August 10th, 2009. I rode my hero Honda pleasure (as for the past 3 years) in roads of Trichur, always feeling struck with envy when watching the other guys zooming by on their Pulsars, Apaches, CBZs and Unicorns. I came across a parking slot and next to me was parked a muscular bike. I knew this was the most talked about Yamaha FZ 16 and I was having a close up view for the first time, having only seen the bike in showrooms and the net. As I didn’t know how to ride a geared bike, I dared not go into the showroom and ask for a test ride.
September 10th, 2009. I was riding a new blazing black FZ 16 on the same street watching other people (guys and gals) who use to ignore me, giving a slight look at the bike. And for someone who is used to being ignored by others for the past 3 years, on road; getting noticed was great. I took a deep breath and sat erect and rode the bike (like riding an elephant).
Enough of dramatics, I have been a proud owner of this bike for the past 1 month. It took me 2.5 years to convince my parents to buy me a bike and finally when it was the right time, I knew I had to buy the best bike in the category. I am a student and have to travel around 24km daily (that too in 10-15minutes) , so a 150cc bike was essential. I had zeroed on the Honda unicorn, Hero Honda hunk and the Suzuki GS150R. I first went to Honda. They simply seemed bored and replied to my inquiry that the bike would take 50 days in booking, no discount (It was onam season). Their cold attitude had just lost them one potential customer.
Next, went to Hero Honda. They offered the limited edition Hunk (wine red) for rs.62,300 on road. Since this was the cheapest and Hunk seemed to be a good bike (I then decided to book it.) I had canceled the Suzuki GS150R, not because it was bad but because it didn’t have anything new. No striking looks, but a good bike all the same. But on the day, I was to buy the hunk; I went by impulse to the Yamaha showroom. There the FZ 16 and FZ-S stood there receiving me. I was told that there was a discount of Rs.3000 for students. So the on-road price came to Rs.69,300. (My budget was 70,000 ). After hearing the advantages and disadvantages and its comparison to other bikes, I decided that this would be my first bike. I got the bike on the same day of cash payment.
Now the problem was to learn bike riding. I am an expert driver in cars and keeping that in mind I sat on the FZ and started the bike. My first start and ride on my first bike! It took me just 2km to be a pro in riding the FZ. That is the bike. It gives confidence even to starters. Now, after the first service, I have completed 700km. So initially, here were some of the “assumptions” I had on the bike.
- No kick start. If the starter fails, you have to push and drag and start (like cars.)
- The bike looks like a toy.
- Lesser weight, hence lesser control.
- The digital instruments is dull
- The back seat is just a virtual thing. A pillion cannot ride for long.
Based on these and my personal experience, I shall write. My review won’t be technical. I shall use my knowledge and explain my views.
Engine and Performance: When the pulsar was introduced first in 2001, it was applauded as a technically brilliant and an advanced-bike-for-its-class. That was one of the reasons it became an instant hit. In 2008, Yamaha has repeated the same. The FZ is just one step ahead of its competitors and we have obtained a true performance bike in the 150cc group. The bike uses a SOHC , air-cooled 153cc engine. The maximum power is 14bhp and torque is 13.6Nm (Even if these were not the characteristics, I would have bought it anyway). When you sit on the bike and start it, the sporty riding position instills in you a feeling of pride. The position is excellent, just like the Unicorn and GS150R. You can ride straight for one hour, without any strain. Hence backpain is absolutely nil. The handlebars are wide which offer a comfortable position.
The bike starts just 2 seconds on pressing the starter. On mornings, I use the choke, as it is recommended for long engine life. Speaking on the absence of a kick start. Suppose you bought a new car. Are you worried that the car won’t start. There will be no starting problem atleast for the first 2 years. Since cars don’t have kickstart, the same thing applies to bikes. A well maintained battery lasts upto 1.5-2 years. Sports bikes like R1 , Hayabusa and the new P180 & P220 also come with self-starters only. You must sense that since the bike starts with self, the companies shall place an extra emphasis on the battery.
