the “Matel” look fake air intakes.

  58. Gary says:

    Ugly? Not in my eyes. A very compelling bike. But I still wish for more fuel capacity.

  59. Brian says:

    If only I could ride with my eyes closed…DAMN that thing is ugly!!!

    • SecaKid says:

      Yes, but it has a great personality.

    • joe b says:

      Ugly is as Ugly does, what chu talking ’bout Wilson?

    • starmag says:

      Even amazing backdrops and great photography don’t help. What a shame.

    • motorock says:

      I think it looks sexy as hell! As naked as nakeds should be…reminds me of KTM dukes!

    • Silver says:

      If you’d actually ridden a motorcycle you’d realize you don’t really look at the bike while you’re riding it.

      • BlackCayman says:

        I’m afraid I agree with both sides of this argument. I don’t think its a beauiful design & I am a potential buyer based on weight / performance / stance – NOT the looks.

        I don’t think the Triumph Tiger 1050 is a good looking bike either but its a solid choice for an aging sportbike rider who wants to sit up straight and still blast up the canyons with the Hooligans on theirs

      • Dirck Edge says:

        +1, and I dislike the concept of +1.

      • Brian says:

        …and having sex with Kathy Griffin is just like having sex with Angelina Jolie…as long as you don’t look down…no thanks…I want to savor the walkup AND the ride and when I walk away I want to be able to look over my shoulder and think “Damn that thing is hot!”. I love the concept, but won;t spend MY cash on THIS execution… hopefully they’ll use the platform elsewhere, something with a better seat, tank, and light/gauge arrangement…then I’d drop some of my hard earned green on it…

  60. SecaKid says:

    This is like a modern H-1.

  61. Randy says:

    Two words – Instant Classic

    My unobtainable preference would be a 650cc version weighing in at 350#

    • Tom R says:

      So, this bike with slightly smaller holes and pistons in the engine. How might a 64-pound weight loss be achieved?

      Yes, this does seem unobtainable.

  62. Guylr says:

    Dirk, did they show you the accessory comfort seat? I’m hoping that might help out ‘dem bones on longer rides. I’ve sat the FZ-09 and can easily stand a slightly taller seat height if the riding comfort comes with it.

  63. L Glover says:

    Slap an ABS option on it, make sure the insurance industry isn’t too hard on it (like they appear to be on a Ninja 1000) and I’m buying one to commute on. Looks like the right combination of weight, power, sportiness, and ergs.

  64. Mike Simmons says:

    Put the engine into a sport touring package with a shaft drive and that’s what I’m talkin’ about!


  65. xlayn says:

    Third photo on red made me fall in love… want it…
    Seems to check on all the boxes.

  66. Ted says:

    Five years reading here and finally first! I haven’t been excited about a bike like this since I thought my CRX new back in 05. It tops my list for the future.

wordscape cheatgun mayhem 2 unblocked games