When I first rode Yamaha's three-cylinder FZ-09 (2014 Yamaha FZ-09 FIRST RIDE), I was impressed. The bike is small and light, and the motor is fantastically powerful and serves up a broad spread of thrust. And it's affordable: just $7,990. I had to remind myself of that low MSRP every time my long-term FZ-09's suspension jostled my skeleton or the twitchy throttle caught me off guard. For the price, some stuff is bound to suffer.
Not so with the new FZ-07. This latest budget bike from Yamaha is a serious over achiever. In fact, it might be a better bike than its big brother. The FZ-07 is more comfortable, has smoother throttle response, more functional suspension, yet it still hauls the mail. The FZ-07's 689cc
parallel-twin dishes out the same kind of excitement as the FZ-09—albeit not quite as much—and the bike's suspension is excellent for such a basic setup. (The laydown shock is adjustable for spring preload, but the right-side-up fork offers no adjustments.) It's tuned for "comfort and commuting," says Yamaha, so things are on the soft side, but the springs aren't flimsy and there's adequate damping at both ends and in both directions of movement. The fork and shock strike a great balance between comfort and control, which are two targets the FZ-09's suspension missed.
The FZ-07 doesn't have ride-by-wire throttle like the FZ-09 so there are no ride modes, but there's also no sign of the abruptness that plagues the triple. The FZ-07 is tractable and smooth but still offers serious acceleration—I was genuinely surprised when a handful of throttle in first gear sent the front tire skyward.