Playful, budget-friendly, and naked. Do I have your attention? It sounds risque, but it’s the best way to describe the Yamaha FZ-09, the predecessor to the Yamaha MT-09 and one of the top used Yamaha motorcycles for sale around the country. Some even argue it’s the best used naked bike you’ll ever ride, and there’s undoubtedly some truth to that claim.
Yamaha is renowned for building incredible powerhouses that defy convention with their affordable price tags. While European manufacturers like BMW and Triumph force riders to dig deeper into their pockets, Yamaha does the opposite by making naked bikes like the FZ-09 more accessible. This accessibility is heightened by the prevalence of Yamaha dealers nationwide, which is something many riders take for granted and is another critical selling point for the FZ-09. When you have a BMW F 900 R in the garage and the closest dealership is a day’s ride away, recalls and repairs are a hassle. The Yamaha dealer down the street has its appeal.
But beyond this accessibility, what makes the FZ-09 the best naked bike on the used showroom floor? How does it distinguish itself amid the flurry of naked bikes likened to factory-built hot rods with mile-high price tags? Here’s a closer look at what gives the FZ-09 its edge, particularly a model like the 2017 FZ-09, the last to bear the beloved “Fuzz” moniker.
The FZ-09 is a playful adventurer that marked a significant shift in the Yamaha lineup when it debuted in 2014 with an inline-three. Yamaha hadn’t had an inline-three in its lineup since the 1980s, which meant all eyes were on the new naked bike when it debuted. Would Yamaha get it right the first time, or would the FZ-09 be a colossal flop? Fortunately, Yamaha’s ingenuity prevailed, and the FZ-09 established its reputation as a wheeling-inducing powerhouse.
Although impressive in terms of power, the FZ-09 wasn’t without its complaints, with many riders arguing the suspension was its Achilles’ heel. As a result, Yamaha significantly improved the FZ-09 in 2017, making it and the newer MT-09 exceptional finds as used models because of their value and performance-oriented packaging. What’s the big deal about these updates that arguably make the FZ-09 the best used naked bike you can find today?
A Lightweight Powerhouse
At the heart of the FZ-09 and MT-09 is an 847cc inline-triple that produces 115 hp and 65 lb-ft of torque. The smooth-shifting six-speed transmission is flawless, perfectly matching the engine’s output and gear ratios for exceptional performance. However, Yamaha heightened this performance in 2017 by remedying the FZ-09’s overly sensitive throttle and improving the drivetrain. The 2017 FZ-09 introduced updated ride-by-wire throttle control for more precise fueling and enhanced the drivetrain with an assist-and-slipper clutch, two components that refine the FZ-09 without compromising its potency.
The FZ-09’s heartbeat is impressive, but even more so when combined with the bike’s lightweight design. Depending on the year, the FZ-09 weighs between 414 and 425 lbs in running order, an enviable figure that gives it a distinct advantage and makes it one of the most agile, wheelie-inducing road warriors in the segment. Many riders argue that combination alone earns it the title of the best used naked bike, and it’s a hard point to refute. Especially when you consider the price. Sure, models like the 2017 Triumph Street Triple RS weigh a bit less and offer a bit more power, but is that small performance edge really worth the much higher price tag those competitors demand?
As for remedying the suspension concerns, Yamaha updated the FZ-09’s suspension in 2017 to reduce its harshness and improve handling and rider comfort. The 2017 FZ-09 features a fully-adjustable 41 mm front fork with 5.4 inches of travel that separates compression damping on the left and rebound on the right. In addition, the FZ-09’s rear suspension is an adjustable motocross-style monoshock with 5.1 inches of travel, allowing the naked bike to navigate any conditions without compromising its sporty handling or rider comfort when the going gets bumpy.
Tech-Savvy in All the Right Ways
Yamaha’s updates to the FZ-09 in 2017 did several critical things. First, updating its suspension and throttle response made it more engaging and dynamic to ride. However, it also opened the bike to a broader demographic of riders. For example, tuning the throttle didn’t compromise the FZ-09’s status as a road hooligan, giving it plenty of appeal to experienced riders. At the same time, it also made it safer for less experienced riders to venture into naked bike territory. Luckily, Yamaha did even more to cater to both these demographics by improving the FZ-09’s tech package.
Another significant upgrade for the 2017 FZ-09 was the addition of an electronics package that added traction control and antilock brakes. Now, the question for many is whether this addition hinders the FZ-09’s reputation as a wheelie-popping powerhouse. Fortunately, it doesn’t and instead adds to its well-roundedness. How does Yamaha manage such a feat?
When you’re popping wheelies and see a patch of loose gravel ahead, the traction control can make an incredible difference by improving the FZ-09’s grip on the road and helping you maintain control. Yamaha gives you more say in how the FZ-09’s traction control works by offering three modes––Level 1, Level 2, and Off––making the traction control system entirely bypassable when pushing the FZ-09 to its limits. Moreover, the traction control system works with the FZ-09’s Ride Modes––A, B, and Standard––and the antilock brakes, which increases your safety and adds to the bike’s appeal without hindering its capability or thrill-inducing handling.
The Naked Canvas
One of the biggest advantages the Yamaha FZ-09 has over its rivals is that it’s a blank canvas that’s accessible to every rider. First and foremost, Yamaha has a stellar reputation for building affordable powerhouses that are engaging and iconic. The FZ-09 is no exception, offering greater appeal as a used model because of its exceptional value and affordability. Plus, because the FZ-09 has been replaced by the virtually-identical MT-09, it is possible to get a better bargain on the bike than you might expect.
Moreover, the FZ-09 challenges the tunnel vision we often get when it comes to naked bikes or what we think a naked motorcycle should be. It’s a powerhouse on two wheels, but it’s one that’s fully customizable to our needs. In addition, its lower price tag as a used model means you have more money to spend on creating the custom bike of your dreams, whether you’re looking to upgrade the suspension, modify the seat, or something else. However, for many riders, the FZ-09 is perfect as it is, and buying it as a used model simply keeps more money in their wallets.
Whatever the case, the FZ-09 is undeniably one of the best used naked bikes you can find today. Yamaha got it right the first time with the FZ-09’s debut in 2014, but models built since 2017 showcase Yamaha’s keen attention to detail and interest in rider feedback. These details are apparent throughout the old FZ-09 and its new MT-09 successor, making them excellent investments for those looking for wheelie-inducing powerhouses that don’t cost a fortune.