Earth, Wind & Fire - The MT-09 Touring Mule
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Earth, Wind & Fire - The MT-09 Touring Mule

This is a discussion on Earth, Wind & Fire - The MT-09 Touring Mule within the The Ride Report forums, part of the Yamaha FZ-09 Forums category; Don't do it! It is the wrong bike... The bike will handle poorly loaded with gear... It has terrible fuel range... Yes, some of the ...

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Thread: Earth, Wind & Fire - The MT-09 Touring Mule

  1. #1
    Senior Member fz9-tx-guy's Avatar
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    Post Earth, Wind & Fire - The MT-09 Touring Mule

    Don't do it! It is the wrong bike...
    The bike will handle poorly loaded with gear...
    It has terrible fuel range...






    Yes, some of the these comments are what I heard when I told my riding friends about taking the FZ-09 on an extended multi-state trip including to British Columbia. Can a budget Yamaha Fazer tour almost as comfortably as a FJR or maybe even a Gold Wing? Let's see...

    First of all, I am not pollyannish. The FZ09 does have some issues working against it. Most of us have read the polished motorcycle magazine reports on this particular Fazer flavor. The Red Bull infused scooter review pundits all sound the same. Terrible FI issues make the bike very twitchy, especially in the A sport mode and the suspension dampening and rebound is very budget etc. Add a typical fat American to the bike and you will soon feel the limits of it's Walmart style suspension. But let's not forget also, the bike has no space that allows carrying an extra bag or adding a storage compartments. Like most Japanese budget bikes, the seat is horrible on an extended trip. The lack of any windscreen can make long rides into the strong Texas wind very tiring. Yep, the FZ09 is initially a naked, budget bike,

    The glass however is half-full with the FZ09. All the reviews tout the newly triple designed engine as a superb package in terms of power and responsiveness. Also, I am 5 10', 185 lbs if you care to know. The handlebar reach is perfect and the foot position is also very good for my riding profile. The bike passes my ergonomics test. Check plus.



    How do you fit on an FZ09? - click on the calculator link to find out.

    Motorcycle Ergonomics Calculator

    With those assumptions, I decided to let the FZ09 undergo some form of surgical augmentation. If you read many ride reports, you soon learn the trifecta of riding goodness seems to revolve around three basic areas on most sport-touring motorcycles — the windscreen, the seat and the suspension. Each category has created many niches for great companies to offer their wares. I spent several hours, like many of you, researching message boards, reading from the power users and early adopters on the FZ09 message board for the most suitable options. My selection of aftermarket components may not be the “best” but it suits my needs and makes the the FZ09 a truly comfortable long-distance touring mule, aka a FJR lite. I am getting ahead of myself though.

    I did spend some time discussing and posting my mods in detail on the FZ09 forum. I will link to a portion of them in each section, for the sake of redundancy.

    The Windscreen

    The Madstad System — with extensive testing of the original beta provided by Mark, the inventor, and myself, I settled on this version of the windscreen. The beauty of the this style windscreen is I can easily swap to a shorty windscreen profile in a matter of seconds if I plan to do city commuting or canyon carving. The large barn door windscreen is used mainly on extended road trips. Choice is good.

    The Seat

    Yea, there are some sexy style seats that match the lines of the bike and make the young ladies swoon at traffic lights as you race past on your FZ09. However, I am a frail, married, aging man so that stylish preference is out. I want comfort and therefore aesthetics are not a priority. I prefer a tractor style seat. I got that farmer look with the Russell Day Long seats. It ain't the prettiest design in the shed, but their stellar reputation for comfort among the long-distance riding community is well known. I opted for the cheapest, all vinyl design. You basically provide them with a pictures of you sitting on the bike in your typical riding attire and boots, tell the folks at Russell Day Long your weight, inseam and waist size then mail in your stock seat. Within 2-3 weeks your custom seat arrives in the mail. Long-distance rides never felt so good.

    The ECU computer

    At the time the FZ09 first hit the market, there was only one purveyor providing an upgraded ECU for the FZ09. I let several forum members be the guinea pigs. The feedback was nothing short of stellar. I took my ECU out from underneath the gas tank and sent it for a re-flash. In less than a week, I had the new and improved unit installed on the bike. The difference in throttle smoothness was dramatic in all three modes. Of course since then, mother-ship Yamaha has issued a ECU flash fix for the bike, however, I think the custom ECU upgrade might be better in terms of optimizing the fuel mapping, especially if you have an aftermarket exhaust. Stoltec, the original vendor I used, is no longer providing FZ09 ECU flash services. I suggest you visit the vendor forum of Vcyclenut. I have also heard favorable comments regarding Ivan's ECU flash as well.

