The Urban 1 – Yamaha FZ1

Yamaha have brought their street weapon to the showrooms in our country. We find out how this new entrant fits in the Indian scene

Story: Adhish Alawani
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Yamaha have brought their street weapon to the showrooms in our country. We find out how this new entrant fits in the Indian scene

Story: Adhish Alawani
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

The motorcycle market in India is expanding at an unimaginable rate and the big bikes have been contributing their mite to this expansion. Though not through sales figures, the variety of motorcycles available in the market has gone up considerably: from supersports to hypertourers and entry-level cruisers to muscle bikes. However, the most suitable in all these for India are street bikes. Most of the big bike players in India introduced their urban street machines long time ago and the one who had missed out on a strong contender initially has offered one now. Yes, we are talking about the Yamaha FZ1 – the naked, litre-class urban machine.

Though the bike was introduced late last year, we didn’t get a chance to ride it then. The moment we got our hands on one, however, we didn’t feel like giving it back! I have reviewed as many as five V-twins of late and the feel of getting back on an inline four had to be unique.

To start with, the FZ1 is a beast that makes an impression right from the first glance. The meaty tank and the sharp, angular headlamp sitting at the front make for a masculine façade. The naked part of the bike exposes the huge 998-cc engine beneath the solid twin spar frame. The mighty front tapers drastically towards the short and stout tail. The big, plain black exhaust is the only part that fails to impress on the styling front. The earlier version of the FZ1 used to have a silver tip to the exhaust and without a doubt it looked more striking than the current one. The bike looks gorgeous with its frame and engine painted in matte black, topped with a pearl white tank. Look at the FZ1 from any angle and the one thing that makes itself highly noticeable is the compactness of this machine while not taking away the aggressiveness that certainly makes its presence felt on the streets. The short wheelbase (1,460 mm) and a tall seat (845 mm) take the credit for this compact look.



Essentially, the FZ1 is powered by a 998-cc motor that comes from an older generation R1 that was being sold from 2004 to 2008 before the engineers at Yamaha came up with the crossplane crankshaft. No doubt, the engine has been detuned, but not so much as to give one the feeling of lack of power. Basically, different camshafts have been used in the FZ1 from what were given in the R1 and this has also brought down the rpm at which the peak power is produced. With 150 PS of peak power and an extremely impressive 106 Nm of maximum torque, the FZ1 has a lot to offer. However, leave aside that top end power and look at what the bike offers for typical Indian road conditions. It was nothing short of  mind-boggling to see the kind of response and drive the bike offered from the lowest possible rpm. The FZ1 quite literally pulls from as low as 1,300 rpm in as high as the third and fourth gears to offer perfect rideability in the crowded streets that force one to vary riding speeds all the time. The bottom end of FZ1 is unimaginably strong and that is what makes for its biggest plus point. At the same time, it’s not as violent as its competition. The front stays planted even under abusive opening of the throttle all the way until the red line. It wasn’t feasible to do high speeds during the short period of time the motorcycle was with me, but it still was enough to make me realise that the lack of a quarter fairing or a windscreen will make long highway journeys tiring due to wind blast.

One major update for the FZ1 came in 2006 when its tubular frame was replaced with a twin spar one that offers excellent handling. The riding position is fairly comfortable without taking away the tiny bit of sportiness offered by the slightly low-set handlebar. Though we didn’t get enough time to exploit the handling capabilities of this bike round the corners, whatever we experienced was impressive. The bike is happy to lean and comfortable even while powering out of corners. Though the bike shares its engine with the R1, it’s not as vicious in the higher revs, but instead feels a lot more user-friendly all round the rev range and through the corners.

On a concluding note, I would say that the FZ1 is a very practical machine considering its tremendously strong bottom end. The upright posture is good and easy on the palms. Light clutch lever action makes it an easy bike to ride around the town. The only place where the FZ1 might suffer is on fast highway rides where wind blast might be troublesome for the rider at speed.

All said, the FZ1 comes with a price tag of Rs 10 lakh (OTR, Pune), which is much lighter than that worn by its competing litre-class street bikes. Our take? It came late, but it came strong!

m.salvi@nextgenpublishing.net'

Bike India Team – who has written posts on Bike India.


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