2013 Yamaha FZ8 | Short Shift

The Other Brother

By Zack Courts, Photography by Joe Neric

They say: “Does it all, amazingly well.”
We say: “Not just a great value, a great bike.”

A lot is made of the class in which a motorcycle fits. Many a discussion (in the Motorcyclist offices, even) has become heated over where, say, the Ducati 848 sits in the world of motorcycling. We like simple categories, easily defined points on the spectrum, but not all manufacturers help us out.

Take Yamaha, which has chosen to “fill the gap” between diminutive 600s and intimidating 1000s with, logically, an 800. Now in its second iteration, the FZ8 shares the most DNA with its larger sibling, the FZ1, using the same frame, swingarm, and dash.

When we first rode the FZ8 in 2011, we found that it did more than just create a bridge between its FZ brethren—the FZ6R below, FZ1 above—it became easily our favorite. It won Road Test Editor Henning over enough to say that Yamaha, “made the FZ6R and FZ1 redundant.”

In riding the 2013 edition, it’s hard to argue with that statement. Updates include a new seat and, most importantly, adjustable and slightly firmer suspension. Rebound damping can now be altered on the FZ8’s YHS shock, while rebound and compression damping can be tuned on the KYB fork. The suspension is still a tad soft for really aggressive canyon carving, but wide bars and less weight than its FZ siblings—yes, it’s lighter than the FZ6R—make the FZ8 a pleasure to ride in any environment. Peak horsepower is only 88.6 at 10,000 rpm, but the engine makes nearly all of its peak torque (50.3 lb.-ft.) from 6500 to 9500 rpm.

The last notable update for 2013 is the muffler, which in its first generation was maligned even by lovers of the FZ8, if for no other reason than its monotone paint and cheesy end-cap cheapened the whole bike. An updated exhaust sees a slimmer muffler with silver accents and a much more refined look.

The premium for cosmetic muffler surgery and adjustable suspension has been set at $200; that’s low enough to call inflation. At $8890, the 2013 FZ8 undercuts even the value of Triumph’s $9399 Street Triple, which has non-adjustable suspenders.

Perhaps most appealing is that the FZ8, in true class-defying form, doesn’t pretend to be anything other than itself. No showy bodywork, no flashy graphics; no limited editions or race liveries; just Matte Gray (or Matte Black) paint, an aggressive stance, flat bars, and a solid powerplant. Place it anywhere you like in the spectrum; the beautiful thing about motorcycle classes is that when you strap on your helmet and hit the road, they don’t matter.

Tech Spec

Price $8890
Engine type l-c inline-four
Valve train DOHC, 16v
Displacement 799cc
Transmission 6-speed
Frame Aluminum twin-spar
Front suspension KYB 43mm fork adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension YHS shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping
Front brake Dual Advics four-piston calipers, 310mm discs
Rear brake Nissin one-piston caliper, 267mm disc
Front tire 120/70ZR-17 Bridgestone BT021
Rear tire 180/55ZR-17 Bridgestone BT021
Seat height 32.1 in.
Wheelbase 57.5 in.
Fuel capacity 4.5 gal.
Claimed curb weight 467 lbs.
Contact www.yamaha-motor.com
Verdict 4.5 out of 5 stars
Everything a naked bike should be, with even more potential.

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