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Discussion Starter #1
Wow, the engine, light weight, flick-ability, brakes, and price.


I've had mine #199 for 6 days now (517miles). The price I paid (Adv. Motorsports-Monroe) was $190.00 more than I sold my '09 Street Triple R for this spring (2 owners, 7k mi., mint). In comparison to the street trip: way more power everywhere, feels lighter, more flickable, quicker side to side transition, probably due to under engine exhaust vs stock '09 STR dual, under seat pipes. Brakes are excellent (contrary to some reviews), monoblock calipers, strong initial bite (not as strong as STR's), great power, and good feel. The brakes feel very strong initially probably due to excessive front dive. This is the first bike I can remember owning that actually has a good rear brake too. That's important as it's hard to keep the front wheel on the ground in the first 3 gears.


After my initial expedited break in (lots of throttle under load, with lots of deceleration). I started fiddling. I took all the throttle play out of the cable, and was rewarded with much less abruptness in std & A mode in off/on transitions. Still not perfect, but I can easily live with it. The only time it's a bit of a problem now is mostly tighter corners, upsetting the chassis, with it's soft suspension, and light throttle return spring.


I should mention before my review of the suspension. I'm a pretty aggressive rider, about 170lbs. in my leathers, have run the rear tire to the edges, still some chicken strip on the front (none on my other bikes), I think is due to the front end not being weighted enough. So far I haven't done anything to the front end, still have yet to set the sag. The front end feels ok for me, just too much "brake dive", maybe thicker oil or firmer springs, otherwise, the damping feels ok too. The rear shock on the other hand sucks, if you are aggressive, or a heavier rider. On the stock settings it was way loose feeling. I bumped up the preload (haven't set sag on the rear either), as well as the rebound damping to eliminate pretty much all the loose feeling. I'm at near full preload and rebound now. The rear is now ok, but has way too much squat under acceleration. I have a ride height adjustable Penske shock on the bike that will be replaced by the new FZ, which has a clevis at one end an eye at the other, and is ride height adjustable. When winter comes, I'll see if I can make use of that, although I'll have to flip it over to use it.


So the rear shock, and snatchiness are my only concerns on the FZ, and will be pretty easy (and cheap) I think to resolve.


Did I mention on one tank of fuel I did 140 miles, and put in 3.112 gallons to bring it back up to the same level as before (3.7 gal. capacity). So, to all of you worried about fuel consumption, unless you want to tour on it, not a problem.


We had fantastic weather in the greater Seattle area last weekend. After my break-in day, my son and I got out for a good aggressive twisty ride. His main streetbike is an '08 KTM SuperDuke, the best streetbike I've ever ridden. We usually switch bikes when we ride, needless to say, he was anxious to thrash the new FZ. Aside from the slightly snatchy on/off response (in std and A modes), and soft suspension (the KTM's WP suspension is outstanding), he had nothing but praise, said it was a better bike than the Street Trip R. I agree, best streetbike I've owned (that's a lot), just needs a little fettling.


The FZ's engine feels about as grunty all through the rev range as the SD's, but is quicker revving, and much more wheelie happy, although the SD has been neutered in it's response by the use of a different throttle cam, as it was terribly snatchy stock. The FZ is lighter and more flickable than the SD, but likes to wag it's head at speed in the twisties, because of the light front end. I've never had a bike before that I thought could use a steering damper (not even my SuperMoto), but I wouldn't mind one on the FZ. In 3rd gear up around the tourque peak (8-9,000 rpm), while still feeding in throttle, any little bump in the road, brings up the front end, very quickly. There are a few places on roads I ride when that happens right before you have to start turning in for the next corner, hard to do carrying the front, then headshake, then turn in. Sometime I might have to give B mode a try for more than a block. For my next ride, I've brought the forks up 10mm in the triples to see if that helps keep some weight on the front end.


I've only owned singles and twins for the last 20 years or so (aside from two STR's, '09 & '11). Triples really are great street motors, torque like a twin, top end like a four. Also they are narrow between the legs like a twin. Inline fours, to me feel like your sitting on a barge. I keep on saying I'm done shopping for bikes now, I believe I am. So unless Suzuki builds a new, improved, lighter,SV-1000 N. I loved my old SV-1000, but it wasn't as fun to ride as the lighter, flickable SV-650 N.


