Yamaha FZ16 Vs. Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler – A Comprehensive Comparo

When the ever so beautiful FZ was launched by Yamaha a couple of years back, market was all speculative of the success for such a high price tag for (an ultimately) a 150cc machine. As they say, time speaks for itself when FZ became the mainstay motorcycle for Yamaha becoming the hot favorite for people who wanted a premium 150cc bike.

For so many months together no manufacturer tried to fiddle with the dominance of FZ in this segment, until, arch rivals Honda sneezed in with an upgrade of their super refined Unicorn by placing a bike right at the throat of FZ; they called it Dazzler! In our roadtest Dazzler emerged as a punchier version of Unicorn and with many new features loaded it seemed to be the right time to put both the FZ and Dazzler to Armageddon!

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION:

FACTS FIRST: Both the bikes come with a single cylinder, 4 stroke, 2 valve, air cooled, SOHC engine with the Dazzler’s mill displacing 149.1cc to produce a maximum power output of 14 bhp at 8500 rpm on the tachometer. FZ has a slightly larger displacement of 153cc and produces 14PS (13.8 bhp) of peak power which is lower by 0.2bhp but comes 1k earlier @ 7500 rpm. Dazzler is capable of producing 12.8 Nm of torque at 6500 rpm while FZ produces a humongous peak torque of 14 Nm (which is 1.2 Nm greater) and also comes in 500rpm earlier at 6000rpm.

ON ROAD: As is clearly reflected from the figures, Dazzler is a more rev-friendly machine with peak figures coming at higher RPMs and FZ is made to be more city-centric; feeling at home when city cruising and ‘cutting through congested traffic’ moves are demanded. These ‘typical’ characters of both the bikes would become clearer when we will talk about performance figures later in this comparo.

Both the engines feels rock solid with tremendous build quality exuberated from both the Japanese manufacturers. Dazzler takes away the crown of the more refined mill among these but just! FZ also has a beautiful refined feel to the engine just that it gets beaten on higher rpms. Dazzler exudes typical Unicorn-like refinement levels with vibration dampeners curbing any unwanted pulsations from the engine (but definitely CB Unicorn still is the most refined bike we have ridden.)

Both the bikes are shod with a 5 speed slick gearbox with very little to differentiate between them. Both the bikes now come with an only-toe shifter to boost the sporty characteristics both of them possess. FZs gear change feel is slicker than Dazzler but Dazzler’s (though slightly harder) is more complete and feels ‘always in slot’ upon any gear changes. But Honda’s clutch feels reasonably more buttery than FZ here which makes gear change a breeze and it also helps a lot during sudden gear changes required during quick maneuvers.

Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler: 9/10
Yamaha FZ16: 8/10

STYLING & BUILD QUALITY:

To be very frank, if we were asked to rate Dazzler higher than FZ in this section with a sniper pointed at our asses, we would prefer to take bullets! It’s such a huge difference between the two. In fact, this is the only section in the whole comparo where both the bikes seem not belonging to one segment!!! FZ 16 definitely feels class apart with its raw bold styling borrowed from the international FZ series. Right from the naked front clear lens fairing to the huge humped massive tank to the dual tone pointed seat to the country’s fattest tires, every inch of this bike screams style.

FZ has been made with elegance in mind and the big gallant looks of the bike probably makes it one of the best looking bikes in the country. We could never find any single thing till this point of time which could look disproportionate on this bike. The bigger point here is the fact that we are uttering these blossoming words after 2 years of FZ’s launch; such is the fresh feel associated with the bike, still.

Even if it were some other bike in comparison, Dazzler doesn’t seem to be made to look breath-taking. Though attempt has been made to make it look flashier, but unfortunately, other manufacturers feel slightly ahead in this department. The front looks ala fairing itself lends the bike a ‘sad-er’ face but the huge tank shrouds (with the classy Honda emblem engraved on them) do the savior job here. Rest of the bike looks small, plain and decently done with nothing very off beat to talk about.

Surprisingly, build quality of Dazzler (apart from the engine bit) did not feel what Honda is famous for with wirings running around, incompatible rear footrace assembly, bad quality plastics and lack of better fit and finish of components. Yamaha does a wonderful job here as well with fantastic fit and finish and the detailing done here is commendable.

Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler: 6/10
Yamaha FZ16: 9.5/10

CHASSIS, COMFORT & HANDLING:

Both the bikes use the Diamond Frame which is sturdy, rigid and a proven one. Unicorn brought in the single shock concept in India (under the name Monoshock) and for the first time people understood how good a bike can handle; Dazzler takes the theory forward. Front uses the regular telescopic shock absorbers and the rear has an adjustable red colored monoshock which could be adjusted according to the kind of terrain you are riding your bike on.

FZ comes equipped with India’s fattest 41mm front telescopic shock absorbers which can travel a max of 130mm. The fat tubes add a lot of muscle to the looks of the bike at the same time providing lovely shock absorption capabilities. Coupled with the lovely front is the adjustable Monocross suspension at the rear which can travel 120mm.

Coming to the cornering part, Dazzler is one fantastic cornering machine but grossly hindered by the forward biased commuterish front footpegs which always play spoilsport whenever you want that extra lean angle. High rise handlebar further plays down the fun. In order to make a sports oriented bike, Honda did forget to make these changes (or did they intentionally do that?). The grip on those 110mm 17 inch tubeless rubbers is awesome and does instill that feeling of confidence in the rider.

FZ, with country’s widest rear tubeless radial (140 section), backset footpegs and wide handlebar form one cute rider-bike geometry which could bypass any corner and did we say with aplomb! Because of a wider patch always in contact with the road, FZ feels a more planted bike on triple digit speeds as well.

Dazzler, with its two tone seat, has a broader rear end to accommodate two Indian sized butts with comfort. FZ has a narrower pillion seat which is definitely a pain on long rides. Dazzler also has a commuter oriented geometry which is obviously more comfortable with a relaxed upright seating posture. FZ has a rearset open chested wider seating posture which becomes a routine after a few rides. But the front seat of FZ is what we liked particularly. It felt more composed, better cushioned and longer in length. Yamaha with its plastic enveloped tank has a better knee recess than the Dazzler.

Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler: 8/10
Yamaha FZ16: 9/10

ELECTRICALS & INSTRUMENTATION:

Honda for the first time brought some digital stuff on a 150cc machine. Dazzler has got a pretty neatly done blue backlit console which features an analogue tachometer and a small digital speedometer apart from the regular information indicators. The digital speedometer window also has a watch, fuel indicator, trip meter along with an odometer integrated onto it. The bad part about the bike is it’s still not DC which has become quite a norm these days. The bike also does without a pass switch, pilot lamps and more importantly (and surprisingly) an engine kill switch! Sad on the part of Honda, but as they say, “Honda says, Honda understands and Honda does”!!!

On the other hand we have Yamaha providing everything missing on Dazzler and perhaps some more! FZ sports a complete digital console which, for the first time watchers takes time to understand and get used to. The orange backlit Liquid Crystal Display does help in a clear vision but during the day it becomes a little problematic to read the figures with the sunlight hitting the console directly. This is not the issue with FZ-S and Fazer as they come equipped with visors to save the console of direct sunlight.

The panel consists of a digital tachometer, odometer, tripmeter, a separate fuel gauge and a speedometer with big bold letters reading out the speed in kmph. The regular information lights fill the remaining part of the console. Switchgear quality of FZ is better, providing curvy, non-pointed buttons for most functions.

Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler: 7/10
Yamaha FZ16: 8.5/10

PERFORMANCE & BRAKING:

After going through a diet regime and an increase in muscular power, Honda has ensured that Dazzler is loaded with enough ammo to give its competitors a tough time. With almost similar weight and power figures, we expected a very close call between these two machines. And as we had in mind, both the bikes were neck to neck on almost all instances. Despite a fatter rear tire and 0.2 bhp deficit, FZ is slightly quicker in the 0-60 kmph sprint clocking a little less than 5.5 seconds where Dazzler takes a little over 5.5 seconds for the same. But as the difference increases, Dazzlers power and higher redline comes into play aiding the bike to reach 100 kmph almost a second quicker than FZ.

Dazzler also goes on to achieve a higher top whack of 119 kmph on the speedometer (approx 108-110 true) where FZ manages 115 kmph (approx 105 kmph true). With very little to differentiate, we come with a demarcation here; FZ felt rock solid at these speeds but (engine) stressed at the same time, whereas Dazzler felt a lot at ease from its engine response, being reasonably planted at this speed.

