In 1989 the second generation, called the FZR 1000 EXUP, marked a further step
up the ladder to high perfection supersport. In spite of the motorcycle world
expecting a revised version of the earlier machine, the "EXUP", as it was
nicknamed by enthusiasts later, was a totally new machine. The world's
motorcycle press testers were again enthusiastic, when they were given the
opportunity on October 25-28, 1988 to test the bike at Laguna Seca racetrack in
Monterrey, California. The engine now had an increased displacement of 1002 cc
and higher performance with 145 HP. In spite of higher displacement its size was
8 mm shorter and more compact, due to a revised inclination angle of the
cylinders to 35°. Valve angles and sizes had been changed, as well as the
camshaft timing. Bigger carburettors helped boost performance and the crankshaft
had been strengthened, along with countless other modifications.
THE 1989 YAMAHA FZR1000 - SECOND GENERATION
The dictionary defines genesis as "development
into being by growth or evolution" - which perfectly describes Yamaha's
Concept that led to the award-winning FZ and FZR models and the race-winning
YZF which swept to victory in the last two successive Suzuka Eight Hours
The "Genesis" concept as stated by Yamaha was the
parallel development of engine and chassis design. each playing its part in
making the other more effective. lt was evolved by engineers who realised that
building a good engine and a good chassis did not necessarily mean a good
motorcycle unless the two were in technical harmony with one another.
That "development by growth or evolution" continues with the 1989 Yamaha FZR
1000 updated and uprated by lessons learned on the racetrack with the YZF.
Featuring a new Deltabox frame, shorter and more
compact dimensions, the remarkable EXUP exhaust power control system and
improved engine design and performance, the latest evolution of the FZR1000 is
the most balanced performer in the sportbike world.
The original FZR 1000 won "Machine of the Year"
awards from magazine readers around the world as soon as it was announced.
Yamaha are confident that this "second generation Genesis" will be equally
well received. After all, it's the only sensible choice for those who demand
the very best.
With its brilliant 5-valve cylinder head, slant
block and efficient intake and exhaust systems. the FZR 1000 engine has an
established place in motorcycling history. For 1989 it has been improved even
A brief summary of the new engine's features are:
a higher redline thanks to a lighter valve train, more displacement (1002 cc).
a higher compression ratio and redesigned combustion chamber with straighter
intake ports. bigger carburettors, a reduction in frictional losses with
thinner rings, and the addition of the remarkable EXUP exhaust control system.
Now let's take a look at the details.
The new engine has been shortened by 8mm. This was
accomplished by shortening the length of the valves and lifters and using a
new camshaft case. The shorter valve stem length also allowed for a slight
increase in valve angle. The middle intake valve angle has increased from 9
degrees to 10.5 degrees, the outer intakes from 17 to 18.5 degrees, and the
exhausts from 13 to 13.5 degrees. These more idealized angles and the
complementary improvements to port shapes increase engine efficiency for
higher power output. Other changes to the valve train include exhaust lifters
increased in diameter from 20mm to 22.5mm for improved reliability, and an
overall reduction in valve weight, thanks to shorter sterns and a reduction in
stern diameter from 5mm to 4.5mm. This lighter valve train, combined with
stiffer valve springs, permits a 500 mm higher redline and, consequently, more
top-end power. Valve head diameter remains unchanged.
An increase in bore from 75rnm to 75.Smm brings
displacement up from 989cc to 1002cc. Combined with reshaped combustion
chamber and ports and slightly less dished pistons, this raises the
compression ratio from 11.2: 1 to 12:1. The result is increased power and
torque throughout the mm range and improved engine efficiency.
The shape of the intake tracts has also been
changed. Short and straight, they allow for smoother air flow and increased
intake performance. A change in carburettors from Mikuni BDS37 to BDST38
improves breathing even further. In addition to offering more venturi area and
a rounder venturi cross section, the venturi itself is much straighter and
shaped like an air funnel. These changes greatly reduce flow resistance for
improved efficiency and more power. Throttle response is also better. And to
make sure these bigger carbs get plenty of fuel regardless of engine bad, fuel
pump capacity has also been increased.
