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Motorcycle Review: 2015-2016 Yamaha FZ-07

A fun first bike for just $7,000

By Tricia Szulewski, photos by Riles and Nelson

The bargain-priced, 687cc Yamaha FZ-07 busted into the entry-level motorcycle market in 2015 one step ahead of its little sister, the Yamaha FZ6R. The naked, sporty FZ-07 shares styling and cross-plane engine platform with its bigger sibling, the FZ-09, but in a smaller, more user-friendly package. New riders and commuters alike can both appreciate the FZ-07’s light weight and easy maneuverability. But with plenty of torque and power for weekend warriors, the FZ-07 is, simply put, two-wheeled fun at its best.

motorcycle review 2016 yamaha fz-07 woman rider
The Yamaha FZ-07, introduced in 2015, returns unchanged for model year 2016, except you get only two colors to choose from, Raven and Matte Silver. There were three colors available for the 2015 model. The Raven FZ-07 shown here is completely blacked-out.

motorcycle review 2016 yamaha fz-07 matte silver
The 2016 Matte Silver FZ-07 gets a sporty splash of blue on the wheels, front fender, shock, frame, and paint details.

I was among the first moto-journalists to test the new 2015 Yamaha FZ-07 in and around the streets of Seattle, Washington. The light weight of this bike is immediately obvious. At just 397 pounds, it’s a breeze to get the FZ-07 off the sidestand. 

motorcycle review 2015 yamaha fz-07 red
Most small sportbikes are owned by urban dwellers. Navigating through city streets on the FZ-07 is easy due to its light weight, narrow shape, and easy maneuverability. The one-piece, 7/8-inch tubular handlebar is narrow enough to slip easily past heavy traffic, but wide enough for easy slow-speed maneuverability and riding comfort.

motorcycle review 2015 yamaha fz-07 handgrip control
Yamaha's FZ-07 took a cue from the FZ-09 and integrates the starter with the engine cutoff switch. You need to pull the button down with your thumb to start the engine — an awkward move if you’re not used to it. The extra space allows room for a hazard switch — something you don’t see on many motorcycles, let alone on an entry-level bike.

motorcycle review 2015 2016 yamaha fz-07 seat
The Yamaha FZ-07’s 31.7 inch seat height will be too tall for some new riders. However, it’s important to note that Yamaha designed the seat to be extremely tapered toward the tank with narrow bodywork in an effort to minimize the reach when you’re perched forward in the saddle. Tricia’s 5 foot 7 inch height allowed her to have both feet flat on the ground with knees bent, even when sitting back on the wider part of the saddle.

The FZ-07’s two-cylinder, in-line engine puts out 50 foot pounds of torque and gets its character by way of Yamaha’s cross-plane concept, 270-degree crankshaft with uneven firing intervals. This setup generates strong, even torque from when you first roll on the throttle, up into higher speeds.

motorcycle review 2015 2016 yamaha fz-07 riding
The throttle input to power output gives riders a solid feel and readily available power, so you have it when you need it, no matter what gear you’re in.

The FZ-07 has a 6-speed transmission, and gear ratios are spaced apart well for fewer gear changes. New riders can concentrate on steady throttle input rather than having to do lots of shifting. The wide powerband and linear torque combined with the easy-pull clutch lever make it hard to screw up shifts on the FZ-07. The bike even seemed impervious to dumping the clutch (releasing the clutch too quickly, resulting with a sudden jerk). And having a sixth gear makes the FZ-07 highway friendly by lowering rpms while cruising along at higher speeds.

motorcycle review 2015 2016 yamaha fz-07 matte silver
The FZ-07 has a slim, narrow main frame that uses the engine as a stressed member instead of cradling the engine within a larger frame, which reduces the bike's weight. The riding position is slightly less aggressive than the FZ-09, with a lower seat height, footpegs positioned a bit more forward and down, and a handlebar that’s a little closer and higher.

Twisty mountain curves is where the FZ-07’s design all comes together for a fun, spirited ride. The light, quick steering coupled with all that torquey power makes the bike easy to flick around and play with, but the front end feels a little vague and unplanted during hard, fast cornering.

motorcycle review 2015 2016 yamaha fz-07 woman rider
The suspension is tuned for comfort and commuting, so sportier riding will suffer a bit in order to keep the price point low. The front and back both get a decent 5.1 inches of travel, and the only adjustability is a nine-position preload on the horizontally mounted rear shock. Again, for most riding situations, this setup will work just fine.

motorcycle review 2015 2016 yamaha fz-07 wheels
Stopping power on the FZ-07 is excellent. Two floating, wave-type 282mm rotors up front (right photo) use four opposed piston calipers while the single 245mm disc in back (left photo) has a single caliper. The adjustable brake lever is a nice feature for smaller hands, and braking feel is just a little soft; this is perfect for new riders. ABS is not an option on the FZ-07.

motorcycle review 2015 2016 yamaha fz-07 instruments
The FZ-07 has an all-new, all digital dash display that’s smartly designed with lots of useful info. But because of the sit-up seating position, you have to take your eyes far from the road ahead to look down at it. The large speedometer readout sits to the right, and a LCD tachometer fills the bottom portion. The clock and gear are always displayed, and you push one of two buttons on the dash to toggle through an odometer, two tripmeters, air temp, engine temp, average mph, and current mph. That’s a lot of value packed into one well-designed unit.

motorcycle review 2015 2016 yamaha fz-07 taillight
The FZ-07's LED taillight is built into the tail section and is attention-grabbing bright when the brake is applied, but is too subtle and small to be seen well when it’s not in use. However, the front and rear turn signals are quite large and easy for other motorists to see.

Keeping value in mind, the FZ-07 gets even better fuel mileage than the FZ6R. With a tank capacity of 3.7 gallons, and an estimated 58 MPG, you can go almost 215 miles between fillups on the FZ-07.

At just under $7,000, Yamaha’s FZ-07 packs all the features required that make this bike a fantastic value for the money. It’s got good looks, mean grunt, strong pull, and will fit all kinds of diverse riding styles, no matter your mood, purpose, road conditions, etc. An array of Yamaha accessories, including hard and soft luggage and a soft saddle are currently available.

Specs at a Glance: Yamaha FZ-07
Displacement: 689cc
Seat Height: 31.7 inches
Weight: 397 pounds
Price: $6,990
2015 Colors: Liquid Graphite, Rapid Red, Pearl White
2016 Colors: Raven, Matte Silver

WRN Recommendation:
The FZ-07 is ideal for confident new riders who want a sporty motorcycle that they won’t outgrow quickly. Easy to handle, peppy, and comfortable, the FZ-07 will keep its rider satisfied enough to keep for years of riding pleasure. And you can't beat the price for all you get with this bike. 

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