All the above mentioned figures are really close and do not make much of a difference in actual riding conditions. What matters are the in-city roll ons because that is where both of these bikes are meant to be driven for major part of their life cycles. And needless to point fingers, FZ with its class leading torque figures makes its way right to the top. With the engine belting out 14Nm of massive torque majorly distributed towards the lower and mid range, this bike breezes through busy traffics quickly and with aplomb. Dazzler is slightly more nimble here but lacks the pulling power FZ boasts of.

Dazzler comes equipped with a 240mm front disc as well as a 220mm rear disc (both Nissin) which has helped improve the braking of the bike from its sibling Unicorn. A fatter 110 section rear MRF Nylogrip tubeless tire also helps a lot. As a result, Dazzler has a better feedback from its brakes and is quicker to stop than FZ. But FZs larger 267mm front KBX Disc setup has more bite and feel. Rear of FZ works on the conventional mechanical expanding shoe type which is decent considering the huge tire it works on but no match for the rear disc of Dazzler. Overall, both the bikes have pretty fantastic stopping capabilities with the Dazzler outperforming FZ because of the added disc at the rear. However, its FZ which feels more planted out of the two under sudden harsh braking.

Just to add a word for our Stunters, FZ is a better bike for popping wheelies and carrying them to longer distances: huge rear tyre acts as a balancer here apart from the riders capabilities. FZ is also better than Dazzler at performing Stoppies.

Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler: 8/10
Yamaha FZ16: 8.5/10

MILEAGE & PRICING:

Unicorn symbolized epitome of fuel efficiency in this segment and the same characteristics are carried over by its sibling, (step-brother probably!). Dazzler has been reporting fuel efficiency figures of 50 km on every liter of fuel in typical Indian city driving conditions and over 55 kmpl on highways which are fantastic and all the more, considering the power bump it has gone through. With a 12 liter tank, Dazzler has a range of around 600 kilometer for every tank full of gas.

FZ’s biggest shortcoming comes over the top in this section. No matter how hard Yamaha tries to overshadow its fuel efficiency figures by its marketing tactics, it has become a big fact that FZ is a thirsty donkey when it comes to drinking petrol. FZ returns figures in the range of 42kmpl under our type of conditions and goes over 46-47 kilometers for every liter of fuel consumed on highways which falls short of our expectations from a 14PS machine. These figures go along with a small volume tank of 12 liters which implies a running of 500-510 kilometer before the engine would shut off leaving you uninhabited on a long dark isolated road, if you are not cautious.

FZ came in India with a huge tank and an even homogonous price tag. Even after that it has only seen newer variants placed on the more expensive side of the spectrum. FZ 16 costs Rs. 72,649 after everything when it makes it on the road in Pune. On the other hand, Honda’s story is slightly different. Unicorn lacked some basic features and timely upgrades but was still priced equal to the competition. With Dazzler, they have come around the competition in terms of offerings as a product but, unfortunately, price has gone up as well. At Rs 71,564 (OTR Pune), Dazzler offers what other manufacturers are offering at 2000-3000 INR lesser.

Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler: 8/10
Yamaha FZ16: 6.5/10

BikeAdvice VERDICT:

After calculating the points we have awarded to both the bikes in the above sections, the swashbuckling FZ scores 50 points where the latest offering from Honda, Dazzler managed to score 45 points out of the maximum of 60 available points. This leaves us to a clear winner, Yamaha’s FZ and a difference of 5 brownie points reflects the true difference between these two bikes. Price only doesn’t make a product belong to a particular segment (though that is what Honda is forcing us to believe).

Dazzler has a lot of positives going in its favor; lovely refined engine for one with a lovely ride quality but no matter what, FZ always looks and feels a segment above Dazzler, or for that matter of fact all the current lot of 150ccs in the market. Yamaha exudes a different class right from the fit and finish of the product, to the mean looking headlamp, to the royal bulged tank all the way to the huge tire at the rear which go along with a tremendous torquey engine. No matter how much both of these bikes sell in the coming times, Yamaha FZ is definitely better as a complete packaged product than Dazzler.

If we turn our attention to personal choices, Dazzler suits people who are more on the mature side; who want better fuel efficiency; who want to own a better ‘Unicorn’; who are married and have to carry one permanent wife as pillion (not literally!). FZ is and has been a hooligan’s choice! It suits youngsters who do not want to compromise on anything, specially the looks part; who love stunting; who have friends to contribute for those extra fuel expenses (when dads pocket money vanishes within first 15 days of the month) and more importantly have a (or many) look conscious, low-rise jeans clad always blabbering girlfriend(s)!

– Saad Khan
saad@bikeadvice.in

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