Moving further down, we find new pistons and
rings. While the top ring remains unchanged, the second ring has been thinned
from 1mm to 0.8mm, and the oil ring from 2mm to 1.5mm. The result, when
multiplied by four, is a significant reduction in frictional losses and
consequent gain in engine output.
The connecting rods have also been changed to reduce friction and the
resulting power loss. By increasing the diameter of the piston pin from 18mm
to 19mm, rotating frictional loss has been reduced. This reduction in friction
also means increased reliability at the piston pin. In this way, many small
improvements can add up to big gains in power and reliability. Power was also
found by increasing the air cleaner volume from 7.1 liter to 8.1 liter for
improved engine breathing.
To better control temperatures in this more
powerful engine, radiator capacity is increased from
17,000 cal to 21,000 cab. This prevents overheating during sustained periods
of high-rpm, high-load operation.
Even the transmission benefits from detail improvements. By using
counter-tapered (back-cut) engagement dogs on the gears, gear engagement is
much more positive and transmission reliability is increased to cope with the
increase in power.
In summation, virtually every area of the FZR 1000 engine has been improved.
More powerful and more reliable, it is also more compact and more refined.
lt's the second generation
EXUP (Exhaust Ultimate Powervalve)
One of the most significant features on the new
FZR1000 is the EXUP exhaust control system. Another Yamaha invention; in
principle it is much like the YPVS system which improves 2-stroke engine
performance by changing exhaust tuning in response to changes in engine mm.
As more horsepower is designed into production
engines, the smooth powerband so desirable for the street is replaced by the
"peaky", lumpy power curve of the racing engine. Especially pronounced with
high-performance, 4-into- 1 exhausts, this results in a fiat spot at about
two-thirds of peak-torque mm and a rough idle.
Technically speaking, when the exhaust valve
opens, residual combustion pressure in the cylinder rushes in to the exhaust
pipe, creating a primary "positive" pressure wave moving towards to collector
(muffler). Upon reaching the collector, it expands, sending a primary
"negative" wave back toward the cylinder. The header continues to reverberate,
alternating positive and negative. primary, secondary and tertiary.
Header pipe length is set so that the primary
"negative" wave reaches the cylinder at valve overlap (the brief instant when
both intake and exhaust valves are slightly open). This negative or "suction"
wave does two things. lt pulls residual exhaust gas out of the cylinder, and
it starts the flow of fresh fuel/air mixture through the intake valve.
Unfortunately, because these positive and negative
pressure waves move through the header pipes at uniform speed regardless of
engine rpm, at lower rpm the primary "negative" wave arrives too soon (before
overlap), and in its place a primary "positive" wave arrives at valve overlap.
This positive wave forces exhaust gasses back into the cylinder, diluting the
charge, and it blows back through the carburettor, delaying intake and causing
double carburetion (carburetion in the wrong direction). This is what causes
the dreaded race-engine flat spot.
Prior to EXUP, the only way to smooth out power delivery was to sacrifice
performance (less overlap, use of less resonant exhaust pipes, etc.).
Think of EXUP as an exhaust throttle. By placing a rotary valve driven by a
microcomputer-controlled servomotor between the header pipes and the
collector, Yamaha engineers were able to control the pressure waves. The
Computer senses engine speed from the ignition. By choosing this valve
progressively as rpm decreases, the harmful positive pressure wave is
prevented from reaching the cylinder at valve overlap. Double carburetion is
eliminated, torque rises back to a normal level and driveability is restored.
EXUP also reduces exhaust emissions at idle by
producing back pressure that reduces boss of fresh charge through the exhaust.
The idle is also smoother and steadier. And a new muffler has enlarged
capacity to efficiently quiet the increased power.
Equipped with EXUP, the engine produces about 10%
more top-end power than an engine without EXUP. Most importantly, driveability
and throttle control are greatly improved in that critical upper portion of
the power band. There is an astonishing 30 to 40% increase in bow- and
mid-range torque and smoother acceleration. The idle is much smoother: 30 to
50% less fluctuation at idle mm. The exhaust note at idle is quieter. And,
hydrocarbon emissions are reduced.
