Long Term Yamaha FZ-10: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Transformers Styling and Love the FZ-10

Never judge a bike by its bodywork!

WRIST: Spenser Robert MSRP (2017): $12,999 MILES: 1,600 MPG: 36 MODS: None

I cringed the first time I saw photos of a Yamaha FZ-10. Like everyone else that has witnessed the carnage of Autobots and Decepticons battling across the big screen, I couldn't help but think of how unflatteringly Transformers-esque this new bike looked. From the headlights, down to the angular fuel tank, fake air scoops, and trendy high-viz wheels, the fingerprints of Hasbro seemed to be everywhere. And I'm not alone in this sentiment. With each new Fuzz-10 piece we've posted to our social media channels, there is the accompanying flood of negative comments about its styling. Some people seem to like it, but the majority does not. And now that we've added one to our long-term stable here at Motorcyclist, I expect we'll be hearing more of the same. There's just one problem: this motorcycle is fantastic.

2017 Yamaha FZ-10 added to the Motorcyclist long-term test bike fleet
Static photos are the real weakness of Yamaha’s flagship liter bike. Too many layers of plastic pointing in too many directions. Not to mention an eerie feeling of sentience behind those beady eyes.Photo: Yamaha

At $12,999 the Yamaha FZ-10 is the best naked liter bike for your money, and if you aren't already familiar with this model you should read Zack Courts' excellent first ride review from the press launch (see Yamaha FZ-10 First Ride Review here). The gist of the story is that it's cheaper and more comfortable than most of the high-spec European competition (though not quite as potent), while it's more powerful and refined than its inexpensive Japanese brethren. In fact, each time I ride it I am surprised by the quiet brilliance of this machine. With a 998cc inline-four plucked out of the YZF-R1 and re-tuned for broader torque and more useable power on the street, it's the kind of bike that casually lofts the front wheel out of corners and just as easily cruises around a city in traffic. It also manages to have plenty of legroom (I'm about 6'1" if I stretch my legs really hard) without completely neutering the sporty riding position. Point being, this bike is full of compromises without actually feeling like a compromise. Everything just works together nicely and when you're finally behind the bars of all this motorcycling goodness you start to lose sight of the sharp angles and flashy plastic bits. Instead, you just appreciate it for being an remarkable specimen of two-wheeled engineering.

Long-term Yamaha FZ-10 action shot
Find yourself some twisties and let the gaudy design melt away. The handling is light, the engine is strong, and the sound of that crossplane is absolutely incredible.Photo: Spenser Robert

To be clear, this bike is not mechanically flawless. I don't know that any motorcycle is. The throttle response is plagued by the same twitchiness that affects a lot of Yamahas, the fuel range (around 130 miles) is just short enough to be annoying, and the brakes definitely lack the bite that we would prefer. But, that's what we're here for – to see what we can improve with a few mods, tweaks, and miles on the road. We've already been logging a lot of time on this thing, and have some soft luggage in our sights, but for now we have a blank canvas – let us know what else you'd like to see.

Videographer Spenser Robert gets a new Long-Term Yamaha FZ-10 and some hi-vis gear
If you happen to pick up an FZ-10 in the Armor Grey/High-Viz color scheme, we highly recommend the coordinated high-viz on high-viz gear look. Compliments of Spidi and Shoei, in this case. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing, right?Photo: Spenser Robert