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Riding Yamaha's sports tourer

2007-08-06 08:52

Yamaha FZ1 Fazer. Pics by Linn and Tor Sagen

Tor Sagen

The FZ1 Fazer is Yamaha's do anything and go anywhere motorcycle. It is available both as a naked version and a half faired version. We rode it in Norway...

I finally got my hands on a 2006 spec FZ1 Fazer for a road test in Norway. The standard version has an R1 derived engine and big torque for a 1000cc in-line four.

The new Fazer was introduced with sharper lines and a big Euro 3 compliant exhaust system. On paper it was an unbeatable combination of power, styling and usability.

Our FZ1 Fazer had been modified to become a full worthy sports tourer with a full fairing, tall windscreen, panniers and heated grips. (In South Africa we only have the half-faired FZS1000 version with 105,2kW'ed.)

But after my first ride on the motorway I was wondering where all those kilowatts went. I remembered the old Fazer 1000 to be a motorcycle that could wheelie at will always feeling powerful enough.

When first taking a seat on the FZ1 it feels really low. The seat height is 815mm (which is not very low), and there is plenty of room for my arms due to the tall handlebars.

But my legs didn't seem to have enough space and my knees were at a sharp angle. This is because of two reasons: sporting ability and lean angle and the new flat as a turd and oval muffler that sits on the right hand side of the Fazer.

The seat is not overly luxurious, but fits the riding style that can be adapted for the sports part in touring. Next to the pillion seat are big grab handles for passenger comfort, but due to that muffler again it also looks like the pillion has to settle for a steep knee angle.

The big windscreen and deflector mounted on top is pure luxury though. Coupled with a full fairing and heated grips I never got cold despite the fresh Norwegian autumn weather.

Even on the motorway I was just as happy as if it had been 25°C in the middle of summer. For touring on motorways that 79kW 998cc in-line four is absolutely sufficient.

The problem with the FZ1 is not the engine maximum output; it is more the delivery through what seems to be bungee hooks connecting the throttle to the fuel injectors.

It really is annoying particularly since this is a touring version that you are expected to spend thousand of miles on.

Full throttle acceleration seems to be absolutely fine, it's just when you want to control the throttle at low to medium speed there is no good communication between my right hand and the injectors. There is a corporate money-saving reason to part of the problem.

The 2007 Yamaha R1 probably features the most advanced high tech fuel injectors and ECU on any production motorcycle. But that is just too expensive to put in the FZ1. Simple as that, it's a matter of cost.

A good tuner can probably smooth out the dips in the power band and delivery, but that is at an extra cost to the owners. The engine runs very, very quietly, which enables you to listen to your MP3 player or communicating to your pillion on a volume less than that of a rock concert.

The suspension, chassis, brakes and wheels are solid and perform well on the FZ1 Fazer. Bumps in the road are absorbed easily with no need to adjust the suspension from standard.

When riding on tight B-roads the chassis shines and allows the big sports touring bike to steer precisely. Stiff muscles from many motorway miles suddenly softens up and the FZ1 Fazer is really good fun on a twisty road.

The claimed dry weight on a standard FZ1 Fazer is 199kg. Our SP Touring version must be a good few kilos heavier than this, but it still feels light and flickable.

The die-cast diamond shaped aluminium frame is one of the best in the business. The 17 inch wheels come standard with a 190/50-ZR17 rear tyre, but with the 79kW version I would opt for a 180/55-ZR17 personally for even quicker steering.

The front tyre is a Bridgestone BT014 120/70-ZR17. It provided plenty of grip on cold and dusty Norwegian early autumn roads. The front brake features double 320mm discs and four pot callipers. They are still powerful, but not more powerful than on the old Fazer. Sufficient at all times and lighter than radial struts.

The colour coordinated pannier set looks really smart on the FZ1 Fazer. They are wide enough to take enough luggage for a long weekend, but if you want to go camping in Europe there are no luggage rack, so you'll then have to leave the pillion at home to bring tent and sleeping bag.

That is what sports touring is all about, it gives you the ability to enjoy long and fast rides whilst featuring some practical details at the same time.

You can't have it all at the same time, but Yamaha FZ1 Fazer is pretty close. When you are not touring, panniers and side fairing can be removed and suddenly you have a streetfighter or a commuter.

Isn't that more versatile than a Honda VFR800 or Triumph Sprint ST? I think so, but Yamaha please sort out that throttle response.


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