Tim Dickson likes his Fazer FZ1 dirty
I've got an FZ1 Fazer and I'm trying to love it. Trouble is, it's got issues. For a start the suspension is firm (which I like) but harsh and poorly controlled (which I don't) - it's telling that the rear shock actually works much better two-up. In fact, the Fazer makes an ace pillion bike. Trouble is, ground clearance isn't all that great. I don't like that either.
Then there's the fueling. Frankly it's an insult to good throttle control, specifically when going from a closed to neutral, trailing throttle in corners. At times it's so bad it actually makes me angry, especially in the wet, and that's unusual given my usually calm good nature - to which all my colleagues will testify. Dynojet UK have given an FZ1 the once-over and they say the things are running so rich it's a wonder they were ever allowed out of the factory. Aside from the poor pick-up off a closed throttle the motor feels flat and woolly below 7000rpm, and there are tell-tale dirty black carbon deposits dripping out of the silencer (see pic right).
Economy and fuel range are hardly brilliant either - low 30s mpg and 110 miles to reserve is average with day to day riding - so I'm hoping the imminent arrival of a Power Commander will sort things out. It bloody better had.
On a positive note I think the Fazer looks the flippin' business. Brakes are ace too, and the motor, once singing, is peachy. There's work to be done though. Stand by for action.
My Fazer is dirty. I'm sorry. Bikes in my care are usually clean and shiny but a hosepipe ban means washing is a ball-ache which uses more water than it would if I used the hose I'm not allowed to.
Next, fueling. Again. I rode two FZ1s on the bike's launch and found nothing to complain about; when I collected my longtermer the on/off throttle fueling was terrible. In an effort to sort it I've now got a Power Commander III fitted, and it's made a difference. But there's a 'but'.
Annoyingly (to me), the PCIII has made most of its improvements where the Fazer was already good. On/off throttle response is improved, a bit, but still not great. Now I'm not making this up - there are things the Fazer's fueling doesn't allow me to do smoothly, properly or at all. I cannot go from a closed to neutral, trailing throttle in a corner without the power coming in with a lurch and upsetting the bike. And me. I've opened enough throttles in enough corners to know that it isn't up to scratch. The PCIII has made a small improvement, but only small. There's an 'accelerator pump' function on the PCIII's software that can be used to fine-tune the on/off throttle fueling, but I'm sceptical that something I can do myself, with the bike plugged into a laptop while ticking over in my garage, will have a major effect.
That aside, the PCIII has yielded impressive results. Increased power and torque everywhere, with an extra 6bhp at the top end, is the kind of boost you'd expect from a £1000-plus full system, not a fuel injection re-map costing a third of that. Best bit is the improvement in midrange part-throttle response. Rolling on from 5000rpm and above is now much stronger and smoother, something definitely lacking before.
Most mind-boggling is the improvement in fuel consumption with the PCIII, with average figures rising from 33.5mpg or so to 40mpg, and 44mpg easily attainable. A PCIII costs £280 (www.dynojet.co.uk for stockists and more info), with, say £100 or so spent on a custom set-up. With the new mpg extrapolated over 10,000 miles (a year's mileage, say) I'd save approximately £207.13 on fuel. The PCIII would pay for itself in around 17,000 miles, plus you benefit from the performance increase in the meantime.
It would appear that some Fazers are more afflicted with fueling woes than others, which is most odd (although I think much of it depends on how you're used to using a throttle), with some owners finding nothing to complain about. If you're one of those I can't recommend the Power Commander highly enough - the performance increase, allied to such a significant saving in fuel costs, cannot be argued with. But if you're spitting feathers at your Fazer's fuelling don't expect miracles. You will get improvements in performance but perhaps not what you might be hoping for. That's no criticism of Dynojet or their box of tricks; there's simply an underlying issue with the Yamaha that has yet to be sorted. I'll keep digging.
The Yamaha's clean and shiny again, at last, and so we're friends once more.
So anyway, there was me a couple of issues back, all Dynojet Power Commandered-up, thinking the Fazer's fueling was as good as it was going to get. I'd then yet to play with the PCIII's accelerator pump settings, which can be easily adjusted at home with the bike plugged into a laptop. Before trying it I was sceptical something I could do myself with the bike ticking over in the garage would reap further rewards. I was wrong.
The accelerator pump delivers an extra burst of fuel at the point the throttle is first opened from fully closed. The PCIII lets you adjust three parameters: the amount of extra fuel squirted in, how many engine revolutions it's squirted in for (from 15 to 40rpm), and the pump's sensitivity to throttle movement - low sensitivity means it won't activate if you open the throttle slowly; high means even the slowest of twistgrip movement has it kicking in.
First I set it lean and sensitive for 40rpm. No real joy. Then I went the other way, richening it up for 25rpm and backing the sensitivity right down - and blow me down what a difference. It's now nearly spot-on, at least below 5500rpm. Something happens above that point which means the snatch is still present and incorrect. Oh well...
