Friday, August 25, 2017

The Dragon

I have four motorcycles in my garage, three dual sports and the FZ-09. Up until this week, all but the FZ had conquered the Tail of the Dragon deep in the Smoky Mountains.

Earlier this week, I was on my way back from a road trip to Upstate New York. First, I picked up the Blue Ridge Parkway and rode it all the way from Afton, Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina; about 490 miles. The next day I rode the Dragon and the Cherohalla Skyway before I had to get back on those aggravating Interstates to get home.

Highest Elevation on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Tail of the Dragon Photo by Killboy.

Earned a dragon sticker.

The final road trip mileage. Thank God for my Airhawk Seat Cushion and Ibuprofen.

I purchased the FZ-09 on January 4 of this year and now have 4,583 miles. Obviously, it was time to put some serious miles on it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ozello Trail

Today I rode the Ozello Trail out to the St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve. The Ozello Trail is one of the more twisty roads that you'll find in Florida.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Okeechobee Loop

When I pick up a new motorcycle, I've had a routine for many decades of making a run down to Lake Okeechobee from my home in West Central Florida, near Tampa. Different roads for different trips, but the theme is always the same ... Loop the Lake. The roughly 400 mile loop is a great way to get acquainted to my new motorcycle while taking a big dent out of the running in cycle. So after a busy post-purchase week it was the FZ-09's turn. I rolled out yesterday morning with only 24 miles on the odometer.

The halfway point on this loop is Port Mayaca where there is a lock and access up onto the dike of massive Okeechobee. Another part of the routine is to get a photo of the bike on this very spot with the little island in the background. There you go.

The ride and the photo aside, the ride is really about getting acquainted with my new steed. At each of three fueling stops I took a few notes on my thoughts and impressions. It's early, of course, too early to make any major judgement, but here are my first 412 miles of impressions. I'm just going to throw this stuff out random.

Fuel and Fueling: Holy crap! This bike has a mighty small fuel tank. On my second fuel stop, I actually pulled out my tele and googled its specs. Yup, damn thing is all of 3.7 gallons. Seriously, I haven't had a fuel tank this small (dirt bikes aside) since .... well ... ever! Hmmm, this is what happens when you get overly enamored with the looks of a motorcycle. Onward...

I made three fuel stops, but the first stop followed what my dealer put in there when I took delivery so I really can't use that as a mileage check. As for the next two fuelings:

3.5 gallons/162.1 miles = 46.2 mpg, adjusted 45.1*
3.1 gallons/143.4 miles = 46.1 mpg, adjusted, 45.0*
Manufacturing Spec = 44 mpg, * = See ODO/Trip Difference below

The fueling gauge is a traditional multiple bar type, with an F-Trip (Fueling Trip). The F-Trip is different than the F-Trips I've had on other bikes. While those read the estimated mileage to empty, the FZ's F-Trip reads miles from when the F-Trip is tripped starting at zero. That's certainly not as helpful as a mileage to empty reading...if at all quite frankly. Anyway, here's the details relative to the two fuelings and the reserve:

F-Trip = 20.6 miles, subtract from total miles of 162.1 = 141.5 / 45.1 = 3.1, Reserve = 0.6 gallons
F-Trip = 01.7 miles, subtract from total miles of 143.4 = 141.7 / 45.0 = 3.1, Reserve = 0.6 gallons
Manufacture Reserve Spec = Unstated

Okay, all that means two things. First, there are 0.6 gallons left in the tank when the F-Trip starts (coupled with the fuel level bar flashing. I would like to point out that the F-Trip does not start on the last bar. Subject to the usable fuel in the tank and using the 45.0 mpg, that equates to a 27 mile reserve. Second, given that I took the tank down to 0.2 gallons left on my first filling, I'm going to assume that usable fuel is very close to our 3.7 capacity...but I'm not going to push it. Also, these are the second and third fuelings during the running in period. I'll be doing these calculations several time over the first couple thousand miles as all the inner workings start settling in.

Instrumentation and Visibility: One quick observation is that the speedometer on the FZ-09 is probably the most accurate JAP speedo that I've ever had, based on my GPS readings. It was spot on until 70+ mph and then never got over 1 mph above the GPS measured speed. Thank you Japan!!!!

On the Odometer and Trip Meters, there was a total difference of 2.6% where the instrument numbers exceeded the GPS trip meter. The total trip on Trip 1 and the Odometer measured 386.8 miles. The GPS measure 377.0 miles. I used this difference to calculate the "adjusted" mpg figures in the fueling section above.

