Combining sports performance and agressive styling
with all day riding comfort, the 2012 Yamaha FZ8 is a special breed of
motorcycle. The word practical pops to mind, but don't confuse practical with
dull. Most riders can only afford one machine and the 2012 FZ8 is worth a
serious look. It delivers solid performance from its 779cc inline-four engine
and excellent handling thanks to the 22012 FZ1 inspired twin spar aluminum
frame. And when it comes to comfort, it's in the bag.
The motorcycle world is becoming more highly specialized by the day.
Special niche models are popping up everywhere. Unfortunately, most of us can
only afford one bike. The FZ8 is a brilliant "all-rounder" that brings fun,
excitement and adrenalin to each and every ride. It is ready to slice its way
through the "twisties", cruise the backroads in comfort and style or make that
daily commute a bunch more enjoyable. Attitude, power, handling and style, the
FZ8 is the ultimate everyday sport bike.
The 2012 Yamaha FZ8 is a do-it-all sport bike with amazing all around
performance for both the urban commando and the weekend canyon carver. And at
800cc it splits the difference between a 600 and 1000cc litre bike so you get
lightweight handling along with great torque... all in a stylish upright
Yamaha FZ8 Highlights and Key Features:
Fuel Consumption ± 16.5kpl/47mpg(Imp)
779cc , 4-valve, inline 4
real world comfort & ergonomics
•The 779cc engine combines top end components, including
ceramic-composite-coated cylinders and forged aluminum pistons, with a carefully
optimized crankshaft to deliver the perfect power curve and torquey performance
character for this category.
•The FZ8 fills the gap for sport riders who feel a 600cc is too small and a
1000cc is too big.
•Muscular, naked bike styling gives an aggressive, mass-forward stance. This
bike screams attitude.
•Comfortable, upright riding position with a compact design that contributes to
the bike’s first-rate handling. This bike simply excels, both in the morning
commute and on that spirited weekend ride on a twisty back country road.
•Cast aluminum frame and Controlled-Fill aluminum swingarm is lightweight and
provides the ideal rigidity balance for outstanding cornering performance.
Yamaha FZ8 Features and Benefits
779cc, DOHC, 16 valve (4-valves/cyl), liquid-cooled, 40 degree inclined, in-line
four-cylinder engine. The engine has been tuned to provide plenty of low to mid
range torque with strong yet linear throttle response. Redline is set at 11,500
rpm and features a "soft" rev limiter to protect the engine.
Pistons, cylinder, cylinder head, cams, valves and crankshaft are unique to the
FZ8. Most other engine components are shared with the FZ1.
Compact "Pent roof" combustion chamber design features 4-valves per cylinder and
a 12:1 compression ratio for excellent torque feeling. Four valves per cylinder
enhances the low to midrange torque.
Pistons, cylinder, cylinder head, cams, valves and crankshaft are unique to the
FZ8. Most other engine components are shared with the FZ1.
Intake valves are 26mm in diameter while the exhaust valves are 22mm. The valve
angle is set at 26 degrees to keep the combustion chamber compact
Crankshaft inertial mass has been optimized to
achieve strong torque over a broad rpm range as well as fast throttle response.
"Fracture split" connecting rods are carburized for extra strength and use a nut
less design. The lower end "cap" of the rod is made from the same piece of
material as the upper portion; this design is known as "fracture splitting".
This design aids establishing true big end roundness and greater precision in
con rod dimensions for excellent durability despite the high horsepower loads.
Ceramic composite cylinder "bores" are a "liner less" design with the ceramic
coating sprayed directly on the aluminum block. This coating enhances the thin
film of oil between the cylinder and piston which reduces friction and increases
power. Other important benefits include; excellent heat dissipation for
consistent power delivery and reduced weight since there are no heavy liners.
Short skirt, lightweight forged pistons. Lightweight design aids in fast engine
response and reduced engine weight. During the forging process, the aluminum is
heated to the point where it can be shaped under pressure in a die but not to
the point that it melts. By not melting the aluminum, the material stays
stronger and hence can be lighter with excellent durability.
