My name is Chinmay Modi, I am 36 years of age, married, with a kid – 8 years old and a wife who is more than a friend and who tolerates all my ranting about Yamaha FZS. My friends say I am worst than a Parsi when it comes to bike maintenance. No offense to anybody, I love them for their love for their vehicles. I polish the bike regularly without being lazy, rather I look forward to Sundays. I work with a call center in (Malad) Mumbai. Biking has been in my blood since I started riding my Mini cycle at the age of 6.
Well just like any biker who sits down to write a review, before he has so much in mind (Yeh Likkhu ke wo Likkhu) but when you actually start writing it seems that your mind has given up on you and nothing comes to you.
I have been an avid biker since the past 16 years, I started riding the motorbikes at 21 and below you will find all about my previous experiences and a review of FZS.
My previous experience with motorbikes:
I started with a Bajaj Chetak which was actually forced on me by my Dad. I felt like a young old man (lol…). My first motorcycle was a Hero Honda Sleek the only sports bike available then in 1996, which I got after a lot of pleading, arguments and even fasting. Don’t think that my dad a strict father that he has always been, gave way but it was my grandfather who after having mercy on me hauled me to the showroom in spite of all the objection from my dad, to buy a swanky new Hero Honda sleek. I wanted a black sleek but the waiting period was 2 months which I thought was injustice. I was like c’mon man I just want one bike not a hundred. Why wait for 2 months. I forgot there were a lot many others like me too. That’s when I saw this amazing sight. My future bike was standing right in front of me on the pedestal facing the window staring down at me like it was saying can you get me out of this cramped up place? I want to breathe and stretch my legs. But she was red and not black. I immediately decided Red is the color I wanted and not Black. Believe me it has been 17 years, 4 bikes but none of them were black in color. I was so obsessed with the bike that I used to skip 30 mins of work in the middle of my job and clean my bike.
I used the sleek for almost 9 years, sold it off and bought a Silver Bajaj Pulsar 150. Buying the Pulsar was a bad decision which cost me 3 months and almost my life. This was in 2005 when I met with an accident on the Pulsar at around a speed of 75+ when a guy in a Maruti Zen just squeezed me near the divider and I applied the disc brake. The bike skid, I fell on the divider, bike goes flying 20 feet away. After that it was just blackout. When I got up on my feet I realized my wrist was not in the place as it should have been and was just hanging on a tissue or something. My right knee was split open and blood filling in my shoes. Pain was like what I have never felt before and pray no one has to go through that. Luckily for me I have always believed in fast and safe biking. Not rash and unsafe. I was wearing an AGV helmet which saved my skull from turning in to a smashed melon. After a while, I switched to Bajaj avenger, another ridiculous decision. I thought it was a cruiser but believe me it is nowhere close to a cruiser. It is a skidding machine in a cruisers disguise. I sold it off with only 11,000 KMS on thetachometer to a friend who only wanted an avenger and in spite of all my explanation was bent upon the Avenger only.
Something about my first experience with the FZ.
The decision to sell the Avenger happened when I saw a new kid on the block, Yamaha FZ Cherry Red at a friend’s place. The first thing that caught my attention was the way it looks at you. It was as though it is challenging you to ride it and see what it can do with you on top. I was really taken aback with the design and the macho looks. It looked so small and concise yet so big and muscular (Kudos to the Yamaha engineers and designers). I really fell for the looks like a teenager in love with the girl of his dreams but I was so much under the phobia from my experience with the Pulsar that I almost laughed out loud when my buddy told me this bike does not skid even if you applied only the front brakes which happens to be a powerful disc. He challenged me to take a ride and see it for myself. I did but I was still scared, I would slow down and then apply the brakes slowly. That’s when he told me to get rid of my fear and just go for it, so I did. I could not believe my eyes for what I saw. I went to 70 and just squeezed the front brakes almost reliving the experience with the Pulsar in my thoughts. I was like, why the hell did I let my friend talk me into doing this. But I was pleasantly surprised when the bike stopped right in its tracks and not skidding one inch to the right or left. The first words that came out my mouth were “What the f$#*? I thought this can’t happen. How can a bike not skid when you applied the brakes so hard? I must be stupid or something because I wanted to do it again. Again I got the same response. I got off the bike and checked the bike from top to bottom, what I meant is front to back still not believing a bike could do that. But then I thought why not since I have never ridden a Yamaha. That is when I decided – this is what I have always wanted since the past 15 years.
I sold off my avenger and paid an outright 78K to Kamla Yamaha. Before buying the bike I thought of doing a test ride on one of their machines which is used by so many people who want to buy a bike. I was sure that bike will skid and the fact will prevail that all bikes bloody hell skid. I was in for a pleasant shock when nothing of that sort happened and this beauty too stopped in it tracks and just laughed at me “You fool, I ain’t want you think I am”. I still remember the look on the pillions face when we got off the bike. He was shocked that I had actually soared the bike to an 80 and then just blindly applied the brakes. I was so enchanted with the control this bike had that I never thought of the engine performance, mileage, how does it handle at corners. Nothing at all. I just wanted to buy it. I zeroed in on a Silver Red FZS a tad bit expensive compared to the FZ16.
Finally the day arrived when I was to get the bike delivered to me. I came home early, me and my wife took a cab to the showroom just to get bad news that the bike cannot be delivered today. Well I lost it there and fired the hell out of the guys at the showroom. They managed to pacify me by promising that the bike will be home delivered to me that very Sunday. Finally, I got the bike and took my son and wife for a spin. It has been 2 years and 5 months since then and no complaints at all.
