FZ-1 Provides Comfort and Joy

If budget constraints and limited garage space mean you have room for only one motorcycle in your life, consider Yamaha's FZ-1.

It's just plain fun, and darned functional too.

A high handlebar and low foot pegs deliver an upright seating position, on a supportive saddle, that is comfortable for rider and passenger for long trips.

Fuel capacity of 5 1/2 gallons and 40-mpg fuel efficiency make it possible to go for hours without stopping, if you so choose.

A relatively low-profile wind screen delivers only minimal wind protection, particularly for taller riders, but that's enough to keep the wind off your chest.

And for all the talk about comfort, the FZ-1 remains plenty sporty, delivering top speeds well over 150 mph and quarter-mile times under 11 seconds.

Unlike some of its sport bike brethren, this standard offers respectable low- and mid-range power, pulling strong and smooth anywhere above 4,000 rpm. And it gives up very little at the high end, peaking around 10,000 rpm.

Braking chores are handled effectively by four-piston, double-action caliper discs up front and dual-piston, double-action discs in the rear that give great feedback.

True, the FZ-1 is significantly heavier than the R1 on which it is based, but wide handlebars help it handle nimbly around town and in rush-hour traffic, and a rigid chassis and first-rate, fully adjustable suspension front and back allow it to carve canyon roads admirably.

Grippy stock tires turn in predictably with neutral feedback.

Toss on some soft saddlebags, and you have an outrageously quick sport-tourer too--one that comes with a center stand. Now that's a practical feature you never see on a pure sport bike.

An MSRP of $8,499 puts the FZ-1 at the high end of its class (Kawasaki's ZRX1200R sells for $7,899), but so far, it hasn't seemed to affect sales.

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