The bike starts with a pleasant sound, not silent like the Unicorn and not loud like the Apache and Pulsar. The sound is like something is waiting in the engine for you to unleash. The gear is one down, 4 up. There is no chance for false neutral and for neutral; you have to shift down to 1st and then shift up. The gear is of toe type, which looks sporty and all the same, may cause discomfort to those wearing sandals. The bike handles like a cruiser bike and is not rough like its brother the R15.
The bike is designed to provide low-end torque, meaning performance in low speeds. The power flow is smooth and takes just 5.5 seconds for 0-50km. I shift the gears at 4000rpm. The gears were initially a bit hard, but after the 1st service, this has become smooth. The power, though not the best, is ideal especially for riding the cities. In my opinion, this is the best bike to have when you ride mostly in a busy city. Till 0-70kmph, the ride is smooth and refined (not super refined like unicorn). Well, 150cc bikes should be a bit rough. (When a bike is extra smooth, it’s meant for ladies). You should have some feeling of control over the bike. The bike can be used to overtake extensively, with confidence, as the delta frame and lesser weight results in more stability and control. The gear ratios are excellent, and meant for city. You can ride in 5th gear at 20kmph without engine knocking. This means lesser shifting of gears. I ride mostly in the 50-55 speed, and it is the ideal speed for the bike.
Braking is good. The disc brake makes you feel really safer but the back brake could have been disc. The drum brakes are a bit loose. Anyway I use the front and back brake together, it is the best braking mode, for any bike and makes you stop right where you want to. The exhaust is trendy and the bike is somewhere between silent, and rugged. I have gone till 80kmphr. But after 75kmph, the vibrations start kicking in (At higher speeds, you won’t even know.) The maximum speed is touted to be at 115-120km/hr. It takes the highways for proper testing. Anyway the optimum speed is 3500rpm at 45-50kmphr.
Looks, Stability,Weight and Suspension: You are all familiar with the FZ 1000. The FZ 16 is just a miniature FZ 1 with the headlight and instrument and engine looking similar. Fat tyre at the rear, beefy tank, beefy front fork compliments the FZ16’s muscular character, which has become a huge hit among the young crowd in India.
In looks, the bike may look like a toy but on close contact, it is surely great. I think it’s the best looking bike in the 150cc segment. The bike has a diamond frame which is designed for good ergonomics (says Yamaha). The bike comes without an engine and crash guard. The only way to fix a crash guard is to remove the side fairing and weld any other crash guard. It takes away the looks are gone. The engine tank is of metal, coated by plastic resin. The huge size of the tank is due to the resins. The actual tank is inside and carries 12litre with 1.4 reserves. So if you have a fall, you get scratches on the tank. The engine is protected (Yamaha service personnel have claimed that the side resin extensions cost “just” 300 each and can be replaced). So be prepared to shell out rs.600 every time you fall.
The bike has a midship muffler, and the silencer is concentrated toward the centre. This means good centre of gravity. The bike weights just 125kg. The pulsar, hunk, unicorn and apache and gs 150 are above 140kg. This is one of the main advantages of the fz. You get absolute control and accidents by means of losing control may be avoided. The bike is very stable and this accounts for city riding, where the bike can be taken through any gaps, and overtaking can be taken with confidence. The rear tire is a massive 140/60 MRF, 5 spoke alloyed tubeless and offers the best grip on the road. The wheel base is 1335mm. The ground clearance is a bit low at 126mm, meaning that riding with a pillion may cause the centre stand to touch the road on bumpy roads.
The suspension is the same as of sports and cruiser bikes. The monoshock is the best of the suspensions for our roads. The bike comes with the widest telescopic forks in the front, and a 7-step adjustable monoshock in the rear, it offers the smooth ride like unicorn, both for the front and back rider. Even on roughest of roads, the bike didn’t stumble and was smooth. The monoshock is tuned more toward rough, as it helps in better control.
