Yamaha dropped the F-word on a shocked motorcycling audience in the first decade of this century. That ‘F’ remains with us motorcycling fans to date, getting juicier with age. And now, the FZ and sibling FZ-S (FI ABS Version 3.0) are here.
Through the years changes came to the FZ series: carburetion went away giving place to electronic fuel injection, dual disc braking and ABS have entered the scene, and so has an upgraded frame (making a more precious Diamond from the earlier), and a powerful LED headlight. FZ FI ABS Version 3.0 and FZ-S FI ABS Version 3.0 are the new names of the twin sisters.
The new models - or version - launch on the Sri Lankan scene took place 14th of May 2019, and market response has been ‘”Very good” in the words of M. Maheesh, Yamaha Sri Lanka’s Head of Brand Marketing, Associated Motorways (Private) Limited. From what we hear, a lot of new customers have come aboard the Yamaha brand, as well as loyal customers who decided to upgrade their earlier bikes for the new.
So what is new on the Version 3.0? One of the main new features is the ABS (Anti-lock Braking System). Of course, the average rider will probably not become familiar with this advanced safety feature until and unless the rider’s right hand grabs the front brake lever so suddenly and forcefully that such move would normally have brought the rider down to earth before he or she understood what was happening.
ABS is a rider’s friend, and provides the ‘brain’ at such a panic moment - and prevents the front wheel from locking and the rider from being catastrophically dismounted head-first. This ‘brain’ action is by courtesy of a sensor at the wheel plus a device that reads front wheel spin speed and rate of deceleration and translates that information to a pulsating ‘brake-on-brake-eased’ sequence on the front brake system. Result: so long as your bike is straight up, it will stop without fuss.
Yamaha uses a Bosch designed and manufactured ABS system; Bosch has long experience in the automotive field and understands a biker’s safety needs, so the ABS on your Version 3.0 Yamaha is state of the art, not a mere ‘cross-my-fingers-and-hope-to …’ contraption. More new: the all-digital instrument cluster and the comfortable dual seat are new and come standard on both FZ and FZ-S models, while the FZ-S model gets a beard fairing (under cowl/lower engine fairing, in Yamaha marketing language) and chrome plated nostrils on the ducting either side of the fuel tank. The LCD display - grey-white characters on black ground - is normally easy to read but I found, looking through a tinted visor, that I sometimes needed a second/closer/longer look at the displays. My personal preference is the more legible at-a-glance black-on-white display.
The single saddle is double-stitched and the manufacturer’s literature says it is built wider by 26mm in the pillion rider’s area. This wider saddle, the long-ride comfort from the handlebar being 22mm higher (manufacturer literature), the long legged gearing, the calmly efficient engine, and the improved weather protection for rider and pillion with the FZ-25 type tyre hugger, make these two bikes even more suited for your out of town visits. Or to head for that holiday destination you’ve been dreaming of. Or to just get out on the open road, for the simple joy of riding a well put together motorcycle.
The features and characteristics of the new FZ and FZ-S are heavily weighted on the credit side of the page. I like the single grab handle Yamaha has designed for the pillion rider - basically two bull horns linked up and providing a solid and easy hold. A pillion grab bar helps in orienting the pillion rider and in stabilizing oneself in traffic and similar manoeuvres. This type of wrap around grab bar, I feel, is a definite plus - practicality vs appearance.
The Version 3.0 Yamahas are naked (as can be seen from the photographs). This Version is the ‘Urban Fighter’ from Yamaha. Especially in the FZ-S livery - Black, Dark Blue, and what has generally come to be identified with Yamaha the familiar Grey & Cyan Blue (all in matt finish), and together with the new larger more muscular lines, the FZ-S certainly can appear a ‘toughie’. The Racing Blue of the FZ, too, maintains the ‘Urban Fighter’ part, and I’m torn as to personal colour preference. Under the clothing the FZ and FZ-S largely retain the mechanicals that provided such superb on road stability that has been an outstanding characteristic of the bike from the first time we met. Oh, and of course, that instant ‘Hi, old chappie,’ feel. Getting back astride the FZ, even after over a couple years on a large variety of other two wheelers, and it was just like coming home, instantly.
