2011 Yamaha FZ8 Super Streetbike

7 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 Yamaha FZ8 Super Streetbike
Yamaha FZ8

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Before you judge this book by its cover as just another naked bike let’s get the facts straight: This is the best streetbike to come from Yamaha in years. It’ll make you forget the FZ1, and even the R6 fans in the house might find the FZ8 a better choice.

It’s a capable, affordable, do-it-all bike that is as sporting as it is comfortable. Styling is edgy and modern, power is more than ample with a midrange shove even stronger than an FZ1 (its 1000cc big brother) and handling characteristics are light and nimble. Still not enough to convince you?

The FZ8 stickers for just $8490, only $1000 more than the entry-level FZ6R and a whopping $2000 less than the FZ1. Just imagine the mods you can add for two-Gs.

Yamaha chose to intro the FZ8 in the winding hills north of Los Angeles, and under the regiments of the event we saw everything from tight 15 MPH kinks to open 100 MPH sweepers. The continuity of the motor and chassis was damn near ideal for the street, leading some to believe that Yamaha had extensive time to perfect the package. Those in the know already had the answer-the FZ8 has been available in Europe since 2010.

In the saddle the first thing you’ll notice is the buttery-smooth motor and slick-shifting six-speed transmission. The new 779cc mill isn’t just a downsized FZ1 motor, instead it’s a stand-alone unit. OK, so it shares the same ’07-’08 R1 crankcase and stroke with the current FZ1, but everything else has been tweaked.

Yamaha awarded the motor with good midrange by keeping the long stroke of the FZ1 motor and simply decreasing the bore to arrive at the magical bore/stroke ratio of 68mm x 53.6mm. Perched atop the long-stroke motor is a redesigned cylinder head with smaller intake and exhaust valves as well as revised cams.

New 35mm throttle bodies (down from the FZ1’s 45mm units) also feature Yamaha’s Sub Throttle Valve operation that uses stepper motors rather than an actual cable to control throttle operation. Exceptionally long velocity stacks that measure 150mm (cylinders 2 and 3) and 125mm (cylinders 1 and 4) sit atop the new fuel injection system and reside inside a 7.1-liter airbox for an intake combo that’s good for swells of mid-tach poke-that means easy wheelies.

But don’t let the midrange focus steal the thunder; this engine was still meant to spin thanks to combustion chambers with 12:1 compression ratios that push on a new crank with 30 percent less inertial weight than an FZ1 unit. Redline arrives at a lofty 11,500 RPM where the new stainless headers and catalytic converter-equipped shorty can sound great alongside the healthy intake howl.

Power is robust off the bottom with a noticeable bump in steam around 5500 RPM. From there, serious whack is available up to the rev-limiter, confirming reports that Euro models are churning out nearly 110 HP at the rear wheel. In the canyons, the torque makes for speedy corner exits without much effort.

This is the kind of street motor that gets things done quickly, unlike the larger FZ1 motor that lacks midrange power in favor of serious top-end hit. On the street the FZ8 will eat its larger brother’s lunch anywhere under 100 MPH, and staying in the meat of the powerband doesn’t necessitate fanning the shift lever either.

The broad spread of power is now backed by a wide-ratio transmission with revised FZ1 ratios and shorter overall gearing. First gear is short enough for nabbing the holeshot from a stoplight over most sportbikes, and each subsequent cog after that is well spaced to keep you in the race. During the press ride the FZ8 was never caught in the wrong gear, and an indicated 75 MPH showed just 5500 RPM on the tach in top gear.

Cruising speeds are comfortable up to roughly 85 MPH where vibration still hasn’t entered the building, but windblast becomes an issue. It is a naked bike after all, so we’ll let that drawback slide.

The chassis is willing, but for serious work you might consider some upgrades. Unlike the adjustable units on the FZ1, the FZ8 receives non-adjustable 43mm KYB forks and a preload-only adjustable rear shock. The cast aluminum frame and die-cast aluminum swingarm are inherited from the FZ1, as is the suspension geometry.

The FZ8 weighs just 467 pounds topped with fluids and flops from side-to-side like a proper naked bike should-with ease. A simple nudge on the bar results in instantaneous maximum lean angles, making tight and twisty roads into endorphin pumps. But push the FZ8 too hard and you’ll eventually find the limits of the budget suspenders, as peg feelers start grinding away at the pavement.

Push a little harder and heavy braking has the rear tire unloading as the front forks compress deep into their travel. Perhaps this is the tradeoff one must pay for a meager price tag and a plush highway ride. Truthfully, the limits of the stock suspension aren’t found until the pace reaches arrest-me-officer speeds.

If the non-adjustable suspension has some of you track junkies crossing your arms, save the blood pressure pills. Grab some used FZ1 forks and a rear shock online and you’ll have yourself a budget bomber capable of commuting to work and embarrassing many a sportbike both on and off the track.

Dual front calipers squeeze 310mm discs secured by an FZ1 front wheel and handle the braking duties with enough juice to haul down the hay at any sane speeds. As for the rear hoop, it measures a half-inch slimmer than the FZ1 unit for a smaller tire that helps for quicker turn-in response.

Ergonomics nearly mirror that of the FZ1, which means it’s got the all-day comfort that commuters and long-haulers are looking for. Our jaunt through the canyons and urban gridlock stretched nearly 175 miles over eight hours, and rider fatigue was virtually non-existent. Try that on your sportbike.

Furthering the note that this is a bike of many faces, the narrow 4.5 gallon tank and the near 40-MPG fuel mileage means you can stretch fuel stops up to 200 miles. This means long day trips or for many commuters, a once-a-week filler-up is all you’ll need.

Yamaha FZ8

Initially we couldn’t understand why Yamaha would import the 800cc FZ8 when it already had a 1000cc FZ1 and a 600cc FZ6R. But all bets were off within the first few miles-the FZ8 is that good. It isn’t a 150 HP sportbike dressed with swoopy bodywork built to carve the track, but it is a sensible and exciting streetbike that many riders should consider when shopping for their next steed.

It handles like it’s on rails, looks unique, has serious juice and should save some coin on insurance. It’s a jack-of-all-trades ace that does a lot of things well instead of one thing great. And at $8490 it’s a lot of bike for your dollar.

The friendly price tag means there should be some room to make yours unique too. We can just see it now: powdercoated rims, FZ1 suspension, an undertail, nice pipe and a weekend full of wheelies and twisty roads. Yamaha nailed it with the FZ8 and proved that sometimes the path less taken is truly the road to utter greatness.

2011 Yamaha FZ8

MSRP: $8490

Colors: Black (the best there is).

Engine: Liquid-cooled 779cc, inline-four, 16-valves

Compression ratio: 12:1

Frame: Twin spar cast aluminum

Front suspension: 43mm KYB inverted non adjustable

Rear suspension: Mono cross-link type rear shock

Yamaha FZ8


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