Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sport Touring: In search of a new ride... Yamaha FZ 07 demo

If you are in the market  for a new moto you will encounter the following conundrum: How do you purchase a new shiny moto if the dealer refuses to let one test ride? It has been a few months since my 250 and I parted ways and longer still since I went on a bonafide moto ride. This must be rectified soon.  The other day while reading the latest moto rag I ran across Yamaha's latest offering the naked FZ 07, considering my fruitless search thus far, I thought maybe I should give this a closer look. But first meet the contenders:

Honda's CBR500R offered the I've been there feeling  with manageable horsepower and classic styling, except dealers won't let go of these at an agreeable amount and the used market is overpriced as well (test rides mostly unavailable).

Ducati's Monster 795 offers beauty and performance at an exorbitant maintenance cost (test rides available).

BMW's F800GT is fast and stylish, a classic sport tourer with a classic insane admission price (test rides most definitely available).

BMW's G650GS your ticket to adventure riding and beyond if one ever wishes to eat some dirt  (test rides most definitely available).

Thriumph's Street Tiple R simply astonishing, one may have to contact Thriumph's regional corporate office in order to secure a test ride.

Yamaha's FZ 07 the new moto on the block.  I had to drive 120 miles roundtrip to a Yahama demo day event in order to test ride the latest hot moto on the scene!

Rider profile:               5'6", 130lbs, 29' inseam/ 171cm,59kg, 74cm inseam
Years riding:                Not enough
Preferred moto style:   Sport touring

At first I was a bit apprehensive about the the test ride, but there is only way to find out if you'd like to spend your hard earned currency on  a moto or not, one must test ride; considering it was a major holiday in my geographic area of residence there weren't many people around to interrupt my cheap thrills and search for moto bliss. 

The Yamaha reps were friendly and after signing the usual "ride at your own risk and don't wreck our machine" waiver I was off on an escorted test ride.  This machine embodies the beauty of pure simplicity. Allow me to elaborate: it is a basic approach to tarmac surfing, a potent engine, adorned by wheels and body work in different shades of appealing colors. The following are missing: fairing, ABS, traction control, throttle by wire, electronic adjustable suspension on the fly, nope, good luck if this is what you wish for. 

What you will find is the equivalent of an old fashion muscle vehicle on two wheels: raw power and brakes for the time when one must actually slow down. At a claimed weight of just under 400 lbs. the bike feels light and easy to maneuver, also the seat is really narrow near the tank and wide at the rear allowing those of adverse stature to reach the ground with both boots flat. The first thing I noticed (maybe due to lack of saddle time) is that the throttle felt sort of twitchy and made me wish for some type of adjustment knob. Although, I suspect this could be remedy after a few hundred miles and allowing muscle memory to take over. The brake lever is adjustable while the throttle is not but is easy to operate.    

The geometry of the bike allows for an upright comfortable seating position. The lack of fairing only becomes evident at around 60mph/96km, anything under 50mph/80 and the wind was hardly disruptive. The speedometer/control box is really low and it takes some effort to look down while riding to verify that one is still riding under legal limits.  It does however display a plethora of ride data, to include a gear indicator and ambient temperature, something really useful should one ever have any doubts as to whether it is really 100F!  The gas tank can be locked and it is covered by composite body work. If you carry a tank bag  as I do you may have to procure a small bolt-on-to  rim type of bag, as a magnetic type is out of the question. 

I am far from a suspension expert, so all I can say is that it felt more than adequate for the demands I may exert on it( as did the brakes). I was really impressed with the wide beefy radial tires! Although, I never pushed the limits of the speedometer, the ride felt comfortable and confidence inspiring on the highway, I never had to use the 5th or 6th gear. 

I did find the rear brake pedal to be a bit lower than I'd like but it was not a major issue. The controls  (blinkers, horn) on the left hand were  a bit small and hard to find/feel with gloves on. The fit and finish is better than average. I've only seen the white and red one, I have not seen the graphite with the cool colored wheels yet. If the finish is anything like the other two it should look awesome.  

Yamaha claims a fuel capacity of 3.7 gallons/14 liters and a 58mpg/93km that should provide an approximate range of about 150miles/242km under sedate riding conditions. This is not bad considering that when touring a break is usually taken at around 100 miles. I have looked around and there are already a few aftermarket accessories available to include hard cases that would make this moto a nice option for sport touring. 

Overall I was impressed with Yamaha's offering, critics will fault the lack of abs, (insert own) and other items.  However, the aggregate of machine and the surprisingly moderate asking price make for a notable contender and a fun moto. Only patience and more saddle demo time will determine what my next steed will be. Enjoy the Ride.