Yamaha FZ25 Review - Should KTM Duke 250 be worried?

Yamaha FZ25 Review – New Lord of the Streets?

Priced about INR 60,000 cheaper than the KTM Duke 250, we were in Goa recently to test ride the new Yamaha FZ25. Here is what we have to say about the bike.

The original FZ when launched in 2008 instantly shot to become the lord of the streets, being one of the motorcycles alongwith the R15 that marked a comeback for Yamaha in India. A modern muscular design reflecting the FZ bloodline evident in the bigger FZ1 made it a hit with enthusiasts and buyers alike. The FZ16 appeared more like a scaled down 600 naked than a 150cc+ motorcycle. Yamaha upheld the trend appending timely cosmetic upgrades which kept the sales register ringing- until the likes of the Dukes, RTRs and new age Pulsars flocked to the scene.

With power and performance to boot, the new crop of street bikes started denting the FZ sales and mere visual upgrades were not enough to get the right clicks for Yamaha. Enthusiasts sought more power, better hardware and scorching performance- a fact which the boffins at Yamaha had to accept the hard way and got cracking to reclaim the lost legacy of the original FZ.

Subsequent to numerous spy shots and speculations about the new Yamaha FZ25 hitting the Indian shores, Yamaha finally launched the new FZ25 in India at a price of INR 1,19,500/-*. With a more powerful heart at the helm, the new FZ25 is Yamaha’s answer to mark its entry into the heated up 200-250cc segment. But how good is the new FZ25? So instead of us looking for answers, it was India Yamaha Motor Pvt Ltd who initiated a media ride on the twisty laden roads of Goa to experience the new Yamaha FZ25 and let us draw our own conclusions. With 50 kms of total distance and roads offering a mix of bends and straights- it was a perfect riding recipe to put the FZ25 through the paces and reckon if the new Yammie could win back its forte from the competition.

STYLING AND BUILD QUALITY

The new Yamaha FZ25 looks good from certain angles and moreover from the front and rear three quarters. The prominent point of attraction is the new LED headlight and overall evokes the design scheme of the FZ1 and MT07 in one single package. With a larger fuel tank and shrouds with faux air scoops, the FZ25 looks butch yet compact at the same time. An overlapping multi-panel design theme in variable shades propounds the new FZ25 with an amplified modernity quotient. Anodized tones on the heat shield and the contemporary yet functional grab rails add variety to the overall design scheme. The LED tail light too mimics the FZ1 identifying itself to the bigger FZ breed of motorcycles.

Build quality is a mixed bag- where the fit and finish at certain places seem to be top notch, but rough at a few other places. The switchgear doesn’t look to be well finished and so do the flaps on the rear fender. The shift connector resembles a wheel spoke and occasionally fiddles with the forefoot during gearshifts. The pillion footrests look unwieldy and we wish Yamaha could have given a better finished unit considering the FZ25 is still a premium offering. The rear tyre hugger might add functionality, but we feel the FZ25 would do better without- we somehow didn’t like the fixation of the unit. In totality, despite a few rough edges- the Yamaha FZ25 is a well put together motorcycle and a few ungainly bits shouldn’t be deemed upon as deal breakers, certainly not.

FEATURES

• New all LED headlight with DRL function. 13w+13w for low beam (including DRL) and 9w for high beam giving a total 35w of LED power. We did check the intensity in dark and it did offer good throw and distance. How well does it hold up against the oncoming beams need to be seen. The alternator is rated at 70w peak output- good enough to adequately feed all electronics on the motorcycle.

• The Yamaha XT250 derived engine is constructed of Aluminium alloy while being lighter also aids better head dissipation. Nickel phosphorus coating reduces friction between the piston rings and the cylinder block.

• A digital cockpit features a cascading tachometer, odometer, speedometer, trip meters, fuel gauge and mileage calculator.

• Braking duties are taken care by a 282mm single disc at the front and 220mm single disc at the rear grabbed by Bybre and Nissin callipers respectively.

• Telescopic front suspension and non-linked monoshock at the rear offer a comfortable ride.

• A 14 litre fuel tank with Yamaha claimed 43 kpl makes for a great tankful range.

• A midship muffler with newly designed internals helps in mass concentration and at the same time facilitates a low but crisp frequency exhaust note

• MRF Zappers (FX1 for front and S2 rear) offer adequate grip into the tarmac. The rear tyre though with the higher side profile demands added rider input to push the bike into the corners.

• A tyre hugger to prevent slush from throwing up to the occupants.

• Mirrors are found wanting with half of the view being blocked by the rider’s arms

• LED tail lamp reminds of the bigger FZ1.

• Rearset footpegs offer a comfortable riding position. The pillion footrests could have been well finished.

