Among the hottest motorcycle segments right now, “naked bikes” combine sport-bike performance with stripped-down design. As such, these factory hot rods are all about bang for the buck, delivering plenty of sizzle along with lower MSRPs and insurance costs. In particular, Yamaha's all-new FZ-09 offers three cylinders and 847cc worth of grins for credit-card-type money—just $7,990.
Even though it's affordably priced, the FZ triple can still deliver the mail. Its DOHC liquid-cooled engine combines a flat-torque curve with a screaming 11,250-rpm redline. There's also throttle-by-wire fuel injection, a six-speed manual gearbox, a steel-and-aluminum chassis, an adjustable front inverted fork and rear single-shock suspension, and triple-disc brakes.
Curb weight is advertised as a mere 414 pounds—scarcely half that of a big cruiser. The FZ-09's narrow seat/fuel-tank interface invites you to wrap yourself around the machine, a definite asset during cornering; however, the sloping-seat profile tended to slide us toward the tank. And the Yamaha's quick chassis geometry can handle even the tightest of corners.
Noise regulators rein in the triple's intake and exhaust, but if you hit 5,000 rpm, the powertrain delivers a ripping baritone like a Porsche 911 or Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer. There's plenty of thrust ready for anything you'd want to do with the FZ-09, from urban traffic to track days to soaring Rocky Mountain passes.
The EFI system has three profiles to suit rider preference, although we found inbred driveline lash and/or mapping issues made throttle tip-in abrupt. We observed 40 mpg during our testing—less than a Prius but way more fun!
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