Yamaha FZ16 Ownership Review by Naman Vasal

A Biker’s Love

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A car fanatic might very well say that to drive a car is to tame a machine but to ride a bike and to be a biker; It’s like being a part of that machine. Every biker has a desire; a never ending love for his choice of bike. To tame it, to own it and to drive it in full throttle is the ultimate goal, right? Luckily, my desire was fulfilled. I got my better half, my first love, my Yamaha FZ16.

The Dilemma

It’s pointless to say about the need of a bike for a young adult in college. Colleges, coaching’s, friends, girlfriends, you name it. If there is a place too farfetched to be traversed on foot and public transport (Of India that is) time consuming and uncomfortable it becomes necessary to own a bike. But which bike? Now the answer lies in the criteria.

The one that tops the list of middle class families is the price and following it is the ‘Kitna deti hai’ matter. Well, let’s look at Yamaha’s brochure. I remember, when in 2008 FZ16 was launched the on road pricing was about 73 thousand which back then was a big amount but not that huge for the glamorous bike.

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Fast forward it to 2012 and the figures turn out to be really shocking cause now the bike lacks on the performance front given that now bikes like the Bajaj 125 ST with a smaller displacement engine churns out near about the same horse power and the new engine offers no lag or knock whatsoever at any gear. The on road price of FZ16 today is about 81 thousand.

Unfortunately, the package doesn’t seem too good now. And to the argument, yes it is hefty priced for what it offers. Thanks to the almighty, I was able to get one via CSD canteen. The difference in price was such that now it costs just like in 2008. Problem solved. Now what about the ‘Kitna Deti hai?’ Officially, Yamaha offers no such claim whatsoever. We shall see to it later.

Unique Selling Point

Ask any buyer or even admirer of the FZ and he’ll tell you about the first television commercial that aired on the Indian National television about it. An Italian looking guy designing the FZ by writing the letters F and Z, F to sculpt the tank and Z to indicate the riding position respectively and then the bike emerging out with a guy riding it on streets of Italy.

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Lame: to be honest because the FZ was designed by the GK designs of Japan and is made by a Japanese manufacturer. So, why the Italian love? But none of this matters because it looks beautiful, right? It has all the necessary elements of a naked sport. A large muscular tank, mid ships style muffler, yellow mono-cross and a beautiful aggressive headlight.

Back in 2008, it was like god said- Let there be bike and there was this. Sure it was a trimmed down version of the highly hot performance bike from Yamaha, the 1000cc FZ1 and clearly, it is not the first bike which is a trimmed version of a super bike but the thing is, out of all the other renditions (except the Duke 125) no bike is as close in looks to its generic parent bike like the FZ.

Sadly with the increment in its pricing and no sub sequent change in the hardware, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the only compelling reason to buy it today is its looks and styling. As John Keats said in Endymion, A thing of beauty is joy forever.

The Menu Card

Yes, it looks amazing: Agreed. But what is a beauty if without brain? To that, Yamaha leaves no room for an argument. A 153cc single cylinder, 2 valve, SOHC, air cooled, 4 stroke engine that produces 13.6N-m of torque at 6000 rpm and a not so whooping 14 PS of power at about 7500 rpm.

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Given the fact that the bike was introduced in 2008 and since then it hasn’t been revamped at all except some mere appearance changes, one has to give credit to Yamaha that the bike is still in fighting condition with its competitors although sure to lose. Almost every technology used in the bike is very rudimentary which surely means easy repair jobs but it fails to be the bang for the buck.

A constant mesh wet multi-plate clutch, no fuel injection and no rear disk are downers whereas, a 7 step adjustable mono-cross, 41 mm front fork, tubeless tyres and mid ship muffler are the things which though won’t stand out in today’s world but would surely keep you satisfied. The bike is very basic yet good enough to satisfy the enthusiasts.

The Experience

To admire and love a bike is one thing, to own one and experience things first hand are completely different. I was absolutely adamant about following the holy bible of bikes. The manual. Now, for people who don’t have patience, manuals are not for you people. According to it, you must drive the first 100 km at 20kmph or 30kmph and then increase the speed after every 100 kms variating the rpm but not to exceed the 60kmph mark or the 4000rpm mark.

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It’s stupid but necessary for the engine to settle. Once that is done and the tacho shows 1000kms, the engine gets tuned in a way to return 45km to 50 km per litre depending upon the riding style and pillion passenger. Trust me, it does if and only if you are not accelerator wicked in the first 1000kms. Since my bike is black, it gets dusty as soon as it hits the road. I really loved the orange colour the old FZ’s used to come in but sadly now Yamaha only offers two- Black and Red.

My best guess is maybe they provide only these colours to accentuate the sales of FZ-S with a price increment of 3 thousand over the FZ16. The whole body is fibre and so if not for Teflon, it attracts scratches like anything. Moreover, when you decide to wash your bike the engine and the over exposed parts of the bike are a pain in the (you know where) to clean and could hurt your hands if carelessly brushed.

The Bad Moments

Every rose has thorns, right? This one does too. Let’s begin with the front. The headlight is useless. I’m not overstating. I wonder how it could even pass the regulations for road legal bikes. The spread of the light and intensity is so feeble that you would rely mostly on the traffic lights and consider buying an HID. Moving on, the digital fuel indicator is just purely ridiculous.