In short, riders enjoy the best of both worlds -
high-performance power with street engine tractability. Another first from
NEW DELTABOX FRAME
The aluminium Deltabox frame is the most
technically refined frame on the market. Light, rigid, and extremely resistant
to flexing, its equal is found only on the YZR factory road racers where it
was developed. A slightly modified version of this frame carried Eddie Lawson
to his 500cc World Championships and Carlos Lavado to the 250cc World
Championship. It makes a level of handling and control possible which has to
be experienced to be believed.
For 1989 the FZR 1000 benefits from the
next-generation Deltabox. Gone are the dual front down tubes of last year's
frame. The engine now bolts directly to the frame at the cylinder head, at the
top of the upper case and, like before, at the rear. By making the engine a
stressed member (essentially, part of the frame) overall frame rigidity and
stiffness are greatly increased.
This increase in frame rigidity translates into
improved high-speed cornering performance. And, as the stopwatch so
conclusively proves, when a frame is made stiffer, lap times go down. lt also
permits a more compact design of the engine/frame combination.
This more compact design makes possible a shorter wheel-base - 10mm shorter,
for a wheelbase of only 1 ‚460mm. This shorter wheelbase and 26-degree fork
angle improve responsiveness to turning inputs for accurate steering control.
The new frame is complemented by a new Deltabox aluminium swingarm. Featuring
a triangulated design for added strength, this new swingarm is strong, light
and flex resistant. The results are improved rear wheel control and tracking.
Rear wheel maintenance has also been improved with the use of YZF-type chain
In terms of appearances, both the frame and swingarm have been treated by a
special "chemical polish" process for a better-booking finish.
In summation, the frame has undergone a similar
transformation to the engine. lt is more compact, stronger and higher
performing - the next generation.
To cope with the increased steering loads of the
new frame and steering geometry, the front fork has also been strengthened.
The stanchions of the telescopic fork have been increased in diameter from 41
mm to 43mm. This greatly reduces their tendency to flex under heavy braking
and cornering loads. The result is more precise steering control. The fork is
also adjustable for spring preload. Bolting to the stanchions are new
aluminium handlebars. These beautifully crafted aluminium extrusions are
something found usually only on racing machines.
The rear wheel is controlled by our famous
rising-rate Monocross Suspension system. A direct descendent from our factory
racers, it delivers progressively stiffer rear wheel damping as the Suspension
compresses. For 1989 a modification to the linkage arms increases shock
absorber stroke from 50mm to 70mm for improved shock action.
The hydraulic rear shock comes equipped with a separate reservoir for better
cooling of the damping fluid and is adjustable for spring preload and damping.
WHEELS AND BRAKES
The most noticeable change in this department for
1989 is the change in rear wheel diameter from 4.50 x 18' to 5.50 x 17". This
smaller diameter wheel and the use of very wide, bw profile radial tyres
further improves cornering performance. The wheel design - lightweight.
hollow-spoke, cast alloy - remains unchanged.
Unlike traditional bias ply tyres which use
multi-directional fibres in the tyre casing. radial tyres use uni-directional
fibres. This permits flexing of the tread and sidewall, allowing the tread to
better conform to and grip the road surface better. Radial tyres also run
cooler because uni-directional fibres build up less friction heat than
bias-ply tyres when the tyre flexes. And cooler running means longer tyre
Dual 320mm front disc brakes feature 4-pot
opposed-piston callipers using pistons of different sizes:
the top piston is larger than the bottom piston (33.96 and 30.23mm,
respectively) for improved "feel". The same 267mm rear disc with dual-pot
opposed-piston calliper is used at the rear wheel. Braking power is even more
reliable, as befits a machine of this calibre.
New for 1989 are larger diameter, hollow wheel axles and swingarm pivot. These
axles permit an increase in strength without making them heavier. The front
axle diameter has increased from 15 to l7mm, the rear from 17 to 2Omm, and the
swingarm pivot from 16 to 2Omm. Both of these features come directly from the
FAIRING, FAI AND ELECTRICALS
The full fairing has also been redesigned for
improved aerodynamic efficiency. The dual headlights are flush with the front
cowling, and the degree of rearward slant of the cowling has been increased.
