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There is a concept in psychology called “meaning-making”. The idea is pretty much what it sounds like- a person’s capacity to make meaning of things in life. Sometimes it comes easy, sometimes it doesn’t, but it is subjective almost all the time. When it comes to the newly launched Yamaha FZ-X, we won’t say it was not easy but it took some time. It would have been difficult to make meaning of it simply by looking at it so we took it out for a ride.
At a time when everyone was waiting for the XSR 155 with bated breath, Yamaha gave us the FZ-X. It is a neo-retro take, a first for Yamaha in India, on the tried and tested FZ platform. At first glance, it seems like a confused motorcycle, a motorcycle suffering from an identity crisis.
That is what happened when its pictures started circulating on the internet. But beauty isn’t skin deep and a book should not be judged by its cover. So, we had to try out this rather unusual creation to come to a conclusion or… make meaning of it.
Once you look at the motorcycle in the flesh, it looks much better than in pictures. It is big, muscular and for the most part, follows its neo-retro theme ardently. Overall, it looks like the FZ-X takes some neo-retro cues from the XSR, mixes them with its FZ-ness, and adds a pinch of scrambler to it.
Size matters and the Yamaha scores a point here. Surprisingly, because of its unusual design and neo-retro theme, it does get a decent amount of attention on the roads. The highlight of the design though is the headlight. It is round which is retro and the broken circle DRL is pretty neo.
The tank is also beefed up and the big wide two-level seat (along with the colour of the material) adds to its retro vibe along with the fork boots. When you start to move towards the rear, the size of the motorcycle makes its presence felt but then, a bit more time in working on the proportion may have helped.
Then the minimalist oval LED taillight is also a nod to the good’ol days of motorcycling. The matte black exhaust does a good job of creating a contrast in all three colours the motorcycle is available in; Matte Copper, Matte Black, and Metallic Blue. Overall, there are no major problems with the design but it does miss a beat when it comes to proportion.
Moving on to the performance, the FZ-X’s engine is a result of Yamaha’s new-generation engine development philosophy that aims at reducing power losses and fuel consumption and optimizing the cooling. They call it Blue Core tech and it has been around for a fair bit now.
A 149cc, air-cooled single-cylinder engine propels the FZ-X by transmitting the power to the rear wheel via a 5-speed gearbox. It is the same engine that powers the FZ and therefore, the FZ-X too has at its disposal 12.4 PS of power and 13.3 Nm of torque.
The numbers alone are nothing to write home about but their implication is more than decent. The engine is refined and quite a bit of fun to ride. You are going to find that it is a perfect fit for taming the city roads and commuting to work. Practicality is the focus and therefore, the clutch action is light and the gearbox is smooth. The fueling is spot on which means the FZ-X never feels jerky.
On the highways though, you quickly find the limits of the engine. Up to 80 km/h, the engine is quite alright. But above that, it starts to show signs of stress that intensify the more you push it. Vibrations, though well-damped, do creep in through the handlebars and the footpegs around that speed. Ideally, it would work well for most highways in India because they are restricted to 80 kays an hour but if you want overtakes along with that, there will be a bit of work to do.
Overall, on the performance front, you get all that you can expect from an engine of this size. We also believe that the windblast also has a major role to play as it adds a significant amount of resistance on open highways at a decent speed. On the plus side, the exhaust note is pretty nice, perky, and deep which goes well with the image of the bike.
The ride quality of the FZ-X is quite exceptional regardless of the riding condition. Whether you are in the city or on the highway, comfort is something this motorcycle offers in spades. Most of it is down to ergonomics. The handlebar is higher and that along with the footpeg positioning makes for a very comfortable riding position.
The seat of the FZ-X can have its own full review. It is big, it is spacious, there is a lot of room to move around and the padding is just perfect. Long days in the saddle will be easy to dispatch if you can deal with the windblast. The seat height is 810mm which is a tad high and the motorcycle isn’t too narrow. Regardless, most riders would find their feet easily touching the ground.
The chassis and suspension setup are carried over from the FZ with minor tweaks because of the weight difference. The suspension also added to the ride quality as it absorbs all but the biggest of potholes without punishing the rider. The rear though is just a smidge stiffer but it is far from being a deal-breaker. In terms of handling, we found the FZ-X to be pretty neutral and predictable but it doesn’t like being pushed too much.
The FZ-X has gained some weight over the FZ though. The large fuel tank, the metal plate on the tank shrouds, metal mudguard, bigger grab rails, and so make the FZ-X tip the scales at 139 kg. That is 4 kg more than the FZ and almost at the limit of what is ideal for a 150cc motorcycle.
That added weight though has not impacted the riding dynamics of the FZ-X too severely and it still remains a decent-handling motorcycle. The front end gets a disc brake but the rear makes do with a drum brake. There’s single-channel ABS on offer which helps in inspiring more confidence along with the dual-purpose MRF Tyres that are great on the road and fairly capable of handling things in broken and no-road situations.
In terms of features, the Yamaha FZ-X has an impressive repertoire. A new inverse LCD screen is the key highlight along with the plethora of information it imparts to the rider. It is readable even on the brightest of days which is a boon. Then the overall graphics and style used for the tachometer and speedometer are quite refreshing. Along with it, you also get a 12V /1A/12W power socket.
The screen comes in two variants- Standard and Bluetooth. The latter costs an additional INR 3,000/- but provides you with an option to connect your smartphone with it for SMS, call, email notifications, last parked position, and so on.
One can also record fuel consumption information and maintenance updates on their smartphone with the Yamaha Y-Connect app. The motorcycle also gets a side-stand engine cut-off feature as well. What is missing though is a gear shift indicator which, when the bigger picture is concerned, is an oversight and something that surely would have taken a lot of work.
Now, a few minor niggles we found. The gearbox is crisp and the clutch pull is light but the shifter itself is rather close to the footpegs. So bigger sized boots may find it a bit tedious but one can get used to it for a while. In terms of power, the low-end and the midrange on this motorcycle are pretty good but the top-end is a bit of a downer and so, highways all day may not be a great idea. The fuel tank, despite looking quite big, can hold only 10 litres of fuel which is a bit of a missed opportunity.
With all of that, it can be said that the FZ-X scrapes by when it comes to highway riding but thrives in the city. And that is where it will spend most of its time and so, it does make quite a bit of sense and once given a shot, it won’t be too difficult to find the meaning behind this rather unusual motorcycle. We feel that a price tag of INR 1.16 lakhs (Ex-Showroom, Delhi) is pretty decent too as for the price you get a motorcycle with the reliability of the FZ and some nifty features. The design that stands out in the city is a bonus which makes a smart choice if urban commuting is the call of the day.
Here are some more photos from our stint with the Yamaha FZ-X.