Yamaha Motorcycles FZ-09 | DOIN’ TIME

Long-term update: Tank and tail bags for a few days on the road.

WRIST: Ari Henning
MSRP (2014): $7,990
MILES: 6,293
MPG: 43
MODS: Cortech tank bag, Dowco tail bag

While my coworkers were confident in their long-term steeds' suitability for the ride up to Monterey for World Superbike in July, I wasn't so certain the Yamaha FZ-09 was a good choice. I'd done a half-day ride early in the bike's development, and the herky-jerky throttle response and rough suspension left me mentally and physically fatigued.

I needn’t have worried. The work I’ve done to improve the Yamaha’s suspension and throttle response, as well as the new handlebar and flatter seat, make the FZ-09 a totally tolerable place to spend a few days. With the addition of some soft luggage, the FZ proved to be a fantastic sport-touring mount.

For luggage I applied my go-to travel kit, which includes a magnetic Cortech Super 2.0 8-liter tank bag (cortechperformance.com; $85) and an expandable Dowco Fastrax Elite tail bag (dowcopowersports.com; $136). I’ve used these items many times on a variety of bikes, but they fit and look the best on the FZ-09. I’m still riding without passenger pegs, so I ran the tail pack’s forward strap under the seat. The arrangement is secure, looks clean, and is easy to remove while leaving the forward strap in place for easy reattachment.

I logged just shy of 1,000 miles in what was essentially two days of riding. The lower Renthal handlebar strikes a perfect equilibrium with onrushing air up to about 90 mph, and my shim job (see Doin' Time, October, MC here) flattened the seat angle, allowing me to shift position when pressure points developed. Thankfully that was only a concern during the last few hours of the return trip, since the rest of the time was spent on delicious twisties that kept me moving around on the bike.

The 3.7-gallon tank isn’t ideal for touring, but the FZ-09 gets pretty good gas mileage. The dash showed an average of 42.9 mpg for the trip. My math worked out to 42.1 mpg—close enough to call the onboard computer accurate. And I definitely wasn’t easy on the throttle since I had to keep up with Zack on his ridiculously fast KTM 1290 Super Duke R. Even though I was riding hard, I got better mileage than usual. Chalk it up to not spending time idling at stoplights in the city.

I tend to short-shift the FZ-09’s torquey 847cc triple, but on this road trip I wound out the lower gears, in part to keep up with Zack but also because I was enjoying the howl of the Akrapovic pipe. This motor loves to rev, and it rips at higher rpm. In the twisty stuff, I was having a blast.

The 450-mile ride up to Monterey slipped by in a blur of curves, and I arrived feeling fine. I’d fully expected to have a sore back and backside and be eager to get off the bike, but that wasn’t the case. The ride south went fine, too, despite 150 miles on the superslab. I even ran through almost a full tank—135 miles—in one sitting.

I was worried that I was going to suffer for choosing the FZ-09 for such a long trip, but it was totally fine on the freeway and at home tearing up miles and miles of secluded two-lane. With a windscreen and saddlebags, the FZ-09 could be a mile-eater. I guess that’s why Yamaha is building the FJ-09.