2017 Yamaha FZ-10: Activate Your Fazer

Text: Florian Neuhauser • Photography: Brian Nelson

Yamaha’s FZ1 has had a good run since 2001, but it has been replaced by the FZ-10 this year. Still, with a YZF-R1-based engine at the center, the most notable change is a visual one. This doesn’t look like your dad’s FZ1. Welcome to the future, FZ-10. During a sweltering summer day, I tested the new streetfighter on my home turf in North Carolina. The exhilarating curves in the Great Smoky Mountains proved that this is where the Yamaha feels most comfortable, and potent.

Powertrain and Performance

Just like its predecessors, it derives its engine from the YZF-R1 superbike, although about 40 percent of the internal 
parts have been replaced with more budget-conscious components. Street riders really don’t need all the fancy magnesium and titanium parts, and only the most skilled track enthusiasts will benefit from the light metals. The 998cc in-line four is claimed to produce 158 hp of peak output, but what’s most enjoyable about this crossplane crankshaft engine is the smoothness. No notable vibrations or buzz on the seat, pegs, or grips allows for all-day riding without complaints. Add the upright seating position, and the FZ-10 quickly rises to the top of the list for the weekend warrior, tourer, and commuter. Low and mid-rpm torque are also achieved with this engine design, which translates into real-world ease of riding.

The six-speed transmission is just as smooth. Lever pull effort is super light. Yamaha’s assist and slipper clutch manages the bike’s torque especially during downshifts when attacking a corner aggressively. Part of the test route included U.S. 129, the Tail of the Dragon, where the FZ-10 showcased its brightest colors. Even with spirited riding, I found that third gear is the sweet spot when taking curve after curve.

Chassis and Handling

Besides the power, what makes the FZ-10 so much fun is its handling characteristics. This is achieved by 17-inch Bridgestone Hypersport S20 tires, a 55.1-inch wheelbase, a well-planted KYB suspension, and the Deltabox aluminum frame. The latter comes straight from the R1 and was fine-tuned for the FZ-10. It’s lightweight yet strong, rigid yet responsive, and uses the engine as a stressed member. 

The inverted KYB fork offers 4.7 inches of travel and is fully adjustable. On the rear the four-way adjustable KYB shock uses a piggyback reservoir, which serves as insurance. Basically, a piggyback reservoir is there to provide more consistent damping during extreme workload and offers the extra space needed for the oil displaced by the shaft.

ABS comes standard. Radially mounted four-piston calipers grip two 320mm discs in the front, with a single 220mm disc on the rear. I found the braking setup to be more than sufficient, especially when spirited riding calls for precise braking inputs. 

Features and Ergonomics

By now you’re probably wondering, “What, no fancy electronics?” We’ve gotten spoiled, haven’t we? Settle down. Even with a ,999 MSRP, Yamaha was able to pack in its ride-by-wire YCC-T, traction control, and cruise control. The chip controlled throttle includes D-MODE with three preset riding modes. Standard (STD) is the default and most vanilla setting, offering a smooth throttle response. “A” mode kicks it up a notch for a sportier low and mid-range response. “B” mode is the highest level for a sporty response, which I still thought to be a smooth onset of power. No jerkiness here.

The futuristic, angular styling is edgy without offending. Granted, the fake air scoops raise eyebrows, but they do add to the look if nothing else. Both head and taillight as well as the turn signals are compact and very bright LEDs.

Always weary of sportbike ergonomics, I was delighted to find my 6’2 frame and 34-inch inseam fit perfectly. It was comfortable all day, and I could have spent another week in the saddle.

Flo’s Lowdown

A comparable model is the Honda CB1000R. It’s a few hundred dollars cheaper but doesn’t have the futuristic styling or the advanced electronics. In North America, the FZ-10 comes in matte black or gray with neon accents. While the accents, including neon wheels, look super cool, by midday they were covered in brake dust and road grime. I’d rather ride than clean my bike and so would pick the matte black. Although, the extra visibility adds another layer of safety. I found this motorcycle to be an absolute blast to ride, and combined with its all-day comfort and Yamaha’s proven reliability, it will appeal to a wide range of motorcyclists.