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faffi

What inspired the FZ-07?


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faffi
Cheap motorcycles that turn out to be giant killers have not been too common throughout the history. Perhaps the greatest success of all was the Yamaha RD350 from 1973. It dominated club racing for many years due to light weight, good power and decent handling. 
 
In 1979, Kawasaki launched their Z500, a year later it grew to 550cc and got a K added for USA, becoming the KZ550. It was, like the RD350, well ahead of anything else in class and would dominate for several years in club racing.
 
1980 saw a new RD350, this time with liquid cooling. With 49 hp and just 161 kg wet it was a bullet. Not sold in USA, but a huge success in Europe. 3 years later an improved version with 59 hp, YPVS and a much improved chassis continued the trend of offering cheap performance.
 
The Kawasaki 500 Ninja from 1987 was another low cost motorcycle with excellent performance that spurred on a lot of new riders to take to the race track. Cheap, reliable, fast, good handling. 
 
The little Kawa wasn't really surpassed - we're talking cheap performance here - until the 1999 Suzuki SV650. It was a much more modern bike, with more power and less weight than the Kawasaki. It was such an improvement that the current version differ little from the original. Being so modern, it is also the one closest to the FZ-07 in technology. But is it the ancestor of our Yamaha? Or should we go further back in time? What is your take?
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Redstang4
Being "only" 30 I didnt have exposure to the older bikes mentioned. I would wager most around my age will vote as I did for the SV, was tempted to vote for the Ninja 500 as it was before the SV. Though I think of the ninja as more of an all rounder, where the SV is more about performance per $$ while still being "entry level". Which is where I think the FZ was mostly molded after.
 
Also wasnt the KZ550 an inline 4?

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faffi
Yes, the 550 was an inline four, and the RDs where 2-strokes. Doesn't mean they cannot be targeted at the same market ;)

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huladog
I'm a geezer who had a RD350 back in the day so when reviewers noted that the FZ-07 was like the spiritual descendent of the RD350 that made me take notice.
 
I got one and admit I was hesitant to 'downsize' but it reawakened the easy to ride fun factor that was missing for so long while I rode 'big' bikes.
 
Light is Right.
 
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Redstang4
Yes, the 550 was an inline four, and the RDs where 2-strokes. Doesn't mean they cannot be targeted at the same market ;)
True true, though your question But is it the ancestor of our Yamaha? had me thinking more along the lines of a spiritual descendant as huladog put it. Not so much as same market, maybe I read too far in between the lines  ;-|

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lonerider
Here, in Canada we had the RZ350 (liquid cooled generation of the RD). Fabulous bike. It rules the lightweight series in the 80s. 10 years later the Ninja 500 became the replacement for the then discontinued RZ. Both had 60 hp.
 
I see the FZ07 like an exciting version of the Yamaha Seca II.
 
Nothing beat the RZ350 (RD350LC in other market), even now, imho.

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r1limited
I believe the FZ07 is purpose built to fill a void. IMO I think as well it was imported finally to the US to compete legally in the AMA Grand National Championship where Kawasakis 650 was starting to dominate the HDs. It fills a void in many club size classes as well fills a void between a small entry bike and a liter or 900. Competing at the SV650 which is one hell of a little bike that could i is a matter of sales in the bottom line world. Whats selling so lets build something in that area.
 
The RD 350 had a predecessor called the R5 which was the bad ass pops of the RD. It was a TR3 that was street legal. I built one out that was well into 45 HP. Kawi introduced the H1 a 500 in 69 to compete against the suzuki 500 Yamaha still beat them The the mach III showed up and rewrote the books.
 
 
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bornagainbiker
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the forefather of FZ-07 was the XS 650.  It was a torquey parallel twin with nimble handling and great styling.  It was the memory of the XS 650 that inspired my search for a modern replacement for this old classic.
 
After much research, I came to the conclusion that the FZ-07 was the nearest modern kin to the old XS. After riding the FZ, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was similar the old XS but so much better in so many ways--a very worthy successor.  :)
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c0al67
I've always thought it was closest to the SV650, but i'm too young to know or remember the other bikes mentioned. I hope the fz07 takes off in the racing world like the SV did, just so we have access to a huge aftermarket of go-fast parts like the SV eventually did.

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i28
So the ninja 500 is the predecessor of the ninja 650?
It seems like there FZ is the perfect balance between the ninja 650 and sv650.

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faffi
Speaking of the RD-series - should Yamaha build this based on the RD400 Daytona theme?
 
Yamaha_MT_07_Street_Racer_Concept.jpg
 
 
 
 

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Beemer
It's possible that after the long awaited success with the XS500E (parallel twin) and it's discontinuation Yamaha decide to give the parallel twin another shot in the form of the FZ-07 since the middle class has been popular for awhile. With todays technology they may've figured they could make a way better twin and score a big hit like before but only better.
 
 
 
 
500.png
 
http://www.motorcycleclassics.com/classic-japanese-motorcycles/yamaha-tx500?pageid=2#PageContent2
 

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faffi
I don't think the XS500 was a hit, hampered as it was by the market disaster of the troublesome TX750 and the desire in the market for inline fours. It sold steadily, but far from spectacularly. Good handling and suspension when that wasn't the norm made it into a good backroad handler, but unlike the FZ-07 the engine didn't have much punch. I still enjoyed mine, though :)
 
 

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faffi
 
I see the FZ07 like an exciting version of the Yamaha Seca II.
 
 

Are you sure? I mean, the XJ550 Seca and also the FJ/XJ600 were great performing machines, and the latter also had the most low- and midrange power in its class in the mid-80s. But the Seca II, aka XJ600 Diversion, was a bland tourer. Probably why I liked it - perhaps the easiest bike to ride ever. Docile engine, nimble and friendly handling as long as you didn't go crazy - the soft suspension would then cry uncle pretty quickly. The Seca II was a bike totally void of attitude, whereas the FZ-07 is all about attitude. At least in my humble opinion ;) 
I much prefer the looks of the XJ600N, though, over the Transformers-inspired look of the FZ-07.
 
Yamaha_XJ600_N_02.jpg
 

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ralph
Always though the Diversion with a few cosmetic mods would make a great air cooled MV look alike,
hear in the UK Yamaha had come near to pricing themselves out of the market, then along comes
the MT/FZ-07 and sets the cat among the pigeons, instant sell out here that forced the others
to compeat, right bike at the right time.
 

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