Lightweight, hollow intake and exhaust camshafts provide incredible horsepower
and fast engine response. Cam profiles and the cam timing are designed to
enhance low to midrange power and torque.
Inline 4 cylinder crankshaft is based on the FZ1 design.
Automatic hydraulic cam chain tensioner reduces both maintenance and mechanical
Mikuni "sub throttle valve" fuel injection system is based on the FZ1 design,
featuring 35mm throttle bodies fitted with T.P.S. (Throttle Position Sensor).
This style of fuel injection uses sub throttle valves in addition to the main
valves to further control the intake airflow. The sub valves optimize the intake
volumetric efficiency at all rpms and are powered by a stepping motor that is
controlled by the ECU. The key benefit is excellent "ride ability" and throttle
The injectors are sequential high dynamic range type featuring 4 holes and a
dual directional spray pattern for excellent power and a linear throttle
response across the entire rev range.
The fuel injection's lightweight Electronic Control Unit (ECU) utilizes a
powerful 32-bit processor for fast control of the injection process. The compact
design also reduces weight.
7.8 litre airbox features different intake funnel lengths for the inner (150mm)
and outer (125mm) cylinders. The benefit is a wide torque curve. A high flow,
paper type air filter is utilized.
R1 inspired "stacked" 3-axis gearbox / clutch design stacks input/output shafts
to centralize mass and keeps overall engine size shorter front to back. As a
result, the stacked design gives the engineers the freedom to place the engine
in the frame for optimum front to rear weight balance and thereby maximizing
Smooth shifting wide ratio 6-speed transmission features optimized gear ratios
for maximum performance in the "real world". 5th and 6th ratios are "tall" for
reduced engine rpms at highway speeds for excellent rider comfort.
Compact, heavy duty, multi-plate clutch ensures consistent, positive engagement.
The clutch has been designed to provide a light lever pull for excellent rider
comfort … especially during stop and go city use.
4 into 2 into 1 exhaust system features 35mm diameter, stainless steel header
pipes and a short design silencer / muffler. The header pipe length has been
optimized for maximum power and torque. This system is fitted with a 3-way
honeycomb catalyzer with an oxygen sensor to reduce harmful CO and HC exhaust
emissions. The oxygen sensor monitors the amount of oxygen in the spent gases
and adjusts the fuel -air mixture via the ECU and FI system for maximum
performance with minimum emissions.
High-efficiency "curved" design radiator features compact dual ring-type fans
for maximum cooling efficiency. This rad and fan design allows more airflow than
conventional flat design rads to maintain optimum engine temperatures for
consistent power output.
Large liquid-cooled oil cooler maintains stable lubricant temperatures for
extended engine life.
Convenient cartridge style spin-on oil filter.
Convenient oil level sight glass means easy oil level inspection.
Maintenance-free transistor-controlled digital ignition ensures great
performance at all rpms.
Air Induction System (AIS … not ram air) reduces harmful HC and CO emissions for
a cleaner environment.
CHASSIS / SUSPENSION
Gravity cast, lightweight aluminum twin spar frame provides an optimized
rigidity balance for incredible sports performance combined with great
stability. The engine is a stressed member of the chassis, allowing a lighter
main frame design without sacrificing stability and light, agile handling
qualities. The frame is the same spec and shape as the FZ1.
The riding position is one of the most important features of the FZ8. Based on
the FZ1 layout, it offers a balance between a sporty riding position and
excellent rider comfort thanks to its upright design.
Key chassis geometry figures include: 1460mm (57.5") wheelbase 51% front and 49
% rear weight balance, 25 degrees of rake and 109 mm of trail. The 47 degree
lean angle highlights the FZ8 sporty side.
Detachable steel rear sub frame allows easy access to rear suspension components
and reduces costs in the event of a "loop-out".