The result is smoother, more efficient air penetration and a lower coefficient
The FAI (Fresh Air Intake) system routes cool,
fresh air to the airbox via tubes running from openings at the front of the
fairing. This fresh air improves engine performance because being cooler, it
is also denser. Hence, cylinder filling is improved as more air per volume
unit is sucked into the engine. For 1989 the ducts are straight, rather than
curved for more direct routing of air.
With the addition of EXUP to the new FZR 1000, the
transistor-controlled digital ignition and the control unit for the EXUP are
integrated into one unit. This unit not only alters ignition timing in
response to changes in mm for maximum performance at all power levels, it
controls the amount of EXUP valve opening in the exhaust collector.
Another nice touch is the new electrically
operated fuel reserve switch. Like that used on the FJ 1200, it allows the
rider to switch over to reserve with a minimum of effort.
The instrument panel has also been redesigned for
more compactness. Meter diameters are smaller, and the tach is located higher
than the other instruments for quick reading.
And finally. the tail light assembly has also been redesigned for better looks
As the FZR 1000 draws ever closer to the YZF
factory racers in terms of performance, design and styling, we see a
fulfilment of the Genesis concept.
The 1989 FZR 1000 is still very much the FZR 1000,
knowledgeable sport riders and racers have come to love. But it is also
considerably refined. Lt is faster, better handling and harder accelerating.
In short, a balanced performer - balanced on the cutting edge of Sport bike
Bimota YВ6 vs Yamaha FZR 1000
If this machine- 472.5 pounds of exotic
materials wrapped around triple-digit horsepower—if this machine had wings it
would climb so hard and so high it would give you a nosebleed. Here, Italian
sensuality melds with the hardest design reason: Show-quality paint and
fiberglass enclose a chassis that argues less is more, that no unneeded part
or bracket should ever litter a frame. Weld beads show that smooth, uniform
spacing achieved only by masters, and parts everywhere wear machining marks as
badges of honor, as the sign they were carved from solid blocks of
It is a Bimota YВ6. It could be yours for only
Alongside the Bimota is a motorcycle that
shares the same power source: Yamaha's FZR1000. Yamaha's 1988 FZR1000 Genesis
engine powers the УВ6; the enhanced version, with an improved cylinder head
and a power-valve equipped EXUP exhaust system moves the 1989 Yamaha. The two
motorcycles are more than superficially similar: Both use massive twin-beam
aluminum frames, and share a sport bike mission. The $7600 Yamaha, though,
provides a useful reference point for judging the exotic Bimota.
The YВ6, when first made available a year ago,
established Bimota as a leader in motorcycle design, and confirmed the
company's newly refound Midas touch. But a hard period came first: Five short
years ago, Bimota went bust in a down market no longer able to support the
high price of handmade exotica, and the company was forced to rely on Italian
legislation to keep its creditors at bay. Today, Bimota's factory in Rimini on
Italy's Adriatic coast is flourishing; with 34 employees producing more than
500 motorcycles per year, the company is plowing 25 percent of its profits
back into research and development.
Two things contributed to Bimota's resurgence:
The overwhelming success of the Ducati-engined DB1 introduced in 1986, and a
deal with Yamaha Motor Corporation. Yamaha agreed to supply Bimota with its
advanced five-valve FZR750/1000 engines, plus handle distribution of
Yamaha-engined Bimotas in the expanding Japanese market through selected
In the thriving Japanese economy, Bimota found
a market eager for its exotic creations, and the Italians responded with
innovation. Under the de- sign leadership of Ing, Federico Martini, Bimota
produced the FZR750-powered YВ4 racer, its alloy chassis a radical departure
from Bimota's previous steel-tube space frames. The YВ4 promptly won the 1987
Formula One World Championship, and Bimota followed with the streetable YВ4
and YВ6 in 1988.
This year, Bimota will introduce the
FZR400-based YВ7, for which the company has already taken 500 orders from
Japan—at $20,500 a pop, the same as the YВ6. Bimota also offers the 750сс YВ4
with fuel injection for $24,800. If that's not rich enough for you, Bimota
will happily supply the injected YВ4EIR racer for a cool $45,000.