I did not have any night riding on this trip, so these comments relate to daylight usage. The instrument cluster is small/compact, but fairly easy to read. The only item on the cluster that I had difficulty with was the tachometer that has a rolling bar along the top of the cluster. I found the numbers difficult to read, and I was focusing on them as I was in the running in on this trip. Otherwise, no problems. Also, this is the first motorcycle I've ever owned with a gear indicator. Kewl, but I hardly ever had to look at it.

Driving Modes: The FZ has three mode selections...A, B and Standard (STD). A is the sportier mode, B is "less sharp" than STD, and STD is suitable for all-around riding conditions. On a positive note, you can change modes on the fly by only coming off throttle. On a not so positive note, I really felt no difference among the three modes. However, I will keep working on this. Like I said, this is really just the first outing. Over time perhaps I'll figure the modes out.

Overall Ride and Ridability: My biggest issue all day was the feeling that the steering head was a little under-dampened. Wind off some vehicles actually produced a very slight oscillation and it just felt weak when leaning into corners. An issue with nekkie sport bikes? I don't know. I'll need to do some research on this and maybe toss some questions out to the ownership group.

The bike rides well, but it is SMALL! My back to back prior two road bikes were a Versys 1000 and a Super Tenere, both made for touring models and both models I rode 25K miles a year. The Versys included two trips across the country, the Tenere included a trip to Alaska! Yeah, this FZ-09 is a squirt. On the other hand, those other touring bikes were kind of hard to throw around the hairpins in the Smoky Mountains. I'll bet the FZ performs a little better.

As to the seat, yes my rear hurt after a nearly 400 mile day. However, I'm not ready to go to the net and discredit the seat like many owners seem to do. Rather, seats break in and my body seems to conform to a specific seat over time. At the moment I don't see an after market seat in the plan. I'll just stay on this (no pun intended).

Mirrors, oh yes, those I will go to the net and discredit. I was seriously angry at how poorly designed and placed the mirrors are. When you have a set of mirrors that really suck, it makes you realize how much you actually use mirrors on a motorcycle to STAY SAFE. Before I totally freak out though, I need to work on getting them a little higher and extended. I had a situation just like this once and corrected it with one mirror riser/extender on the right and shifting the angle of the left mirror aggressively to the left. I'll go that route and report back as I have a single mirror riser in stock.

Well, those are my initial impressions. It's very early in our relationship, but my new FZ will get a lot of use. I live in a location that affords year round use of motorcycles and I take advantage of it. Next trip...northward. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Protection Selections

One of the draws to the 2016 Yamaha FZ-09 was that it was cheap, that is at least in a world of very expensive sport bikes. Another was that I really liked the style and looks. So naturally I want to add some protection should a fall or drop occur. It isn't like it's not probable; a month or so ago I pulled off a mindless low side on my my garage! That motorcycle has full crash guards so there wasn't any fall damage.

At one point in the early negotiations on the price, I attempted to negotiate some protection into the deal. I specifically asked them to maintain their current price but add three Yamaha protection accessories.

Frame Sliders 1RC-F11D0-00 ... $265.99

Engine Guards 1RC-F11D0-VO ... $205.99

Swingarm Spools GYT-SPOOL-AL-BK ... $39.95

The request for the accessories added to the OTD price sorta fell on deaf ears in the sales department and I was sent to deal with the parts department. They came back to me with 10% off, a discount I always get no mater what I'm buying or how small. When I'm getting ready to write a check for $8,500 I expect a little better consideration, say nothing of the fact that I've now purchased 3 motorcycles from this place in the last 14 months!

Now, left on my own to deal with the protection, I'm back to the overall cost issue. That is, one of the reasons that I purchased this bike is it's cheap. Unfortunately, if not included in the overall OTD price that I was looking for, the prices of those three Yamaha Accessories are ridiculously high for me to consider.

So, off to the interweb for some research. The FZ-09 forum had a nice thread with a poll of what protection products owners had purchased and how they liked them. That provided me with the short list and in-short, I landed on the OES Accessories.

OES Accessories had a fairly priced kit that included (i) high and low frame sliders, (ii) fork sliders, (iii) axle sliders, and (iv) spools. The total price, including shipping, was $169.99. Probably not as unobtrusive as the Yamaha devices, but a very common style for sport bikes.

I pulled the trigger on the OES slider kit and will have it in a week. I'll post back on the install.

Installation Update:

The OES Slider Kit came in the mail today...fairly quick delivery for using USPS. Here's what came in the box. It's the same stuff as in the stock photo above.