The OE Michelin Pilot Roads have been impressive. More grip than the ground clearance can cope with, good all-weather performance and still nicely legal after 5335 miles (1.6mm of tread left at the rear, down from 7mm), although they had squared off a bit and dulled the steering by the 4000-mile mark. Bridgestone BT-014s are on now, and if the footrests and standard exhaust can had a hard time with the Pilot Roads they're not going to know what hit them from here on. It'll be the road.
K-Tech, the suspension people, have had quick a look at the shock. It's not rebuildable, unfortunately, but a new, softer spring is on the cards. Also a shiny new exhaust is due in the post any day now. I'm so excited I need a wee.
So the Fazer's got this shiny new Akrapovic exhaust. You can see it down there - it looks stunning. The whole thing weighs two kilos less than the standard silencer, plus I've junked the brackets which supported the old header pipes and collector box. Centre stand has gone too - not because it had to, it just looks loads better. In all the bike's 11 kilos lighter. That's a noticeable difference.
The Akrapovic fitted effortlessly, and with the Power Commander remapped to suit it makes an extra 10bhp at 6500rpm, 10bhp at the top end - 142.2bhp now - and with increases everywhere else. Losing the EXUP valve has lost no midrange or low down power. That's not what they're there for these days. It's all emissions related. Noise isn't increased because the baffle is firmly in place. It's no small change though - this Race Conical system costs £831. Call Performance Parts on 0870 240 2118.
Trouble is, for all the pipe's improvements and stunning looks the dreaded throttle snatch is now back with a vengeance. Last month I was happy 'cos I'd dialled out the problem, at least below 5500rpm or so. Now it's back, everywhere. What's different? That full system. And what happens at about 5500rpm on the standard bike? The EXUP valve is fully open. Below that it's partially closed. The valve is now gone and the snatch is back. Are the two related? I think they might be and I've got a theory why, but I'm losing the will to sort it out.
I was hoping the Fazer was going to be a superb bike - on paper it looked like it should be - but these days it seems I'm constantly disappointed by it. Peg scraping is fun every now and then but after a while it gets in the way of a good ride; jack up the preload to keep 'em off the ground and the bike's too skittish on its too-stiff springs. The motor lacks grunt low down because the crank's too heavy - a deliberate dumbing down of a once proud 2004 R1 motor to make it less scary to newer riders - while emissions regulations are making a mockery of our fuel injection systems. Damn that global warming. And there's no quick, or cheap, fix, as far as I can see it.
Have you bought an FZ1 Fazer? Are you happy with it? I'd love to know. Let us know in the FZ1 Fazer reviews.
Tyres first. the BT-014s lasted about as long as expected, maybe a mile or two more - 3810 miles with the rear tread down to 1.4mm around the centre line. They gripped like buggery, but to be honest were overkill for the Fazer's ground clearance and suspension. I even managed half a dozen laps on track with them (my only track outing of 2006) and the harsh, underdamped shock shredded the edge of the rear without trying.
Next something a little better suited to my day-to-day use - Pirelli's Diablo Strada (see above). Bridgestone tends to steal the sport touring headlines with their BT-020s (and soon the 021, see page 8), while Pirelli are better known for their racier rubber. As such, the sports-tourey Diablo Stradas have slipped under the radar a bit. There's no need for them to; they're a grippy yet hard wearing everyday tyre and are well suited to the Fazer. They take a little longer than Bridgestone's equivalent to warm up and the ride is a touch harsher than the BT-014s before, but that's to be expected. A couple of thousand miles in on 'em and all's well.
Stephen from SG Motorsport (02392 789823, www.sgmotorsport.com) was in touch the other day. He's the UK distributor for US tuning maestro Ivan's fabled black box fueling glitch fix. The Fuel Cut-off Eliminator (FCE) is claimed to nearly (or totally when combined with a Power Commander) eliminate off-on throttle snatch. It's generally accepted the throttle snatch is caused by the ECU's insistence on cutting off fuel to the motor on a closed throttle (before EU regs got involved some would always get through). This means when you get back on the gas there's surge you wouldn't otherwise get.
I'm desperate to try one, but Yamaha are kind of keen to get the bike back off me - they never trust us journalists to keep the things clean once the council get the road gritters out. I mean, as if...
Other things I've noticed recently? The right-hand pillion footrest is a bit wobbly, and dirt splashing off it makes a nice pattern on the Akrapovic can (see above). The gear lever rubber is very soft and has nearly worn through (see above). I'm going to ask around the tyre manufacturers and see if someone can knock me up something in a harder compound. And maybe something for the wet too. Finally, I realised the other day I'd knocked up over 11,000 miles on the Fazer, which surprised me. Despite my moans about stuff being not quite right, the miles have actually passed pretty painlessly. Hopefully I'll be allowed to hang on to the bike for long enough to sort the throttle response once and for all.
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