Now let’s take a sneak view of the FZS performance.
This bike is a magic machine when it comes to handling and road grip. Engine performance and speed is a 6/10. My FZS is done 37,000 kms so I think I have earned the right to say this.
Well don’t expect too much from a bike with a high torque and a low bhp. I have seen a lot of people who bought the FZ and then came back complaining that the bike does not perform great at high speeds. Rather they don’t get good speed even when they rev the bike too hard. Well let me tell you something, this bike does not have racing in it’s DNA. This engine is mainly designed for you to get a smooth pick up at high gears even at low speeds. This is a great feature in a bike for city riding. If you talk about high speeds, I’ve done a 115 tops on this bike on an open highway. If you are looking for something more powerful then go for the R15, Karizma or the Pulsar 220. Let the engine take its own sweet time to release the power and then see the performance. Believe me you will be surprised. Try this; the bike will give you great pick up from 0 to 55. Post that don’t rev but just twist the throttle slightly and let the speed increase gradually. The FZ will give you optimum performance. It responds great to semi synthetic oils like Motul.
Most importantly you need to understand the weight to power ratio to get optimum performance. A person with no weight on his shoulder will always be faster than someone with 50kgs on him. Modifications need to be done accordingly and not blindly because something that works for me may not work for you. Design your own stuff.
Also understanding the power bands on your bike is very important i.e. at what speed should I change gears and with how much depression of the clutch. This will give you max performance without breaking speed.
I have done quite a few road trips on the bike and no trouble at all.
My mantra is Luv your bike and she will luv you in turn.
Changes I made to the bike.
I wasn’t very happy with the service guys at Kamla Yamaha since they could not identify the problem with the bike as to why the bike would feel suffocated at speeds above 60. I could feel that a 6th gear would surely help at this stage. I made some changes to the bike reading reviews and articles on the internet.
K&N filter: My first change was to get a K&N air filter fitted without knowing that the chain sprockets, jets also need to be upgraded. Later I did that as well since the results weren’t great without them. The amount dust in our city is so high that a filter like K&N is not good enough. Also I was not aware that when washing the bike the filter needs to be covered with a plastic bag to avoid it from getting wet. As a result the dust mixed with the water and turned in to a dirt paste which entered the carburettor and scraped the assemly valve which cost me another 1300/-. Try a piper cross which is a sponge filter and more effective than the K&N.
Free flow exhaust: Then someone told me the restricted feeling is mainly because of the Catcon (Catalytic Converter). I changed the exhaust and got myself a free flow but still in vain since the jets were not compatible with the new exhaust system. So I went back to stock exhaust, stock air filter but with upgraded jets and believe me the result was great.
The next part is going to make you laugh. I changed the exhaust to a free flow and that kept banging to the axel nut on the rear tyre which I realized when I was riding pillion to my brother. But by then I had changed the mono shock thinking the shock was spoiled because it had done like 30000 kms but after changing the shock still the same sound. I realized I made a fool of myself after spending 3000/-.
Moral of the story: Try try till you succeed and succeed you will as long as you keep trying.
Now let’s discuss a bit more about the good features of Yamaha FZS.
- Great shocks front and rear.
- Twin piston, caliper discs which are amazing.
- Good rear horse shoe brake liners. They don’t squeak even after prolonged use.
- Engine sound is balanced and goes well with the looks unlike the CBR which looks like a giant with a woman’s voice.
- Seating is quite comfortable.
- If you need a more sportier look then you can cut the front of the seat so it becomes low and the rear will look higher but the seating may get a bit uncomfortable.
- 12 ltr tank capacity is pretty good.
- Foot pegs are very comfortably placed.
- It gives enough movement to the rider’s knees while riding.
- Amazing handle bar.
- Well placed clutch and brake levers. New great looking sporty levers are also available but they cost a fortune.
- Air cooled engine which does not heat up much even after long rides. I have done nonstop 200 KMS on the bike and no issue at all.
The not so good features of Yamaha FZS.
- The bhp could have been higher to get more power at the top end.
- Parts are a bit expensive and mostly not available.
- Tyres could have been of a better quality, may be a hard compound compared to the MRF Revz which is a soft compound trye. Try the Modi Continental tyres designed for the CBR 250.
- Odometer could have been more masculine. Too toyish.
- Tail light extension isn’t that great.
- Rear view mirrors are a let down since they do not give enough range to check the traffic behind. You could switch to the Apache RTR rvms for better results.
Most of the people I have seen who buy bikes only do so because of the looks but I am one guy who will not let the looks cloud my judgment. I want overall performance which the FZ gives best. It gives a decent mileage too. I get around 40 to 45 kms/ltr, which is great in a city like Mumbai. Tyre quality is poor. Now don’t get me wrong here. I am talking about the quality and not the dimensions. Most people fell for the FZ looking at the amazing width of the tyres. The design is great and it has some amazing sense of sticking to the ground but they get punctured so easily.
Overall I think the bike is great. I have the bike since the past 2.5 years but I still do not wish to sell her off and try something new. It really blends into the surroundings. Yamaha has done a fantastic job with the R15 and FZS, kudos to the engineers and designers there. The next bike I want is the R15 while keeping the FZS.
You can catch me on chinmaymodi1976(at)hotmail.com. Looking forward to hear from you.
That’s all folks till I come back with my R15 review. Safe riding.