Installation was literally a mater of minutes following the instructions OES provided on line. The tools I needed were:

Ratchet w/ 3" extension
8MM Hex Bit
5MM Hex Bit
Torque Wrench

The stock bolts are 8MM hex, same as the OES bolts that come in the kit. The front/rear sliders and spools have 5MM hex bolts.

Torque for the engine mount bolts was 45Nm or 33Ft/lb based on the service manual for this model. The torque specs in the service manual did not include the spool sockets, so I winged it.

Before photos...

After installation photos:

It's certainly not as unobtrusive as I would have preferred, but the alternatives were so much more money and these types of sliders are very common among sport bike owners. I don't think anyone is going to have any derogatory views on their appearance.

Now if I can just find some time to ride the damn thing!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

FZ-09 Arrival

I took delivery of my 2016 Yamaha FZ-09 today. When I got it home, my son (on the KLR) and I went out for a short ride. Unfortunately, it won't be until next week that I can get it out for my first good long ride.

I was able to get a good test ride and the ride home to Temple Terrace helped me get comfortable with the ergos. It's a very, very light bike with a lot of power. I once had an FZ6R that had a terrible lightswitch throttle. The FZ-09 is smooth, snappy and responsive.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Yamaha FZ-09

I was at my dealer in Brandon, Florida last week having some warranty work done on my 2016 KLR650...specifically it needed a new tank after a gas leak damaged the paint. They said it would only take an hour and I could wait. They know me way too well.

So walking around looking at all the new 2017 models on the show room floor a 2016 Yamaha FZ-09 in Armor Gray really caught my attention.

The 2017 model was sitting there as well, but it was the 2016 model with the gray and yellow that I was drawn to. Not only did I like the colors of the 2016 I much preferred the simpler 2016 headlight design over the alien looking setup on the 2017.

The 2016 also had an msrp ($8160) that was around $800+ less than the 2017 ($8999). That's because Yamaha made some major changes in addition to the alien nose design: suspension upgrades, ABS, slipper clutch. Definitely all good features, but the attraction of the Yamaha FZs have always been simplicity accompanied by a rock bottom price. As best as I can tell, owners have really been enjoying the FZ-09 without all those things.

For the record, Yamaha also came out with a liter model of the FZ in 2017 with the FZ-10 with a sticker of $12999. Hmmm, a 9 (847cc) and a 10 (998cc), maybe that's signalling the phase out of the FZ-09. What does that all mean? I don't know. If my choices were limited to the FZ-10 and everything else, I'd probably be sifting through everything else.

A look at the FZ-09 specs, is every bit the indication of a medium sized, naked sport bike. 414 pounds? Crikey, I have a dual sport that weighs more than that at 432 and that's before all my protection accessories. One thing that isn't reflected in the specs is the engine which incorporates crossplane technology, a technology that was launched with Yamaha's Super Sport R1 a couple years ago. That it has worked its way into other lower priced models is a good sign. It's supposed to promote better torque and even better traction. We will see...

Okay, I didn't make a big deal about my interest in the floor model the day I was visiting my dealer with my KLR650. Afterward I did all the obligatory research and concluded that I'd like to make a run at it. I asked for best OTD and reminded them that I've purchased 3 motorcycles from them in the last 18 months!!!

Well, I really wasn't enamored with what they came back with. I think I deserve a better deal. I've been buying motorcycles from this dealer since I moved to Florida in the late 80s.

Rather than hyperfocus on their OTD price, I countered with adding three Yamaha Accessories with a total msrp of about $500 to their number...hey, and I'd even install them. I was thinking that perhaps their cost wasn't a huge burden and they'd just throw them in the deal. They came back with two prices because they can't sell you a bike with accessories...smh. No, they have to sell you a bike and then you have to deal with the parts department on accessories. Anyway, to cut to the chase from my perspective the combined comebacks was a net +$285 increase in the OTD for the bike with the accessories. That worked out from another -$165 on the bike and +$450 on the accessories. pfffft!

My research indicated that OTD prices around the country were falling $8200-$8400. That's a hard number range to look at because dealer incentives come and go. One month Yamaha may be saying here's $500 for each 2016 that you can get out of stock and then the next month they're throwing incentives on the 2017s. I know the game, I actually used to work for this very dealer. Did you know you can actually check on incentives? Yeah, there weren't any for the 2016 FZ-09.

So I took a pass on the accessories, making it clear that was a suck-ass offer, and agreed to $8500 OTD for the bike alone. Given that it's the holiday weekend...and I have a lot of football to watch and beer to drink...I put a deposit on the bike and will take delivery (subject to test drive) on Wednesday (1/4/17).

Stay tuned....

Oh, and Happy New Year! Ride a lot and ride safe in 2017.