Yamaha FZ-S: The bold and the restless

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Aug 9 2014, 08:25am hrs
The FZ V2.0 gets fuel injection and a tweaked engine. Peak power and torque have gone down, but the bike is now more fuel-efficient. While butch looks have been retained, does the performance remain the same

Although I love riding, sometimes I feel uneasy reviewing 150cc and smaller capacity motorcycles. The reason is, when I review bikes, I ride them for very long distances, and long rides on small bikes mean irritating shoulder pain and, if the seat is too hard or too soft, numb lower back. So when I got the new Yamaha FZ-S Version 2.0 for review, I mentally readied myself for the same.

My first trip was a 80-km ride from Gurgaon to Greater Noida and I planned two breaksfirst at 30 km and then at 60 km. I passed the first point, at ease. I passed the second point, still at ease! Finally I reached the destination without stopping, got off the bike, and only had the initial signs of discomfort. Thats what refinement levels can do even to smaller bikes.

The FZ series, when launched in 2008, did to Yamaha what the Pulsar did to Bajaj a few years earlierit brought young motorcycle riders into the companys fold. Young new riders not only loved the FZs muscular looks, they also appreciated its excellent handling and riding dynamics. After six years, Yamaha has updated the seriesFZ and FZ-Sand the changes are more than skin deep.

First, the looks. Considering the fact that the FZs target customer remains the youth, Yamaha has made the new bike look even more stylish. The headlight unit is now sleeker and edgy, and there are new decals all around. New air scoops attached to the fuel tank attract attention, as do the freshly-styled split-seat and grab rails. Yamaha bikes are known for their build quality and the new FZ series is no different.

Now, the engine. The FZ series didnt really focus on fuel-efficiency as much as it did on performance. But the new engine, the company says, focuses on both. Yamaha has reduced its cubic-capacity from 153 to 149, and the result is a slight drop in peak power and torque figuresit now produces 12.9 bhp and 12.8 Nm, respectively. But because this engine gets fuel injection, the efficiency goes up by a company-claimed 14%. The focus on efficiency is also apparent by the addition of an Eco indicator on the instrument console, which lights up when you ride the bike at moderate engine speeds. So does the focus on fuel-efficiency means Yamaha has turned its street-fighter into a boring commuter bike Lets find out.

The FZ series was known for its excellent handling and riding dynamics, and the Version 2.0 improves upon that. The reduced weight (the bike now weights 132 kg from earlier 135) and the fuel injection system negate the slight loss in engine power. Another good thing is that this engine doesnt seem to lose steam when red-liningeven though you may be doing 100 kmph, you wont find the engine screaming under pressure. The clutch is so soft that you can operate it with your index finger. Fat rubber ensures that it tackles most corners with ease. However, it is the mid-range performance that sets this bike apart and it behaves its best at a relaxed speed of 70-80 kmph in fifth gear. We also did a small fuel-efficiency test on the FZ-S where we rode it for about 100 km on a highway at 60-90 kmphit returned 52 kmpl. Quite impressive for a 150cc bike.

But what is not really impressive is that the competition has moved on. In this day and age of the Dukes (though far costlier) and more powerful Pulsars (the Pulsar 150 produces 14.9 bhp), shouldnt Yamaha have given the FZ series more grunt while also improving efficiency, especially considering the fact that its target customer is the youth Another thing Yamaha should add to the FZ series is the side-stand warning lampit simply makes riding a little safer. Also, a digital clock on the instrument panel, please.

For R76,250 for the FZ and R78,250 for the FZ-S (ex-showroom, Delhi), the pricing remains competitivealthough it is an affordable bike, you get features such as monocross rear suspension. Add to that its excellent handling, improved fuel-efficiency, advanced technology and butch looks, and there is no reason why loyal Yamaha fans shouldnt stick to it. But if Yamaha wants to attract customers from other brands, it needs to give the FZ series more power.