The seat is cushioned and is a breeze to sit. Sadly Yamaha seems to have forgotten about the pillion rider. The back seat is not just a virtual, but it is larger than the apache’s and is of the same size as the hunks. But the position is higher than the other two. A pillion may be carried without strain upto 20km. (You can reposition the foot pegs for better seating position, with an external mechanic).
Mileage: For the bike that takes 5.5 seconds from 0-60. And is designed for low end torque and focuses more on acceleration and performance, it would be unjust to expect plus 60 mileage. Yamaha makes performance oriented and not mileage oriented. The company claims 40-50 range of mileage. I have obtained 44kmpl for the very first liter of petrol (ordinary). Before the 1st service, having mostly ridden in the 45-50kmph speed, I had obtained 50-51kmpl 3 times. After the 1st service, I had mostly started riding in 60-65 speed and the mileage obtained was 43kmpl (mixed). I have seen in a user review that the maximum mileage ever obtained by fz 16 is 58kmpl on the Mumbai pune highway. So with comfortable ride, you could get 40-55 range. The extra premium petrol is not recommended.
Highway and City Ride: The bike can be rode like a cruiser on the highways, No strain and no back problem. The power at 4000rpm is smooth. But the bike causes a bit over confidence and you might want to overtake any possible bike. So riding at 50kmphr is hard. The mileage obtained by me in highway like conditions was something between 51-54kmpl. On cities, you have to use minimum of gear shifts and can be rode effortlessly. The mileage obtained in city was 42-44kmpl. I would recommend this to anyone to ride in the busy cities.
Instrumentation & Digital Consoles: Like the FZ 1, the instrument cluster is small so that the headlight is accentuated to give it a performer look. The instrument is fully digital and carries the speedometer,tachometer, odometer, and fuel guage. An indicator for engine trouble has been provided ( of course, you can see that the engine is troubled when you experience, no need for an indicator). The display is small and is a bit over colored, so that it looks bright and toy ful. I would have been satisfied with an analog tachometer but since it goes well with the looks, it would do. And for a bike that works on battery, a battery level indicator and a warning indicator should have been essential. This seems forgotten. The headlamps are bright enough to stop the cars and bikes at night. This has got a single pilot lamp. But the lamps have to be used optimum as they drain on the battery.
My Verdict: If you are…
- Looking for the best looking 150cc bike.
- Mostly ride alone.
- Want a safer, smooth, comfortable ride.
- And looking for the ideal bike for city driving
Then the Yamaha FZ 16 is the bike for you. At Rs.72,300 on road, it is a bit expensive, but you won’t be dissatisfied.
The Cons: I hate to write, but there is no such thing as a 100% perfect bike…
- The bike is overpriced for 72300, for this amount, you would expect a fuel injected bike. For the same amount you can get the apache RTR180, which is more of a performance bike.
- The lack of crash guard. (Anyway makes you to ride safe and avoid accidents).
- The back seat. Yamaha could have made it smooth and accommodating.
- For a performance bike, the vibrations start to kick in as early as 75 kmph. This could have been avoided.
- The display could have been simpler, with analog tachometer.
- The service of Yamaha really needs to improve a lot. Yamaha gave us a true street bike, but they should also have improved upon the services.
Finally, about the competitors, for the same amount of Rs.73,000 on road, you can get the Pulsar 180, Apache RTR 160 and RTR 180. Well the thing that is better with these 3 bikes are, for the price of FZ 16 are:
- Much more power. Apache 180 and pulsar 180 has 17Ps of power.
- Torque and power distribution are more advanced than FZ 16.
- Service of Bajaj and TVS are better than Yamaha.
So to all prospective buyers, if a bit more budget doesn’t bother you, be ready to shell out Rs.73000and you can have the bike which suits best for our busy roads as well as occasional highway trips. The comfort and stability is much better than its competitors. Buy one and join the league of the ‘Lord of the streets’. 🙂