Has it already been four years since Yamaha launched the FZ-16? Time has flown, but in my book that’s done little to dim the FZ’s impressive appeal. Which is why, I promptly called dibs on the long-term FZ-S that joined our fleet. First impressions? The new stickers do the FZ-S’s muscular appeal no harm. A kick-lever in matte black is well hidden and the pillion seat is distinctively bigger.
Soon, I found myself out on the FZ to run some errands. Within the first few kilometres, I was feeling at home and in the mood for some fun. So, I rode 30km over what I’d earlier planned before reluctantly heading back to base. The FZ rode exactly as I remembered it from the early test days. Its 41mm front forks and monoshock rear feel firm in a sporty way, and the iron-grip of the 267mm front disc brake is thrilling, and the chassis feels rock solid. The FZ-S wriggles through Pune’s traffic well, despite its massive front tyre meaning lock-to-lock steering movement is ever so slightly heavier as compared to some lighter rival motorcycles in this space. A friend pointed out how he appreciated the greater comfort offered by the wider pillion seat.
After that, my hectic travel schedule ensured the FZ-S was forced to sit it out on the bench for a week. Eventually, I was happy to have another chance to hop back astride the FZ-S for another one of my weekly Mumbai trips. On this ride, I was surprised at just how enjoyable the Yamaha felt. I expected the 153cc motor to feel a bit strained, but it never did. The tractable engine was smooth, and holding long stints in the 90s was never any hassle. The engine stayed vibe-free and didn’t make a racket either.
However, some anticipated shortfalls were apparent. On the old Mumbai-Pune highway, it is common to find trucks engaged in slow races, and you just have to wait it out until one of them eventually edges ahead. The smooth five-speed gearbox would then need to shift down a couple of gears before roaring past and getting up to speed. The FZ-S’ 14bhp of power is too tame for a motorcycle with such an able chassis, and although low-end grunt is adequate, the FZ-S quickly runs out of steam at anything over 7500rpm.
Mumbai presented the Yamaha with a variety of broken surfaces, some of which snuck up on me on the dark ride back at night. Instead of knocking the wind out of me the FZ-S just shrugged all of them off, and, never, ever, bottomed out. So good are the tyres that I wasn’t worried about grip even when climbing the ghat on the shared expressway section even despite a low-traction concrete surface. All complaints about the FZ-S are quite minor. I repeatedly looked at the instrument console for a clock, and was always disappointed to find none.
I have now completed two enjoyable and reasonably rapid trips to Mumbai on the FZ-S. And by the time you read this, the FZ-S will have returned from its first service, all primed and ready to rack up more kilometres, which I’m looking forward to.
Price: Rs. 80,191 (on-road, Pune)
Mantainence costs: None