The Yamaha FZ8 was launched in Europe earlier this year primarily to try to steal some sales away from the hugely popular Kawasaki Z750. That won't be needed in the the US, so its prime function will be to fill in "the gap for sport riders who feel a 600cc is too small and a 1000cc is too big".
The FZ (and Fazer) series has been a huge success since Yamaha first married an YZF600R Thundercat derived engine to a friendly beginner bike chassis over a decade ago and created an allrounder hit. The 600cc bikes was soon followed by FZ1, a similar concept based on the R1 engine.
The new FZ8 coming stateside next year shares the chassis with the FZ1, and the "completely new" engine is in fact a slightly softer tuned 779cc version of the FZ1. Power output is 105 hp, just 7 more than the FZ6, but with a healthy dose of usable low end power and 61 ft-lb maximum torque. According to Yamaha the wet weight (including a full tank of fuel) is 467 lb.
Reviews of the Euro version have been positive, with a lot of praise for the muscular, friendly engine and some minus points for a slightly soft suspension.
Thoroughly enjoyable with enough sports ability to exhilarate, yet gentle enough not to scare, is Kevin Ash's verdict in the Telegraph.
The FZ8 is priced at $8,490 and will be available late 2010/early 2011. ABS version is not available in the US, and neither is the semi-faired sibling Fazer8.