2014 Yamaha FZ-09: three cylinders, eight thousand bucks

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How about a three-cylinder naked bike that makes more power and torque than a Street Triple, but costs $1,400 less? Sounds good to us. Enter the 2014 Yamaha FZ-09. It’s hot.

Last week, we had the opportunity to see, touch, feel and sit-on (but not ride, that’s happening in October) this new Yamaha. And, we’re extremely excited to announce that this is one bike that should absolutely live up to the hype. There’s not a single part on it that feels in the slightest bit cheap. Sitting on it, it feels almost impossibly light and slim. Every surface and every texture and every component has received the kind of attention-to-detail Yamaha typically reserves for its R6 and R1 range. So, when we heard the price — just $7,990 — we were literally gobsmacked.

A lot of that feeling of slimness come not just from the narrow, three-cylinder motor, but from the die-cast aluminum frame which wraps from the steering head around the engine (so far, so normal), then inside the swingarm. While the seat height is a fairly normal 32.1 inches (.7 inches taller than the Triumph), it feels like a smaller bike because it’s immediately and perceptibly slimmer between your legs.

That swingarm isn’t just some old piece of box aluminum, as on most affordable naked bikes. Instead, it’s a swoopy, sexy, banana-shaped, braced piece of aluminum through which the chain passes and which is, again, as nice as R1′s.

Connected to that swingarm is a monoshock adjustable for rebound damping and preload that lays nearly flat, in order to maximize mass centralization. You really have to get down on your knees and peer ahead of the rear tire to see it, it’s that tucked away in an overall package that’s simply dense.

The Competition:

At the front, suspension is by an inverted 41mm fork adjustable for preload and rebound damping only. Front brakes are 298mm in diameter and gripped by radial calipers similar to those of the R6.

And then there’s the all-new motor. Developing 113bhp and 63lb-ft of torque, the 847cc triple has been developed to deliver linear, punchy performance. That’s 12lb-ft and 7bhp more than the Triumph. Controlled by a ride-by-wire throttle, there’s three engine maps available. A standard mode unfortunately titled “STD,” then A and B modes which sharpen up throttle response and reduce it, respectively.

Inside the motor, there’s a “primary coupled-force balancer” shaft that revolves in the opposite direction of the crank, at the same speed, to minimize vibration and a crossplane crankshaft which should maximize rear tire feel while on the power. Unequal length intakes for each cylinder should give it a unique sound, but we haven’t heard it rev in person yet.

Yamaha uses adjectives like “torquey” and “quick revving” to describe the motor’s character.

One of the most exciting parts of the new engine, at least to us, is the exhaust, which features three swoopy down pipes connected to a single, R6-style canister. Against the black cases, the polished pipes really stand out.

Compared to the outgoing Yamaha FZ8, the FZ-09 makes four more lb-ft of torque and weighs a stunning 53lbs less. The new bike’s chassis is slightly sharper thanks to reduced trail. It accomplishes that even while achieving roomier ergonomics.

Character, performance and strong styling from an affordable, modern Japanese motorcycle? More like this please.

  • Nicholas Gajewski

    Must have, right now. Must sell Triumph, right now.

    • Damo Von Vinland

      You would really trade your Triumph triple for one of these?

      • Nicholas Gajewski

        I think I would. I bought a Thunderbird 900 with intent to sort of brat/cafe/street it out. By the time I get it to where I want it to be (USDs, wheels, gauges, controls, lighting, paint, etc…), I will have spent more than the MSRP of this bike. And that’s for a bike that’s 150lbs heavier, 35hp and 12lb-ft of torque short of what this bike is. A project that the returns are looking less and less worth the “investment”.

        I don’t love the looks of it, but I think that putting a more classic looking bucket up front will make this look night and day better than what it is now.

        Here’s what I got going on, great bike, love the triple:

        • motoguru.

          DON’T DO IT!!!

        • Damo Von Vinland

          Don’t do it! That Triumph looks great!