By comparison the YВ6 is something of a
bargain. It shares the same twin-spar aluminum chassis with the YВ4 racer, but
uses the 1987/88-model FZR1000 engine—a liquid-cooled, 20-valve four-cylinder
with a 45-degree cylinder block, 11.2:1 compression, downdraft induction, and
a five-speed gearbox. When Cycle last tested this engine in 1987, it made 122
rear-wheel horsepower at its 11,000-rpm redline, and launched the standard
FZR1000 through the quarter-mile in 10.71 seconds at 127 mph. In its YВ6
incarnation, this powerhouse remains stock save Bimota's own 4-into-1 exhaust
Our test YВ6, one of only five in the U.S., was
bought by Sam Bernstein through the U.S. importer, Philadelphia-based
Cosmopolitan Motors. Bernstein, a San Francisco art dealer and founder of the
Bimota Owner's Club, U.S. (he also owns a DB1 and an FJ1200-powered YВ5),
shares the need for exotic speed with his older brother, Funny Car World
Champion Kenny Bernstein. Yamaha supplied the 1989 FZR1000, which has been
completely redesigned since last year (see Feb. 1989 issue).
The FZR and YB6, the best and brightest from
Italy and Japan, illustrate the similarity of high-performance motorcycling.
Surprisingly, it is the Yamaha that gets its design cues from the Bimota. The
Japanese have always taken a keen interest in Bimota's design work, and the
redesigned FZR 1000 clearly shows the influence of the YВ6.
Tо build a compact machine, Bimota engineer
Martini rotated the standard FZR engine back 7 degrees for more vertical
cylinder inclination, thus compressing the engine bay and allowing a shorter
wheelbase. For its 1989 redesign, Yamaha did fundamentally the same thing to
the FZR1000 by tilting its engine back 10 degrees to reduce cylinder angle
from 45 to 35 degrees. That change, along with a shorter swing arm, netted a
15mm shorter wheelbase.
Weight distribution is another area of the new
FZR that shows a distinct Bimota touch. Martini believes that the Oriental
preference for front-end bias is less ideal than a perfect 50/50 front-to-rear
weight balance. The YВ6, unladen, has a 49.3/50.7-percent front-to-rear weight
distribution. When Yamaha engineers redesigned the FZR, they arrived at a
49.4/50.6-percent distribution—nearly identical to that of the Bimota.
For better handling, the Yamaha also adopted
the Bimota's wheel sizes, replacing last year's 17 front/18-rear combination
for the more balanced gyroscopic effect of wide 17s front and rear.
Roll the FZR and YВ6 beside each other,
however, and it's hard to believe they belong in the same class. Despite its
enviable compactness, the FZR feels huge by comparison. That's not surprising:
The YВ6 has the physical proportions of a middleweight. Compared to the
FZR1000, the YВ6 is an inch shorter between axles, narrower, and lower in the
saddle—due partly to its 20mm-thin racing seat. At 472.5 pounds fully gassed,
the YВ6 is 50 pounds lighter than the FZR 1000, about average for a 600 sport
bike. It's best to think of the YВ6 as a middleweight with one-liter
About 10 minutes with the supplied Allen
wrenches strip the Bimota bare. Little else but race bikes come apart and go
together so easily. The entire fairing is one exquisitely sculpted piece of
fiberglass: Loosen the Dzus-type fittings in the lower fairing seam, and the
fairing slides right off. The one-piece tank-and-seat section, held by four
bolts, lifts off to expose the centrally located plastic fuel tank, and the
The Yamaha's bodywork comes off in a dozen
pieces, making it more time-consuming to remove and less integrated in
appearance, but it's also less costly to replace in the event of a tip-over.
Bimota's fiberglass panels are beautiful but costly—$3300 for the fairing
alone. For the price of a complete set of the Bimota's bodywork, you could
almost buy the FZR1000.
