Ask RideApart: Yamaha FZ-09 Wind Troubles

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Yamaha FZ-09 Wind Troubles-02

Answer:

Jesse,

First of all, great choice going with the Yamaha FZ-09 for your second bike! This sounds like the perfect bike given the format and price range you were looking for. Personally, I would crown the FZ-09 the “Bike of the Year” award for the best all-around package offered in the 2014 model year. The beefy power plant, comfortable yet aggressive ergonomics and impressive electronics package make for a ride that hits the mark on so many aspects. With some aftermarket suspension and an upgraded breaking setup (perhaps cross-compatible parts from the FZ6, R6 or R1?), this bike could be unstoppable.  Did I mention the sticker price roughly 30% below its intrinsic value??

Yamaha FZ-09 Wind Troubles-02

As for your comfort issue at freeway speeds, this could be rooted in a couple of causes. First, as you suspected, the naked bike format with wide, dirtbike-style handle bars do not create a very aerodynamic situation when air resistance begins to come into play. Your Thruxton does not have much in the way of fairings to reduce this effect either but it does have lower-mounted, sweeping bars (similar to sportbike clip-ons) that naturally put your body in a riding position less reminiscent to that of a wind sail.

Yamaha FZ-09 Wind Troubles-02

An aftermarket windscreen would be the best remedy to this problem. The trouble is, not many manufactures or distributors have a wide variety available for the relatively new FZ-09. Yamaha Genuine Accessories does offer a front cowl but this seems more like an aesthetic addition than functional upgrade. A true windscreen such as the products offered by Puig, MRA, Givi and Rizoma would produce the best results. The craftsmanship and quality of Puig products I’ve worked with in the past would have me leaning in this direction

A second problem that could be generating this uncomfortable helmet situation is the headwear itself. It is an extremely common occurrence for riders to wear helmets that are either too large for their head and/or not designed for their head shape.

Continue Reading: Ask RideApart: Wind Troubles>>

  • infresig

    intrinsic value? are its parts worth more than the whole? sounds like a business opportunity to arbitrage some bikes

    • juliansr

      based on my ebay experience, usually the parts actually are worth more.

  • Jeromy

    I don’t know about the cowl, but I bet you could change your handlebars to fix the problem. My thinking is this : one naked bike no problem, another naked bike has problems, so what is different? The thruxton sits pretty far forward right? And the FZ9 is more up right? Maybe if you changed the ergonomics on FZ9 to match the Thruxtons it would help your wind issue. To be honest I don’t know, but I wanted to throw the idea out there, maybe it’ll help.

  • Mariano

    I would reconsider the helmet being the cause. I have a Ducati Streetfighter 848, I’ve ridden in my local racetrack down the straight at 150 miles per hour, the only thing that wanted to be “ripped” out of the bike was my torso, my head was just slightly buffeting. A good aerodynamic helmet will make a difference.

    At normal highway speeds, or slightly above (wink, wink) no problems at all, super stable…..

    My helmet is a Shoei RF-1100 by the way.

    • Julio Tamez II

      I agree with this hypothesis, I ride a Ducati Hypermotard and originally thought I needed some kind of windscreen but after switching from a KBC VR1 to a Nexx XR1R the difference has been a revelation in helmet aerodynamics. With the KBC (brick) helmet, 80 mph was a chore. I was also wearing a size too big and experienced the same “being ripped from my head” feeling . The Nexx cuts through the air like a knife at speeds above 100 and weighs nothing compared to other helmets out there. I suggest you do some research on different helmets (price, weight, aerodynamics, fit) and look further than the helmets cool factor (something we’re all gilty of) . A windscreen may help and lower bars may also help a little but I guarantee the right helmet will be your best bet.

    • markbvt

      +1. Sounds to me like the OP is wearing a cheap open-face helmet. If he gets a properly-fitting full-face, the problem should go away.

      • Michael Howard

        Did you folks not read that he doesn’t experience this problem on his other naked bike?

    • blackcayman

      The Streetfighter has “superbike” ergos – racing crouch. The Thruxton much less so…the FZ-09 is almost completely upright. The differences the rider is noticing are due to the angle and height of his torso – (as many have suggested). If he wants it to be more like his Triumph, a new set of bars is the easiest answer.
      Aftermarket Screens almost always look… like an afterthought, but if it works, go for it

  • JP

    Bruce,

    The Thruxton from 2008 or 2009 on no longer use clip-ons. The bar is pretty similar to the FZ-09, but the riding position is more stretched out mostly due to the rear sets.

  • Clint Keener

    My Streetfighter, old Speed Four and Monster never gave me this problem.

    • Stuki

      The GT AIr is aerodynamically stable head on, and completely (90 degree) sideways. At any other angle to the wind, it tries to assume one of the above two.

