A new FZ has big shoes to fill. But Yamaha has a way of filling them in a uniquely understated manner. So, does the new FZ25 follow the same pattern?
Yamaha has one peculiar habit. Whenever they launch a new product, they under-promise and over deliver – at least in India that’s been the case for quite a while now. We’ve seen this happen with the first-gen R15 in 2008 and more recently with the R3. Both these bikes didn’t have splendid numbers to flaunt on their respective spec sheets. But, boy did they deliver in the real world! Now the reason I bring this up is because Yamaha’s latest offering, the FZ25, seems to be following a similar approach.
When Yamaha launched the FZ25 roughly a month ago, it left many – including me – a bit underwhelmed with its specifications. But, before forming a premature opinion of the bike, I thought it best to wait to ride the motorcycle first. Fortunately, I got to ride Yamaha’s brand new street-naked in sunny Goa. And I think I’ve come back with some relevant findings…
Since its launch in 2008, the FZ16 has been mechanically unchanged. Yes, it did get multiple facelifts – including the introduction of a fuel-injected version – but, in terms of performance, Yamaha didn’t really push the game forward with the FZ series of bikes as we had hoped. In fact, Yamaha admits that they were losing existing FZ16 customers to other manufacturers, owing to the fact that there was no upgrade available in their own range. So, more than anything, the FZ25 is the product with which Yamaha intends to make up for lost ground. So, has it worked? Well, let’s find out…
Visually, I think the FZ25 is one striking looking motorcycle. What I love about it the most is the fact that it’s a completely new design. It may share the FZ branding with lower models, but that’s where the similarities end. At the front, the full LED headlamp unit with a halogen position lamp on top is inspired by the bigger MT-series and imparts a premium feel. Other design elements like the sharply contoured fuel tank with scooped-out portions, tank extensions with netted air vents, chunky exhaust, split seats and the pointy tail-section with LED light all gel together really well.
The instrument cluster is also a neat looking all-digital unit with an orange backlit LCD, which is quite easy on the eyes. Also, apart from the regular speedo, tacho and fuel gauge, it has two trip meters, a fuel economy indicator and a clock. What it doesn’t have, though, is a gear-position indicator – which is missed at times.
Overall, not only the design but the build quality and the fit-and-finish of the switchgear and other cycle parts are quite good. It’s not the best, but definitely above average. If I were to give it a score, I’d say it gets a 7 out of 10.
By now, you must have figured that the 25 in FZ25 signifies that it gets a bigger and more powerful 249cc motor. Again, as mentioned earlier, it hasn’t got class leading specs. The engine is an air-cooled unit with a 2-valve arrangement, albeit you do get an oil cooler. Fuel is fed through a 10-hole injector.
The engine produces 20.6bhp at 8,000rpm and 20Nm of torque at 6,000rpm. And the latter is what the FZ25 banks on heavily. It’s not an outright performance machine, to be honest. The engine doesn’t really have the get-up-and-go attitude of some of its rivals. Torque delivery is smooth and linear – which means that, while the speed builds briskly on the speedo, you don’t really sense it. Between 3,000 and 7,000rpm, the engine feels the strongest. But beyond that it’s a little strained, it gets noticeably louder and you can feel the vibrations seeping in from the pegs and handlebar.
Power transmission duties are carried out by a slick-shifting 5-speeder, and we’re told it has short gear ratios for the second and third cogs for faster in-gear acceleration. This is quite evident when you pick-up the pace from low speeds – like, after a speed-breaker or while overtaking – at which point it's quite effortless.
If you want some performance related numbers, then I can only tell you that I was able to hit 131km/h on a short straight. However, the engine feels out of its comfort zone at speeds over 120km/h. To enjoy this powertrain, you just have to keep the tacho needle hovering between 3,000 and 7,000rpm – that’s where the meat of the torque lies. And that sums up the point as well – the FZ25 is meant primarily for city riding and occasional tours. If you want a screamer, look elsewhere – Austria, perhaps.
Given its purpose, the FZ25 doesn’t disappoint one bit in the ride and handling department. Compared to the smaller FZ versions, the FZ25 gets a lighter double cradle down-tube frame. The footpegs have been moved a little further back, giving the rider a slightly aggressive riding position. That being said, it’s a genuinely comfortable motorcycle – and one that has a spacious and supportive seat.
The front wheel gets 41mm forks, while a mono-shock does duty at the back. The suspension setup is pretty spot-on – the ride is acceptably firm. It feels stiff enough around corners, but, at the same time, it has enough travel to keep your back from complaining over long rides. As a cornering machine, it was hard to come to a concrete conclusion based on my short stint with the FZ25. The front-end feedback is amazing and flicking the bike around corners doesn’t pose any challenge. However, when you’re really pushing it around a bend, the softly sprung monoshock and MRF tyres don’t really want to play along.
Despite not being equipped with ABS, the braking performance is great – thanks to disc brakes on both wheels. As is with most Yamahas, the front brake lever gives crisp and progressive feedback, which feels quite reassuring – especially while braking at high speeds.
The FZ25 is not an outright performance motorcycle, and, thankfully, it doesn’t pretend to be one. Instead, it’s more of a premium, powerful and effortless motorcycle that goes about doing its job in a fuss-free manner. This, then, is the motorcycle for those who want useable horsepower coupled with premium looks and upmarket features. Just don’t rush things when you’re on-board the FZ25 – then see how it rewards you.
- Yamaha FZ25
Engine: 249cc/ Single-Cylinder/ 2 Valves/ Air-cooled with Oil Cooler
Power: 20.6bhp @ 8,000rpm
Torque: 20Nm @ 6,000rpm
Price: Rs 1.19 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-Factor: A well-built, stylish and relaxed street-naked that can turn up the heat if need be.