Ready for anything
This year’s naked bike is a lot more than last year’s supersports
Yamaha’s FZ1N (for “naked”; there’s also a half-faired S version) and bikes like it are essentially older versions of the company’s supersports bike with the fairing peeled off and the engine detuned to make it more versatile. It’s an approach that has advantages for manufacturers, extending the life of the technology while allowing them to cut costs and for buyers, giving them access to recent technology at a reasonable price. Remember it’s in effect impossible to access more than, say, 50 per cent of a supersports bike’s potential in normal street use.
There’s plenty of high-tech here: inverted front forks with compression damping in one leg and rebound in the other, a control-filled diecast truss swingarm, four-into-one EXUP short exhaust and even ceramic cylinder sleeves. Five-valve combustion chambers might have been abandoned on the newest R1 but they’re still awesomely effective in moving a lot of air very quickly. Even the wheels are R1 spec, and the monobloc four-piston calipers at the front provide state-of-the-art stopping power.
The riding position is superb. Not only does it feel right, it also puts 51 per cent of the bike’s combined weight over the front wheel for quick but easily controllable steering. Even the seat’s okay – hard but well shaped.
Not all is roses in the FZ1 garden, mind you. Yamaha makes much of the “power spread sculpted for tremendous mid-range punch and massive top end power”, for example, and the fuel injection is claimed to provide a “precise fuel/air mixture for superb power delivery across the entire rev range”.
In that case, why did I have so much trouble getting off the line in a convincing display of supremacy at the lights? Sadly, the bike lacks power to 3000rpm, where it drops into an even deeper hole. When revs drop in tight corners, you may even find yourself having to slip the clutch, or change down an extra gear.
Once you get to about 5000rpm, the bike boogies. It’s not a sudden surge, the way it might be on an out-and-out sports bike, but it’s impressive. And from there to redline the bike is simply a great big thundering heap of fun.
Want to enjoy the FZ1? Give it heaps.
Which brings me to the point I really want to make about the FZ1N: this is a very, very enjoyable bike.
It has a lot of nice touches, such as its reasonably sized 18-litre tank and simple, easy-to-understand instruments. You can commute on it (although that’s likely to prove a little frustrating), you can scratch on it at weekends and you can even travel on it – I’m going to check that sometime soon with a decent trip if Yamaha give it back to me.
But more than anything else, when it’s on song and to some extent even when it isn’t, all its bits and aspects work together really well. Riding the FZ1N is a pleasure; a relatively sedate one below 5000rpm, admittedly, but a pleasure at any speed. The bike works with you and for you. Can’t really ask for much more than that, can you? Especially for the money.
Model: Yamaha FZ1N
Price: $15,699 (plus on-road charges)
Warranty: Two years, unlimited distance
Power: 110.3kW @ 11,000rpm
Torque: 106Nm @ 8000rpm
Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC transverse four, four-stroke, five valves per cylinder, fuel injection and digital ignition
Bore x stroke: 77 x 53.6mm
Transmission: Six-speed, wet, multi-plate clutch, final drive by O-ring chain
Suspension: Front, 43mm upside-down telescopic fork, fully adjustable, travel 130mm. Rear, link-type Monocross, preload and rebound damping adjustable, 130mm travel.
Dimensions: Seat height 815mm, weight 194kg (dry), fuel capacity 18 litres, wheelbase 1460mm
Tyres: Front, 120/70-17. Rear, 190/50-17
Frame: Aluminium perimeter
Brakes: Front, twin 320mm discs with four-piston calipers. Rear, 245mm disc with floating caliper.
Top speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 3.6 sec
60-100km/h: 4.1 sec
Fuel consumption: 5.4 litres per 100km, premium unleaded
Theoretical range: 333km
Colours: Yellow, black, graphite
Verdict: Tonza fun!