WRIST: Ari Henning
MSRP (2014): $7,990
MODS: Shinko tires, seat shims
The miles are finally starting to accrue on the Yamaha FZ-09’s digital dash. That’s because, with the suspension and throttle sorted out, I’m actually taking the bike on joy rides instead of just superslabbing it to and from work.
Besides the updated suspension and fueling, one thing that’s allowed me to enjoy the Yamaha more are new Shinko Verge tires. The stock Dunlop Sportmax D214s (some FZs came with Bridgestone S20s) are fairly hard, flat-profiled tires—not the best for sport riding, but I was determined to wear them out before replacing them. Thankfully, one of our office-park neighbors saved me the trouble by breaking down a bunch of cardboard boxes in the parking lot, littering staples everywhere. After getting several punctures I decided to call it quits for the Dunlops—and take a different route through the office park!
Keeping with the economic approach I’ve used throughout this “ownership” experience, I went with Shinko’s Verge 016 2X tires. The MSRP is $200 for a 180/55 rear and $122 for a 120/70 front ( shinkotireusa.com ), but most retailers sell the set for just $200.
I’ve been riding the FZ-09 pretty hard lately, and the Shinkos handle everything I’ve thrown at them. They have a steeper profile than the OE tires so they make the bike turn in quicker, and grip and handling are on par with more popular (and expensive) buns I’ve used. I wore out a set of the previous-generation, single-compound Verges on a Kawasaki Versys and was really impressed with the grip. My only complaint was that they wore quickly. Hopefully these new dual-compound versions—which also have additional siping for better wet-weather performance and more-even wear—will last longer.
Another thing I’ve improved on the cheap is the seat. As delivered, seat fitment was pretty sloppy, with quite a bit of side-to-side and up-and-down movement. I also wasn’t pleased with the forward angle of the front portion, which restricts your seating options. I considered sending the seat off for customization, but that would be pricey and require more down time, which I can’t stomach. Instead, I tried shimming the seat with 3/4-inch round, 1/16-inch thick adhesive-backed polyurethane pads ( mcmaster.com ; $5.43 for a sheet of 25). This tactic worked wonderfully. I added one shim each to the rear bumpers, two each to the middle bumpers, and stacked four shims on each side of the bracket that supports the front of the seat. I’ve taken the slop out of the seat’s fitment plus raised the front of the seat about 1/4-inch, which reduces the forward slant slightly. All this for about $6 and 10 minutes of my time. Now that’s what I call a major budget success.