Uncovered, the FZR and YВ6 expose strikingly
similar frame layouts: Perimeter-style alloy beams wrap around the engines,
which are solidly mounted for greater chassis rigidity. Both bikes feature
removable subframes—steel for the FZR, aluminum for the Bimota. Here the
The Bimota's Verlicchi-made frame resembles
Honda's NSR500 Grand Prix frame of two seasons past. Huge, extruded main spars
of 3mm thickness connect to a tubular steering head at the front, and massive
swing arm mounting plates behind that bear the marks of modern,
computer-controlled machining. Intricately machined engine mounts welded to
the main spars bolt solidly to the cylinder block. This upper frame section is
further supported by a massive cross-member extrusion. In back, the extruded
swing arm uses eccentric chain adjusters. Two cross-members, two solid
engine-mounts, and the upper shock tower buttress this swing arm pivot area.
The frame gives the impression of being extremely rigid and perfectly
proportioned, a work of alloy craft that could justifiably share space with
the $200,000 jade sculptures in Sam Bernstein's gallery of oriental art.
The FZR's Deltabox frame, in contrast, uses
tapered main beams formed from aluminum sheet. This design can put metal and
stiffness exactly where they're needed, but requires expensive metal-forming
dies difficult to justify for small-scale production. Ditto the FZR's
sheet-formed swing arm, an expensive, 10-piece affair with sliding-block chain
Japanese sport bikes rarely look appealing with
the bodywork removed, and the FZR1000 is no exception. The requirements of
mass production prompt the use of injection-molded ABS plastic panels to cover
what is too time-consuming and expensive to finish. Hoses and wires run amuck
on the Yamaha chassis. Weld beads laid down by Japanese robots can't hold a
candle to the flawless hand welds of Italian craftsmen.
Now look at the YВ6, and see
Michelangelo-quality detail finish. All hydraulic lines are braided steel.
Every piece is meticulously machined, perfectly fitted. All the electrical
components are concentrated around the battery, leaving the rest of the frame
uncluttered. One part suffices where two might have been fitted. Bimota design
leaves no excess material, no rough edges. Even small pieces, such as the pipe
hanger bracket, are hollowed, thinned for lightness. You see such effort on
pure racing machines where the cost of shaving a few grams of weight is
rewarded at the finish line. This is the difference between mass production
and the handwork of artisans, and that difference makes it easy to understand
why the Bimota costs what it does.
Pared to the bone, the YВ6 has the dense
mechanical simplicity of a racer, backed by front-line chassis components.
Three-spoke Oscar wheels—a 3.5-by-17inch front, and a wide, 5.5-by17-inch
rear—mount European-spec Michelin A59Х and M59Х radials: a 1301 60 front, and
a massive 180/60 rear. A pair of four-piston Brembo calipers puts the squeeze
on 320mm floating front discs. A smaller, 230mm rotor resides in back.
Suspension quality matches that of Bimota's
real racers: a 41.7mm Marzocchi fork with adjustable anti-dive in the left
leg, a rebound damping adjuster in the right, and air caps—though Bimota
specifies atmospheric pressure. In back, a single, remote-reservoir Marzocchi
shock offers 12-position compression and 25-position rebound damping
adjustment, and a threaded preload collar. Unfortunately, only the rebound
adjuster is accessible with the shock in place. Such is the price of the YВ6's
The FZR is similarly equipped—same basic brake
design, though manufactured by Nissin, and same wheel sizes wrapped in
Pirelli's МР7 Sport radials. The Yamaha's massive 43mm fork offers preload
adjustment only, but the gas-charged rear damper also incorporates a
four-position rebound damping adjuster.
Both chassis offer ride-height adjusters in the
single-shock rear suspensions—a genuine racing touch. The Bimota goes the
Yamaha one better with eccentric steering-head cones that can alter rake from
23.5 to 26.5 degrees, with 25 degrees, 4.03-inches of trail as standard. The
longer, heavier FZR steers through slightly slower geometry: 26 degrees and
As the chassis numbers indicate, the FZR 1000
feels ponderous at low speeds, especially in company with the feathery YВ6. On
the other hand, the Yamaha's more compliant suspension provides supple relief
from the constant pounding delivered by our YB6's rear shock, which was not
working to specification. A severe shortage of rebound damping allowed the
shock to top-out hard over rough pavement, and a broken adjuster prevented us
from cranking in more damping. The potholed streets of San Francisco were
especially hard on the Bimota, rattling the bodywork, jiggling the
rubber-mounted Yamaha instrument cluster. We headed for smoother macadam,
where even a rubbery rear shock could not spoil the magic of the YB6.