UK's bike Magazine agrees with us. Got my copy in the mail the same day I bought the FZ. They give very few bikes 5 out of 5 stars, but that's what they gave the FZ. Five stars being "Exceptional". The cover of Bike Mag stated: Japan's best bike since the FireBlade.


From what I've read, Yamaha has already trademarked the name FZ/MT -07, and they have that new parallel twin, to go in something new ( can you say ADV bike). Supposedly they will have larger and smaller 3 cylinder bikes. It's a great time to be a motorcyclist. The competition will have to sharpen their pencils. Way to go Yamaha, it was worth the wait.


Hope this helps some of you guys (and gals), that are on the fence.
 

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Thank you for the detailed and well written report, particularly interesting that you can compare it to the Street Triple and Super Duke.

Seems like getting the suspension at both ends sorted out should help a lot with the head shake. Which tires does your 09 have and what do you think of them? Doesn't raising the forks in the triple make a bike more prone to head shake?



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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the detailed and well written report, particularly interesting that you can compare it to the Street Triple and Super Duke.

Seems like getting the suspension at both ends sorted out should help a lot with the head shake. Which tires does your 09 have and what do you think of them? Doesn't raising the forks in the triple make a bike more prone to head shake?
Thanks. This bike is the reason I sold my 2011 Street Trip R. My son's SuperDuke is great benchmark to compare to as well. I would already own an SD if it weren't for all the potential problems, and excess maintainence. My bike came with the Dunlops. I like them well enough so far, haven't spun up the rear getting on the throttle while leaned over exiting corners (in std and A mode). The front as I've read, lacks some feel, although I haven't lost grip there either.

Raising the forks does shorten the wheelbase, so it could affect headshake. I'll ease into how hard I hit the twisties next time till I find out if there are any negative results.
 
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Doesn't raising the forks in the triple make a bike more prone to head shake?
Maybe and maybe not. It's an iffy proposition for a bike without a steering damper. It will reduce both rake and trail, which will quicken the steering. Puts more weight on the front contact patch which would generally have the effect of increasing steering leverage and front end "feel". That can be a good thing, but to raise the forks on a bike that already has shown the propensity to shake its head (indicating stability and/or frame flex problems) is not something I would recommend. A better approach (more conservative) is to raise ride height in the rear 1-2 mm at a time and test the results gradually. Also tire pressure comes into play here; lowering the front tire pressure a pound at a time and testing the results is another way to work on sorting the front end. This also lowers the front and puts more weight on the contact patch while increasing the size of the contact patch and getting more heat into the tire. A normal range for front tires on a bike of this weight category is 32-36 psi for street riding.

This frame has been called "tuned flex" and with an engine as powerful as the 847 triple, a hell of a lot of flex can be induced. One is asking a lot of the suspension and frame on a bike with the kind of torque spread the FZ9 has. That ability to loft the front end by just looking at the throttle is fun at low speed around town (if ya don't mind the occasional ticket or bashing that steering head) but when exiting a corner, when that torque hits the chain, swingarm, and contact patch, and the forces bounce back into the shock absorber and the engine is trying to twist itself out of the frame -- all while the front contact patch is just skimming the ground because of weight transfer under throttle -- the result is just what versysrider described: headshake. A bike with similar top end power but with a smooth torque curve that builds more predictably and without that hard "A mode" hit is going to fare better with the same frame. MotoGP machines and AMA/World Superbikes have extremely stiff frames and first-rate suspension so this is well-controlled in those types.

One thing to keep in mind is that first-tier road racing motorcycles are designed to handle huge amounts of power and to be more "wheelie-proof" than wheelie-prone. The latest generation does this in part with software and on the street-going versions (HP4, etcetera) the ECU and software can inhibit this. Before these controls were available, the layout of the bike itself was adjusted to achieve the result. This means a longer, stiffer swingarm, very stiff frame, engine well-forward, and the rider on ever-lower clip-ons. The result of this is that the power can be put to the ground much more effectively while exiting a turn and the rider's "body english" brought into very subtle and effective play to keep everything in equilibrium. The FZ9 has very much the opposite sort of design; it really is a wheelie machine, the rider is bolt-upright, the throttle response is very snappy, and the frame stiffness is less than a production racebike would normally exhibit. That's why making adjustments to it are going to be more "dicey" than on a racebike-spec chassis. In the vernacular, a guy could really foul things up with just a small change because of the potency of the engine and the inability of the package to cope with changes not tested into the design. It is no surprise at all that the feel of the front end has been called vague, because the chassis layout has the rider in a touring position which reduces the weight on the tire. Even a pound of extra weight can make quite a difference but that weight has to be maintained on the front tire during corner exits.

