You see all the motorcycle magazine enthuse about bikes in every issue — they’re all sublime, well-this, excellent-that. Then you ride it and find out it’s like that Christmas present that isn’t quite as cool as it looks in the ads or on the box. Today i got to do a run down to Mountainair (about 50 miles) on a Yamaha FZ-09, courtesy of a buddy of mine who is well past Social Security age and has much better riding reflexes than I. (Bastard!)
The FZ-09 (or “Fuzzy”, as he was calling it) is a 415 pound naked sportbike powered by a 847cc triple mill. It puts out 107hp and 61ish ft.-lbs. of torque — which puts it firmly in the same playing field as the Triumph Street Triple — a bike i know well.
Seating — it’s about the average height or a touch lower for a sportbike, and the saddle is more comfortable than the Street Triple (henceforth S3) was. The gearbox is good, but a bit heavier than that of my Triumph Thruxton. It’s a six speed and it gets past the ton fast. It’s on par or a bit quick off the line than the S3, and really feels like it wants to run. The engine had a peculiar buzzing, rattling quality to it at 3000rpm or so, but at 5-6k, was smooth as glass. At no point did I feel even remotely close to the top of the power band, and it smoked me on my Thruxton like a pack of Kools.
The bike is light and handles well, although the wide, flat handlebar on it didn’t inspire confidence in me. Too long on the Thruxton, I think, with its tight, low bars. Instrumentation is clear, easy to read, if a bit busy with the number of things shown. The motors are ugly as sin, but give a great field of view.
Finish on it is good, but the welds are a bit rough — this seems to be a thing for Yamaha.
Overall, I liked the bike, but it didn’t make me want to buy one. For the $8000 price tag, it’s $2000 cheaper than a 2014 Street Triple. That’s enough to recommend the Fuzzy over the S3, but if you find a 2010 Triple in good shape with low miles (and the old style headlights; the new ones suck) for $7000 or less, I’d say take the much more refined Triumph — better styling, better motor, better gearbox by far.