On the mythical mountain roads of Mann County,
the FZR1000 traded its supple ride for more chassis movement under braking and
acceleration than the YВ6. Off-throttle cornering loads the FZR's front end,
and the bike shows a slight tendency to stand up under braking. The FZR is
happiest when braked upright, then flicked into the turn in modern GP fashion.
Ridden this way, the Yamaha instantly builds speed more appropriate for the
racetrack than for the street.
The Bimota's firm suspension and anti-dive fork
provide a more consistent chassis attitude. Steering is absolutely dead
neutral on the brakes or on the gas. It's important to remember here that high
corner-speed depends to a large extent on the rider's trust of the front end.
How much he trusts it determines how hard he is willing to push it. You
instinctively trust the Bimota's front end. No matter how deep you brake, or
how hard you flick the bike into corners, the front end never feels like it's
Ridden quickly on a smooth road, the Bimota has
an almost magical ability to disappear beneath you, leaving only the road to
deal with. The combination of lightness, unshakable stability, and tack-sharp
steering makes the Bimota easy to ride fast or slow, on sweepers or
switchbacks. On tight roads, the heavier, longer, slower-steering FZR takes
more effort at the handlebars, augmented by body English, to initiate a quick
turn. FZR and YВ6 brakes are equally powerful—like hitting a brick wall—though
the Bimota's hard-compound pads require more effort at the lever. Both bikes
offer more corner clearance than sane people need on the street. The Yamaha's
Pirelli tires are the best standard-issue rubber we've ever sampled, the
Bimota's Michelins merely excellent.
Prudence prevented us from thrashing
Bernstein's Bimota at the dyno and drag strip, but side-by-side acceleration
contests had the Bimota shrinking in the FZR's mirrors. That's not surprising:
Our YВ6 ran decidedly flat in the middle and upper rev ranges. The '89 FZR1000
EXUP engine—which shows a whopping 14-horsepower spike from 6000 to 6500
rpm—offers crisp, immediate throttle response.
he pilot-production '89 FZR1000 we tested in
February 1989, was a powerhouse-114.9 rear-wheel horsepower—that posted a
quarter mile best of 10.8 seconds at 129 mph. Our 1989 production FZR1000
fulfilled the promise of the pilot bike, pumping out 113.9 horse- power and
scorching the drag strip in 10.8 seconds at 128 mph. The production FZR,
however, proved slower in 45to-70-mph roll-on acceleration than the pilot
bike, giving the low-speed advantage to the YВ6.
The Bimota leaps to an early lead over the FZR
at low revs, where its combination of lighter weight and crisp low-speed
jetting (and despite slightly taller gearing) keep the Bimota ahead until the
engine goes flat at 5500 rpm—abeds that it constantly poses the question: Are
you good enough as a rider to appreciate this?
But you don't have to ride the Bimota well—or
ride it at all, for that matter—to know what makes it worth the money. In an
age of mass-produced sameness, the YВ6 is a machine of inspiration, ingenious
design, and flawless beauty, the object of obsessive attention to detail by
artisans who love motorcycles.
out 85 mph in top gear. You could ride the
Bimota fast all day without ever spinning the engine higher, but that's a bit
like breaking into Fort Knox and taking just enough for lunch. Better to
sharpen the YB6's jetting, and use it all.
We're talking about a clash of cutting edges
here. Both the FZR and YВ6 have speed capabilities that cannot be fully
explored on the street. Neither bike is remotely practical, though the
Bimota's firm suspension, wafer-thin solo seat, clip-on bars and radically
rearset footpegs make the FZR feel like a sport tourer by comparison.
The FZR1000 is the fastest, best handling
big-bore street bike ever made in Japan. But the Bimota's sharp handling,
light weight, and magical combination of agility and absolute solidity place
it closer to sporting perfection than any large-caliber motorcycle we have
ever ridden. The YВ6 is so composed and self-assured at ludicrous spe