By Paul Peczon
Everyone's going bananas about the YZF600, but Yamaha is still selling the FZR600. And why not, when it's their best selling bike. It hasn't changed much since its introduction in 1989, and the $5699 price tag reflects that. The FZR600 grew out of the FZR400, which may have flopped as a streetbike here in the US, but is still an extremely popular racebike. This is a hard edged bike with repli-racer stenciled all over it.
Unfortunately, that hard edge extends all the way into it's hard, square edged seat which dominates the riding experience. The problem is that the padding is a bit to thin, so that the outer edges of the seat frame press into your inner thighs, cutting off blood, and the desire to ride for more than a couple of miles. I'm only 165 pounds, young, in good shape, and the FZR hurts after not too long. Thankfully, the Corbin company long ago addressed this problem and an aftermarket seat is readily available.
This is a shame, because while everyone's all excited about the CBR600F2, I think this one's a better bike for a hard ride in the twisties. The motor has decent midrange thanks to the long stroke design, and it shrieks as the revs rise. Steering is sharp, and the bike is easy to flick into corners. It feels like it has a lower center of gravity than some other 600 class bikes, and it is definitely a light bike. Alas, the damping is also on the light side and the FZR bounces and pogoes in rough corners. You can call RaceTech to fix that.
But there's one other problem with the FZR that just adds insult to injury. It's those yellow wheels. The graphics are boy racer stuff that all the young squids love, but those rims are just too much. If I wanted to look like shark bait, I'd put on a wetsuit and ride a Jetski. I'll do that in a heartbeat, by the way, but I don't want to look that multicolored in the street.
Of course, some people love the way it looks, and I know that a lot of people like the idea of a 600 class bike that doesn't cost more than 750s cost a couple of years ago. And I betcha the dealers will deal on this bike, sitting as it does in the same showroom as the Seca 600 and the oh-so-desirable (and also ugly) YZF. With a new seat and suspension revalving, it is a far more sporting bike than some other, significantly more expensive bikes. Fix the way it rides, and who cares what it looks like?.
And hey, voltage / battery problems with your FZR? check thisback to the main page
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