Yamaha FZ6 review

The updates to the Fazer make perfect sense in this naked guise. It has the X-factor that the faired Fazer is missing and is really good fun to ride, as well as being a top commuter

Ben Cope's picture
By Visordown on Thu, 10 Mar 2005 - 12:03

Details
Manufacturer:
Yamaha
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 5399
Overall
3
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Yamaha is aiming this bike at the commuter with attitude
Aggressive looks, zippy through busy traffic
Useless rev counter, ill thought out placement of clutch cable, horrible gearbox

The sportification of the Fazer makes sense in this new naked guise.
For a start it looks aggressive, mean even, and the front light has more than a passing resemblance to the MV Brutale, which is no bad thing. Yamaha claims the FZ6 is aimed at the commuter with attitude and the changes make sense for this kind of rider.

The FZ6 feels like it is designed to attack rows of cars. The bars are narrower than the Fazer’s, which is useful for getting through gaps, and it retains a whopping 70-degree steering lock – extremely useful for filtering.

The riding position is very Hornet-esque. It’s a traditional sit-up-and-beg position which is comfortable as long as you keep your speed below 60mph. On the motorways, the lack of any form of wind protection means that you’re really struggling to hold on when the digital dash shows anything over 80mph. And, while on the subject of the dash, it’s worth mentioning two things. First, the digital rev counter, which is next to useless on the faired Fazer, is even worse on the naked one. The slight shadow caused by the fairing, which made the LED display almost legible on the Fazer, is missing, rendering it about as much use as mudguards on a tortoise. Unless it’s night, in which case you can actually read it thanks to the backlight. Apart from this, it’s very good and has all the important things including lights that flash at the right time.

But the second, and most noticeable thing about the dash is that it’s on the piss. The whole assembly is offset to the right. It’s the first thing you notice when sat on board, and everyone in the office commented on it when the bike was parked outside.

Having recovered from this slight distraction, you then try and put the key in the ignition, only to find the clutch cable in the way. Very cleverly, the FZ6’s design means that just getting the key in to start it is a struggle. You have to push the cable aside – not easy as it’s quite firm– before getting the key near the hole. It’s a bit crap.

But it doesn’t stop there; Yamaha has also managed to hide the two trip buttons on the right hand side of the dash behind the front brake reservoir. Again, this makes resetting or changing the trip display a palaver. I know these are slight niggles, but the key position irritated me immensely every time I tried to put it in the hole.

Yamaha is aiming this bike at the commuter with attitude, which I reckon is me down to a T. I commute 20 miles everyday to work through London traffic, usually in a bad mood and usually late because my flat is freezing and I don’t want to leave the warmth of my bed. And I have to say that after two weeks I really warmed to the Yamaha, which surprised me because I really don’t like the faired Fazer.

The FZ6 is really good for commuting. The new, sportier suspension and firmer ride work well when you’re zipping through corners and around the outside of cars on roundabouts. On twisty roads – yes, there are a few in London – the FZ6 is really good.

It turns quickly thanks to the sporty geometry and leverage offered by the flat bars and, once over, feels good in the corner. The suspension does feel a bit basic, but it’s perfectly okay for the speeds this bike is likely to spend the majority of its time doing.

The FZ6 also feels really light. The stop/ start and continual changes of the daily commute required little effort, and even backing up a few feet when a gap appeared wasn’t a problem. The front brakes, twin two-piston sliding callipers like on the Fazer, are best described as up to the job. Nothing special, but good enough to stop you, albeit lacking somewhat in feel.

Despite the gearing and engine being identical to the faired Fazer the FZ6 feels nippier, probably due to the impression of speed due to the lack of fairing, but unfortunately it still retains a few of the inherent niggles of the R6 engine. For a start, the gearbox is horrible. It doesn’t miss gears but clunks into gear in a way that makes you wince every time you change, and the clutch, despite being light, is slightly grabby and not as smooth as other bikes on the market. Also, while the motor does feel quite fast and smooth, it still lacks a bit of mid-range and does need to be revved, although this isn’t such a problem in the naked bike guise as you expect to have to rev a naked 600 and it suits the aggressive attitude of the FZ6.

From other riders’ comments, Yamaha seem to have got the styling spot on, striking a balance between aggressive bad boy and clean, stylish lines. This is with the possible exception of the swingarm, which looks cheap in comparison to the majority of the bike, and the build quality is a bit suspect in places.

The rear light assembly wobbles when you ride – alarmingly so when prodded – and the finish was starting to look a bit shabby in places already. Since this bike only had 1500 miles on the clock, it doesn’t bode well for a full winter’s abuse.

Compared to the Hornet and Z750, the engine still lets the FZ6 down a bit. It obviously loses out to the bigger capacity Kawasaki, but I think the Hornet’s motor feels stronger in the mid-range, is much more refined and the gearbox is far, far better. The handling is on a par with the Hornet, but I reckon the Fazer knocks it dead for looks.

The sportification of the Fazer makes sense in this new naked guise.
For a start it looks aggressive, mean even, and the front light has more than a passing resemblance to the MV Brutale, which is no bad thing. Yamaha claims the FZ6 is aimed at the commuter with attitude and the changes make sense for this kind of rider.

