Hello fellow bikers, this is Nandkumar Nair from Jamnagar, Gujarat and I am here to share my road affair with my FZ 16. This is going to be a long write up so I formally warn you.
This is not a smart technical review which will educate you on the various aspects of a bike but just my opinion and how I feel about my bike and biking. Matter of fact, it is not even a review but it is me sharing my views on biking and the bond that I share with my bike. It is less about the bike but more about my biking experiences. Reading this may not help you in comparing it with other bikes in the segment but if you like the FZ then reading this will definitely make you fall in love all over again with the bike.
I respect all bikes and brands but hey, this is about my bike and it is my opinion! And it is a free country!
It was at the age of four and a half when I had my first ride on a Yamaha. My uncle took me for a spin on his Yamaha RX and seated on the tank, it just felt amazing. Yeah, sure it wasn’t the safest ride but one of the most memorable ones. I was simply floored by the wind rushing at me and the sound of the bike. It wasn’t a surprise that twenty years later my first bike turned out to be a Yamaha, and it is one hell of a machine! (Exaggerations are permitted, right?).
I am quite happy that in the Indian markets there is now a wide choice of machines for the enthusiastic bikers to select from. Though every machine in the lot was tempting me, finally I stood loyal to the first crush I had on Yamaha.
Each time a bike zoomed by, it would definitely turn my head. There was something about each exhaust note as I would try to recognize the bike by the note. I learnt to ride a bike on one of my friend’s red pulsar, the 2005 model with alloy wheels. This was a start and then mostly practiced on another friend’s Boxer. First it used to be stealth rides as he too stole the bike without his parents knowing, then it became “official” rides. Rode the boxer for some time and gained confidence. Then there was always another’s friend’s Activa which I used to ride occasionally for roaming around in the city. Thank you guys!
Back at my house, my dad made it sure that I get to ride a geared vehicle only after getting the license. The ride on friends vehicles was strictly unofficial and even if any relative or family friend sees me riding, it eventually would get reported back home. Anyways, all these days passed and the whole scene changed. Officially learnt gear shifting on dad’s Bajaj and then later had a small affair with brother’s HH Passion whenever he would offer it.
We had a second hand Kinetic Honda and it was handed down to me after being nearly unused for a year since brother got his bike. Well, the kinetic was, let’s put it as, not exactly in the pink of its health. The best part about my two years of riding the Kinetic is that I learnt to control my right wrist as the poor machine could not be accelerated over 40 km/hr. It also taught me to keep my ego on bay while on the roads (just call me optimistic). I have hand-pushed the kinetic many times as the engine would just give up if it would be ridden over 40 kmph for a few seconds. But hey, it was the only way for me to use the fossil fuel. Talking of the fuel, did I mention that I used to get a very pathetic mileage from that machine?
One fine day when it again started showing tantrums, I had enough of the “faithful” Kinetic and made up my mind to get myself a bike.Not that this thought incepted at that moment but the chain of events helped in fanning the fire to a new level. Well, this time the thought was stuck at the back of my mind and I was actually serious about it.
But hey, having a thought is one thing and actually buying a bike is a totally different thing! There were basically two hurdles I came across:
1. The financial aspect involved (a real pain)
2. Choosing the bike ( that must be a universal funda)
For the first problem, the only solution was to save and save and to keep saving. I saved up eleven months and when I say “save” trust me, it literally means “save”. What exactly did I do in these agonizing months? I read a lot online. This was followed by a detailed online search for a bike. I started going through the websites of the companies and learnt about the models and their specifications. Boy, it was all Greek and Latin to me. But read through ownership threads and discussion forums and slowly it all started making sense to me. Slowly I started understanding the purpose of each bike along with their limitations. I could analyze my needs against what the offerings in the market had in stock. I did not just get a lot of “gyaan” but also developed respect to the machine called “motorcycle” and the lifestyle called “motorcycling”. The biker in me was born and started maturing up with each day of reading online. Hats off to all you people who share their tour trips, their crashes, their passion and much more as you give budding bikers like me a sense of belonging. All this while the “biker”…ahem..is just ogling online and being a keyboard Ninja!
Choosing the bike was a very conscious and a very calculated step. Since it was to be my first bike, the last thing I would do is to regret the purchase. I was looking forward to learn the basics and kick-start a happy journey on two wheels and so a wrong purchase is nothing short of a nightmare. There were a few choices and made detailed research on all before making up my mind. The list included:
2. R15 v2
3. Classic 350 (o yes…the big daddy too was considered!)
4. Pulsar 200 NS
5. Pulsar 220
FZ was the first choice as I admired the bike right from the first day I had seen it on roads and it somehow struck a chord at the back of my mind. It is adequately powerful and is quite an eye candy.
The time when it was released, it simply had to be the best looking bike in the Indian market. The black and yellow colour combo had simply floored me. Rode a friend’s FZ which was barely healthy but still that bike handled well and, well, it forgave all the mistakes the external “nut” made while on the saddle.