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Everyone knows that digital fuel indicators are never accurate but on the FZ, the definition of accurate is brutally murdered. First of all, it shows empty if the fuel is less than 3 litres although the full tank capacity is 12 litres and the reserve is of 1.2 litres. Moreover, if the bike is on side stand, some divine force fills the fuel tank to its brim and then when you ride the bike, the illusion ends.

Coming to the seat, it’s comfortable surely but the real deal breaker is the face of tank in direct contact with the seat on which the male rider would be in contact with the bike. Every time you brake the front disc hard at above 50kmph, your body is propelled forward with epic force causing your gentlemen private part to collide with the tank and causing immense pain. I’m not kidding. My best friend who rode the bike had to consult a doctor and was treated.

Moving on, the pillion seat is not comfortable at all. You ought to have a pretty sleek girlfriend because the rear seat is elevated making it somewhat difficult to climb and once you do climb, after a riding of half an hour it causes pain in the (already told you where) spot. And about boot space. Well, who am I kidding? You cannot even keep your gloves in there!

Also, one thing about wind blast is that it is a matter of perspective. For a naked bike lover, the wind blast is of course a turn on but only up to a speed of 60kmph. Once you cross that line, the wind blast becomes intolerable. Surely, riding while leaning on the tank may be helpful but that’s not entirely comfortable on the long run. A visor would have been much appreciated.

The Happy Times

Again starting with the front, the telescopic fork works really well. The disc brakes provided from Bybre are really impressive. As I said before, the headlight is aggressive and the inclusion of day time running light is superb because it kind of looks like the beard in face of the headlight. The LCD meter is very clean and sporty.

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Though not clip-ons, the handle bars are nicely levelled and placed. The ergonomics of the bike is exceptional. It’s like Yamaha took every great element from different manufactures and made its own. There is the choke lever on the left bar (which is nowhere to be seen on Bajaj Pulsars), the upper and dipper switch, the pass switch (which is not provided on the Honda CBR series), the horn- all placed beautifully so as to increase the ease of access.

The right handle has the self start and the engine kill switch (biggest in the segment). Next, the fuel cap which detaches completely which I think is good. The pet cock is placed appropriately so it is easy to switch on reserve while driving. The shape of tank allows you to place your legs correctly in a racer stance. One thing which was not present in the 2008 model and is a standard issue now is the cute little kick-start.

One may say that the bike must be good enough to not need the kick in the first place but sadly, in cold days the need of a kick is felt which is now fulfilled. The new grab rails are very beautiful and add to the overall styling of the bike. The exhaust and the mono-cross are something’s which will make you stand out but the thing that makes you stand completely out is the rear tyre.

The 140/60-R17 MRF-Revz tyre is not just an eye catcher. Along with the mono-cross the tyre helps you to throw your bike carelessly around the corners without any fear of tipping off. The turning radius of the bike is very small which also helps accentuate the overall riding experience. Finally, talking about the engine, refined is the word for it.

When people at Yamaha tell you that their engines are so good that they don’t need any servicing till 1000km, then trust me they know what they are talking about. The power delivery of the bike is splendid till 80kmph after which it starves for power and the rpm monitors begins to flicker and if you do get to a highway you may hit 110kmph before hitting someone. Last but not the least, the tail light is pretty.

The Icing

Now once you have the bike, you would immediately search for ways to make it better whether look wise or performance wise. To talk about the looks, there is a big set of accessories that Yamaha India provides for the FZ but trust me, all of them are stupid and cheap: Cheap, not by price point but their look wise.

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Though the official rim strips, the cool mesh seat cover and the neon light can be considered, rest assured you will curse the blokes at Yamaha for the kind of accessories they offer. For the performance upgrades, Yamaha provides an official Daytona Racing kit which covers the body kit and engine kit and both of them aren’t street legal. Very well, eh?

After market, you ask? Well there is this K&N filter which is really useful but installing it would void the warranty. What then? You can find the Yoshimura Exhaust for the bike on eBay.in but its cost is about 24,000/- and I have no idea about the legal use. Surely you can install an HID but not out of desire but out of shear need. For getting touring speed bags for the bike, you may find some good bags at www.dirtsack.in

The Obligation and Verdict

For now, it is very clear that choosing FZ16 over its rivals is not a wise man’s decision but then why is it so popular and why people buy it? I think it is because of the name that says Yamaha. People trust Yamaha when it comes to engine refinement, performance and design and they are not wrong to trust.

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People at Yamaha Motors know how to make 2 wheelers and they do it very well. From the RX-100 to the recently unveiled Cage Six concept XJ6 bike with an in-line three cylinder 400cc engine, the quality of Yamaha is responsible for people’s trust and their obligation towards it.

So if you are looking for a bike with better performance at same price point, you may opt for many other bikes and if you do choose any other bike, rest assured, you will miss that Yamaha Experience and believe me, you’ll miss a great deal. As for the FZ16, I rate it 6.5 out of 10. (The 0.5 since it’s mine). Thank you for reading.

Naman Vasal

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