2014 Yamaha FZ-09 | Doin’ Time

Flash-Tune ECU reflash, Galfer brake lines and pads, Maxima brake fluid for our long-term FZ-09

WRIST: Ari Henning
MSRP (2014): $7,990
Miles: 2,963
MPG: 39
Mods: Flash-Tune ECU reflash, Galfer brake lines and pads, Maxima brake fluid

As Marc pointed out in his April editorial (Cook's Corner, April MC), some ride-by-wire throttle systems fail to deliver on the promise of perfect response. The FZ-09 is an example of a flawed attempt, so improving the bike's throttle response was high on my list.

Flash-Tune is a California-based company pioneering the reprogramming of stock ECUs via some pretty groundbreaking software. Yamahas are Flash-Tune's specialty, so I rode the FZ over to its headquarters in Orange, California, where owner Chris Gardell reflashed the FZ's ECU in an effort to smooth the bike's off/on and on/off throttle response. The process took less than an hour and was as simple as removing the ECU from under the tank and plugging it into a computer—there's no expensive hardware to buy and install. Flash-Tune has the ability to alter fuel and spark curves, engine braking, and the rev limit, along with a dozen other parameters. The software is a tuner's dream, and is available for download via Flash-Tune's website, ftecu.com. Reflashing the FZ-09's ECU costs $200 and is available as a mail-in service, typically with a one-day turnaround.

The reflash eliminated the factory fuel cutoff on closed throttle above 4,500 rpm and recalibrated the throttle plate action in Standard mode for more consistent response. The FZ now has significantly less engine braking when closing the throttle at higher rpm and appreciably smoother response when reopening the throttle, though response below 4,500 rpm is as it was, which is to say abrupt. The reflash is an improvement and has made the punchy triple more manageable and enjoyable to ride—so much so that I've actually been using A-mode. As for the off-idle and low-rpm response, I'll have Flash-Tune do some fine-tuning once I install the full exhaust system that's on order. For now, I'm pleased with the progress and the simplicity of the fix.

Besides attending to the ride-by-wire programming, I also addressed the FZ's limp brakes, which were pretty easy to perk up. Stainless brake lines from Galfer (galfer.com; $120 front/$70 rear) and fresh DOT 4 brake fluid from Maxima (maximausa.com; $6.95) firmed up the lever feel, and upgrading the front brake pads from the stock GG-rated Sumitomos to HH-rated Galfer pads ($40 per caliper) gave stronger bite, more power, and better feel. The setup is much improved, but once I get the fork firmed up I know I'm going to want even more stopping power.

Speaking of suspension, I have a set of stiffer fork springs on hand, and I'm investigating affordable shock options. Packaging of the FZ-09's shock is tight, but I'm hoping there's a fully adjustable shock from another sportbike that can be made to fit on a modest budget. More on that next month.

2014 Yamaha FZ 09 Doin Time

2014 Yamaha FZ 09 Doin Time
2014 Yamaha FZ 09 Doin Time
2014 Yamaha FZ 09 Doin Time
Galfer lines are available in a spectrum of colors. I took a risk getting them in red, but they look sharp. They're the first of many minor aesthetic and performance tweaks I intend to make to the edgy FZ-09.
2014 Yamaha FZ 09 Doin Time