The FZ6 feels like it is designed to attack rows of cars. The bars are narrower than the Fazer’s, which is useful for getting through gaps, and it retains a whopping 70-degree steering lock – extremely useful for filtering.

The riding position is very Hornet-esque. It’s a traditional sit-up-and-beg position which is comfortable as long as you keep your speed below 60mph. On the motorways, the lack of any form of wind protection means that you’re really struggling to hold on when the digital dash shows anything over 80mph. And, while on the subject of the dash, it’s worth mentioning two things. First, the digital rev counter, which is next to useless on the faired Fazer, is even worse on the naked one. The slight shadow caused by the fairing, which made the LED display almost legible on the Fazer, is missing, rendering it about as much use as mudguards on a tortoise. Unless it’s night, in which case you can actually read it thanks to the backlight. Apart from this, it’s very good and has all the important things including lights that flash at the right time.

But the second, and most noticeable thing about the dash is that it’s on the piss. The whole assembly is offset to the right. It’s the first thing you notice when sat on board, and everyone in the office commented on it when the bike was parked outside.

Having recovered from this slight distraction, you then try and put the key in the ignition, only to find the clutch cable in the way. Very cleverly, the FZ6’s design means that just getting the key in to start it is a struggle. You have to push the cable aside – not easy as it’s quite firm– before getting the key near the hole. It’s a bit crap.

But it doesn’t stop there; Yamaha has also managed to hide the two trip buttons on the right hand side of the dash behind the front brake reservoir. Again, this makes resetting or changing the trip display a palaver. I know these are slight niggles, but the key position irritated me immensely every time I tried to put it in the hole.

Yamaha is aiming this bike at the commuter with attitude, which I reckon is me down to a T. I commute 20 miles everyday to work through London traffic, usually in a bad mood and usually late because my flat is freezing and I don’t want to leave the warmth of my bed. And I have to say that after two weeks I really warmed to the Yamaha, which surprised me because I really don’t like the faired Fazer.

The FZ6 is really good for commuting. The new, sportier suspension and firmer ride work well when you’re zipping through corners and around the outside of cars on roundabouts. On twisty roads – yes, there are a few in London – the FZ6 is really good.

It turns quickly thanks to the sporty geometry and leverage offered by the flat bars and, once over, feels good in the corner. The suspension does feel a bit basic, but it’s perfectly okay for the speeds this bike is likely to spend the majority of its time doing.

The FZ6 also feels really light. The stop/ start and continual changes of the daily commute required little effort, and even backing up a few feet when a gap appeared wasn’t a problem. The front brakes, twin two-piston sliding callipers like on the Fazer, are best described as up to the job. Nothing special, but good enough to stop you, albeit lacking somewhat in feel.

Despite the gearing and engine being identical to the faired Fazer the FZ6 feels nippier, probably due to the impression of speed due to the lack of fairing, but unfortunately it still retains a few of the inherent niggles of the R6 engine. For a start, the gearbox is horrible. It doesn’t miss gears but clunks into gear in a way that makes you wince every time you change, and the clutch, despite being light, is slightly grabby and not as smooth as other bikes on the market. Also, while the motor does feel quite fast and smooth, it still lacks a bit of mid-range and does need to be revved, although this isn’t such a problem in the naked bike guise as you expect to have to rev a naked 600 and it suits the aggressive attitude of the FZ6.

From other riders’ comments, Yamaha seem to have got the styling spot on, striking a balance between aggressive bad boy and clean, stylish lines. This is with the possible exception of the swingarm, which looks cheap in comparison to the majority of the bike, and the build quality is a bit suspect in places.

The rear light assembly wobbles when you ride – alarmingly so when prodded – and the finish was starting to look a bit shabby in places already. Since this bike only had 1500 miles on the clock, it doesn’t bode well for a full winter’s abuse.

Compared to the Hornet and Z750, the engine still lets the FZ6 down a bit. It obviously loses out to the bigger capacity Kawasaki, but I think the Hornet’s motor feels stronger in the mid-range, is much more refined and the gearbox is far, far better. The handling is on a par with the Hornet, but I reckon the Fazer knocks it dead for looks.

Length (mm) 2095
Width (mm) 750
Height (mm) 1215
Dryweight (kg) 180
Seats 0
Seat Height (mm) 795
Suspension Front 43mm forks adjustable rebound damping
Brakes Front Double discs, Ø 298mm
Brakes Rear Single disc, Ø 245mm
Wheelbase (mm) 1440
Ground Clearance (mm) 145
Chassis Aluminium Frame
Cubic Capacity (cc) 600
Valves 16
Max Power (bhp) 98
Max Power Peak (rpm) 12000
Torque (ft/lb) 47
Torque Peak (rpm) 10000
Bore (mm) 65.5
Stroke (mm) 44.5
Valve Gear DOHC
Compression Ratio 12.2
Valves Per Cylinder 4
Cooling Liquid cooled
Stroke Type Four Stroke
Drive Chain
Top Speed
Score Breakdown
Overall
3

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