“You can’t be all things to all people” my father often said, yet that’s exactly what many seek from the motorcycle we choose. Sporty performance, comfort for highway speeds or long distance touring and manoeuvrability in the city. Unmistakably the Yamaha FZ8 Fazer may well be the answer to those expectations and keep you happy from Sunday to Saturday and back again!
With sport bike performance in an upright riding position you can enjoy all day comfort versus the cuddled up cramp inducing position on pure sports model. The Yamaha FZ8 Fazer silent handling character will soothe you in the urban environment, but a transformation will be felt on highway or at performance speeds delivering a feeling of unlimited power!
The FZ8 has arrived in Canada only and in two style options. The Yamaha FZ8 simply “naked” styled with nothing hidden and the Fazer 8 with its half fairing. The differences being the Yamaha FZ8 without fairing accents, has dual cat’s eye headlamps and passenger handrails at the back. The Fazer 8 has folding mirrors, and a single styled headlamp with a seat strap for a passenger to hang on to. Everything else about these two models is the same.
Both contain the same chassis and most of the components of its bigger sister the FZ1 only slightly more refined for a lighter more responsive ride. Plus it’s certainly a step up from the FZ6 answering the intermediate to more experience riders needs and as expressed by Yamaha, this is not for the beginner.
Meet the Machine
Introduction of what Yamaha calls their “all-rounder” and underling that it is not intended for starter riders, yet certainly a step up from the FZ6! The machine’ s powered by 779 cc, DOHC, inline 4 cylinder engine with a claimed 110 hp, whose design inspired the successful FZ1/ R1. Liquid-cooled, fuel injected and has a completely new clutch design. With these and a few other engine design changes producing benefits that widely spread the torque in the low and mid ranges; you’ll feel a crisp, smooth, linear throttle response & excellent drivability. All this accented by a free-revving feeling at higher RPM’S and an easy clutch lever pull for our nimble yet often lacking in strength, female hands.
Get to Know It Better
These new Yamaha FZ8’s are packed with remarkable features. I won’t get into too many of the technical details such as optimized crankshaft mass (provides desired engine character and torque; fast engine response) or forged piston (excellent strength and durability, high production quality reduces engine vibration; excellent durability and extended service life) or fracture split connecting rod (extremely accurate big end roundness/excellent durability); electronic fuel injection for excellent “ride ability” for very linear throttle control; great fuel economy; choke-free, no hassle starting; reduced emissions or 4 into 2 into 1 exhaust benefits (high flow for excellent torque and power; centralizes mass due to short design; catalysers reduces emissions). Well, okay, these obviously provide you diverse performance over many aspects of the riding ability of these new machines!
In Case You Didn’t Know
The Yamaha FZ8 is the descendant of the FZ1 street motorcycle, also available in a smaller 600 cc version called the FZ6. Models produced in Europe have always been known as the Fazer. From 2006 came the introduction of completely new models in this category, with changes being a new chassis, suspension, body work and a completely new engine, never seen before in the FZ1. Cast aluminium die-cast diamond-shaped frame replaced the older tubular steel frame along with a control-filled die-cast swing arm. The new FZ1 held a 998 cc DOHC 20-valve engine from the 2004-06 R1 tuned for better midrange torque, which produced 150 hp (110 kW) (129–132 hp at the wheel) at 11,000 rpm
Right from move-off in first the FZ8, I felt this machines performance manoeuvrability and precision all delivered through a light weight ease sensation-effortless! It’s an obvious result of Yamaha’s complete modern-day technology. I truly enjoyed the FZ8 for about 170 kms through my favourite northern Toronto roads in the Muskokas! There was ample time and road to experience both this and the Fazer 8 versions. Yet my personal preference fell to the basic FZ8 and was the first model I tested. Its style and promise of “bare bolts” motorcycle riding pleasure was just my style and delivered just that. Indeed the Fairing model performed equally, it is just that with the fairings, however small on this model, there is a reduced feeling of being up front, out there, part of the road. And the Fazer 8 reduced the effect of wind but I preferred the cooling of the open version and found the added wind to have little bearing on my riding comfort. It’s a personal thing where I prefer to be as much out in front as possible.
This bike fit well, and with its 33 cm turning radius making it an easy pleasure to manoeuvre in tight small parking spots or during sharp turns. The seat’s comfort is just right but for me it was a little high. My feet didn’t fully reach the ground – seat 815mm (32.1″) which isn’t really an issue if you’re an experienced rider and since Yamaha position this for those with experience, while it should be manageable by most. As you know these things can be resolved by different tyre profiles and suspension decreasing.
I’d have to say the highlights that I immediately noticed particularly under power, were the incredible throttle response even while mid range-fully passing my demands and expectations! Additionally the braking capacity through the dual 310mm discs, easy, smooth and responsive especially l noticed the stability the 267mm rear brake disc provided!
Impressed Me Much – Effortless lever feel and feedback; upright sport riding position, excellent smooth throttle power delivery, supreme stopping power, excellent drivability
I was totally impressed with the “self diagnosis” mode included in the “all in” parcel of the multi functional race inspired meter assembly. This means that no matter what shop you go to your data diagnostic info travels with you, versus having to be serviced by a garage that owns the equipment. Smart stuff!
Didn’t Impress Me Much: Yamaha Fazer 8 version fairings blocked cooling air where the heat of the engine was felt. Okay on a cold day, but will add some discomfort during hot weather riding temps.
Wrap It Up: If I had to opt for one motorcycle to satisfy all the FZ8 would definitely be a candidate. It is without a doubt a bike for all needs and really a motorcycle providing all-around performance. I’d personally go for the FZ8 rather than the Fazer 8 simply due to personal styling preference. The Fazer 8 with fairing definitely satisfies a rider who’d be travelling more highways and perhaps touring.
The seat height will be a factor for many petite women, yet by way of your local dealer and Yamaha’s wide range of accessories for the FZ8- this can be reduced slightly.
Many of the male test-riders complained of the seat being uncomfortable, which I really didn’t find an issue with. There was a slight pressure at the outer edges of the seat, but the centre seat did me no wrong. A custom seat is always an easy solution.
With a 17 litre fuel tank you’ll be able to travel more than 300 kms, I estimate which also satisfies the average need. Plus this keeps the bike light versus a higher capacity tank.
Fun, easy, excellent performance package for the money – an “all round” pleasure to ride!
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Final Drive: “O” ring chain
- Front Suspension: 43mm inverted fork
- Rear Suspension: Link Monocross
- Tyres (Front): 120/70ZR17
- Tyres (Rear): 180/55ZR17
- Wet Weight: 212 kg (466.4 lbs)
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MOTORESS director, Vicki Gray is a basic and advanced motorcycle instructor – certified for over 30 years. She is a motorcycle licensing examiner and has instructed, examined and licensed riders for European and North American road racing schools.