        • Campisi

          I’m actually having the same issue with my Bonneville. I bought it with the intention of stripping it down and upping the power, but by the time I’m done I’ll have spent a huge amount of money on a bike that won’t be able to hang with a Street Triple wearing decent tyres.

          The Yamaha looks interesting, and the price is right, but it’s too bad its redline is as low as it is. I’m sticking to a 12,000-RPM minimum for my next bike; otherwise, this thing would be pretty much the ideal choice.

          • sospeedy

            I wouldn’t think you’d really buy a Bonnie to hang with a Street Triple…. Your bike brings different things to the table, just like a Street Triple couldn’t hang with an R1. That is, if we are simply talking about speed on a fast, twisty road. They are simply different bikes.

            • Campisi

              I didn’t buy it with the intention of competing with a Street Triple; I simply figured that, once it was paid off (only one payment left, huzzah), I could do a few functional modifications to it to make it sportier. After adding up the cost of all of the changes I’d make to it, however, I realised that it’d be far cheaper to simply sell the Bonnie and buy something faster once the itch to go faster hits. Nick’s dilemma simply reminded me of the situation, so I figured I’d chime in.

              Essentially, I appreciate the Bonnie for the things it’s best at, and would be better off getting another bike (such as the Yamaha, or a Street Triple, or what-have-you) than turning the Bonnie into something it’s not.

              • Spurdog1

                Just wait for a bit. A Triumph Bonneville has been spotted testing with a front end similar to the Street Triple and decent rear shocks. It will probably be around next year.

              • sospeedy

                Understood. And congrats on getting to the last payment! If you like midsized naked bikes and want something that can scream at the top end, also check out a MV Agusta Brutale 675. I rode it recently and it’s easy to get along with but has lots of poke when you want it. It’s compact and light and the quickshifter is super-fun!

    • patriot4life

      Looking Forward to Ridin’ one ….

  • Sean Tempère

    Given the pretty low pricerange and the somewhat long delay between your first contact and the actual bike getting ridden (october, so more or less 4 months), do you have information on how close it is to the actual production model?
    We’ve all been burned badly by the 1290SD going from “fuck yeah” to “meh” in a matter of weeks…

    If it trully is a pre-production unit, consistent with the actual bike i can buy, i might just get a bit excited about this.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      What you’re looking at is a production bike.

      The 1290 Super Duke was clearly labeled as a concept at the time.

      • Sean Tempère

        100% agreed on the SD beeing clearly identified as “this is as street legal as a fighter jet” demo, the production model was non the less very uninspiring (so far).

        Thanks for the clarification, Wes, this is very good news, for Yamaha and bikers.

        What’s also great about an all new model is that their is no theft numbers on it so it doesn’t start with a high premium (like a Z800 for instance). Just ask my friend who insured a Panigale S for like half what he paint for his 1098 Streetfighter when it came out (though next year might be a different story altogether).

        So on top of things il’ll be cheaper to insure than the Speed (and i’d bet even the Street).

  • NONo443

    I hope these sell well, so we get more motorcycles like this from Yamaha.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      or more motorcycles like this from all of the mnfr’s

  • Davidabl2

    Wow, less than a Sportster 48, or a friggin’ V-strom for that matter

  • Vitor Santos

    So… updating the previous post… you americans are also getting this beast. Good for you. This might be my next bike depending on reviews, gaz mileage and a test ride. I was looking for a light middleweight naked with good low end torque for city driving and commuting. I was aiming for something like the bmw f800 until this came up. I was itching for something japanese, because they tend to make cheaper and more reliable bikes… Looks like yamaha read my mind!

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      You really don’t want an F800R.

      • NY

        How come? Curious, not a BMW fanboy.

        • coreyvwc

          Most boring engine in the sport motorcycle category. Basically…

        • Sean Tempère

          Not a bad bike i guess (tried it on track and in the city), the engine isn’t dull, just a bit… unsurprising. The standard exhaust sounding like a hoover doesn’t help.