C.F. (Controlled Filling) die cast aluminum truss-type rear swingarm offers
great rear wheel control and traction for razor-sharp cornering and superb
stability at speed. The 3-axis stacked engine design allows enough room for the
engineers to use this long design (690mm) swingarm, which minimizes the effect
of the chain tension on the bike's handling.
43mm Kayaba inverted cartridge style fork offers 130mm (5.1") of wheel travel.
Fork offset is 25 degrees. The benefits of the inverted design include, reduced
"unsprung" weight and reduced fork flex since the larger diameter tubes are
gripped in the triple clamps. Unsprung weight is weight or mass of the
suspension and the components such as the wheels and other components that move
with the suspension. A reduction in unsprung weight allows improved control of
the suspension function.
Lightweight aluminum upper and lower triple clamps.
Link-type Monocross rear suspension features a preload adjustable shock that
allows the rider to tailor spring preload to match load and/or road conditions.
Adjustments include 9 - way spring preload. Rear wheel travel is 130mm or 5.1"
Dual 310mm front discs are squeezed by ultra rigid R6 inspired monoblock,
4-piston calipers which provide outstanding stopping power and feel. The master
cylinder utilizes a 16mm piston for outstanding stopping power with less lever
267mm rear disc is squeezed by a lightweight single piston slide-type Nissin
caliper with sintered metal brake pads.
Lightweight cast-aluminum 5-spoke wheels reduce unsprung weight for great
handling characteristics. The front wheel is an MT3.50-17 and is fitted with a
120/70-ZR17 radial tire. The rear wheel is a MT5.50-17 fitted with a 180/55-ZR17
Aggressive single headlight provides plenty of illumination with its 60/55 watt
halogen bulb. There is even a super small, colour matched "bikini" windshield
mounted above the headlight to add even more style.
Conventional handlebar design features an upright positioning for maximum
everyday riding comfort.
17-liter fuel tank offers a slim design with great knee grip. The reserve
portion of the tank is 3.4 liters
Separate rider and passenger seats offers exceptional solo or two-up comfort.
Seat width is narrower than the FZ1, making it easier to touch the ground. Seat
height is 815mm (32.1")
One-piece race inspired instrument features analog tachometer, digital
speedometer, odometer, dual tripmeters, fuel gauge, fuel reserve tripmeter
(counts kilometres since the fuel went on reserve), clock, coolant temperature
and a self diagnosis mode.
ADDITIONAL DETAILS / FEATURES
Adjustable, 5-position front brake lever
Small storage compartment under the passenger seat
Excessive lean angle engine cut-out switch … if unit is on its side the engine
will shut down
Extended idle cut-off … if engine idles for more than 20 minutes it will
automatically shut down
Durable "O"-ring-sealed drive chain
Lightweight, sealed low-maintenance battery
The FZ8 offers a significant level of power and performance. It is not intended
for novice or inexperienced riders.
MD Comparo: Yamaha FZ8 vs. Triumph
Street Triple R
In the Beginning, in the late 19th century A.D., God created motorcycles,
starting with Daimler’s wood-framed Reitwagen, and She saw that they were good.
Naked, they felt no shame.
Then, in the mid 20th century, The Devil whispered ‘styling’ and ‘wind
protection,’ and the scales fell from their eyes. They felt shame and wanted to
be clothed. So God created fairings and windscreens. And She saw that they were
Her first mass-produced example? Probably Velocette’s 1948 “LE,” with fairings,
windscreen and bags—quiet, smooth and an early water-cooled/shaft-drive design.
Others followed, some so big, heavy and burdened with fairings that they had all
the disadvantages of ‘cars’ that fell over when you stopped. Motorcyclists:
start your arguments about the first such machine, then try to defend the
‘two-wheeled car.’ Lotsa luck.
But among those clothed machines arose spirits yearning to be free, to shed the
fairings that encumbered them: costly, heavy, vulnerable plastic, hiding
Magnificent Machinery. Their windscreens placed a shield between riders and
So Naked Bikes returned, based on sportbikes’ core engines/geometries. And it
was good, especially for hooligans riding short distances below 80 mph who
scorned wind protection and relished wheelies, despite risking “Appearance of
Speed” citations. And motojournos called them, appropriately, ‘streetfighters.’
