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Hi, folks. I've been lurking for a bit as I toss around the idea of acquiring an FZ-09. A little background… I'm 40 years old and I've been riding for nearly 20 years. I've purchased new and used and have owned around a dozen street bikes. I've had everything from 1900cc cruisers to 250cc sport bikes to a Harley V-Rod to a Hayabusa and a ZX-14. Sprinkled in there were a number of other bikes. I would consider myself "good" for an average rider or "very average" for a good rider. I've learned what works for me and what doesn't. I've crashed a bike at a fairly high speed, and I've laid a couple down at low speed. I've ridden in rain and sun and wind and darkness and temps from 30 degrees on up to 105 degrees. Basically what I'm saying is that I'm a fairly "average" with skills that are based more on simple time and experience rather than any sort of special skill. I'm not a track star by any stretch. I'm also not a small guy… 6'2" and about 235 lbs.

I see a lot of conversation that is going back and forth here on the forum. Some people bash the bike has having terrible suspension and twitchy fueling. Others love the bike and think it can do no wrong. As I don't currently own the bike, I'd like to give my unbiased since I have no strong allegiance one way or another. As they say about opinions and assholes… take what I have to say in any manner you like. Keep in mind that all it takes to post up your opinion on the internet is one function finger and a computer… brain cells are not required so take whatever you read with a grain of salt. ;)

I had a chance to play around on the FZ-09 for a while. I rode it in a fairly critical manner because I was trying hard to decide if it's something I could live with. $8k is a small price to pay for a new motorcycle with respectable power nowadays, but it's certainly not small enough that most of us can just go tossing it in the toilet because we failed to do proper research. Considering the fact that test rides are fairly uncommon at most bike dealers, reading reviews online from people who have actually tested the bike is often the only way for us to formulate opinions. Unfortunately, too often these reviews are either from (1) owners whose financial investment has caused them to only see the bike through rose-tinted lenses or (2) tester in magazines who might have a monetary interest in promoting a certain brand in order to maintain a steady flow of advertising dollars. Cynical, I know.

In any case, first the elephant in the room. Yes, the suspension is really bad. If you don't think so, you either don't know what a good suspension should feel like or you are in denial because of the $$$ you just dropped on the bike. It's not meant to be an insult -- it's just a fact. The suspension is super soft. If you try to firm it up with preload, it's going to get harsh. Regardless, the damping rates aren't good. All this is compounded by the fact that I'm a heavier rider, but it certainly isn't caused exclusively by it. If you're a relatively new rider, especially a light new rider, you might be okay with what you feel. But if you had a chance to ride a bike that was really setup for your weight and style of riding, you'd immediately feel the difference in confidence. And the harder you push this bike, the more unsettled it becomes. The rear is squishy, and the front ends up feeling vague. The fact that you sit right up on the bars of this bike combine with the poor forks means that the front compresses like mad under braking. The thing bobs and floats around when the speeds start increasing. It's definitely not "planted". It sort of feels like a big old American car from the 80's… floaty and bouncy with blown shocks. I'm going to stop beating a dead horse now by saying that at anything more than a casual pace, at no time did I feel like I wasn't being hampered by the budget suspension.

The second problem is the throttle response. In B mode it is acceptably smooth (but probably only by comparison). In Standard mode and especially in A mode, the throttle is so snatchy… almost like an on / off. Over time I'm sure most would adjust to it. The problem is that when you have such a twitchy throttle combined with such an unsettled suspension, you're asking for trouble in the twisties. The engine make such good low end torque that there is a recipe for disaster unless you're very skilled or very lucky. There is no way you can push this bike to the limits that the engine would be willing to go… you'd have to rein it back in because of the throttle and the suspension.

Now the good stuff. The engine is a gem. At this price point, to get a bike that is so light and comfortable with so much useable torque and power is a thing of beauty. The sweet triple sound is just icing on the cake. If this bike didn't have this engine, I'd pass on it in a heartbeat. But it makes it easier to live with the other flaws.

The riding position is good. For me, it's not ideal because it's a little too supermoto… the bars are upright and wide, but the angle is so straight that I find myself wishing for a bit more bend in the bar. The reach is fine, however. The seat is on the hard side, but I think it's livable. The pegs are acceptably low for longish rides. Like I said before, despite the low seat height, I still feel like I'm sitting up over the front wheel. It's a feeling that I haven't had on a street bike since I last rode a Buell. It would probably take some getting used to.