Where that raising of the forks can cause a more serious headshake or tankslapper is when the rake and trail are reduced enough to cause the headshake to turn into something more. One might think that once the front tire is off the ground, the rake and trail are reduce to zero anyway, so what difference do they make? They do make a difference because even when the wheel is off the ground, the effective steering angle determines a bike's tendency to headshake or tankslap. The steeper the angle and more flexible the frame, the more likely the bike is to get upset. This is why high-strung sportbikes come standard with a steering damper; some of them are now at less than 24 degrees and getting below that number is really reaching into headshake territory unless some other frame features are enhanced. The Street Triple, for example, doesn't have one but the power comes on very differently and the chassis is set up to deal with it. OTOH the GSX-R 750 has an electronically-controlled damper and I "shudder" (pun intended) to think of what might happen if it fails one day.

The problem comes when the tire catches a pavement edge or some irregularity within the speed range where headshake can occur. This is usually under hard acceleration between about 50-80 mph (it can vary from bike to bike of course). The steeper the rake/trail, the more likely the bike is to get upset. I have personally been in a horrific tankslapper at the low end of the speed range and a good riding buddy of mine -- a highly-experienced and former professional racer -- was severely injured when he experienced this at the higher end of the range. I managed to just get my bike back under control after being slammed back and forth and leaving several streaks of black rubber -- one for every time the front end snapped from side to side -- on about a hundred yards of pavement. If it were not for the good boots I was wearing with ankle protection I likely would have broken an ankle, as I was just hanging on for the ride while the bike was slamming me back and forth into the frame like a rag doll.

What I'm getting at is be careful with this because high power, street-tuned handling, and a tuned-flex frame that already exhibit head shake are a combination ripe for a tankslapper and the FZ9 doesn't have a steering damper. The bike I was riding DID have one and still got out of hand.
 

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The main problem is that you cannot raise the rear end without a longer shock, adjustable shock or shorter link rods which would change the rising rate due to the fact that the shock does not have an adjustable ring gear to change the sag. Getting an off the shelf steering damper like a GPR is a challenge because the handlebar mounts are angled.
 

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I've never had a head shake that severe or used a steering damper on a street bike. For my track SV650 I used a Scotts, the kind that fits on top of the steering stem, because I could use the same unit on dirt bike. I'm hoping the shake that Versysrider experienced can be sorted out in the suspension, tires etc, without going to a damper. The occasional lil head nod I can live with. ;)

Seems like of riders on this forum Versys has pushed it 09 the hardest in the twisties. Will be interesting to get Vern's report.



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Discussion Starter #7
Informative write up "W8andC", some good info there. Forgot to mention I already dropped the front tire psi from the factory setting of 36, to 33psi. Also forgot to mention that I sit forward and try to get my weight over the bars in the twisties. If I'm using a higher gear, or easier getting on the throttle, or use a softer mode, this headshake can be controlled. We were just hitting the twisties at our usual pace, and I was surprised a couple of times to get headshake when I hadn't experienced that before on my other bikes.

There is no problem riding this bike around in sixth gear all the time, even in all but the slowest of corners. It'll pull cleanly from 2,000 rpm's, maybe even less. But A mode is just addicting, pulls like a freight train.
 
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Informative write up "W8andC", some good info there. Forgot to mention I already dropped the front tire psi from the factory setting of 36, to 33psi. Also forgot to mention that I sit forward and try to get my weight over the bars in the twisties. If I'm using a higher gear, or easier getting on the throttle, or use a softer mode, this headshake can be controlled. We were just hitting the twisties at our usual pace, and I was surprised a couple of times to get headshake when I hadn't experienced that before on my other bikes.