    The Suspension

    There are now several options for the FZ09. However, at the time the FZ09 hit the market around 2014, there were few suspension alternatives. I chose Penske due to their stellar reputation in the motorcycle world for creating excellent suspension. I did opt for the emulsion style entry level Penske model. The front suspension I selected was from GP Suspension. Once installed, I had a professional KTM racing friend set-up not only the correct sag but other adjustments over a couple of hours that allowed the suspension to work at it's optimal level. There are many resources for setting the suspension correctly, but to do a thorough job, it takes two people and several test rides over different surface condition to dial in the comfort level for your style of riding. Setting up correct motorcycle suspension can seem like black-magic to some. Stoltec provides one of the best options for suspension.

    The Luggage

    Let's face it, if you're going to do a long trip on a motorcycle, you need durable and to some degree water-proof storage. Shad offers some modestly priced hard luggage. I like this model since it allows about 42 liters in storage and has a nifty plastic rack on top so I can tie down my duffel or extra gear on top. The Shad top-case system fit and finish is excellent. The top-case hardware mounted easily to the existing sub-frame bar bolts underneath the bike. The installation takes about 30 minutes. I also carried two 1 gallon plastic fuel jugs in the top-case. They took up very little space and was able to get well into 200 miles between gas stations.

    Soft luggage is a bit trickier since many are too large for the FZ09 and may flop too far over the sides. After hunting and pecking on product review web sites for luggage option, I selected the Wolfman Beta Plus Rear Bag. I took the measurement of the bag and compared it to the size specs on the FZ09. It looked like a perfect fit and it was! The Beta Plus adds capacity to the standard duffel shape by adding "legs" on either side of the seat. The bag hugs the bike via the seat channel, yet stays clear of the exhaust (on most bikes). A solid mount comes from three quick release straps, one around the rear of the bike, two toward the front to a passenger peg/bracket or the sub-frame. It stores almost 50 liters and has several extra straps if you decide to add camping gear or purchase additional Wolfman modular luggage add-on for further storage capacity. After riding in extreme weather in several states, the contents stay fairly dry except on the two sections that hang over the sides due to tire splash. If you have electronic items or other delicate items in the bag, I suggest putting them first in a water-proof bag first. You might also notice a blue rubber roll-up bag in my pictures. This stores an additional 40 waterproof liters of storage for extra electronic items such as a notebook computer etc.

    Odds and Ends

    The only other items I installed were two RAM mounts on the bike. One for my SPOT device and the other for my prehistoric Gamin GPS unit. I wired the GPS directly into the battery. For lighting, I kept the stock lights since I have no interest in riding at night. Besides, in the summer, you have 12 hours of bright sunshine which is enough for me. However, to enhance frontal conspicuity on the Fazer , I did add two auxiliary lights to the forks. I feel much more visible in traffic. The added plus is they do throw extra light in front of the bike at night....just in case you need that option. Each light provides about 1,500 lumens for those engineers wanting to know the particulars.

    What about holding the throttle all day long? Well, enter the Throttlemeister system. It works well plus looks great on the FZ09!

    For emergency situations, I ride with a SPOT locator. GPS tracking devices such as SPOT are generally intended for use in an emergency - to bring help when you need it, and may not have cellular phone coverage. There are vast expanses of the US and Canada that have no cell coverage whatsoever, and we as long-distance riders may traverse these areas. An accident in such a remote area, particularly one that ends up with you and your bike not visible from the road, could mean a long wait for rescue - or much worse. The service works on a subscription service.

    The Test or The Ride

    With the bike properly fitted with proper touring shoes, I test rode the bike around Texas on several weekend trips. The bike was simply all that I wanted in a lightweight sport-touring rig. The riding ergonomics and comfort was superb and did I say it was light too? Check plus.



    With summer in full swing and some prior planning I decided to take the new FZ09 mule on a trip through Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, Idaho and finally Colorado.

    Room with a view Image source location



    An imaginary 5 cent beer to cool off



    My exhaust did not smoke the entire trip





    View more images at archive 1

    View more images at archive 2
    Last edited by fz9-tx-guy; 12-25-2018 at 07:38 PM. Reason: Various content tweaks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member raja777m's Avatar
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    That was a hell of a review and one of the beautiful and magnificient pictures I ever saw on a motorcycle road trip.
    You've very nice places to visit in the season and I envy you

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    Senior Member Thantos's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting, I enjoyed reading it. The FZ is whatever you want it to be.
    motorock, fz9-tx-guy and sobe like this.