Looks are a subjective thing, but I don't think the bike is bad looking at all. It's not MV Agusta beautiful, but it's purposefully aggressive looking. I find it much better looking in person than in pictures. Despite what some may say, I think the blue wheels looks nice with the black paint. The orange has a nice metallic shine, and the red contrasts great with the blacked out parts of the bike. If anything, the bike might be a little too conservative from certain angles; but it's better than being over the top. A perfect example is the new Z1000… I'm not sold on the styling of that bike. It might grow on me, but I think it's what would happen if you took the FZ-09 and just kept going with it.

For the price, it's a steal when you compare it to what your $8k will get you elsewhere with new bikes. Suspension and fueling is easier to fix than a bad engine. That being said, it's "easier"… not "easy". Nor is it "cheap" if you've been saving your pennies just to afford the bike in the first place. Most people buying an $8k bike probably aren't going to want to dump another $1k into rebuilding the forks, replacing the shock, getting a Power Commander, etc… The beauty of cheap bikes is that we can buy them for a little money and ride them. However, there is a reason this bike has such a great motor and still is under $8k. They cut a number of corners. Go into it expecting more than what it is, and you might be disappointed. Go into it being fully informed, and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised and generally satisfied.

And a side note. I see some debate about whether or not this makes a good first bike. When I was young and stupid, I was SURE I could handle the latest a greatest. I over-estimated both my skill and my self-control. Fortunately, I'm still around to ride my bikes. The FZ-09, by nature of its upright riding position, is substantially better a first bike than something like a pure sport bike with clipons, high pegs, and more HP. That being said, I would definitely not advise a newbie to jump on an FZ-09 when there are so many better options out there. Get something cheap and used that you would be okay with dropping… dropping at 0 MPH at the first stop sign you come to… dropping at 5 MPH going around a gravel driveway… dropping at 35 MPH when you panic and take a turn too wide (I HOPE YOU'RE WEARING YOUR GEAR!). Maybe none of this will happen to you. Maybe all of it will. Riding a bike is not like driving a car. The skills might seem similar, but they are not transferable. Take some real riding lessons / classes. Learn what not to do when you feel the rear end slide. Learn why you push left to go left at speed but push right to go left when maneuvering around a parking lot. Learn when to brake and when to accelerate in a turn. Learn why the bike actually lifts during hard acceleration. Now is not the time to be proud or stubborn. I'm not stupid. I know that you want what you want and you want it now. But there are a lot of tomorrows… make sure that whatever bike you get, you're ready for. That being said, I'm sure most people don't take this advise. Just remember when you're older and wiser and you try to give the same advise to new riders in the future to remind them that someone told you so back in the day and you refused to listen. ;)

Okay. I hope I didn't offend anyone. I know this is a forum of people who love their FZ-09's. If you didn't, you wouldn't be here. The people who come here to bitch about their bikes don't stick around long. My point is that, despite it's many positive aspects, the FZ-09 has some substantial flaws, too. That doesn't make it a bad bike -- quite the contrary. It's a wonderful bike for the price. It probably would be a wonderful bike at $9500, too. I just wanted to give an unbiased opinion to the folks out there who might be looking to purchase the bike, but are unable to ride one beforehand. Bottom line… the engine is great. The riding position is pretty darn good. The power is sweet. The sound is stellar. The handling is mostly good with regards to the fact that it's light and flickable. However the suspension really is as bad as a lot of people are saying and the fueling is twitchy… and the two of those things throw a bit of a wet blanket (albeit a small one) over some of the fun.

Will I buy one? I dunno yet. But the fact that I'm still considering it should show that I generally endorse the bike. :D
 

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Epic first post. 41.gif

Thoughtful and well written. Thanks for contributing!

And for the record, I agree with your experiences and observations.
 

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Just because someone bought something doesn't mean they have an interest in making it look good. I have the FZ-09, actual owner, have lived with it, and a 10k bike that I also bought that I hate. I don't post how much I love that bike just because I bought it because I don't. As far as the suspension and your opinion of someone who is saying it's not bad not knowing anything, maybe at 235 lbs, that is the case, but I'm half your weight and it's fine. Perhaps for 235 lb six two guys it isn't the best, but your opinion is as biased as mine. Not all of us are your size and vice versa.

