Yamaha FZ-09 | DOIN’ TIME

Long-Term Update: Replacing the Shinko Verge 2X tires with new Pirellis. How did the budget-friendly rubber perform?

WRIST: Ari Henning
MSRP (2014): $7,990
MILES: 7,872
MPG: 38
MODS: Pirelli tires

Since a big part of the Yamaha FZ-09's appeal is its affordable $7,990 price tag, I've tried to limit the price of the parts I've thrown at the bike. That's how I ended up putting Shinko's 016 Verge 2X tires on the bike—at about $200 a set, they're very inexpensive.

And they’re good tires. I’ve commuted on them, toured on them, and taken lots of rides through the canyons on them, and they’ve never slid or felt unstable or done anything but stick. After 3,700 miles, the front tire is mildly cupped and the rear has a flat spot, though I’m not at the wear bars yet, so there’s likely still some life in them.

Although I'm pleased with the Verges, I must admit that I've been mildly suspicious of them. You might recall that in my initial assessment of the FZ-09's upgraded suspension (see Doin' Time, September 2014 MC here), and then again when I compared the FZ-09 to Triumph's Speed Triple R (see Doin' Time, January 2015 MC here), I complained about vagueness from the FZ's front end at full lean. And in the back of my mind I wondered if the front Verge was to blame.

The Supercorsa SP V2s have a stiffer carcass than the tires they replace and more slick area on the shoulders for maximum traction at full lean.

To find out, I replaced the worn Shinkos with a set of Pirelli's updated Supercorsa SP V2s (pirelli.com; $357 for the set), the street-going version of the Supercorsa SC V2 race tires. The SPs are significantly more expensive than the Shinkos, so they don't align with my budget-conscious strategy for the FZ-09, but they are a known quantity—I'm very familiar with their handling characteristics and capabilities—so I figured they would be a good choice for control tires.

The Supercorsas’ softer carcass provides better small-bump compliance, and they certainly handle and grip like the World Superbike derivatives that they are, but the front-end numbness is still there when trail braking and at full lean. Tires are clearly not the issue. The Verges’ record remains clean.

What this means is that the chassis still isn’t sorted. Even after running through all of the available suspension and ride-height adjustments, the numbness remains. I suspect that the fork has too much rebound damping, and I’ve long felt there is too much high-speed compression damping, but with just one adjuster (for rebound damping, and it’s already backed out almost all the way), there’s not much left for me to try.

Stoltec (stoltecmoto.com) improved the fork dramatically, and I expect that most riders would be pleased with the results (especially considering the price), but having ridden better setups, I’m not satisfied. Editor-in-Chief Marc Cook warned me that it would be an uphill battle getting the FZ-09 fork—which tasks one leg with all the damping duties—to work like a more expensive fork. The rebound-damping curve can certainly be improved with a revalve, but getting the right balance of high- and low-speed compression damping out of one small piston is simply asking too much.

Stoltec offers a complete cartridge kit for $1,149 that puts a larger 25mm piston in each fork leg for separate and fully adjustable compression and rebound damping, but I’m not interested in having the FZ-09 down while I send the forks off. And $1,149 definitely doesn’t jibe with the budget.

The Supercorsa SP V2s have a stiffer carcass than the tires they replace and more slick area on the shoulders for maximum traction at full lean.