Back in 2014, Yamaha Motor Corp. released its new FZ-09 naked sportbike to replace the popular FZ8. The factory blessed it with several improvements over its predecessor, to include less mass, more power and a narrower waist; features that proved popular with the sportbike community. Yamaha released its 2016 model to carry that torch into a new year.

Lean, aggressive and nimble are my immediate impressions based on the overall looks of the bike. In typical “naked” fashion, Yamaha shunned excessive body-paneling, leaving very little mystery as to what it has going on under the hood, as it were. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what makes this particular model so likeable.

Continue reading for my review of the 2016 Yamaha FZ-09.

  • 2016 Yamaha FZ-09
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-3
  • Displacement:
    847 cc
  • Price:
    8190
  • Price:

Design

2016 Yamaha FZ-09
- image 642452

The large-diameter fork tubes, exposed engine and wasp-like waist that tapers down to nothing over the subframe leave the bike looking like a wedge of cheese – which is to say, “all up front.” While the tank design has the sporty-looking side bumps typical of sportbikes, they seem to be a bit high, and not actually in a position where one can hook a knee under it while hanging the derriere off in tight corners.

Still, the look is there, and it speaks to the designed cornering performance profile. With no body panels to disguise it, the factory abandoned all pretense of hiding the big radiator on the downtubes. Instead, they owned it, and made it part of the look.

Chassis

2016 Yamaha FZ-09
- image 642464

Yamaha started things off in the right direction with an aluminum frame, and left features such as ABS and traction control on the shelf to prevent loss of the gains garnered by the frame construction. The 25-degree steering-head angle and 17-inch front wheel produces 4.1 inches of trail for decisive cornering and crisp reversals. Of course, you’ll pay for that when you hit long, straight stretches on the highway, but it is a sportbike after all.

The inverted front forks are fairly beefy at 41 mm, and both the front forks and the rear monoshock come with preload and rebound damping adjustments so you can dial in your ride. Front brakes discs fall just a little on the small side at 298 mm, but there are two of them and they have four-pot, opposed piston calipers to bind them – plenty for a bike that weighs in at a mere 414 pounds soaking wet. There is no ABS or linked-brake system, but I personally count that as a bonus, not a detriment.

Drivetrain

2016 Yamaha FZ-09
- image 642449

Yamaha’s Crossplane Concept CP3 engine serves as the beating heart for the FZ-09. This is an 847 cc, liquid-cooled, in-line triple that cranks out 64.3 pound-feet at 8,500 rpm; due in part to the staggered, downdraft intakes meant to open up the powerband a bit and make it start to come on earlier in the rpm range than systems with equidistant intakes. As one might expect, the engine follows a symmetrical firing order, which gives it smooth power-pulse delivery, and a counter-balancer cancels out the rocking couple to further smooth out the engine.

Though the factory saved weight everywhere it could, induction control was apparently too important to pass up. The Yamaha Chip Control Throttle (YCC-T) is a fully Ride-by-Wire (RbW) system that reads engine rpm and current throttle opening to reconcile changes in throttle-grip position against the engine’s needs. Yamaha’s Drive Mode (D-Mode) feature allows the rider to switch between three separate premapped settings for quick and easy changes to power delivery and throttle response, so you can change the performance profile as needed.

For me, the most interesting part of the engine would be the connecting rods. (I know, it’s a rather mundane part, but bear with me.) The factory uses the “Fracture Split” method to actually break the big end open, then bolt the two halves around its throw on the crankshaft resulting in a perfectly-mated joint. I have to wonder how many conrods the engineers destroyed trying to perfect that method, but I digress.

The six-speed transmixer comes geared to make full use of the expanded torque curve while keeping the rpm reasonable at cruising speeds. Designed to work with the narrow three-banger engine, the gearbox helps keep the drivetrain trim and fit ahead of the rear running gear.

Competitor

2016 Kawasaki Z800 ABS
- image 645657
2016 Yamaha FZ-09
- image 645655

In an effort to keep apples-to-apples, I stayed in the Japanese sector to find a worthy competitor and the Z800 ABS from Kawasaki floated to the top. While not quite as naked as the FZ-09, the overall design, and designed use, is fairly similar. So, let’s get to it.

The 847 cc Yamaha mill is a bit bigger than the 806 cc Kawi, so its no surprise that it puts out more grunt with 64.3 pound-feet over the Kawi’s 61 pound-feet. The FZ-09 D-Mode and RbW also gives it an edge over the Kawi as far as advanced engine controls go.

As the cleverly ingenious name suggests, the Z800 ABS comes with ABS, something the FZ-09 lacks, but I have to say that particular feature is subject to taste and I leave it to the individual rider to weigh the merits either way. Neither bike runs any sort of traction control, but given their middling engine sizes and the fact that neither is meant to perform as a superbike, I can’t say they really need it.

At $8,190, the FZ-09 squeaks in just two bills and some change under the Z800 at $8,399. This certainly isn’t enough in and of itself to influence anyone riding the fence, and it’s refreshing to see that neither bike makes you “buy the name” with an inflated sticker. (Ahem, Harley, cough cough)

Price

2016 Yamaha FZ-09
- image 642454

Yamaha prices the FZ-09 to move at $8,190, and offers it in Raven (black) or Impact Blue. This comes with a one-year limited warranty.

He Said

“I kind of like the understated “naked” look of this ride; it appeals to my pragmatic side, and suggests the factory concentrated on the really important aspects. This ride almost strikes me as a café racer of sorts, but with an entirely Japanese flair, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The price is a bonus, and it puts fairly good performance within reach of the most frugal buyers. Even though it doesn’t have all the features some of the higher-echelon bikes have – a fact that keeps the price low – it has just what is required, and I don’t particularly care for all that fandangled stuff anyway.”

She Said

My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "Spec-wise the 2016 is a carry-over from that first FZ-09 in 2014. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The FZ-09 is fast and plenty torquey even in the "standard" drive mode. "B" mode will give you something a little more controllable: but in any other mode, you can easily stand this bike up and throw yourself off backwards if you get too twisty with it."

Specifications

Engine Type: 847cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline three-cylinder Four-
stroke; 12 valves
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 mm x 59.1 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection with YCC-T
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Six-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Suspension / Front: 41 mm inverted fork, adjustable preload and
rebound damping; 5.4-inch travel
Suspension / Rear: Single shock, adjustable preload and rebound
damping; 5.1-inch travel
Brakes / Front: Dual hydraulic disc, 298 mm
Brakes / Rear: Hydraulic disc, 245 mm
Tires / Front: 120/70ZR17
Tires / Rear: 180/55ZR17
L x W x H: 81.7 inches x 32.1 inches x 44.7 inches
Seat Height: 32.1 inches
Wheelbase: 56.7 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 25.0 degrees
Trail: 4.1 inches
Ground Clearance: 5.3 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gallons
Fuel Economy: 44 mpg
Wet Weight: 414 pounds
Warranty: One Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color: Raven; Impact Blue
Price: $8,190
What do you think?
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