Just loved it! Maybe I am old school but I still believe first impressions do last. The upright seating and the chest-out-hands-wide posture just seemed perfect. I had no idea or any interest in the spec figures but the acceleration of the FZ sure made me grin. But we should always have a plan B, C, D, E…..
Closely second came the R15. Man…does it look good or what!! It is sharp agile and does very well what it is supposed to do. Had been to the showroom to chat up with the sales guy about FZ and saw the R15 v2 up close. This was one bike which is nothing less than a supermodel among bikes. I had read a lot about it and so knew a decent lot about it but had never ridden it before. I knew that this machine was properly fast for its class and was one of the best handlers if not the best. A few days later had a ride on a friend’s R15 and found out what this machine could give for the money you invest. But speed was not my priority (this coming from a guy who rides a kinetic at <40 kmph!). I just couldn’t strike a chord with the bike. It is somewhat like a Katana and at my pace the katana would be doing the duties of a kitchen knife. Moreover if I drop it, it will cost me a bomb (on my budget). Nope, cannot be a sucker just for looks.
Classic 350 was in the list because of the old world charm and it sure makes my head turn each time any Enfield thumps by. The blue (or is it aqua blue??) colour scheme had really interested me. The crude responses I got from the dealership were not exactly pleasant. One test ride on a friend’s bike proved that this bike would not be the best thing for me to start up on. The bike is seriously heavy for a new rider and the console just dint seem sufficient. The lack of a fuel gauge sure was a bummer. The posture was definitely good for me but the lack of modern features (read as weight, spoke wheels, a very humble console, tube tyres) just did not fit the bill for it to be my first bike. I am really positive that I will mount an Enfield in the future. It gave me an impression that I just have not matured enough (mentally as well as financially) to embrace the old world charm. Nope, this won’t work for me, at least not for the time being.
Pulsar 200 NS got struck out after a face to face encounter. The bike dint look as good as it looked in the images online (simply my opinion, don’t come after me with your arsenal). Somehow it seemed too similar to the 135 LS and the piece they showed on the showroom had some ugly welding marks on the exhaust pipes and welding marks on the frame near the engine. To make the matters worse, the showroom attendant’s “friendly” attitude just about sealed the deal. The 220 too was struck out because I got horrible feedback from three friends who owned it. Maybe they were careless with their bikes, but anyways I just couldn’t take such a risk with my first bike. Moreover, the NS and the 220 are basically meant for speed. I consider myself light years away from high speed riding and I still am. I am more of the sedate-rider-types. Nope, Pulsars won’t do the job for me at this point of time. Online research also cautioned me that these bikes need to be maintained very carefully. Still test rode a friend’s Pulsar 220 and found the acceleration pretty impressive. But with the benchmarks I set up based on FZ regarding flick-ability, the pulsar lost it.
Though wavered a lot, finally came back to my first crush and made up my mind for FZ. I was never a fan of sticker jobs so it was clear that I want FZ over FZ-S. I feel all Yamahas look yummy in blue so a blue FZ was to make its way to my humble garage.
I got the amount ready with me but was developing the last minute jitters since the last few weeks.
1. Should I really go for it or should I research a bit more?
2. Should I wait for something better to come up?
3. Am I making the right choice?
Then on Feb 23rd, a Saturday, got rid of the jitters, firmly walked in to the Yamaha showroom to take the Blue Brute home. The colour was available and within an hour and a half, I was riding my bike. The delivery and paperwork was smooth. Paid the full amount and was ready to take off. The first ride from showroom to home was just 3 kms but one of the most thrilling experiences ever!
Now the original review starts
You all maybe well aware of the technical aspects of the bike and so I am not going to bore you with all the jargons and “blahs blahs” but I will share a few bits which my two cents could notice. Like I said, it’s more about a personal bond.
The first few rides in the city were a bit tense. It is your first bike and you seriously don’t want to drop it or bump into any of those slow cyclists or lazy pedestrians around who simply “own” the road (that is what their attitude reflects). You are trying to understand the bite the breaks give, the amount of force for making that turn, how to avoid that pothole, the mirrors, and the fact that everyone stares at the new bike. It was like the first few days in the college. As the confidence grew I took it out for small rides outside the city and was glad about the decision I took of buying FZ. Even the helmet visor couldn’t hide my grin each time I felt the bliss of the wind hitting me. The right hand was well in control as it was the run in period for the engine and, as mentioned earlier, my Kinetic Honda taught me otherwise. Mostly I used to shift within 2500-3000 rpm in each gear and the fastest I been in the run-in period was 67 km/hr on a highway stretch I came across. A few short bursts were made but nothing to write back home about. The first service was done in the first 30 days with 280 kms on the odo. After the first service the bike improved remarkably as the “khat-khat” of the gears vanished and the engine sound too became smoother.
