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Transforming the R1

December 13, 2016
2017 FZ review

Even if you’re not into futuristic styling, there’s no denying the 2017 FZ-10 is a force to be reckoned with

Story by Costa Mouzouris
Photos by: Roger Yip

Strip a supersport machine of its bodywork and what do you get? Well, if you’re Yamaha and the bike you’re stripping is the R1, you get the outlandishly styled MT-10, introduced at EICMA late last year. The MT-10 seemed like one of those bikes reserved solely for a European audience, with styling maybe a bit too extreme for conservative, cruiser-friendly North America. Initially, it seemed that there was little chance we’d see it on this side of the Atlantic any time soon. However, Yamaha has decided to bring the MT-10 to Canada, though to keep its name in line with the other bikes in its lineup, the company has renamed it the FZ-10. And despite being available early this summer, it is slated as a 2017 model, replacing the half-faired FZ1, which was dropped from the lineup this year.

The spec sheet reveals that the FZ-10, which starts at $15,499, uses many of the same components that you’ll find on the recently released R1S, which itself is a lower-budget version of the R1. It uses the same frame and the same 998 cc crossplane engine as the R1, albeit in a different state of tune. Also borrowed from its supersport sibling are the gearbox, slipper/assist clutch, steering geometry, discs and calipers, and the suspension components. It uses a lower-cost and heavier steel subframe, though, instead of the R1’s cast magnesium item, thus repositioning the seat 30 mm lower, at 825 mm.

A Supersport Detuned

2017 Yamaha FZ-10 reviewMost open-class naked bikes based on supersport machines, like the Aprilia Tuono, BMW S1000R, MV Agusta Brutale 1090 and Kawasaki Z1000, use detuned versions of the engines from their supersport equivalents, and the FZ-10 is no different. Its engine has been toned down to 158 hp from the R1’s 197 hp – at least according to European specs, since Yamaha Canada is guarded when publishing horsepower numbers, preferring not to. But more importantly, it has been tuned for a broader spread of torque at lower revs, which peak at 81.8 ft-lb at 9,000 rpm. That’s just 1.4 ft-lb less torque than the R1, but the peak arrives 2,500 rpm sooner, which is a real boon when riding around town.

This revised output comes via lower-compression pistons (12:1 vs. 13:1), milder cams and smaller intake valves and ports, while the crankshaft and alternator rotor are heavier, thus contributing to the boost in low-end torque. The bike also utilizes a larger airbox and a different muffler. And to reduce costs, the engine covers are made of aluminum, as opposed to the R1’s lighter and costlier magnesium covers.

Electronic Aids

dash of 2017 Yamaha FZ-10The FZ-10 has standard ABS, but unlike the R1S, the front and rear brakes are not linked. Yamaha’s variable throttle control system, dubbed “D-Mode,” features three selectable throttle maps: Standard mode, which is curiously the softest throttle mode; A mode, which sharpens throttle response at low to mid revs; and B mode, which offers the most aggressive throttle response. Why the throttle modes are organized in this order is a mystery even to the folks from Yamaha Canada, but it’s understood that an owner of an FZ-10 would become accustomed to it.

The FZ-10 has a simplified version of traction control, unlike the more elaborate system of the R1, which uses a lean-angle sensor. It has three selectable levels and can be turned off. While the FZ-10 doesn’t come with the R1’s wheelie, slide and launch controls, it does have a more street-friendly cruise control. The bike is also wired for an accessory electric quick shifter ($330), which permits clutchless, open-throttle upshifts.

Transformer-like

ride of 2017 Yamaha FZ-10Although the FZ-10 has been freed of the constraints of a fairing, the heavier engine and frame components do add some weight, with the FZ-10 weighing in at 210 kg wet, seven kilos heavier than the R1S and 11 kilos more than the R1. Replacing the fairing is a bug-eyed nosepiece that bears a striking resemblance to one of the Transformers characters – you know, the ones with the Hollywood movie franchise. After polling several friends, I believe it’s safe to say that the FZ-10 styling is quite polarizing, and you either love the look or you hate it. I fall into the latter category, which isn’t surprising, given I’m probably not part the youthful demographic the FZ-10 aims to woo. For me, the styling is just too busy, with too many angular covers, sharp lines and just too much clutter, though I admit that with time, I became a tiny bit fonder of the bluish-grey one with the bright yellow wheels. Just a tiny bit.
Fortunately, there’s some redemption…

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