Saturday, 6 February 2016

Yamaha Fazer 1000: Braying Beelzebub

140 horses and 450lbs, that is what modern (almost) naked motorcycles have come to. Okay, the esteemed editor might mutter that it should've been lighter than the R1, from which it borrows an engine, along the lines of removal of plastic should equal less mass, but Yamaha obviously wanted to keep the price competitive with the naked bruisers.

Some of that mass comes from the very strong tubular, drain-pipe sized, steel frame which, with some highish spec suspension (off the R1), gives the Fazer a very firm, controlled feel. Just as well, when the motor's wound all the way up this bike SHIFTS! Some of the frame joints won't take any prizes as high art but the set-up works extremely well.

The most obvious and biggest difference to the replica crowd, the riding position – Goldwing types might mutter in complaint after a few hundred miles but for most ex-replica jockeys it will be total bliss to sit upright on a machine with a decently padded seat. It makes the whole riding experience that much more enjoyable, especially through towns and down the back lanes.

The R1 makes ten more horses but Yamaha have gone to some effort to emphasize the midrange poke of the Fazer and despite its extra mass there is an immediate impression of totally blisterring performance and the bike actually edged away from my mate's R1 from a standing start, neither of us willing to ruin our clutches with total wheelie madness – totally unrestrained riding may change the winner... this is a very serious 1000cc watercooled across-the-frame four cylinder mill!

This was quite funny, as the Fazer's my first really crazy machine and I had some doubts about my ability to handle such excesses but I took to the bike like a duck to water! Helped, no doubt, by owning a slightly tired 1200 Bandit that though able to break all the speed laws of the land with a tenth of a throttle usage, always felt a little bit wooden, muddy, and could not hope to ride in the company of the big race replicas.

Leaping on the Fazer for the first time, then, was a revelation; like being reborn into a whole new world in which everything happened a hell of a lot faster yet paradoxically felt much safer as I seemed to be in direct contact with the rubber and engine, giving a whole new meaning to seat-of-the-pants riding.

And the brakes (straight off the R1), whilst potentially fierce stoppers, had scads of feedback that allowed an easy time for a rider used to worn Bandit stoppers that often seemed to have a mind of their own! Made for very interesting times in the wet!

After the first thirty mile ride I found my crash hat stuck on my head, the width of my grin so extreme that I couldn't get the damn thing off! Chortling with mirth, overwhelmed with adrenalin... whatever, I was addicted!

Suspension at both ends adjustable, though luckily the previous owner was the same weight as myself so it was okay straight off. After 4000 miles of hustling, it did need a touch stiffer pre-load and damping to take into account wear – the wife reckons it was all the beer I was slurping in the night, cheeky bitch!' She was okay with pillion riding but had to keep a death-grip on me to avoid being thrown off the back, such were the accelerative forces!

The minimal looking half fairing obviously isn't up to Goldwing standards of protection but it's really no worse than what you get on the R1 and does allow relatively easy 120mph cruising – the amazing thing about the Fazer, whack the throttle open from this speed in top and you still get awesome acceleration up to about 150mph! The bike definitely needs its fairing at these kinds of velocities!

Even when zooming along at highly illegal speeds the overall comfort's excellent, which given that you can commute rather nicely on the bike, as well, has to be pretty amazing. If you can get away with it, journey times can radically be reduced which means less time in the saddle for any soreness to set in. The most I've done in a day, 435 miles and I felt fine afterwards.

One possible nasty, ridden flat out, fuel dives to a rather frightening 22-25mpg, which means you can run out of gas in around 100 miles! More normal riding, say keeping the tug under the ton, brings in a more reasonable 35-40mpg whilst really slow riding (ie legal riding!) gets close to 50mpg!

At the time of writing, the bike has 9870 miles on the clock. It's still on the original chain and brake pads and is just about ready to munch its third set of Bridgestones – the front would last longer but a worn front matched with a new rear gives the bike a slightly queasy feel which I felt was inappropriate on a 140hp machine. So budget for a matched set of new rubber every time the rear tyre goes down. By the time the rear's worn out the bike feels somewhat loose on wet roads if not quite an accident looking for somewhere to happen!

I did an oil change at 6000 miles as I was doing a lot of city riding at the time, though there were no signs – such as a loose gearbox – that it was needed. Carbs and valves have yet to be touched and show no signs of requiring attention – in many ways modern Jap multi's are sealed packages that you fiddle with at your peril!

The bike gets a daily clean but the wheels are a bit tarnished and some of the engine alloy has gone off. The paint is still excellent but some rust has broken out on the engine screws, seeping out from under their finish. Nooks and crannies on the machine hard to clean, suffering accordingly. Overall, it looks exactly what it is – a well cared for machine that is used hard every day.

Phil T.

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