In the city, the roads are crowded and the brakes do their job perfectly. My FZ is equipped with a disc in the front and a drum on the rear for the de-acceleration duties. I hardly use the rear brake as speed shredding duties are assigned majorly to the front disc. 95% i ride solo so i rely on the front brakes entirely and just under emergency situations apply both simultaneously. Since I am a sedate rider, haven’t had any horror stories yet with the brakes or the tires locking up under hard braking or such.
Speaking of the tires, they don’t just look great but do a great job of hugging the road. It is not only one of the widest tires in this class of motorbikes but also provides one of the best grips in dry as well as wet conditions.
The bike is perfectly stable and easy to handle once I got the hang of it. The wide handle, the somewhat-forward-biased sitting posture, the fat forks in the front and the mono-shock suspension on the rear are all part of a well balanced equation leading to an experience which just becomes a part of your daily riding. Handling the “Indian” roads is not an issue on this motorcycle. Potholes, gravel, puddles all have been tackled well so far.
I knew the tires are of a soft compound for improved grip but have also read that the rear tyre is a puncture magnet. I have been quite careful so far and haven’t come across a puncture so far. There have been conditions where I have come off my bike and pushed it when the quality of the road goes way beyond “bad roads”. People laugh at me for this but that is the way it is. The fat tyres install a lot of confidence and I actually started taking turns at 50 km/hr. This might be a joke for many but for me (upgrading from an age old Kinetic Honda) it was nothing less than an achievement.
For a biker like me (especially a novice on his first bike) it is very difficult to nitpick about the best and the not-so-good features of the bike and the areas of improvement. Throughout the article I have been talking about the positive traits of the bike but still here are the highlights.
1. Looks. Though it might have become quite common now on the roads, my FZ still makes (not so many) heads turn. I just love the looks of my bike. It set new benchmarks in its class in the Indian motorcycle scene. The colour schemes by Yamaha too have helped in making it all the more attractive. I can go on all day about the looks of the bike.
2. Performance (hey, it’s a Yamaha). Smooth engine and smooth gear shifts make it one of the best in the class. Fit and finish is all up to the mark. The paint, the electrical all make all the more sweeter a deal.
3. Handling. This is one easy to ride bike and in the city, steering this bike around is a real pleasure. The big tank, the posture, the suspension setup and the package on the whole is just easy to putter around on the city streets. The brakes are also up to the mark but I believe that depends more on the way your ride and on the way you hit the brakes.
4. Light weight. For a new biker like me, it is really an important factor. Stop-and-go traffic and parking just become a bliss with a light weight bike.
Then again no bikes are perfect. This is my first bike and had known about its limitations before picking it up. But here is what I think are a few issues that I faced and could have been better.
1. I do not know the reason but in the 5th gear between 57-61 kmph there are some vibrations which creep in and vanish as soon as I hit cross 62 kmph. It still does.
2. The instrument console should have been better. Yamaha took care of it in the new version but what I seriously wanted was a clock on the console. It could have made a lot of difference as I seriously hate to check my watch while riding. A side stand indicator too would have been a welcome feature.
3. My fuel gauge (seems to be drunk all the time) does not give me the correct data. The last bar starts blinking very quickly. The service station guy said that it is a feature to ensure that the fuel does not go below the reserve level. (that is certainly an unsatisfying reply)
4. I had a minor backfiring problem (something like a low intensity “phat phat” sound) when I brought the throttle down but it vanished within the first week of the purchase.
5. This comes with every naked bike but the wind blasts can be a real pain. At decent speeds (between 60-70)just wait till a lorry passes by! Had read a lot about wind blasts on FZ but dint give it much of a thought (now I certainly do!) Highway rides in crosswinds definitely lowers my confidence. I am residing in Saurashtra and this part of Gujarat is blessed with open barren roadsides. Beautiful roads and open dry landscapes are accompanied by strong currents and crosswinds, something which my FZ does not like. Any bus or truck which zooms by just reminds me that I am riding a light weight naked bike.
This is my first bike and it has a special place in my heart. I had planned a lot, researched a lot and had to stringently save a lot for it and am looking forward to clock many miles on it! It’s been over 5000 kms now with my FZ within 8 months but still each time I park it, a long stare for at least 5 seconds is guaranteed before I move ahead. I believe I am in love with it.
That’s all I have so far to say about my bike and these little parts of my life called “being a biker”. The funniest part is that for a month or two my dad had tried to convince me for a second hand bike. I just could not and still haven’t been able to explain about this bond between a bike and a biker. Lastly, do remember that luck may save you once or twice but safety will protect you on and on. Please invest in some decent riding gear and if nothing at least always have a helmet on. Ride on but ride safe
and remember it is not the Speedo but the Odo which shows the true spirits of a biker.
P.S: If you have any queries regarding the bike, do leave us a comment , we shall get back to you at the earliest.