The Yamaha FZ series was launched in India in the year 2008. And till date, the motorcycle has managed to pull respectable sales numbers for the Japanese two-wheeler giant. With its bulky, big bike like design language, the FZ series captured almost every motorcyclists attention and was an instant hit. Even with issues like low fuel efficiency, poor pillion comfort; the bike sold like hot cakes and Yamaha couldn’t expect more in their comeback phase back then with the FZ series and the YZF R15. But then, sometimes a successful mantra gets stretched too long. The FZ was a brilliant product no doubt, but its 6 years old now in 2014 and it gets a well-deserved facelift. However, for all these years, Yamaha played it safe or rather conservative by simply adding new colours and decals on the motorcycle to keep it looking fresh in the market. Don’t be surprised if you spot an old FZ with mis-matched body panels. That is because a dealer simply cannot stock all the colours Yamaha has launched till date.
This time round, the update is not just cosmetic. Yes, it has a lot of design changes on the exteriors, but it gets mechanical enhancements as well. Tagged as the ‘Blue Core’ technology, the new FZ Version 2.0 comes with fuel injection, replacing the old carburettor unit. The bike has distinctive design changes compared to the pre-facelift FZ. These changes might please some while some might still prefer the older design. The good news is, Yamaha will continue to sell the old FZ series alongside the new version. So now, buyers will have a total of four options to choose from in the FZ series — The FZ 16 and FZ-S with carburettor and the FZ FI and FZ-S FI with fuel injection (also known as Version 2.0). On road price difference however is not too much. The facelift version is priced just Rs. 5,000/- above the previous version. As of date, a dealer mentioned that the new version still hasn’t gained traction and the old FZ series is selling in better numbers.
We got to ride the FZ-S FI in the ‘Molten Orange’ shade. Coming down to the looks, the new FZ series maintains the bulky feel which owners have loved till date. The bike still carries the big bulgy tank profile and a fatter rear tyre which adds to the big bike feel. The front profile of the bike resembles to the soon to be launched Suzuki Gixxer 150. The headlamp is now sharper in design compared to the old FZ. Also, the pilot lamp is now more prominent than it was before. Headlamp fairing continues to be on the minimum side. A small wind deflector makes its way on the FZ-S model, just the like old version, but has been redesigned. The front number plate is mounted using the same bolts used to fix this front wind deflector. To break the monotony of black, the front mudguard is coloured in the paint scheme you chose; in this case, it was in orange. On the side, the fibre parts on either side of the tank get slight revisions. They still taper down at the bottom to accommodate the rider’s feet nicely. New decals make their way on the tank mentioning the variant (FZ-S in this case) and Version 2.0 written below it. The floating cowl below the tank on either side has been changed too. Earlier, they were vertical units, but now are on the triangular side with mesh inserts suggesting that the wind is deflected on the engine compartment. A chunky Yamaha logo is placed on the side cowl as well. Side panels below the seat also have been changed and get a small decal in the colour scheme one opts for. Seat has now been split up and is of the step-up category. This allows in defining the rider and pillion space and helps a little bit extra in the ride comfort area when on the move. Seats are medium compound and much better than the old FZ. Pillion rider gets grab rails on either side, in a silver shade. Unlike the old FZ, these units do not interfere with the pillion bottom and ensure a comfortable ride. Side panel below the pillion seat is again painted in the selected colour scheme. The exhaust has been redesigned as well, however, we like the way it looked on the old FZ. The new one has too many design elements to add some funk. It also gets silver finish on the tip. A sore point on the FZ version 2.0 is the XL sized tyre hugger. It sticks out too much and is far from what we might call a seamless design. It does its job of reducing the mud / puddle spray, but looks odd from every angle you look at it. The reason to add this weird looking tyre hugger is because the read mudguard (number plate mount) is now a small unit. Much like a tail tidy unit, it houses the number plate and that’s about it, no additional plastic below or around it. This number plate unit gets silver accents on the top and houses the tail lamps and the clear lens turn indicators as well. Tail lamp has some finer details which distinguish it from the old FZ. Quality of parts and plastics used are good and feel that they would last the distance. Even the palm grips are soft and don’t slip easily.