Not, as we shall see, ‘road warriors,’ and searched them out to test.
And we found two such machines, and accepted the task of comparing them. One
came from Perfidious Albion, the other from Mysterious Nippon.
2011 Yamaha FZ8
John Joss. Age: 77. Years Riding: 62. Most Recent Flogging: 1955
My wife, Katherine: “It looks like an Arabian stallion—lean, lithe,
muscular—with the mask of a comic-book hero.” Picking it up from Yamaha in
Cypress, facing a 425-mile ride, it looks to me like a bike with no windscreen .
. . uh, naked.
But what a ride. The riding position for my 5-foot-9 frame jis ideal. Virtually
new, perfectly prepared, every control functions flawlessly. Within two blocks
my inner hooligan is unleashed on this 467-pound (wet) lightweight and my age
drops decades. It (and I) would like to wheelie in the bottom three gears and
slash through the traffic like a demented otter. Those knife-into-hot-butter
gears are close-spaced and low. With its 11,500 rpm redline and seamless,
EFI-managed throttle, the 779-cc (68 X 53.6mm) inline-four wants to rip right
now on city streets, an engine small and light enough for revs, big and beefy
enough to deliver mid range. Hooligantics seem . . . natural.
Then, alas, it’s time to cruise, a task for which this machine is unsuited: up
I-5, at an indicated 85 on the wildly optimistic speedometer. I escape the drone
at Frazier Park, over gnarly twisties where the nonadjustable front fork (the
shock is adjustable for preload) delivers a bone-jarring ride. Then: 166/33,
through Taft, onto glorious 58 (perfect surface) to Santa Margarita, dodging
At rest, it feels a little top heavy. On the move, handling is light, almost
nervous, until it becomes clear that the FZ8 will do exactly what you ask,
instantly. Utter joy in the twisties, showing its R1/R6 DNA. Firm, easily
modulated Sumitomo brakes. But above 85-90, on the straights, wind pressure
(increasing as the square of the speed) is almost unendurable. Despite those
silky-smooth four cylinders, residual vibration and wind effects render the
mirrors marginal at speed.
After two hours, the saddle’s hard contours fry my aging bum, but four hours
remain. On 101, droning, the wind is exhausting, worsened by a 25 mph Salinas
Valley headwind. The 4.5-gallon tank delivers 40 mpg but working the gears, rev
happy to an indicated 115-plus, pushing into the wind, this declines to 35-37
Form should follow function, and Yamaha’s engineers have nailed it: a
near-perfect naked bike, at $8490 a steal (get the optional fly screen if you
plan to ride more than 100 miles at a time; the saddle? Check the aftermarket).
Yamaha has engineered satisfactorily the compromise between simple/low-cost on
one hand and exhilarating performance on the other.
For street fighters, terrific.
Gabe Ets-Hokin: Age: 42. Years Riding: 23. Most Recent Flogging: Wednesday
If there’s a theme to moto-journalism, (other than figuring out how to score
free stuff) it’s the ongoing quest for the perfect motorcycle. A bike that can
do it all: tour, commute, do trackdays and still look good enough to motivate
the occasional washing. I have yet to own or test such a creature, but I keep
Here’s what I was expecting from the FZ8: slow, heavy and not that interesting.
In this eon of 200-horsepower superbikes and sleek sport-tourers, 470-ish pounds
and 80-ish hp isn’t very exciting. At least, on paper.