          More than saying that it’s a bad bike, it’s just that there’s so much better out there, like the street triple just to name one.

          • Ferenc

            the stripler does have a better front suspension than the f800r, but does not have as long a wheelbase (touring comfort?) and range (i like long trips in the middle of nowwhere). it also does not allow for a centerstand – non-shafties need one.

            the f800r has the ergos and the range and is easy and fun to ride. the front suspension is fixable, but the range is not, unless you want to carry a spare tank.
            the arkapovic exhaust many like on the f800r, and the engine is nice and torquey. the bike is easy to ride and 0-60mph under 3.5secs. is fast enough for me.

            yamaha is on the right track with this triple – as their f8 has torque that finally jerks in at high rmp, a short wheelbase, and just does not fit some bodies well.

            i’m sticking with the f800r, unless yami’s range and the ceterstand are addressed,

      • Damo Von Vinland

        The F800R is a bike you get if you put ergos and gas mileage first, but it is what i would call exciting.

        They are extremely comfortable, even with a pillion, but even an old SV650 offers a more sporty ride.

  • TP

    High pressure injectors attached directly to the cylinder head? Does that mean DI? Or is it still port injection.

    • Jordan

      Just a guess, but DI would place the injector tip inside the combustion chamber right beside the spark plug. I don’t think motorcycles are quite to that level at the moment, but getting the injector as close to the combustion chamber through the intake port’s path into the cc makes for an attractive alternative for manufacturers.

      Going on a limb here, but the extra complexity of driving DI makes it difficult to fit to a motorcycle because of the extra room needed in the cylinder head and driving so much extra pressure in the fuel rails for an engine that revs to around 15k RPM.

  • Mykola

    Yeah, we finally get an awesome ugly MT-0X in the states. I might have to seriously look into trading in the Z750 in a year or so. I’m almost disappointed there’s no mention of ABS.

    • Stephen Mears

      I’m baffled by the lack of ABS option as well. Seems like a no brainer these days.

    • Kevin Sprock

      Not sure about the US, but the european version will have an ABS option for +500 Euro.

  • Secret69Squirrel

    Isn’t the fuel capacity a little smallish at 3.7 gallons. And Yamaha’s US website is stating availability beginning September 2013

  • sospeedy

    Wes – any word on whether (when) this bike will come to North America? Certainly not gonna trade in the Speed Triple for this but kudos to Yamaha for an interesting new bike! I bet that motor is going to be fantastic!!

    • Sean Tempère

      He mentions october at one point.
      Official dates for Europe are september for the non-ABS version and november for the ABS version.

  • FreeFrog

    3-cylinder shiny goodness. I’ll wait to hear reviews and comparisons between it and the Triumph Street and Speed Triples.

  • Mitchel Durnell

    While not perfect, I do really like the minimal front light and gauges – it seemed like naked bikes were slowly growing weird faces with all the cladding up there.

    • DoctorNine

      I personally prefer the traditional tach and speedo to the minimalistic thingy.

      • NONo443

        I agree that a traditional tach and speedo (analog reading and digital inputs for both, I might add) would be awesome, but this kind of fits the “streetfighter” style of the FZ/MT-09. If you’re really tempted, I am sure it wouldn’t be extremely hard to put a nice set of traditional gauges on this (especially if there this motorcycle puts up a cult following, which means more information on the all of it’s systems will be shared by crazy enough people).

        • DoctorNine

          True. I suspect Yamaha decided that their target demographic didn’t really want expensive analog gauges, if it meant moving the price point upscale. So they went with keeping it less expensive by using this more minimalistic design.

  • Jordan

    The highs: The overall packaging makes it look more tidy than the MV Brutale as there is no garrish hoses covering the engine case. Decent budget suspension kit, too! Radial Sumitomos, awesome. Also, the price is insanely attractive for this kind of machine. Engine is promising, not a detuned three legged super sport mill we’ve been used to seeing up to this point.

