Oct 23, 2008

Yamaha FZ16: First Ride

So you want to know how the FZ16 is , is it?


As you can see for yourself, the styling of the FZ16 was central to the project. At least that is the official line. They first created the look and the 'fitted' the engineering into the design. No, really. That is why the FZ16 runs those fat tyres, has the faux pivot plate in aluminium colour, the faux aluminiun subframe look sidepanel and all. Like they scaled the R1 down for the R15, they scaled the FZ1N down for the FZ16. Personally, I'm just happy to be looking at an Indian bike that would hold its own anywhere in the world. As is usual with Yamaha, build quality, fit and finish levels are all great and I don't get the feeling that something will rattle loose, soon or later.

This is where the actual engineering began. The FZ16's aircooled engine is significantly different from the R15. Despite much prodding, for instance, Mizuno San, the project leader refused to accept that the R15 and the FZ16 motors shared more than a bare minimum of aggregates.

Creating two significantly different engines for what is effectively the same displacement band is a significant thing. It means that Yamaha is willing to look past economies of scale and parts sharing to create motorcycles that clearly adhere to a pre-defined role. Which is why the FZ16 feels quick of the line. Not quick enough to blow your socks off, mind you, but quick enough for you to notice the performance. I've read that the top-end isn't all that great and that FZ16 is reading from the same chapter on top-end as the Unicorn, but I don't subscribe to the same school. I think the FZ16 is clearly defined as an urban tool with styling and effortless low-rev performance being the two central themes, and this the engine does. That said, it is lighter than the competition, which should fill most performance gaps that the FZ16's peers might expose. The gearbox is a regular Yamaha job - slick and I don't think too many people will complain of the FZ16 being a laggard. In fact, I'd be very surprised if despite the low-rev focus, the FZ16 didn't equal or outperform its immediate competition.

Ride Quality, Handling and Braking
Personally, going into the test drive, I was expecting the storming tyre sizes to cause much trouble. Needless to say, my confidence in Yamaha's engineers was redoubled. Not only does the FZ16 handle well, it seems not to notice the extra rubber at all. I later found one of the reasons while helping some Yamaha staffers transfer a set of spare MRF tubeless radials from one car to another. The weigh nothing. Really, with tyres that light, it's no surprise that the not only does the FZ16 feel grippy, stable and responsive, it feels happy rather than that 'anchored' feeling that overtyred bikes seem to develop.

Ride quality is stiff and sporty, though. Again, personally, I've had the privilege of riding enough bikes to know that while plush ride feels great, stiffer setups encourage you to push harder and explore the envelope more... sometimes at the expense of your back. This is a compromise I have no problem with. You, on the other hand, might. Some riders who had the foresight to lower the preload to the softest settings reported instant, and noticeable ride quality improvements. I found the setup bouncy only over the worst of the roads, where the tyres do seem to bounce up off the surface entirely. In any other situation, the ride quality never comes to the point where you will leap off the motorcycle hurling abuse. I like it, but I think this is a personal choice so you should, ideally, ride an FZ and form your own opinion. Your experience will vary.

The braking is superb. No surprise there. Fat forks offer flex-free feedback-rich braking which the fat tyres respond to really well by mashing the larger contact patch firmly into the ground. I do wish that Yamaha'd put in a set of radially mounted brakes for brag value alone... but the whole wishes-horses thing applies to that line of thought, right?

Features and other stuff
Full LCD instruments, baby! But all is not well in that department. Internationally, Kawasaki came in for all-round notoriety for the all-LCD revcounter on their Ninjas from two generations ago because of readability issues. On the other hand, Ducati are currently running a slick, large race-spec all-LCD instrument cluster on the 1098, 848 etc. So it can be done. Yamaha haven't cracked it, I must admit. The tacho readout is cluttered by lots of design elements and the effect is that gathering info off the LCD meters takes some getting used to. Only the speedo is easy to read and the surfeit of carbon fibre, orange and white stickers makes the otherwise sleek instrument cluster a bit, how shall I put it, overdone. I do also have to point out that there's a few random stickers (like 'Monocross' on the side panel that add no value whatsoever to the motorcycle's style and could easily have been skipped.

As you can probably tell, I'm as impressed with the FZ16 as I was with the R15. But, there's a catch. The FZ16 is expensive compared to the 150s it wants to beat and the question is, is that extra money worth paying. This is something you must decide for yourself. I would have no hesitation paying the Rs 6000-odd extra for the solid feel, international looks and the general competence of the motorcycle. But would you? Tell me, leave a comment.

Image from Yamaha India


Hrishi said...

I would like to order one FZ260 pls. And no fries.


--xh-- said...

yup - If i am buying a 150CC bike now, FZ16 will be my choice, and I don't have any issues paying the premium... If not FZ16, I will still buy Unicorn...

EvolutioN said...

It seems to be a bit of a surprise that you, of all the people are doubting whether the extra money should be paid for the FZ! For someone who has been going all guns blazing for the R15, where in my humble judgment, the pricing is grossly over the moon by at least 15 grands or more, payment of a premium of 6 grands for this baby should seem like a no brainer!