My first ride on the FZ8 kind of confirmed this. John warned me of suspension
unpleasantness, with our indifferently maintained local highways cheerfully
beating up my lower back and the windblast over 80 just as Sir Joss described. A
ride up and back our local twisty backroad was also challenging—you don’t toss
the FZ8 around much more than you do the heavier, more-powerful FZ1. Still, it
was comfortable (for sub-100-mile rides), well built and had an entertaining
That motor saves the bike from the ‘blah’ pile. It’s reasonably smooth (though
that perception is somewhat filtered by the rubber-mounted bars and footpegs)
and the throttle response, though abrupt right off idle, is much improved over
the FZ1s I rode a few years ago. It also has nice midrange and top end, fast
enough to just rip through traffic at 80-plus mph in sixth. Snap it into fifth
or (if you’re really impatient) fourth, whack the throttle open and be prepared
for some fun.
For some reason (mostly because I can’t resist anything that’s free) I signed up
to do a trackday on the FZ8, courtesy of Yamaha and ZoomZoom trackdays (zoomzoomracing.com).
I had to filch one of my cat’s Zanaxes* to help me sleep the night before, as I
was worried about how well the sport-touring oriented Bridgestone BT-023 tires
would do on the slippery, gyrating surface of Laguna Seca.
It was a good thing I signed up, because this would be an uninteresting review
without it. The FZ8 was more entertaining on the track than it was on the street
(which explains why ZoomZoom’s instructors love the FZ8s Yamaha has provided
them so much). On smooth pavement, the suspension works well, with good spring
rates and adequate rebound for my 160 pounds. Once I removed the peg feelers
there was enough cornering clearance, and the motor gave me enough juice to stay
in front of most (okay, more than one) of the B-group guys.
The brakes were good too, as long as you pretended you were riding in 2003, when
these monoblocs were tha’ shizzle. Those 023s were grippy enough and didn’t seem
to degrade from my (very mild) abuse. And I got more and more track to myself as
R6 after R6 was black-flagged by the dreaded Laguna Seca sound-booth fairies.
The FZ8 is quiet enough that it doesn’t annoy our non-riding brothers and
sisters, but has some good intake noises to make a day on it an interesting (but
not painful) aural experience.
Perfect bike? Hardly. That seat does grow hard (call Corbin!), the suspension
needs re-tuning and adjustability (but I’ll bet you could find stuff on eBay
that would fit and Öhlins makes a shock) and you do feel the weight. Also, like
the Street Trip, it has disappointing mileage and fuel range—I saw about 35 mpg
and the stupid low-fuel light came on around 115 miles, which is depressingly
normal these days, I guess. What’s the point of restricting yourself to 80 hp if
you get the same mileage as an ‘85 Toyota Corolla? But that’s a question best
pointed to the OEMs.
Give me a couple grand to play with and I’ll strip 30 pounds, upgrade the brakes
and suspenders, and give the FZ8 some attitude. That’s the fun of a naked bike,
I guess—sportbikes these days are so close to perfection they need little
modification, but their unclothed cousins always need some dress-up. It’s like
having a very fast set of paper dolls. And the ‘8 has enough potential attitude
that it could be a very adequate only bike.
So, do I prefer it to my Triumph? No, but that’s just because the Trumpet is so
much freakin’ fun. The FZ8 is solid, capable and drenched in value, but calling
it a hooligan is like calling Neal Patrick Harris a doctor. He can play the
part, but I don’t want him cutting out my spleen.
*I am not making this up.
Triumph Street Triple R
John: Street Mistress
Do motorcycles have age and gender, education and experience, character and
attitude? If they come from the pens of intelligent engineers and stylists,
marketers and bean counters, they do. Customers’ psychographics count for plenty
as major manufacturers crank up new models or refine existing ones. You ‘are’
what you ride.
So let’s call the FZ8 a school buddy, sensible with a wild streak. Fun to be
around, reliable when you need him. He’ll never let you down.
The Street Triple? She’s young and pretty, your best friend or your worst enemy.
She’s been around, tough and street smart. She knows the score, she knows what
you like and how you want it. She does not suffer fools. She can behave in a
ladylike way when she must, but she has a roving eye and she knows that everyone
wants a piece of her. She’s a temptress. She taunts and teases, and she gets her
way. She’s a city chick with a whole lot of moxie and attitude.