    The lows: The exhaust where the actual muffler box thing is hiding in plain sight. I know it’s about impossible to work around affordably, but it doesn’t help the overall decent styling. Also, will the drive mode be useful or just a means of hiding ineffective fueling and ruin the engine’s potential character? ‘STD’ seems appropriate if that’s the case. Lastly, will Yamaha have cut a corner with the front master cylinder? That can make or break braking feel.

  • msay

    Well my FZ8 just got a lot less cool…

    • Mugget

      … but it will keep doing the same things it does now, even once the FZ-09 is released. ;)

  • Tuscan Foodie

    I agree with you: this thing as as ugly as they come. That front section just made me say WTF out loud.

    • Robotribe

      Too me, it looks like a garage project with aftermarket parts from the Competition Accessories catalog. Full disclosure: I’m an ’09 Street Triple owner, and by no means do I think my Triumph is the most beautiful looking bike out there, but this bike is a whole other kind of “ugly” in my book. I think the MT-03 was more a visually cohesive and appealing design.

  • Kr Tong

    But It’s soooo ugly it hurts to look at.

    • Sean Tempère

      My first reaction also, and then i remembered the Z1000 special showed in Milan and imagined it with a round headlight.

      I like the direction this is taking, the cafe racer fad is going away but if this it the way it devolves to big companies i think it’s great. We’ll get more motorcycle with simpler designs, less plastic, less transformers design and more form and fonction. Moto purity.

      I did the cut up pretty quickly (and badly) but look at it with a round headlight, i personnaly like it a lot.

      • Richard Gozinya

        That improves it a lot, the stock headlight looks like ass.

      • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

        cafe racer fad is going away?

      • Jon B.

        Awesome with a round headlight.

      • Kr Tong

        The cafe headlight does serve as a distraction from the rest of the bike, now that its big and shiny, but now you’ve gotta do that for every other part as well, just like that Z1000.

        Even in all-black yamaha can’t hide how no two parts connect to each other. And the number of design cues from some of yamaha’s worst looking bikes, the T max intakes, the Seca headlight, the FZ6 subframe… WHY?!

      • Campisi

        Being a Yamaha, what it needs is a rectangular sealed-beam-style light.

      • Robotribe

        THIS. Yes. Much better. Now please repair that cantilever bracket hatchet job of a gauges assembly.

  • the antagonist

    Nice! Ditch the license plate mount and swap the headlamp and signals for something more gnarly and you’ve got a pretty tight little streetfighter for not a lot of money.

  • coreyvwc

    Umm, that’s where passenger foot pegs go…
    The placement is dictated by human ergonomics (nature), not aesthetics (design).

  • Hooligan

    Looks like it went to ugly school. In the flesh will probably look cheap and nasty. I will not be chopping in my Street Triple R for this.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      i love the striple guys coming in to bash this.

      • Aaron Berg

        More competition in the sweet triple category, what’s not to like.

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          exactly. i was a bit dissapointed when I first rode the triumph triple’s (after the huge amount of hype I heard) and would love to see someone give em some competition and make em pay attention

      • Hooligan

        I should also say I will not be chopping in my 2010 STR for the new 2013 one as to me that has been ruined by the stupid ugly headlights and the low down exhaust.

    • Campisi

      It’s about time the Street Triple had genuine competition that isn’t a Brutale.

      • Hooligan

        Hardly competition, the Brutale is a nice (but fussy looking) bike but where is the dealer network? Spares availbility? And it is more expensive.

  • Afonso Mata

    Looks great. Any info on a half-fairing version of it? Since it’s an FZ, i hope they make a Fazer version ;)

  • blake

    187 kg wet is pretty good. why didn’t they use a higher compression ratio ? more power for free

  • Tommy Erst

    Bought time yamaha did something worth talking about.

