With the heart of a sportbike, the ergonomics of a touring rig and the chassis of a sporting standard, the 2001 Yamaha FZ1 proved you could have your cake and eat it too. Released during an era of underpowered and overweight naked bikes, Yamaha was the first to stuff a proper motor into a sporty chassis.
On the outside, the bike was blessed with a bikini fairing and angular bodywork-attributes that were cutting edge at the time. R1-esque features included split headlights and dual round taillights for a tidy package that was a serious head turner.
The swoopy styling was R1-inspired but the engine was the real deal; Yamaha called the robust first generation R1 engine into play. Sure it had smaller 37mm carbs, a different cylinder head and lower compression, but peak power was only down 10 ponies and the midrange blast was even stronger than its sportbike brother.
Supporting the R1 motor was a steel cradle frame and aluminum swingarm that did a great job of harnessing the power. Suspension consisted of non-adjustable 43mm standard forks and a piggyback reservoir shock. Braking duties were assigned to R1 calipers, and when the entire package was put into motion it was a capable bomber that was equally at home on the freeway.
Little changed in the first five years until Yamaha gave the big FZ1 a total makeover in 2006. One of the most noticeable additions was a new twin spar aluminum frame that was lighter and stronger than the steel unit it replaced. Along with the frame, the second generation FZ1 also received inverted Kayaba forks and a three way adjustable shock to accompany the updated R1 brakes and the more sporting ergonomics.
Proving that big...
Proving that big power and big fun didn't have to come at the expense of comfort, the first generation FZ1 ditched the clip-ons and sported a nice bikini fairing all while running mid 10s @ 130 MPH at the drag strip. Thanks to a tweaked version of the first generation R1 motor that pushed 122 HP and 72 LB-FT at the tire, the 514-pound beast was good for 150 MPH on the top end. Other noteworthy features included R1 brakes and a steel cradle frame.
The second generation...
The second generation FZ1 was all-new from the ground up. In addition to the twin spar aluminum frame, inverted forks and swoopy bodywork, the big Fazer also got a modified R1 motor that included fuel injection. Horsepower figures checked in at 126 HP and 65 LB-FT at the wheel, and when combined with the 496 wet weight it was good for low 10s at the strip.
A tweaked version of the '05 R1 engine was used, and with it came fuel injection. But tech highlights aside, midrange power suffered and the fueling was noticeably glitchy until it was "fixed" in 2007.
Yamaha is again preparing for an update. Will it get the new crossplane motor from the current R1? We can only hope so. But in the meantime you can pick up a used FZ1 for pennies on the dollar, and pound for pound you won't find a better all around bike.