2010 Yamaha Fazer8 and FZ8 first ride review

Yamaha aim to reinvent its best selling Fazer brand with a bigger capacity engine and whole new ethos. Will it help banish memories of the disappointing FZ6 range?

Click to read: Yamaha Fazer 8 owner reviews, Yamaha Fazer 8 specs and to see the Yamaha Fazer 8 image gallery.

Since the original model was launched in 1998 the Fazer family has been a mainstay of Yamaha’s range, a model that many (actually 250,000 to date) took their first steps into ‘big’ bikes on and one whose popularity over the years has soared.

But recently the Fazer’s waters have become muddied. First was the introduction of the less than new rider friendly R6-engined FZ6 range then a few years ago Yamaha unveiled the XJ6 models, budget conscious bikes with the emphasis on new riders, traditionally the Fazer’s stomping ground. Why buy an FZ6 when the XJ6 was both cheaper and better? With the introduction of the new FZ8 range Yamaha has clarified the situation - start riding on the XJ6, progress to the FZ8 when your are more experienced and finish on the FZ1 when you really want your brains fried. But is this a route worth taking?

Thankfully the new FZ8 and Fazer8 owe much more to the FZ1 range than the FZ6. The chassis, swingarm and even majority of the engine’s components are identical between the two models. Both use a 2008 R1’s bottom end and gearbox but the new FZ8 has a lighter crank to allow the engine to spin up faster, a reduced bore to give it the 779cc capacity and a new four-valve head design rather than the FZ1’s five-valve.

To keep its costs down the FZ8’s inverted forks aren’t adjustable and the shock only gets spring preload to fiddle with, but it does have four piston calipers and an impressive claimed 105bhp and 61ft.lb to keep you amused, something it does very well.

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What made the older model Fazers so popular was their forgiving nature, unlike the FZ6 models every component felt like it worked together in harmony to allow the rider to enjoy the riding experience without any irritating niggles. With the FZ8, Yamaha has managed to get this feeling back into the Fazer range and this new model takes the best parts of the 600 and 1000 and combines them in a beautifully balanced package that is ideal for riders seeking a non threatening ‘big’ bike that is bags of fun as well as sporty and practical.

The new engine has a light and progressive clutch action with none of the FZ6’s grab that once engaged reveals a motor that is stacked full of grunt as well as having a zinging top end. Yamaha has concentrated on giving the FZ8 a strong bottom end to make it user-friendly and it shows as the bike is more than happy to be kept below 6,000rpm and responds to this use with a smooth and fluid delivery of power that makes relaxed riding a joy, but it doesn’t end there. Should you feel the urge to up the momentum you just need to get the FZ8’s rev counter above the midway mark and the engine develops a genuinely fast and revy nature that has a surprising turn of pace. And it’s all harnessed in a chassis that can happily keep it in check.

Despite lacking adjustment there is little to criticise on the FZ8’s suspension and although ground clearance is limited if you are really pushing hard it in no way compromises the Yamaha’s ride quality. Charging through the twisty roads around the south of France the FZ8 was agile and responsive and more than capable of delivering an exciting and rapid ride that is in suiting with the bike’s character. Although the naked FZ8 felt slightly more agile than the Fazer8 due to it lacking the heavy fairing on its front end when ridden in isolation it wasn’t an issue and while we didn’t get to test an ABS bike the non-ABS brakes were strong without being over-kill.

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With £1000 splitting the two models the Fazer8 gets a remarkably effective fairing, ABS as standard and pillion grab rails (why no centre stand Yamaha?) while the naked FZ8 is only available in non-ABS. Having been a huge fan of the original model Fazer 600 and subsequently massively disappointed by the FZ6 range I’m happy to report that the FZ8 returns the Fazer range to its roots, delivering a fun bike with ample performance at a price that although not the cheapest represents excellent value for money.

The bike doesn’t feel, or look, built to a budget and although the exhaust pipe is a bit ugly the rest of the bike exudes a air of quality while remaining genuinely pleasurable and exciting to ride without feeling compromised. A welcome return to an old friend who has now grown up.


Price: FZ8 £7,799; Fazer8 £8,799
Top speed: 145mph (est)
Engine: 779cc, 16-valve inline four
Power: 105bhp @ 10,000rpm
Torque: 61ft.lb @ 8,000rpm
Bore & Stroke: 68 x 53.6mm
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Front suspension: RWU forks
Adjustment: none
Rear suspension: Monoshock
Adjustment: spring preload
Front brakes: 2 x 310mm discs, four piston calipers
Rear brake: 267mm disc, one piston caliper
Wet weight: 215kg
Seat height: 815mm
Fuel capacity: 17-litres
Colour options: white, blue, black

Visordown rating: 4/5