After the Crossplane Crankshaft Concept 3 was shown at last fall’s Intermot Motorcycle Show in Cologne, Germany, rumors swirled about a new Yamaha inline-three-cylinder-powered sportbike. Turns out they were well-founded: Yamaha just announced the FZ-09, a brand-new naked sportbike powered by a Triple that’s a spitting image of the one displayed in the concept bike. Production of the FZ-09—the first of possibly many Triple-powered models based on the concept—has already begun, and the bike has a competitive suggested retail price of $7990.
The Triple is an all-new design, a liquid-cooled, dohc, four-valve-per-cylinder powerplant displacing 847cc. It’s counterbalanced and naturally “crossplane,” as Technical Editor Kevin Cameron reported in his web story on the concept. Like Triumph’s three-cylinder engines, the Yamaha’s three crankpins are spaced 120 degrees apart. “With this arrangement, there is zero shaking of the engine’s center of mass and zero crankshaft rpm flutter caused by piston inertia torque. But there is a side-to-side rocking. In modern engines, this ‘rocking couple’ is canceled by a crank-speed balance shaft,” wrote Cameron. The FZ-09 engine uses an even firing order.
Yamaha threw a lot of technology at this new engine, highlighted by features such as YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle) and Yamaha Drive Mode (D-Mode), which offers three power-delivery maps. To ensure a wide spread of torque, three different-length intake funnels are used: 82.8mm, 102.8mm and 122.8mm. Tuned for strong low-end and midrange grunt, the new Yamaha Triple produces a claimed 65 foot-pounds of peak torque (measured at the crankshaft). The exhaust is a stainless-steel, three-into-one design with an undermount muffler/catalyst chamber (sans EXUP) and a MotoGP-inspired silencer.
An all-new aluminum frame and swingarm form the foundation of a sporty chassis. The 41mm inverted fork and single shock have preload and rebound adjustments. Tires, 120/70-17 front and 180/55-17 rear, mount to lightweight 10-spoke, cast-aluminum wheels. The suspension has 5.4 inches of travel up front, 5.1 in. out back. Wheelbase is identical to Yamaha’s FZ6R’s (56.7 in.), which is also about 3/4 of an inch shorter than the FZ1’s or the outgoing FZ8’s.
A 25-degree rake and 4.1-inch trail implies agile handling. Another indication of the FZ-09’s sporting intent is the 414-lb. wet weight (full tank of fuel), which puts the FZ-09 in the ring with Triumph’s Street Triple R (395 lb. dry), while also being considerably lighter than the 487-lb. (wet) Yamaha FZ1 and 467-lb. (wet) FZ8.
Considering this new Yamaha’s price, the FZ-09 has an impressive list of high-quality components. In addition to the chassis details noted above, this Yamaha also has excellent brakes: a pair of 298mm discs pinched by radial-mount, four-piston calipers in front and a single-pot rear with a 245mm disc. Others features, such as a tapered aluminum handlebar and a brake pedal, shifter and footpegs made of forged aluminum, are rarely seen on bikes in this price range. The lightweight LCD instrument panel and new handlebar switch pods are a nice touch, giving the FZ-09’s cockpit a polished look and feel.
We won’t have the opportunity to ride a 2014 Yamaha FZ-09 for a few more months, but were able to throw a leg over the bike at a private unveiling. We were impressed. The FZ-09 feels very light and narrow. Its 32.1-in. seat height is reasonable, and the fit, finish and quality exceeded our expectations given the MSRP.
No word yet from Yamaha about on-sale date, but we do know the FZ-09 will be available in two colors, Liquid Graphite or Rapid Red. The bike appears to represent a significant value in an expanding “big” middleweight class.