      Helmets designed for unfaired street bike use, really need to have their outside shell be as close to completely round as possible; with minimal slab sided protrusions. On the street, looking around you, even when not in a tuck, is fairly common, after all; and you don’t want helmet aerodynamics to influence which direction your head is turning, no matter how cool spoilers and giant airscoops may look.

  • Jack Meoph

    Anything above 80 on my Monster, and I’m a windsail. I’ve thought about a windscreen, still thinking……I wear a Suomy spec 1r.

  • Rau

    I would start with a fender eliminator, bar-end mirrors, and a small windscreen. Those massive things that the law makers stick on our bikes really screw with the aerodynamic intentions of the manufacturers.

  • KC

    The Thruxton is “punching a hole” through the air quite differently than the FZ-09. You’re also leaning over quite a bit more on the Thruxton so, even if you are tipping your head back, your helmet/body relationship is different. Slide back on the saddle of the FZ-09 and lean in to the bars (tuck in) a little. See if that diminishes the effect. If not, a small windscreen should help.

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    buy the BMW

  • HeDidn’tWeDid

    I own an FZ-09. First, it does not “rip my helmet off” at 80mph. I live and ride on some great roads here in Central Arkansas and routinely exceed 80mph w/o problems. It is a motorcycle without a fairing and the wind blast is not any worse than any other naked motorcycle. My FZ-09 is a cheeky bike and such a blast. It is a bit more fun honestly than my B-King was even if it has 50 less H.P. at the rear wheel…it also has roughly 170lbs less weight.

    • SkunkySamurai

      I think I saw you sitting at the light by Cabot High School today, I think it was like between 1 & 2 in the afternoon. I was on HWY 89 going towards 167 on the black GSXR 750 and had a Monster backpack on. Was it you who I saw?

      • HeDidn’tWeDid

        Nah, wasn’t me. I haven’t been up that way yet. I been riding to Mt. Magazine-Petit Jean-Little Rock. The picture above was taken at Williams Junction at HWY 9 & HWY 10.

  • hunkyleepickle

    where is the speed limit 80mph? that was my first thought…

    • JohnnyWaffles

      In the western US the speed limits are routinely 75mph, making 80 the normal travel speed.

    • Thomas Høj Jørgensen

      Texas

  • http://turnerart.la/ Justin Turner

    “For example, Arai helmets are generally better for people with rounder heads while Shoei’s seem to fit those with longer, narrow head shapes.”

    You have that backwards, no?

    • hunkyleepickle

      That would depend on which model of either you’re talking about. The Arai Signet-Q is for long, oval shaped heads. Different shells for different folks melons, ya know!?

  • ed

    lean forward like your riding a supersport while going above 70mph. should fix the problem.

  • Michael Howard

    That wind blast is one of the things that make naked bikes so much fun. It makes it feel like you’re going even faster than you actually are. ;)

    • Peter Chen

      agree !

      on my street triple it doesn’t bother me at 80 mph,, only when I’m doing some very hard acceleration (which I think is fun), but will try to get a tighter fit helmet later

    • Mister X

      No kidding, at 129 mph on a Kawasaki 750 with Denco chambers, I can totally relate!

  • Michael Howard

    Eight paragraphs and three (not including each page’s header) photos spread out over three pages? Really?

  • Luis Fernando Ponce

    the only time my bike rip off my open helmet with a beak is when i use small goggles, change to motocross ones solved the problem.

  • MotoEnthusiast

    Everyone talks about upgrading the suspension on the FZ-09 but my problem is that no one is ever specific. What would be the ideal set up and brand recommended by RideApart?

    • juliansr

      Suspension is like sandwiches, everyone likes them a little differently, and most people don’t need the mustard or have the money anyway.
      The FZ09 forums aren’t flush with swaps yet,this is a very new bike.

      But you want a specific answer? Fine. Send this guy 365$ and your forks.

      http://www.stoltecmoto.com/shop/fz-09/14-fz-09-fork-piston-kit-service/

      or wait for the “big boy” fully adjustable kit for fz (1200$ or so)
      http://www.stoltecmoto.com/images/FZ-09/forks/25%20mm%20teaser.jpg

      Or do your own R&D like many of us…OEM specs for swap shopping:
      5.4″ travel ,41 mm diameter sliders (inner fork tubes), 50 mm diameter outer fork tube in the top triple clamp, 52 mm diameter outer fork tube in the bottom triple clamp, 21.25 inches long for the outer fork tube, 30.5 inches in total length from the top of the fork to the center of the 22mm axle

      • RyYYZ

        Nice. That looks like the way to go. Well, I’d go for the first option. It might not be perfect, but as the stocker typically suffers from too little low-speed compression and too much high speed, this would probably sort it, in conjunction with some stiffer fork springs. Really, unless you weight about 150 lbs, I think pretty much every bike could stand stiffer fork springs, and a stiffer shock, too.