  • Porter

    Normally I’d say black is good, but it makes this thing look like a hot mess. Looking forward to a more flattering paint scheme. Yamaha has one of the best palettes out there, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Charlie

    That looks like a great package with excellent detailing (exhaust, instruments). The price is even better. How do you think it stacks up to the Brutale 800? I just commuted on my 675 for the first time and very impressed. Fueling just decent but design makes up for any flaws to me. Power is enough to kill me several times so sufficient. As my first triple I’m impressed. This new Yamaha has to be near the top of the fun/value chain. This is serious progress

  • Blake Harrison

    I might sell my FZ1. I have been waiting for years for them to bring
    back their 3-cylinder. I’ve love them since I own an XS750.

    WET WEIGHT 414lbs…. SWEET!

  • Bones Over Metal

    I do not see where the oil filter is, Please tell me it is not tucked behind those mangled twisted pipes?
    Also the coolant hose line looks really, really close to those pipes.
    The last bone to pick is the radiator, really just a plain boring rectangle radiator? meanwhile the bike is angular and edgy all over. Looks like an afterthought and slapped on from a parts bin.

    Still, it looks like a great bike, and can’t wait to hear the engine, I have a real soft spot for triples.

    • Kevin Sprock

      yep, the oil filter is behind the pipes. Still looks accessable, from what I can see.

  • Bruce Steever

    Everything is looking good… until you stumble across the 3.7 gallon tank. SO much for the practical side…

    • orthorim

      14 liters? Ugh. 100 mile range…

    • Kevin Sprock

      from what I’ve heard it’s supposed to get aprox. 130 miles out of that. Sure, it’s only 3.7 gallons, but for that you get a very slim and lightweight bike.

      • Bruce Steever

        Let’s assume standard reserve amount and guess a mileage:
        .9 gal reserve, at 40 mpg

        That’s 110 miles till the light, 140ish till you’re walking. Not good enough, especially if you live in some boring flat state or have to ride for hours to escape the urban sprawl.

        Slim and lightweight wouldn’t change with another gallon on board, just saying.

  • mrtasty

    A bit too reminiscent of the matrix for me. Wish it had a lot less swoopy stuff on it.

  • d murphine

    Want, really want. Very similar to my Kawasaki Versys, though.

  • Michael

    black bike with blue wheels and gold forks?? I dont get it

    • DoctorNine

      Yeah. Bike should be the blue of the wheels, and the wheels the black of the bike.

      • TP

        I really think I am alone in being smitten by the way this looks. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  • OtisGerald

    Lighter than my SV with quality components and twice the power for 8k new? Yeah… I’m buying this. As someone who lives in a city and parks on the street, this with some nice frame sliders would really fit the bill. Fast enough to be a ton fun even when I leave the city, naked so that not much gets broken when someone inevitably knocks it over. Not so expensive that I cry over every little scratch that does manage to happen.

  • http://www.racetrackstyle.com/ Racetrack Style

    Can’t remember the last mass-produced motorcycle sound that was anxiously anticipated as this one.

    Edit: now I do..the cross plane R1

  • Stephen Mears
  • http://madebyfred.com fred vg

    I think it looks great. Should be a blast to ride. I’d buy it. It reminds me a little of the Wrenchmonkees Versys and the JvB Ducati Scrambler. Those blue wheels are unfortunate though.

    • Kevin Sprock

      terrible, right? I wonder how they would look in dark red…

  • Jordan

    Decent brake pads for the front cost around sixty dollars. A set of lines for the calipers are around a hundred dollars and a universal Brembo RCS 19 master cylinder is around 350 I think. So, for around $500 you can get a setup equal to or better than what comes on non-ABS equipped sport bikes. Factor in around 350 for a track-able set of hyper sports tires to replace at your leisure, either immediately or when you wear out the stock rubbers. That leaves you with around $500 dollars to put into the suspension before you are at the Street Triple’s MSRP and I imagine Race Tech will be able to provide you with enough components to help improve the suspension’s limitations past what the stock stuff can do adjusted to your weight.