Stretching a metaphor? No. The Street Triple is a hellion, sexy as hell, as
close to an all-out race bike for the urban environment as you’ll find—light,
agile and lethally quick. A glance at the tach, with a 13,500-rpm red line, is
the first hint (the dial goes to 16,000—what could they be thinking?). Then you
unsheathe the weapon and . . . begone, dull care, throw caution to the winds.
Who cares if tickets cost $500 and up, like a very expensive date. This Is
Triumph’s triples are engineering marvels—smooth, powerful, torquey, pleasant
power delivery, glorious growl—and the Street Triple makes the most of them. The
bike is a stripped 675 Daytona, a race bike in street drag. The Brilliant Brits,
this time around, knew exactly what they were doing. But it’s still . . . naked.
Gabe: Please Don’t Make me do that Again…
John says the FZ8 is like your sensible old buddy, but everybody had that other
high school friend your parents told you to avoid (unless you were that friend).
He or she always knew where to get beer and pot and had more fake I.D.s than
Robert Hanssen. But you liked hanging out with him because he made you do things
you wouldn’t have done on your own. Fun things. Bad things.
That’s the appeal of Triumph’s brilliant Street Triple. It’s built on the 675
Daytona chassis, with some subtle tweaks to make it more rideable as a
streetbike—1/2 inch longer in the wheelbase, a bit more trail. It also has a
different subframe, which allows an inch-lower seat (31.7 inches) and the
fitment of old-timer stuff like luggage racks. The motor is also from the
Daytona, a 675cc Triple detuned about 15 percent with different cams and
whatnot. Wet weight is about 415 pounds.
Where the Daytona feels like a well-engineered and predictable sportbike, the
Street Triple is an untrained puppy. The throttle is (maybe too) touchy,
especially at low rpm. Steering is wickedly responsive—to be expected from such
a light bike with radical chassis numbers and wide, upright handlebars. Throttle
wheelies happen easily (thanks to a shorter first gear for the Striple), and the
motor makes its peak torque 2000 rpm earlier than the Daytona. This means you
should not test ride a Street Triple, under any circumstances, unless you are
ready to buy one. You will not be able to resist.
Get out to your favorite twisty road and look out. The handling and incredibly
flexible powerband combine to give you superhuman riding powers. Seriously. On
my regular Sunday ride, I had to keep waving people in front of me so I would be
forced to slow down. The bike turns quickly, effortlessly, yet holds a line very
well. At higher rpm the fueling is very smooth and responsive and the suspension
is set up just right for bumpy, twisty roads. And that exhaust/intake note…mmm,
mmm. When it’s time to slow down, the brakes bite hard, yet are easy to control.
One or two fingers are just fine. It’s no wonder Triumph dealers are having a
hard time keeping these in stock—watch for a Japanese competitor in the next few
years. For instance, a Yamaha R6 streetfighter built on this model would be
pretty fun (and cheap for Yamaha to develop).
The bad news is that it’s not as practical as you’d think. It still has steering
lock similar to the clip-on-equipped Daytona, which means a wide turning radius.
The twitchy throttle can make low-speed maneuvering nerve-wracking. The seat is
spartan, wind protection isn’t, and the fuel economy (and range) can be pretty
bad—mid 30s or worse—unless you ride the speed limit, and there is no way this
bad influence is going to let you do that. Get a KLR and paint it safety yellow
if that’s your thing. In 15 years you’ll save enough money to buy another KLR.
My personal bike is a Street Triple R, and the extra $700 (on top of the
standard bike’s $8899 MSRP) for the upgraded suspension and brakes is more than
worth it. The standard bike’s shock is chintzy enough you’ll want to spend $800
upgrading it in a few weeks, and you’ll still have to have the fork redone and
do something about the numb-feeling (but not that bad, considering) two-piston
front brakes. With good rubber and set-up suspension, the R is great on the
track and you can tear up a twisty road as well. It’s a unique product with a
lot of character.
Perfect bike? No closer than the FZ8. But good enough that I can ride it without
feeling ashamed by my nudity.
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