I have not experienced what you have experienced. There might be a weight for over that amount, what you have experienced is true, but keep in mind, not all of us are experiencing these same things. I'm not dumping another 1k into the bike, not even on a flash, because I'm also fine with the throttle response.

Isn't this an enthusiast forum? I'm getting a little confused as for the rush of posts by people who want to bash this bike. Why here is a mystery, it's kind of like the opposite of those guys who are paid to promote it in the magazines if that is actually the case.
 
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The one thing I truly appreciate about this forum, is that people are allowed to be critical of this bike.

Do you know what happens at TriumphRat if you are critical of a bike? Many times the posts, threads... Get deleted. Challenge that moderator, get banned.

Really... This forum is awesome, because you are allowed to actually have a differing opinion.

I'm under 6' and under 150... I don't feel the suspension is inadequate as some, but they weigh as much as my wife and I together. Their suspension needs are different.
 

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True. It doesn't mean that as a rule the suspension is bad. For really big guys, this might not be the best riding bike. Big guys aren't the only demographic.
 

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Everything Pale Horse has written has been written in just about every review of the bike I have read to date. Tell us something we don't know. I still bought one. Well written though.
 

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I agree with you Jen and Fizz. So far,,,, this forum has been chock full of good information and advice. Both good and bad listed and discussed without prejudice.
Many forums have posts from immature folks who bash one another and criticize and for the most part, this forum has been great.
"Opinions and ass holes, yes everyone has one and they all stink except our own".
Each of us have different riding styles and each of us have varying use for the bike. I am not a track participant and ride for pleasure but do want to be able to handle the occasional twisty road. At 180 lbs and 5' 6" I am a good fit on this bike. Soft suspension is what I like but not squirrely. Yes I will do the recommended mods that the track boys suggest but I will not make my bike as stiff as my sons sport bike. he and I went for a ride and I was floating through some rough road while he had to dodge every little pot hole in his path. So,,, for me,, I like it. I will customize it to my needs and desires.
 
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Great post Pale Horse! I agree but I think because I'm only 5'5" and 118lbs that the suspension isn't a problem for me. I am struggling some with the throttle but def not something I can't deal with. I've been riding for about 25yrs and have ridden many bikes from dirt to m109r to zx10r's and struggled at liking the fz totally in the beginning but I think only because I'm still into the 10r speed. Took it out for a 5hr ride through some curvy roads and was finally able to experience flipping it around. I like it much better now :) It's also better for my neck and wrists. It seems that the suspension problem is more with the heavier riders. My husband struggles but says its manageable. I don't have a problem at all. Also, I leave the standard option on and keep it in 2nd gear for the twitchy throttle. Unless of course I have to put it down into first but its getting better so that tells me that it will go away as soon as I master the its sensitivity.
 
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Excellent review. I own the bike, and think its great. I also have skinned hands and an ache in my back from putting work and love into it. Everything that is not fixable is perfect, and everything that is fixable is something you may want to replace anyways if you like getting your hands dirty. But again good unbiased review that is true.

Welcome to the forum, i hope you buy one and get the chance to turn your own wrenches making the perfect fun bike out of it.

-z
 
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Just because someone bought something doesn't mean they have an interest in making it look good. I have the FZ-09, actual owner, have lived with it, and a 10k bike that I also bought that I hate. I don't post how much I love that bike just because I bought it because I don't. As far as the suspension and your opinion of someone who is saying it's not bad not knowing anything, maybe at 235 lbs, that is the case, but I'm half your weight and it's fine. Perhaps for 235 lb six two guys it isn't the best, but your opinion is as biased as mine. Not all of us are your size and vice versa.

