It isn’t always easy to find the words to describe a motorcycle and relay the experience but after three days with Yamaha Motor Canada at the launch of the new, made in Japan, 2015 FZ-07 the words that come to mind are fun and exciting (and I haven’t even picked up my pom poms yet).
The FZ-07 is a good looking naked roadster with an edge offering a standard straight up sport bike ride. It is the third addition to the FZ family joining the FZ6R and FZ-09. Since 2011, the motorcycle market has been on the rise increasing in sales by 14.8% with sport bikes showing the strongest growth. Yamaha, recognizing the need for a lightweight, entry-level sport bike, wanted to create a versatile model that would appeal to the novice or step-up rider but also offer something for the more experienced to enjoy.
This ‘cool urban sport’ comes in three colours: white, matte gray and my colour of choice, lipstick red (although Yamaha prefers to call it vivid red). Of the 7 bikes available, there was only one red. Even though many of the men expressed interest in riding the red bike, for photographic purposes, once I called it the lipstick bike, ironically it was mine for the duration of the test.
We opened throttle on the Vancouver Island Highway just as the Canadian Air Force Snowbirds passed overhead in a training flight. As if to see who had more horsepower, the men were gone! All 75 HP available from the 689cc liquid cooled parallel twin was put to use.
I love to watch men ride. I admire their willingness to push it to the limit as they put a bike through its paces in ways I wouldn’t but, then again, the male audience has a different interest in motorcycles than that of their female counterparts.
While the swarm of bees (the men) rode in formation focusing intently on the pavement seeking the bike’s sweet spot, I took in more of the scenery. Motorcycles often take me to places I have never been and I am interested to soak up all the hidden secrets (like the full model clipper ship anchored in a roadside ravine with a cleverly attached solar powered garden light so that after dark, it will indicate that the ship is at anchor – “Did you guys see that model ship back there? No? You didn’t?”)
The digital liquid crystal single bar mounted display was easy to read in the morning light but if you have issues with directional light from the sun, this back light gauge is fully adjustable. Digital speedometer, odometer and dual trip meter are offered and I set my Trip1 to zero with a few pushes of the buttons.
At slightly faster than the posted highway speed, I casually glanced at my bar tach surprised to be approaching the 10,000 RPM redline yet not running out of power. “Hmmm, maybe I should change gears?”
Usually, you will feel the need to change gears on a motorcycle and not have to actually consider whether or not to do so. Even though the bike offers a six speed (overdrive) transmission, I didn’t find the use for the final gear and barely needed 5th gear in the straight stretches.
Highway 28 out of Campbell River would offer ample twists and turns and decorate my bike, gear and visor with an array of bug splatter indicating that, despite the cooler morning temperatures, Spring had indeed arrived and the woods were once again active with Mother Nature’s creations.
I navigated the next 100+ km with the swarm of bees always just around the next one or two corners. Here is where the ’07 truly shined. The RPM range in the gears is between 3000 and 6,500 RPM making its operation effortless as there isn’t a whole lot of need to change gears despite changing speed. I simply rolled off the throttle approaching a bend and rolled back on as I exited never having to gear down yet still maintaining controllable power.
Now I understood the diversification of the target market appeal to the new as well as the experienced riders. The entry level rider can enjoy the bike and develop essential riding skills and confidence with simplistic operation while the experienced rider can challenge themselves, push the limits a little and maintain that smile on their face yet still have money in their wallet and power in their wrists. (FZ-07 is entering the market with an MSRP of $7,299).
After riding past thundering waterfalls crashing over cliffs and continuing hundreds of feet over rock faces marked with no parking signs, I came out of the woods and into a clearing at Muchalat inlet where I ran out of road. Wow. Another incredible destination I would never have seen if I hadn’t been on a bike.
A small marina housed a few fishing boats, a float plane marked Air Nootka and a couple of tugs to haul logs. I guess you could say this was officially the middle of nowhere and it was beautiful.