  • John Lyon
    • 200 Fathoms

      Oh, no, ugh.

    • Rob M

      That windshield is, err, too much. But the flyscreen isn’t bad.

      • Michael Howard

        There are times when the bugs are so thick where I live you basically can’t ride at highway speeds without a full windscreen unless you want to stop every ten miles to clean your visor so you can see again.

        • Kenneth

          That’s literally true! I once rode across Iowa in June, and absolutely had to stop every 10 miles to clean my almost-completely bug-covered face shield.

  • zedro
  • Kirk Roy

    Most riders are likely to be fine with the suspension on these bikes. A large number of bike owners ride so little they would have trouble telling the difference anyway (well, except the bone jarring they might feel on rough roads after “upgrading” the suspension – there are reasons for soft suspension).

    • juliansr

      absolutely, hard and soft aren’t the only options,and you’re right in saying that some people are doing it wrong. I used to think harder was better, but the end result is that going too stiff reduces the bikes tossability. A good compression/rebound setup ($$$) will dampen everything better while still leaving you with a precision feel.

  • jhawkinsvalrico

    I own several bikes including two naked bikes – Aprilia Tuono and a Triumph Street Triple. Buffeting can be an issue, but usually on the highway when passing tractor trailers. You get used to it and learn if it’s bad to tuck against the fuel tank. I suspect that your helmet doesn’t fit you well enough and I’ve had wind trying to rip my helmet off on nakeds as well as sport bikes. A couple of years ago I visited a shop that actually knew how to fit a helmet properly and the process takes some time. The helmet that I ended up buying actually felt too snug at first, but as the salesperson explained, the internal padding will compress and it did after wearing it for an hour or so. I never would have bought that helmet just trying helmets on thinking that it was too snug. I learned a lesson and do not have an issue with any of my helmets pushing against my chin or feeling like they are getting pulled off my head. My advice is to find someplace that actually knows how to fit a helmet properly and will take the time to help you through it. Also, as the response stated, helmets are not all shaped the same and neither are heads. Arai makes several models that are designed for differing head shapes. I really like Arai, but I have a Shoei shaped noggin.

    • Michael Howard

      A properly-sized helmet will be uncomfortably tight when you first try it on. As you mentioned, it will loosen up and conform to the exact shape of your head as you wear it. In an accident a too-loose helmet can move, actually come off or, at the very least, not provide full protection.

      • jhawkinsvalrico

        Exactly. I have been riding some sort of a bike for over 40 years and it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that happened into a shop that fitted me for a helmet. Every other shop that I bought from was just try them on and buy it. I was visiting my brother up in upstate New York and we were out looking at gear. I was looking and trying on helmets and a salesman walked up and started helping me out. He explained how to properly fit a helmet and we tried on many helmets until I found the one that I liked that fit properly. As I said above, I thought that it was too snug – not painfully tight, but not comfortable. He told me to wear it for an hour or so and it will form to my head. Guaranteed that I’d like it or I could return it for a full refund. I wasn’t even really planning to buy a helmet, but he spent so much time helping me find a helmet that fit me, that I felt like the least I could do was buy a helmet from him. Well that and it was a very cool looking Shoei RF1000. I flew up to visit my brother – didn’t even have my bike with me. My brother laughed at me for sitting at his house with that helmet on seeing if it would form to my head – I couldn’t very easily return it from Florida. It didn’t even take an hour for the helmet to loosen up. I wore that Shoei RF1000 for five years and it fit like a glove and I have been buying Shoei helmets ever since. I know that some will just pickup a helmet online without even trying one on. Even though I could take a chance that my next Shoei will fit like the last one, I always go to a local shop and try it one. Some may think that you are throwing money away spending a few bucks more locally, but I like having a place to visit to try on gear. The online superstores are great, but when it comes to gear that needs to fit properly to provide protection, I’ll spend a few extra bucks.

  • Gerardo Astroball

    Are you using a correct helmet size for your head? It might be too large and whatever movement caused by the air (and the position different to that of the thurxton) pushes it to your face because of the open spaces. The helmet should fit you snug.

  • Justin McClintock

    I really hope he opts to upgrade the braking setup and not the breaking setup. Good Lord guys, you sound like a bad Craigslist ad.

    • IRS4

      Apparently BMWs come with upgraded breaking as standard equipment!

  • Rich Wentz

    I had that experience with my Street Triple. The eyebrow helped. With the FZ-09 I suspected it would do that. And it does. A Diavel is worse. Much worse. Lol.
    The wind deflector will help on the FZ-09 with both the wind and appearance.

  • IRS4

    A Noj QuietRider helmet gasket could help, not letting the air in under the chin bar

    • juliansr

      good idea

  • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

    “upgraded breaking setup”

    The spelling/grammar teachers will not be pleased…

    • Michael Howard

      And neither will anyone else who realizes that different words have different meanings.