Isn't this an enthusiast forum? I'm getting a little confused as for the rush of posts by people who want to bash this bike. Why here is a mystery, it's kind of like the opposite of those guys who are paid to promote it in the magazines if that is actually the case.
Jen, I don't think this post is aimed at you. There have been several (much larger than you) who claim to be experienced, aggressive riders who, say that the stock suspension is good.
It is OK for the price, but for those who have ridden on a dialed in suspension, it is far from good.
I'm not one that will argue on the internet, everyone is allowed an opinion.
If folks are happy with the set up, it is a good thing, leave them be!
I don't understand the need to try to convince people that the bike is no good, if it works, it works! Everyone rides different roads, with different styles, and different skill levels. One person's opinion will never match everyone else.
I make decisions based on my own observations, not what I read in the internet(and really don't give a shit if everyone agrees).
The stock setup did not work at all for me, it was implied possibly due to lack of skill because it worked for expert a.
To each his own, I ride my FZ and love it, or it would not still be in my garage. That is the only measure that matters to me.
 

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I didn't see something aimed at me, just feel the need to defend this bike when "unbiased" is in fact biased.
 
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For [email protected]#ks sake, this guy summed up what we have 200 threads about. I am so relieved that many of us blazed a trail and replaced our shock, went with stiffer fork springs and fork oil, not to mention replaced our seat foam and covers, and ECU flashes. Oh, and I forgot tail tidies, Zeta handguards, and LED blinkers to improve the asthetics. This guy could have saved me four [email protected]#king months of R&D as well as several hundred posts of helpful tips and information.

Hot news flash, everyone on the planet knows that the suspension sucks, and that the throttle is jerky, testers included. I agree, but please give us a bit more credit and read our [email protected]#t before you spew yours.
 

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Everything Pale Horse has written has been written in just about every review of the bike I have read to date. Tell us something we don't know. I still bought one. Well written though.
This captures my reaction fairly well. Although the OP doesn't break any new ground, the text reads like a majority opinion summary of the members' observations to date. I might disagree with some of the specific observations, but the post contains enough caveats (i.e. "takes some getting used to") that the general messages are quite defensible.

Bottom line, though, is no offense taken. This forum celebrates the FZ-09's strengths and provides solutions, often at multiple price points, for its shortcomings. Welcome to the forum, and best wishes for selecting the motorcycle, FZ-09 or not, that works best for you!
 

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Is there really any such thing as an unbiased opinion? :cool:

Just sayin' HeHeHe We are all biased towards what matters to us
 

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Good post from the OP. I am 6'2 but only 155lbs so we'll see how the suspension is when I put some hours on mine. Maybe the softness won't be as pronounced, but it's a fact this big didn't come with high dollar suspension regardless. Some people will never need anything more. I, however, mod everything I own to my liking, and know I will be upgrading the suspension. As well as fuel management. I would do similar mods to any bike regardless of price. I think someone stated it well when the said there were similar issues with their old SV650, bit the investment wasn't worth it. On this bike... It's worth it. Everyone is different, but I think the FZ09 is a great starting package, to either enjoy as is or build from depending on the rider's needs.
 

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no such thing as an 'unbiased opinion' - opinions by definition are subjective. we're human; we're all biased in some way whether we realize it or not.

still, i don't disagree with most of pale horse's post. though i'm not certain i would have bought the 09 if it were $9500.

the 09 has issues (doesn't every bike?), most of us here realize that. the great thing is that we have solutions for them.
 

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The OP was a pretty thoughtful and well written analysis of his experience. I didn't see it as "bashing" the bike. Pale Horse merely pointed out some of the same shortcomings that many of the media reviews have.

Jen you keep saying how great the bike is for you're size and weight. How many 115 pound girls are even riding this bike? I would guess, not many. There are a lot of people who hang out in forums to get information, including varying opinions, and I like to hear them all. If I want nothing but sunshine blown up my ass, I will hang out in the dealership showroom.

The OP sang many praises for the bike as well. If he is wrong about the throttle, why are most people getting the ECU re-flashed? There is a huge difference between a critique, and a bash. I would call this thread the former not the later.
 

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I didn't see something aimed at me, just feel the need to defend this bike when "unbiased" is in fact biased.
no such thing as an 'unbiased opinion' - opinions by definition are subjective. we're human; we're all biased in some way whether we realize it or not.
I think the OP was very clear when he stated he was only unbiased in that he doesn't own the bike, and he's not a professional writer for a magazine.

At least he included his height and weight so we could form our own opinions of his critique based on his size... which is more than you get with magazine reviewers.

Of course his size and riding style & experience is going to color his opinions, that's what he's here to write about. Having an opinion is not the same thing as being biased.

And yes...

 
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