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    Senior Member taggat's Avatar
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    Your photos are amazing man!!
    fz9-tx-guy likes this.
    I like my motorcycles like my women, fast, dirty and cheap!
    Lupus Brakelight, Fender Eliminated, TRex case savers, Axle/Frame Sliders.
    14 fz09, 12 T100 900?, 91 dr650, 86 gpz900r, 77 xt500, 72 rt2mx 360

  6. #5
    Senior Member ben58's Avatar
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    You have an eye for picture opportunities. Great album.
    fz9-tx-guy and raja777m like this.

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    Senior Member motorock's Avatar
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    Great trip, great pics and great attitude. People fear what they don't know- so I am glad you did not let all the pessimism of the naysayers overcome your enthusiasm. You made the FZ what you wanted it to be. BRAVO!




    ps: Two things that bothered me- one, why is the SHAD logo upside-down on the case and two, what is that sticker that has replaced the Yamaha badge on the tank?
    fz9-tx-guy and Thantos like this.
    ~It's easy to fool a fool, even by a fool~

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    Senior Member daufcguy's Avatar
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    wow, your a real man, I agree with you about the fz-09 as a touring rig, Its fun and its doesn't weigh too much, which is a big plus for me. I have the shad p3 system (topcase and sidecases) its great for stuffing all my junk into, when i go camping i put all of my additional gear in a waterproof bag on the passenger seat (along with additional fuel):
    Earth, Wind & Fire - The MT-09 Touring Mule-img_2589.jpg

    I can haul as much junk as i could with my aprilia futura sport tourer, but for a lot less weight on a bike thats way more fun to ride.

    Hey bud, can you give me a ballpark figure on how much $$$ that russell seat set you back?

    you definitely have the right idea: get on a fun bike, experience nature in the best way possible (on two wheels) and take a lot of pictures so you don't forget about it when you get old and senile!
    Last edited by daufcguy; 09-20-2015 at 08:36 AM.
    fz9-tx-guy likes this.
    Dave
    2014 FZ-09
    Past Bikes: An Aprilia, a Genuine Scooter, some old Hondas and a couple Harleys

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    Senior Member fz9-tx-guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by motorock View Post
    ps: Two things that bothered me- one, why is the SHAD logo upside-down on the case and two, what is that sticker that has replaced the Yamaha badge on the tank?
    You are very observant.

    I turned the Shad logo upside down simply to be different. It looks like Cyrillic script.

    The Yamaha badge replacement is a logo from an old Spanish (Iberian) motorcycle manufacturer. It confuses people, so it is a bit fun to watch people's reaction.
    Last edited by fz9-tx-guy; 09-13-2015 at 04:36 PM.
    motorock likes this.

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    Senior Member fz9-tx-guy's Avatar
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    Dave -

    I really like your integrated Shad case look on your FZ09. The benefit of hard cases (over soft) is items tend to stay drier and the contents are more secure when you park in a remote location.

    The Russell seat is not cheap. It is only slightly more expensive than say a Sargent or Corbin. If you get the pure vinyl version of the seat, the price comes in around $450. There are many material or fabric options including leather, suede with many possible color combinations. They also do custom stitching. The benefit of the seat is it is CUSTOM made for your exact specs. The downside is the Russell seat has those extra wide flaps on the side which pushes your legs out and reduces your seat clearance by up to one inch. If you race, the extra wide seat can adversely impact being able to move up and down on the seat while doing track days.

    Short history on Mayer/Russell.

    Bill Mayer (Sr), created the spring support system in the Russell Day-Long saddle years ago and then sold the rights to it with a non-compete clause for a few years.

    After those years passed by, he got back into the business but without the spring design (did not own the design and utility Patents etc.) forming Bill Mayer Custom Seats. After he passed away, his oldest son, Bill "Rocky" Mayer took over and builds them to this day in Ojai, CA.

    His younger son, Rick Mayer, also started a custom seat company called "Rick Mayer Custom Seats" and does a good job on them too. He's located in Anderson, CA.

    There is also Rich O'Conner, up in Seattle, who started making seats and learned a lot from Bill Mayer (Sr) before he passed away and also knows "Rocky" and Rick. Rocky and Rick, although brothers, do not get along and do not talk to each other. Both seem like great guys from what I've heard.

    If you live in California (Shasta Lake area), Russell Day Long has a same day drive-in service at their shop. Naturally, you have to call in an make a reservation for this option. Rick Mayer seats tend to be less expensive. I think during the slow season, he reduces prices by up to 30-40 percent.
    Last edited by fz9-tx-guy; 10-02-2015 at 08:26 AM. Reason: Added extra information.

  11. #10
    Senior Member daufcguy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, $450 seems reasonable for a custom seat, im in california so this could be a definite possibility for me.
    fz9-tx-guy likes this.
    Dave
    2014 FZ-09
    Past Bikes: An Aprilia, a Genuine Scooter, some old Hondas and a couple Harleys

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