Short Motorcycle Riders and Commuters – Here’s a Motorcycle for You – 2015 Yamaha FZ-09 22,000-Mile Review

Short Riders and Commuters Rejoice – 2015 Yamaha FZ-09 20,000 Mile Long-Term Review

I bought my 2015 Yamaha FZ-09 in March 2016 and it had about 10 miles on it. I ride about 450 miles a week – mostly commuting – so I wanted to offer my perspective on this bike in 2 primary areas. First as a short rider (I’m 5’ – 5” with a 28” inseam) and second as a long-distance commuter (I commute about 100 miles a day to and from work).

Short Riders and Commuters – This is a great bike!

For short riders: This bike works well for a short rider. The seat height, foot pegs and handlebars combine to create a comfortable riding position. With my motorcycle boots on (they have about a 3/4 inch sole) I can flat foot both feet. I tend to sit at the front of the seat hugging the gas tank so that may be helping. With sneakers on, I can place the balls of both feet firmly on the ground.

For long-distance commuting: the FZ-09 is nearly perfect. Let me get my two gripes out of the way first.

The stock seat is the main complaint I have. The seat’s material does a marvelous job gripping my jeans which ends up causing me some discomfort after about 20 to 35 minutes of riding. What happens is the seat material grips my jeans while I tend to slide slightly forward. This causes a bit of congestion in my groin. The seat also creates hot spots under my buttocks about 35-40 minutes into my ride. I find myself having to stand on the pegs for a few seconds to let some air flow under my butt to provide some relief. If I was to spend any money on upgrades it would probably be to replace the seat.

Another challenge I have with the bike is what I consider a sort of rattling vibration coming from the area of the automatic cam chain tensioner (ACCT). This was replaced as part of a safety recall, but I still feel like – especially at lower speeds (second gear around 25 MPH) the ACCT isn’t providing the proper tension. I imagine that the cam chain has too much slack causing the sound and vibration.

I feel vibration and hear a rattling noise from this area.

Two separate dealers tell me there is no problem. I bought a second-year extended warranty from Yamaha so if it does cause any damage, I’m hoping it’ll do so before March 2018. If anyone has a similar experience, I’d really appreciate you telling me. I imagine that if it was going to cause damage it would’ve done so by now. This could be psychosomatic because I know they replaced the ACCT for some reason.

Dashboard: The dashboard offers both a gear position indicator and a gas gauge which I really like. The tachometer is a bit hard to read, but frankly after a few months I don’t spend much time looking at that. I find that the gas gauge is a bit peculiar. I’ll get all the way to work (about 45 miles) and the gas gauge will still show a full tank. Then by the time I get home, I’m down to 2 or even 1 bar. I would expect that at work I’d be down 2 bars, then down 2 more bars by the time I get home.

Suspension: I’ve seen reviews where the front forks were given low marks because in cornering or hard braking they dove. I did adjust the front forks so they were a bit stiffer and for my height and weight (175 LBS) they are just fine now. At highway speeds cornering is fine. Sure there is a little dive under severe braking, but manageable. I didn’t adjust the rear shock at all. For my use the suspension works well.

Brakes: I find these brakes work well. I’ve had to do some emergency braking on the highway and they (particularly the front brakes) complied with my wishes to stop quickly. I practice emergency braking every morning, so I’ve grown used to the brakes. The rear tire locks up quickly when applying firm pressure to the rear brakes, so I rely heavily on my front brakes.

Seating Position: The seating position which is upright, but not quite supermoto upright, makes for an effective long-distance commuting position. When I merge onto the highway, the upright position makes it easier than my previous bikes (on which I installed drag bars for a lower hand position) to look over my shoulder for approaching traffic.

Great seating position for short riders!

The foot pegs are slightly set back under my butt so it offers a bit of a sporty feel when riding – especially because I put the balls of my feet on the pegs for a more athletic, balanced feel. When I ride on the highway I like to bend my elbows and lean forward slightly which, combined with the slightly rear foot pegs, offers a nice sporty feel.

