"Yamaha's Fazer looked like a
straightforward budget offering when it first
appeared in 1997. Styled like the Japanese-market Fazer 400,
the Fazer 600 used a re-tuned version of the Thundercat engine, in a
high-performance front brake calipers - shared with the Rl superbike - and
aluminium monoshock rear suspension hinted at sportier performance than the
likes of Suzuki's Bandit 600, the budget 600 market leader at the time.
On the road, the Fazer is an
excellent performer. The 599cc engine is fitted with smaller carburettors
than on the Thundercat, providing the Fazer with superior low-down and
mid-range torque for effortless, fast progress. The maximum speed of around
232km/h (145mph) quickly appears, but it is the friendly, easy delivery of
the power that most impresses.
The basic but capable chassis
blends remarkable sporting prowess with the comfort and usability of a
long-distance machine, while the brakes provide the best performance in its
class, by a long chalk. Power, feel and progression are all present, and the
Fazer's low weight makes the brakes even more impressive.
Unlike the Bandit or Hornet, the
Fazer comes only as a half-faired model. The small twin headlight unit
provides impressive wind- and weather-protection, although its styling
wasn't initially to everyone's taste, and the headlights performed rather
poorly at night.
For 2000, the Fazer received a
minor update, in the shape of a larger-capacity fuel tank, up 2 liters
gaT) to 20 liters
(4.4 gaT), while the dash received a new digital clock and
the forks gained preload adjusters. The extra tank capacity further improved
the already impressive range, making the Fazer even more user-friendly.
In 2002, the Fazer saw a more
significant revision. A new fairing, based around the FZS1000 Fazer 1000
design updated its styling and markedly improved headlight performance. The
tank also received another capacity increase to 22 liters
(4.8 gal): easily
enough for 320km (200 miles) between fill-ups.