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Words by: Steve Bond

The FZ-07 isn’t just an 09 with one cylinder lopped off. Despite a strong family resemblance, the 07 is pretty much all-new, with its own engine, chassis and suspension.

Parallel twin engines usually have both pistons going up and down together (a 360-degree configuration), or one going up while the other goes down (180-degree).

Staying with the crossplane concept introduced in the 1000cc R1 a couple of years ago, Yamaha fitted the 7 with a 270-degree crank, which generates more low-end torque than traditional layouts and has an irregular firing order, so it sounds somewhat like a V-twin.

Yamaha claims 75 horsepower but the 50 lb.-ft. of torque is what riders will love, because most of that is produced in the 3,000 to 6,000 r.p.m. range — the sweet spot where most of us spend our time.

Throttle response is smooth and seamless, and it’s very flexible as you can idle down to 40 km/h in sixth, then accelerate away with no bucking or snorting.

Novices will appreciate the low, 805-mm (31.5-inch) seat height but those over 6 feet tall will find it a little cramped for legroom. Despite that, I found the riding position pretty good.

The bars have a small rise, which puts the rider in a semi-crouch, but nothing radical. The seat narrows at the front to make it easier to place both feet on the ground but, thankfully, doesn’t slope forward.

The seat is a bit thin and hard but Yamaha has a “comfort seat” option already in the catalogue. Yamaha should offer the comfort seat as standard and see how many customers order the “discomfort” seat?

Cruising at freeway speeds is effortless, the tall sixth gear acts as an overdrive. But because it’s a naked bike, the wind swats you around pretty good after an hour or so.

Even though the suspension is non-adjustable, the handling is quite good, and spring and damping rates are well-matched to the motorcycle so it rides well, too. Turn-in is light and precise, even though the FZ-07 wears a beefy 180-section tire out back, the largest in its class.

Forks are decent 41-mm conventional units with 130 mm of travel, while a single rear shock with nine levels of preload adjustability and 130 mm of travel mounts horizontally directly to the crankcase.

The steel frame ties everything together in a tidy, rigid package, while the steel swingarm is banana-shaped on the right side to clear the Moto GP-styled underslung muffler.

Despite all the steel, the 07 checks in with a wet weight of just 180 kg (397 lb.), undercutting Kawasaki’s ER6N by 24 kg, Suzuki’s Gladius by 22 kg and Honda’s NC750 and CB500 by 36 and 13 kg respectively.

The FZ-07 also has more horsepower and torque, more suspension travel, a wider rear tire and better brake components than all of the above.

Read the rest of the preview here: http://www.wheels.ca/car-reviews/preview-2015-yamaha-fz-07-stepping-up-to-a-naked-lightweight/
 
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