Sit on the bike and you feel that the seat height has increased by a bit, although the seat height remains the same at 790m. Seats are comfortable and provide decent support. Handle bar is the same single piece unit and is painted in matte black. Ergonomics remain the same and nothing seems changed in this department. Look at the instrument cluster and you’ll notice that the plastic markings have been now removed. It is a full digital cluster with digital markings for the tachometer as well. Speed, tachometer, fuel gauge and trip meter are displayed over here. On the RHS of this display, you get a new ‘ECO’ light in the green shade. This stays lit up when you ride less enthusiastically and goes away when you wring the throttle. The new instrument cluster looks better than the previous unit and is backlit in the red shade and the figures in black.
For those who get disappointed looking at just the figures, the FZ version 2.0 will be looked down upon. The engine capacity has now come down from the previous 153cc to 149cc. Not just that, the power has come down from 13.80 BHP to 12.92 BHP and the torque has come down from 13.6 Nm to 12.8 Nm. Apart from this, the engine is still an air-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, 2-valve unit. But figures on the paper do not do enough justice at times. With the addition of fuel injection, the performance is much more brisk than before. With slight accelerator input, the engine revvs much faster than the older FZ, across the revv range. Also, the kerb weight has gone down by 3 kgs. Gear ratios are spaced out well to suit city riding as well as long highway rides. Make no mistake; performance is no match to the Yamaha YZF R15, which has an engine a full segment different even though the engine capacity and fuel injection might sound like a similar setup. Revv the bike and it emits a smooth, soft exhaust note. In gear acceleration feels a tad bit better than the previous versions, thanks to the fuel injection. The new engine also claims to be 14% more fuel efficient than the old FZ and is now BS IV complaint. To churn out more fuel efficiency, the green ‘ECO’ light on the instrument cluster stays lit up when you go easy on the throttle. Revv the bike beyond 6,000 RPM and the ‘ECO’ light turns off. It’s a nifty feature, and riders will tend to keep the throttle input under check, unless they’re looking for fun over efficiency.
One-down, four-up gearshift pattern is operated via a toe-shifter. Foot peg positioning is slightly rear-set just like the old FZ, and hence feels slightly sportier than the competition. Ride quality on the FZ version 2.0 is nothing new. It is on the stiffer side, but not to an extent that it will unsettle you at every instance. The bike manages the right balance between the highway cruising abilities and handling corners around that twisty ghat section. With a telescopic setup at the front and a monocross at the rear, ride quality is complaint at all times. The diamond chassis might not be the best in class, but coupled with the new compound MRF tyres, the bike gains brilliant traction at all speeds. The FZ series has always been a brilliant handling product in the segment and customers suggested that the bike could get away using more power; however, Yamaha has chosen to tone it down a little. Braking is handled by a disc brake at the front and a drum brake at the rear. Although satisfactory, the front disc felt slightly spongy and late to respond. Honda offers the combi-brake option on the CB Trigger; it is time Yamaha starts thinking on the same lines and adds a couple of safety features to its bikes and scooters.
Coming to recent day competition, the FZ series fails to match the performance of a KTM Duke 200. Even the CB Trigger has a USP with its combi-brake system. Yamaha might look a little too late in the current day scenario with the addition of just a fuel injection system and reduced power and torque figures, which should have rather gone up. Also, the new fuel injection tech used is the low cost type. It needs cleaning every 6,000 kilometres and will cost approximately Rs. 2,500 (as mentioned by a dealer) per cleaning. So when you buy the FZ series Version 2.0, you not only pay a higher price during the purchase, but also accept to the recurring expense to maintain the bike.
That said, at the quoted price, the FZ is a well-rounded package priced at Rs. 76,250 for the FZ Version 2.0 and Rs. 78,250 for the FZ-S Version 2.0.