Yamaha FZ-X: Tried, tested and trendy

Indian Yamaha enthusiasts have been voicing their desire for the company to bring its lovely XSR 155 to India, ever since the bike was unveiled internationally two years ago. The company has decided that instead of bringing the more expensive XSR (based on the R15 platform), it would build a special bike for India, based on the simpler, cheaper and higher selling FZ.

That is how the FZ-X was born, a motorcycle that underneath its skin is pretty much identical to the standard FZ. Be that as it may, there is plenty to talk about what lies on top, because the FZ-X looks remarkably different from the standard FZ.

Starting with the face, the bike gets a modern-looking round headlamp that houses a bi-functional LED bordered by three sleek position lights. Then, there is a new teardrop-shaped fuel tank flanked by a pair of good-looking radiator shrouds, although these are purely cosmetic because this bike has no radiator.

Things get more simple towards the rear, with a long seat and a neat LED tail-lamp, although the overall rear three-quarter proportions are rather awkward. While the cost benefits of using the same chassis from the FZ were seemingly too tempting to resist, this design could have been much more cohesive if Yamaha had at least given the bike a new sub-frame.

What Yamaha has given the FZ-X , however, is a new LCD display. It is easy to read, looks nice and can also show some phone notification details via Bluetooth. If you pay ₹3,000 extra for the top model, the FZ-X will be compatible with Yamaha’s new Y-connect Bluetooth app, which brings in features such as fuel consumption, maintenance recommendations and much more. Unfortunately, this app still does not support turn-by-turn navigation.

There are a few other issues as well, including the fact that the new display does not have a gear position indicator. Then, there is that practical and utilitarian grab rail, although this can be removed if you like. Finally, a hinged fuel filler cap would have been nice at this price. On the plus side, the bike does get a conveniently located 12V power outlet.

The FZ-X is available in two other colours, including a particularly striking shade of blue. Overall, the proportions look pretty much as awkward in person as they do in the images. However, the bike does appear quite large, thanks to its wide, new fuel tank, but this one holds just 10 litres, versus 13 in the standard FZ.

With its smaller fuel tank, the FZ-X is going to need more frequent fuel stops because it runs the same motor from the FZ, including the internal gearing and the chain sprocket sizes. What you get is a simple 149cc, two-valve air-cooled engine with a smooth 5-speed gearbox. Power stands at a meek 12.4hp while peak torque is 13.3Nm. Both figures are not only the lowest in the segment by a considerable margin, but the power figure is just 0.4hp higher than the new Bajaj Pulsar NS125.

The Yamaha FZ’s steady decline in performance over the years is a pity. It therefore comes as no surprise that this is not a bike you should be considering if you have even the slightest inclination for speed and excitement. Quick overtakes need a downshift, or two, as well as twisting the throttle all the way open. Anything above 80kph feels like a struggle and the true top speed is not likely to be much above 100-110kph.

On the plus side, Yamaha has tuned the exhaust to produce a more raspy exhaust note than the standard FZ. It is a little reminiscent of the sound the Honda CB350 makes, but certainly not as loud or pronounced.

The FZ-X does not have any significant top-end performance to talk about, and revving it above 8,000rpm is quite pointless. However, the motor is smooth and refined at normal running speeds and packs a decently strong midrange that will make it a nice city bike.

Yamaha is clearly going for the allure of comfort and practicality with the FZ-X. Compared with the FZ, the ergonomics are more relaxed, with a higher handlebar, more forward-set foot pegs, and a wider, more spacious seat. The seat height has gone up slightly, but at 810mm it should still be pretty approachable for a majority of riders.

The predominant experience on the road is that the FZ-X feels light and easy. At 139kg, it weighs 4kg more than the standard FZ, but that is because components like the fuel tank, fake radiator shrouds, front mudguard, headlamp brackets and thin bash guard at the bottom are now all metal.

The actual handling itself is fine, with a balanced and neutral chassis, but it is certainly not the sharpest or most exciting bike in the segment. The MRF dual-purpose tyres it runs on work fine on dry surfaces, but they don’t appreciate being pushed too hard.

Suspension comfort is decent, with a slightly firm feel, and while the front brake feels quite dull, the actual braking performance is adequate. A rear disc is standard and the FZ-X comes with single-channel ABS.

The FZ-X may be styled like a scrambler, but its actual off-road capability is pretty much identical to the standard FZ. That is because the suspension travel and ground clearance remain the same and the only difference is the extra grip the tyres provide in the dirt.

With the FZ-X, priced between ₹1.17 lakh and 1.22 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it is not a cheap bike by any means, and the Y-Connect Bluetooth-enabled model costs about ₹ 12,000 more than the standard FZ-S FI. At this price, it is more expensive than the premium 150-160cc bikes from Bajaj, Hero, Honda, Suzuki and TVS, and is positioned on par with the Hero Xpulse 200.

To sum up, the FZ-X is certainly a striking and unique motorcycle, and that is pretty much the main reason to consider buying one. If you like the way it looks, you will be getting a tried and tested platform underneath, with a practical, yet eye-catching motorcycle on top. But if the design doesn’t do it for you, there are plenty of more convincing options out there.

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