Friday, 29 June 2018

Yamaha FZR1000

I straddled the Yam and paddled it backward with great ease, the lightness of the machine had to be felt to be believed. I wished a fond farewell to the dealer and set off on my way. By the time I reached the traffic lights 200 yards up the road, it was pouring down and never let up all the way home.

That journey endorsed all the thoughts I'd had about the FZR. I recall grinning inanely like one of those smug gits you keep seeing on the goggle box taking a break from the stock exchange to indulge in some extra drinky poos after just making yet another cool million, as I cruised past a line of cars in top gear at 4000rpm/70mph, tucking in behind the fairing to try to avoid the worst of the complete soaking, a somewhat futile gesture.

I couldn’t help but be impressed by the way the Dunlop radials stuck to the tarmac like glue even though they were barely scrubbed in. When I got home after 27 miles, all I wanted to do was get in front of the fire and dry out. The engine felt good during the running in period with a very slight glitch at 1500rpm. At a standstill the bike didn’t want to set off cleanly unless 2000rpm were showing on the tacho. I suppose that this may just be a problem peculiar to my own model, or perhaps I'm too used to the torque of my LC!

As the mileage increased, so did the speed and the amazing thing was the faster you went the better the handling and roadholding became. By the time I was able to use 7000rpm, I was able to take my favourite bits of road some 10 to 15mph faster than on my Kawasaki GPZ900, something I would have thought impossible just a few weeks earlier, as the Kawasaki itself was a great improvement on older fours.

As the revs increased the motor became smoother and smoother, again a revelation compared with my Kawasaki and older Jap fours. Fuel was averaging 55mpg, going down to 50mpg with brief bursts to eight grand (120mph with 3000rpm still to go).

Five weeks after I'd bought the bike I had done 2000 miles, time for its first service. After that I could use maximum revs, but in fact never needed to go over 10000rpm - a grand short of the redline - equivalent to 80mph in second gear. The bike moved like a scalded cat.

My only complaint was that the gearbox was a bit clunky (this in comparison with the GPZ900, itself, not renown for a slick box) and I was still lusting after a GSXR1100. But a mate told me that I'd made the right choice as those bikes were terribly vibratory (not to mention the handling problems at very high speeds) with the smart looking clocks and mirrors shaking wickedly when the throttle was blipped at a standstill in neutral. I also didn't like the huge rear mudguard, so this was chucked leaving the ever so wide back tyre looking like a small house. 

The Sunday I got the bike back from servicing I had my first real tussle with a truly fast car, a Porsche 928S. It gave me a run for my money over Greenhow Hill on the Grassington Road. I came up behind it just as the hill levels off, the next quarter of a mile a particularly nasty piece of road with a quarry on the hillside which deposits a cloud of white dust all over the road, making the surface feel particularly slippery.

The Porsche was driven by a man with two female passengers (have you noticed that Porsches always have beautiful frails in the passenger seat? - Ed), as soon as he saw me he put his foot down and I had to do my best to keep up. It showed up the lack of low down punch on the Yam, it needed at east five grand to really move.

Eventually we came to a straight piece of road and really went for it. At 115mph I zapped past the car and began to pull away, accelerating in fourth. As we hit a slight hill, the bike hit a series of bumps and jumped off the ground twice, the third time the front end reared up towards the sky. We both slowed down to a more sedate 80mph as we hit the twisty roads where the Porsche dropped well back, I kept letting him catch up but I think he knew he had no chance on these kind of roads. We went our separate ways when we came to a village.

A few days after that, whilst watching telly, a voice called through the open kitchen door, "I'm just going to move your motorcycle, it's in my way." I did a good Carl Lewis impression (took a shitload of drugs? - 2018 Ed), sprinting to the door to be confronted by the window cleaner just about to attempt to move - or more likely drop - my pride and joy. "I'll do it," I said. "It's OK, I can do it, I’ve had loads of bikes, FS1Es and all sorts. What cc is it anyway?" "One thousand,” I replied. "Bet that could beat an LC and they're fast." "Yes, you're probably right" I said, pushing the bike as far away from him as I could get it.

Overall, then, a real improvement on even something as recent as a GPZ900 and way better than the older fours. To make it perfect it’d need a better gearbox and some more low down grunt - both of which are present in the latest EXUP version if we can believe the colourcomics.

Andy Cook

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