Yamaha’s Blue core treatment - the Call of the Blue as Yamaha corporate promotion goes - is Yamaha’s answer to the fuel consumption and world environment concerns, among others. The Yamaha scientists have gone deep into the very core of the internal combustion engine and critically worked from there outwards to reduce friction and enhance performance. This technology has ridden on to the roads from the world championship race tracks where Yamaha Grand Prix bikes are raced by the Factory riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales, and the satellite Petronas Team riders.
Buyer sentiment in the land of its manufacture in recent times has seen a shift upwards from commuter 100s and 125s to premium 150s and above. This market trend has, naturally, shifted the strategy of the big Indian motorcycle makers to favour premium and sports models. The FZ and FZ-S are beneficiaries of this revised focus with special developments and upgrades.
The current engine while still in the single-cylinder 149cc 2-valve configuration now runs on a revised ignition timing and fuel injection mapping, sharper acceleration and further ease of navigating tight daily traffic conditions, the result is that the engine feels muscular, runs smoothly, and the rider enjoys a wide torque band for daily road conditions. The enormously wide 140/60 x 17 rear tyre is retained as also the slick 5-speed gearbox and the friendly personality of the bike - why change that which works great? The FZ and FZ-S are about necessary change - evolution, in fact - and what new features must the Yamaha back room boys be experimenting with as we speak? I am as excited and as impatient as a soon to be dad.
The Yamaha FZ series has become a fixed part of Sri Lankan motorcycling culture, from my viewpoint and that of many enthusiastic fans of the models. As much so as the Yamaha Brand Ambassadors the famous and oh so popular musical stars Bathiya and Santush who together presented the new FZ and FZ-S, FI ABS Version 3.0, to the gathered invitees at the recent launch. I am heartened to know that Yamaha’s so likeable FZ range is still with us. Good going, Yamaha.
ASSOCIATED MOTORWAYS LIMITED (AMW) AND YAMAHA
For four decades Associated Motorways (Private) Limited and Yamaha two-wheelers have been linked closely in offering to the Sri Lanka rider a long chain of highly popular motorcycles and scooters. The new FZ and FZ-S (FI ABS Version 3.0) are the most recent avatars of the hugely loved FZ range of motorcycles, and rolls off the production lines of India Yamaha Motor Pvt Limited. Some of the special selling points of these two bikes are the ABS, multi-function display unit, two-level seating with single enlarged saddle, LED Headlight for better visibility, and the advanced mid-ship muffler cover.
The buyer target segment of these two bikes is the 18-35 year olds, AMW tells us. The Yamaha range on offer to Sri Lanka riders are, in addition to the FZ and FZ-S (FI ABS Version 3.0), the FZ 25 (250cc), Fazer, R15 (Sports 150cc) and Saluto 125. Popular musical stars Bathiya Jayakody and Santhush Weeraman are Brand Ambassadors for the Yamaha portfolio in Sri Lanka.
M. Maheesh, Yamaha Sri Lanka’s Head of Brand Marketing tells us that the Yamaha range of bikes is available through the Company’s over 235 Dealer network all over the island. The FZ and FZ-S Version 3.0 has been ranked No 1 in Initial Quality in Upper Executive Motorcycle Segment by the J.D. Power 2019 India Two-Wheeler Initial Quality Study.
YAMAHA FZ and FZ-S FI V3.0 ABS
Air-cooled 4-stroke single-cylinder SOHC
57.3 x 57.9 mm Bore x Stroke
9.5:1 Compression Ratio
THE GO FACTOR
Max Power 9.7Kw (13.2PS) @ 8000 RPM
Max Torque 12.8Nm @ 6000 rpm
CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Wheelbase 1330 mm
Tyres Front 100/80 x 17 Tubeless
Rear 140/60 x 17 Tubeless
Wheels Cast alloy
Brakes Front Hydraulic Disc ABS
Rear Hydraulic Disc
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Length 1990 mm
Width 780 mm
Height 1080 mm
Seat Height 790 mm
Weight 137 kg
Fuel tank 12.8 lit
FZ : Metric Black, Racing Blue
FZ-S : Matt Black, Dark Matt Blue, Gray & Cyan Blue.
Warranty 2years / 30,000 kms
HOW MUCH FZ-S : Rs 479,900/-
FZ : Rs 449,900/-