There is no problem riding this bike around in sixth gear all the time, even in all but the slowest of corners. It'll pull cleanly from 2,000 rpm's, maybe even less. But A mode is just addicting, pulls like a freight train.
Perfect.
 

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Basically, a headshake is a situation where the handlebars are moving left to right violently without the rider intentionally making them do that. I think it usually happens when the front end is "light" (under acceleration for example) and the road surface upsets the front end, being too tight on the bars often contributes too I think? I've never experienced it myself, so I'm not the best person to explain it, it's all theory to me still. Steering dampers help, and the bike usually "corrects" the condition by itself, trying to force the bars to straighten out often makes it worse.

 

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video compilation of wobbles and tankslappers:


the lucky chump at 0:50 is riding a late model r6, a bike which should really come stock with a steering damper but doesn't.

you'll get a lot of different opinions on this, but personally i always run steering dampers on my bikes. a steering damper won't completely eliminate the possibility of getting a tankslapper, but it can help reduce the chances of a mild headshake from becoming one.
 

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Something VERY IMPORTANT to remember if you should find yourself in the middle of a tank slapper/headshake...........loosen your grip on the bars as much as you possibly can, without letting go of them. The wheel is a very simple gyroscope and when it is spinning, as in going forward, it is trying it's best to NOT change direction....it wants to go straight because of the gyroscopic effect. If you try to grip the bars tightly, it will impair the wheel from doing what it wants to do........go STRAIGHT!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Basically, a headshake is a situation where the handlebars are moving left to right violently without the rider intentionally making them do that. I think it usually happens when the front end is "light" (under acceleration for example) and the road surface upsets the front end, being too tight on the bars often contributes too I think? I've never experienced it myself, so I'm not the best person to explain it, it's all theory to me still. Steering dampers help, and the bike usually "corrects" the condition by itself, trying to force the bars to straighten out often makes it worse.

Excellent point, and very true. The bars are fairly wide on the FZ, and the steering very light. Factor in the soft suspension and touchy throttle with a light return spring, and it's pretty easy to put some unintentional feed-back into the bars. I know sometimes I've caught my self tensing up and gripping the bars too tight. When that happens I just tell myself.... what are you doing, your having fun, relax, and ride. Then I'm back to normal.

Just to clarify, the headshake I experienced, didn't alarm me (been there before, but it's been a while) and as "triplethreat" said, I just loosened up on the bars and let the front end correct itself.
 

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Just to clarify, the headshake I experienced, didn't alarm me (been there before, but it's been a while) and as "triplethreat" said, I just loosened up on the bars and let the front end correct itself.
Experienced this myself and am actively working on a few work arounds. I don't think it's something to raise up the flag pole, but it is something to be aware of. As w8 said, this is likely the result of the touchy throttle and bar combination. The rake/trail on this bike isn't radical at all, but the soft springs will exacerbate the effect.

Out of all the bike's I've personally owned, I've only had one with a factory issue steering damper: Daytona 675. Even the Buell XB's, which ran ridiculously low rake/trails, didn't have one. The solution was either to fit a damper or to adjust the suspension accordingly. Most guys did the latter and had great results. I suspect the FZ will be in the same situation. The factory springs, handlebars, and tire pressures could all be adjusted to provide a very favorable effect. I've found riding the FZ like a flat tracker (elbows up, head over headlight) adds enough weight to the front end to bring in some feel and quell any wobbles. That should tell you something...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Experienced this myself and am actively working on a few work arounds. I don't think it's something to raise up the flag pole, but it is something to be aware of. As w8 said, this is likely the result of the touchy throttle and bar combination. The rake/trail on this bike isn't radical at all, but the soft springs will exacerbate the effect.

Out of all the bike's I've personally owned, I've only had one with a factory issue steering damper: Daytona 675. Even the Buell XB's, which ran ridiculously low rake/trails, didn't have one. The solution was either to fit a damper or to adjust the suspension accordingly. Most guys did the latter and had great results. I suspect the FZ will be in the same situation. The factory springs, handlebars, and tire pressures could all be adjusted to provide a very favorable effect. I've found riding the FZ like a flat tracker (elbows up, head over headlight) adds enough weight to the front end to bring in some feel and quell any wobbles. That should tell you something...
Keep us posted on your "work arounds".
 
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