Gathering again as a group at the Gold River Cafe for lunch, the bikes attracted the attention of the locals. One couple in particular, where 72-year-old “Betty”, who pulled up in a convertible sports car with the top down, came over to chat and marvel about riding. She had recently given up her bike but couldn’t get the feel of a motorcycle out of her system. She bought the convertible as the closest thing to a bike and laughed as she explained that when she drove her new car off the lot, she did so wearing her helmet.
Over lunch the group shared personal experiences and I asked, “Did anyone see the ECO light on the dash.”
The Eco indicator, a digital display above the speedo, had been discussed in the morning seminar. The indicator would come on when the bike was being operated in an ‘Eco-friendly’ fashion for fuel consumption.
“The light is only operational between 2,500 and 3,000 RPM,” was the response where the consensus at the table was unanimous why none of us had seen the light. We had been having way too much fun in the higher RPM. The ECO indicator would be a good guide for the new rider. If you are paying attention to the ECO indicator, chances are you are monitoring the fuel consumption gauge as well.
Planning our post lunch exit route I piped up, “My fuel light is on.”
“Just on or is it blinking,” was the response.
Fuel is listed on the digital display with a bar graph. The fuel pump light will come on when the bike is running on reserve on fuel. When you approach the end of your reserve, the light will begin to flash indicating that from that point forward, you take your chances continuing to ride.
The fuel-efficient FZ-07 offers 24 km/l or 68 m/gl and even though it requires 87 Octane fuel, the 14 litre fuel tank will go from A to B within the tightest of budgets.
The tank itself is covered with replaceable plastic panels. Designed with the newer, inexperienced rider in mind, if there is a scratch or damage to any part of the fuel tank, the individual panel can be replaced which is a much more economical fix than replacing the entire tank.
The ride back was filled with photo pit stops. One in particular in Strathcona Park, B.C.’s oldest forest, where we took photos in an S-curve. Vehicles passed by ogling and then continue on their way. Then we spotted Betty’s convertible coming around the bend with the friendly waving hand of her husband from behind the steering wheel. Passenger Betty was fast asleep catching a few winks in the wind.
From Campbell River to Courtenay the road outlined the waves of the ocean before turning inland and passing through farmer’s fields. Just over 320 km marked the odometer as I reached for the key.
Keep your eye out for the Yamaha Power Tour in your neighborhood and try the FZ-07 for yourself.
Engine: Liquid cooled, DOHC, 8-valves (4 valves/cyl) inline twin
Bore and Stroke: 80 x 68.6 Compression Ratio: 11.5:1 Maximum Torque: 6.9 kg-m (50 ft-lbs) @ 6,500 rpm
Fuel Delivery: Mikuni 38mm throttle body F.I.
Front Suspension: 41mm fork Rear Suspension: Adjustable link Monocross (preload)
Front Brakes: Dual 282mm discs / 4-piston calipers Rear Brakes: 245 mm disc / single piston caliper
Front Tires: 120/70ZR17 Rear Tires: 180/55ZR17
Length: 2,085 mm (82.1″) Width: 745 mm (29.3″) Height: 1,090 mm (42.9″)
Wheelbase: 1,400 mm (55.1″) Rake/Trail: 24.5 degrees / 90mm
Seat Height: 805mm (31.7″)
Wet Weight: 180 kg (397 lb)
Hey. What did you think of the bike as a highway performer (over a hundred miles isn’t difficult here in Alaska)? Did you have any actual bees in your visor?
My local Yamaha shop has the first one in AK sitting on the floor. I love how it sounds! 🙂
The bike is awesome on the highway. Has plenty of power and is quite comfortable for those long distances. If you want a bit more power, look at the FZ-09 as it is a bit bigger for the taller rider and offers three riding modes. Both are great bikes.
As for the bees, I have rode into a one more than once and have now added a wool buff around my neck as an essential piece of motorcycle gear! Haven’t been stung since.