    I agree with you though, I am curious to see what corners might have been cut on the bike to get it at its MSRP, but if its that bad, you still have some options to get it on par or better with its competition without digging yourself into a hole. On the flipside, you could just buy the benchmark bike in the category for a little bit more money.Then again, Yamaha may make the bike decent enough to where you can just enjoy it as-is and not feel like you are at odds with budget kit. At this point, it’s all just speculation.

    • karlInSanDiego

      Where it’s built has a large effect on price. Triumph builds the 675 and Street Triple (along with most of their other bikes) in England, but the Bonnies are made in Thailand. Not judging the quality, but labor costs are a big factor, so if Yamaha is trying to give you more for less, Thailand or even their Indian plants could be part of their formula.

      Now let me help you all rejoice in the 2nd coming of the triple. MV Agusta, Triumph, and now Yamaha are all recognizing that 3>4 !

      • Jordan

        Good point and it coincides with what Honda is doing is with their new entry level range and KTM seems to be reaping the benefits of their relationship with India. It’s a just a guess, but the inverted forks on the FZ-09 are most likely manufactured by KYB, and Yamaha probably had them manufactured in their Indian factory to help keep cost down.

  • Campisi

    Ten bucks says Yamaha is looking to create the next great base-line bike for upgrading and customising. That, or this is the first iteration of a platform family of motorcycles.

  • Starmag

    There’s no doubt she’s great in bed but make sure you bring a bag.

    • Damo Von Vinland

      Comment of the century.

  • Spurdog1

    This looks great. The engine, chassis, weight and looks are spot on. I hope it handles well as it should give the Street Triple some competition. I’ve had a few Yamahas and the reliability and build quality have been excellent. It would be nice if this engine and chassis were used to make a TDM 900 type of bike with more range and comfort. I can’t wait to test this out.

  • Mugget

    12lb-ft and 7bhp more than the Triumph? I’d bloody hope so for all the extra engine capacity!

    Looks pretty sweet though, looking forward to a review and some video showing that sweet triple sound!

  • toumanbeg

    I’m in LUST! Based on the old saying that love is about giving, lust is about getting. I think my ’05 FZ6 will go on Craigslist pretty soon now. Yes the FZ-09 is fugly. At 414 wet, who cares? That cat has to weigh 30 Lbs. Lose it and the rear fender and I’m well under 400 wet. And sitting up straight, or almost. Hot Dog! Besides, if anybody can see how fugly it is you are not going fast enough. Get the black one and anybody glimpsing it will think it’s a shadow from a low flying F-15.

  • TP

    It just occurred to me, but I suspect that this might be the first fruit of Yamaha’s tie up with KYB. Streamlining the R&D process and using their commerical know-how to be able to make better suspension, cheaper. Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but never underestimate how good the big-dog Japanese companies are at eliminating unnecessary processing/costs.

  • Rick

    I’m in love….

    don’t tell my FJR I said that!

  • NONo443

    To nitpick further, I wish we didn’t get the “bling-tastic” gold colored forks. That won’t be too hard to change, but I believe one of the MT-09 show bikes doesn’t have gold forks and still looks awesome.

  • VagrantCoyote

    I’d buy this in heartbeat, great value for the technology. Finally a factory naked bike that hasn’t cheaped out on all the components. Bravo Yamaha

  • Kevin Sprock

    Damnit, whats wrong with me? I seem to be the only one who thinks this thing looks awesome.

  • Thomas E. Dorrell

    Trade a Triumph for a Yamaha! Never! Of Corse I wouldn’t buy a Bonnie and expect it compete with a Speed Triple either!

  • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

    While I commend the effort to move design forward and the advantages gained from reflector optics and the tendency for motorcycle design cues to not play well in 2D, these trapezoidal naked head lights just look as though someone stole the fairing and left the light.

    Certainly, this is a lovely bike otherwise. And more power from less metal is a very, very good thing.

  • Alberto Morgado

    FZ or MT… I just want this bike on Brazil… exchange my ER6n on this bike, will be very nice!!!!