Yes! You should pay it! Yes, the FZ IS the bike amongst the 150s. Yes, I will choose an FZ over an R15 because an FZ is Value For Money. For all the high flying gadgets that the R15 has, it still could not strut its stuff on the Bangalore roads by the side of a stock 150 Apache (no more!), and suffice to say it was measured, weighed, and was found wanting in city traffic. The R15 is good, but for the racing tracks only, and fat help it is in the city! :) The FZ, on the other hand bleeds with enough torque to handle the city traffic well.

So there goes my vote! I will buy the FZ16, and will have NO issues in paying the premium!



bg said...

I dont understand the issue with the extra 6k. It doesnt matter to me, and id gladly pay it just for the looks. BTW, I too did a test drive and its uber-awesome. Should be booking one soon.

Anonymous said...

Dear rearset,

My cousin has already got the FZ16 last Saturday. YES, xtra 6k is worthy!


pavan said...

No thinking about that extra 6k.The bike and the brand YAMAHA deserves it.My cousin has booked one few days back.

Nomad said...

Now that Yamaha gave us such a great bike....I'll start cribbing now.

Why cant we have a decent FZ250 twin! or at least a single dammit. With lots and lots of torque. And a projector headlamp with HID.

And hazard lights (why dont bikes have this safety feature?)

And tiny LED blinkers tucked into the sides which dont break easily but are bright enough for others to see.

And LED tail lamp. And LED pilot lamp.

And did I tell you how much I love the FZ16? FYI, it took me a long time to think of those things...which tells me that the bike is almost perfect.

The BATFAN said...

Would never mind the premium of the 6k more. But how do you rank this against the RTR-Fi.

Also it doesn't come in Blue yet :( I love Yamaha Blue. Should be out soon I hope.

Over all a good plug up from the Gladiator I guess. Do you think that the R-15 looks small for people nearly 6ft tall.

The BATFAN said...

For the OCD that you are :)

The stickers say Monoshock not Monocross :)

The BATFAN said...

Regret the last comment. The word wos monocross indeed. Took a test drive today evening along with the R-15 after the earlier comment.

The FZ indeed leaves the R behind on the streets. Maybe as it was a test vehicle in bad shape but I could not *feel* the R while the FZ was right there in giving the feedback which would let me know the safety and limits on the road.

Also I found the aspect of the fairing jut in one direction as we steer rather pushy. The idea of not being able to see the front wheel during a bend made me uncomfortable I think. Though I think I should not even be looking at the wheel and just seeping the feedback from it. Just take an occasional glance I guess :) Any comments on that are welcome.

Pulsurge said...

The bike does look smashing in flesh and worth the extra bucks. People end up spending 20k more on a 65k bracket 150cc bike to make it look like a SBK but end up on the worse. A factory made dasher for this price is not at all bad. Only wish if it could have been a 200....sigh.

Sankoobaba said...

how gud are yamaha at after sales service ...and spare part availability... that shud play a role if u r gona thrash the bike instead of riding the bike at slow speeds to just show off??

Payas said...

Yep, I would go for it as it is like no other bike here in India of its kind. After all it is a YAMAHA.

Anonymous said...

some things in FZ16 are not so revolutionary... I think!!
A 60K is OK but one can have a better engine at this cost. It neither has DTS type of a thing like the pulsar (though pulsar is too old to have now)nor the ride is comfortable...
I would prefer to add 10-15K to it and go for Apache RTR-Fi 160 coz nothing beats an Fi engine, surely!!!

Satyen Poojary said...

Woah! Glad to see you...err see your presence back!

6k premium over others for FZ... hell yeah!

any premium over the RTR...never!
Waiting for a proper RTR upgrade... and hoping that you have clues about it!

Anonymous said...

I think a price tag of 5-6k lower than the current would have placed over all bikes in terms of affordability, practicality and VFM.

But still 6k can be spent on this not because it is an exceptional bike but there is not enough competition. RTR-FI is a good option with GS150R could be a killer.

bg said...

Okay an update on my prev comment. The damned thing actually costs 74k on road in chennai. Dint stop me from booking it tho...

shalini said...

yamaha fz16.....Yamaha fz16 is a macho street fighter. Yamaha RFz16 is inspired awesome funky looks and tremendous power. Just one look at the bike is enough to make you fall for it. Yamaha Fz16 surely is one of the best looking naked bike in its class with its macho and muscular looks. The macho tank, aggressive front heavy stance and the rear embody with street fighter looks will make you fall for it.

Nandu Chitnis said...

What should be my next buy

a. RTR 180
b. R15
c. FZ 16

MiDAS said...

How I wish this bike will be be released here in the Philippines.

YAMAHA Philippines! We the public want this bike!

Sony laptop screens said...

This is a great starter bike for the U.S. I think that If someone is looking for a great 150cc bike Yamaha is always the right place to look. Even after you have learned to ride, Yamahas are still great bikes to have and the turn over value is nice. I learned to ride on a Yamaha, and I think there should really be more 150cc bikes on the road. they are fast and easy parked. Switching from cars to bikes may be a better move.

Rakesh said...

One quick question. I am 5'6 and I used to drive apache 150 comfortably. Is fz16's seat taller than apache? Can it accomodate me ?