Torque: The torque is just flippin’ awesome. This bike is famous for its torque and infamous for its sometimes snatchy throttle. I have noticed that sometimes if I let off the throttle too quickly then get back on the throttle that there’s a surge of power that causes the bike to lurch forward. I’ve grown used to the throttle and added a “cramp buster” on the throttle that allows me to rest the padding of my hand on it. This seems to help with any throttle snatchiness. I also removed much of the throttle slack which also seems to have helped with this. Besides the occasionally throttle challenge, the FZ-09’s throttle will get you out of trouble very quickly. It will also get you into heaps of trouble if you abuse it. Whether riding on city streets or on the highway, there is power on demand. When you need to get up and go, give it some throttle and away you go! What I appreciate most about the FZ-09’s torque is the ability for me to get out of dangerous situations – especially when riding on the highway. Sometimes when I feel like I’m getting boxed into traffic, the FZ-09’s torque allows me to get out of that dangerous situation very quickly then settle back into a safer highway speed away from the traffic congestion. Even after 22,000+ miles this bike is a blast to ride. The fastest I’ve gone is about 105 MPH and getting there is dangerously easy to do. In a few situations when I need to get out of a potential boxed-in position, I throttle to get around traffic and look down to see 100+ MPH on the dashboard. You simply don’t feel like you’re going that fast. This can get you in deep trouble – a warning to anyone who likes to let loose their inner hooligan.

The front fender, while I don’t really like the batman ears look, does a fabulous job of keeping dead bugs from accumulating on the forks. On my previous bike (2011 Bonneville) the forks were exposed and after around 8K miles I had to replace the fork seals because the dead bugs calcified and cause wear on the seals.

Modifications: I’ve really only done one modification. I removed the stock mirrors and added bar end mirrors. I did this for two reasons. My primary reason for the bar end mirrors was to get better visibility and my secondary because I like the open look above the handlebars. I also added a small fairing and painted it. I added this small fairing because there are a lot of exposed cables and wiring above the headlight housing and with riding so many highway miles I kill a lot (I mean a lot!) of bugs. Those bugs would’ve gotten trapped in the exposed cabling and wiring making it difficult to remove them.

Killing bugs is easy – cleaning the mess isn’t

Now the bugs die on the small fairing which is a bug ugly, but easier to clean up. One problem I have is that the fairing gets hit by road debris which has chipped the paint job. I’ve had to do some touch up painting to fix some of the larger chips. One more thing I added to help with my commuting was a pair of soft saddle bags. They do detract a bit from the sporty look of the FZ-09, but they also allow me to carry tools and store my cold riding gear (yes it gets down to 30 degrees F here in Arizona in the winter). You can read my initial review of these saddlebags here. They have been discolored from the sun, but they still function very well after all this time. I also attached two ROK straps so I can put my backpack on the back seat. I do this mainly in the summer in the 100+ temperatures. Wearing a backpack makes it very hot and prevents airflow. I’ve been testing a cooling jacket and it works much better when I don’t wear the backpack. The challenge is this unkempt look of the crisscrossing straps and the excess strap material. But, for me it’s acceptable for a quick way to attach my backpack.

Tires: I went through the stock tires in about 8,000 miles and put on the Michelin Pilot Road 4 tires. These tires are getting close to needing to be replaced also, but they’ve given me 14,000 miles so far. They are great tires because of their dual-compound construction. There is harder rubber in the center for the highway riding with softer rubber on the edges for cornering. The combination works well for reducing wear, but the rear tire locks up quickly in hard, straight line braking.

Fun Factor. The fun factor for this bike is pegged at a 12 (on a 1 – 10 scale; 10 being “Can’t believe how much fun this is”). The bike flicks so easily into corners and is as fast as you’ve heard in all the other videos. Not only does it accelerate at an awesome rate, but top speed is so very (dangerously) easy to achieve. After 22+ thousand miles I still look forward to riding this bike to and from work.

Summary: This bike is excellent for both short riders and for those who commute daily long distances. The seating position makes for easier traffic management while the power is unbelievably useful in any situation.

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