• Split seat setup offers decent comfort to the rider with the rear seat good for short distances.

• The grab rail looks modern and functionally designed.

• Switchgear could have been of better quality.

• Faux air scoops do their own bit of diverting air to the engine, but are more for aesthetics than function.

ENGINE & GEARBOX

Before someone thinks of the engine as a complete ground up built motor and starts whining about a 2 valve unit and a 5 speed gearbox (well, to admit we did the same), we had a detailed discussion with the tech team from Yamaha Japan who disclosed as to why. To start with the engine on the new FZ25 is based on Yamaha’s reliable little dual sport motorcycle- the Yamaha XT250. The engine and the gearbox were tuned to meet everyday’s street use requirements without major tinkering of an engine that had already proven its mettle. An oil cooler was thrown in to meet the tropical weather conditions of Asian markets.

Cranking out a decent 20.9 ps @ 8000 rpm and 20 NM of twisting force @ 6000 rpm, the engine isn’t exactly you would call smooth- something like that of the FI FZ16, but not too gruff either. It has that typical grunty trait expected from an offroad motor and it does feel good when you are pushing the motorcycle at the higher rev range.

The 0-5000 rpm range feels more of a flat spot in respect to spirited riding, but offers enough momentum if one has to consider the commuting part. The mid range is where the Yamaha FZ25 shines and it does it with incredible aptitude- it would pull with great aplomb once past 5000 revs in the first four gears with every Nm of torque evident while you twist that throttle. The lack of a sixth gear is compensated by a tall fifth gear whose speed vis-a-vis engine spin is similar to most 6 speed motorcycles. For instance 100 kph in top gear comes up at 6200 rpm- that’s similar to a Honda CBR250R.

We managed to clock a max of 131 kph with rpm hanging around 7800 rpm and with around 3000 revs still to go before the rev limiter kicks in- we expect the FZ25 to touch the 140 kph mark. The FZ25 can cruise at 100 kph with ease from dawn to dusk and given a 14L tank with Yamaha claiming 43 kpl which we in real world riding assume to be around the 35 kpl mark- gives the FZ25 a range of 450+ kms. Tourers listening?

The gearbox is smooth and as one can expect from a Japanese motorcycle. The shifts are smooth with no hints of clunks or false neutrals. One tap is enough to slot the cogs into their respective positions.

HANDLING, BRAKING AND RIDE COMFORT

It won’t be out of place to state that a Yamaha is blindly expected to be a great handler. With an R15 in the lineup which set new benchmarks when it came to handling- the FZ25 doesn’t trail too far, but it isn’t as razor sharp. Yamaha has struck the balance reasonably well factoring comfort to go along with road holding manners.

The suspension bits have been carried over from the FZ16 and with the overall seating geometry; it indeed is a comfortable motorcycle to ride. It doesn’t lean as eagerly into the corners as expected- which we feel has more to do with the tall profile rear tyre and needs slightly more muscling to cut down on lean angles. Suspension swap from the FZ16 and the extra 16 kgs weight adds more sag and wallow during mid corner braking- but not to a heart in mouth situation. Road holding in a straight line at high speeds is well managed thanks to the extra 30mm wheelbase than the FZ16. Overall, as afore said, Yamaha has balanced the comfort and handling factor fairly well making the FZ25 an exceptionally versatile motorcycle.

Coming to the braking part- the new Yamaha FZ25 got us a bit disappointed. The braking wasn’t as sharp as expected with a spongy feel. Though it was manageable at sedate speeds, but dropping anchors from high speeds add that extra fraction of seconds- though in the end it’s just a matter of getting used to. Slightly earlier and harder grab on the levers should get the work done- but we wish it could have been sharper and lack of ABS is another griping factor.

Riding comfort is good, well very good. The seat is broad and flat and offers decent space to move around when covering long distances. Wide handlebars with upright riding ergos and a comfortable suspension setup, the new FZ25 makes for a relaxed riding experience. The knees tuck in well into the recesses and the FZ25 imparts a big bike feel to the rider. We believe it would double up- no, triple up as a decent commuting machine, weekend tripper and a long distance motorcycle too- just add in a tall touring screen to shield yourself from high speed wind buffeting. We imagine the FZ25 shod with touring bits and we’d say it does look a tempting touring motorcycle.

CONCLUSION

An evening before the ride day, Yamaha officials mentioned that with the new FZ25 they wanted to be back, moreover they wanted people back to Yamaha. And we’d say though they are late to the party- the FZ25 does offer Yamaha a new dimension to reach out to its customers and a reason to rejoice for Yammie fans. The new Yamaha FZ25 might not be a stonker, but it’s a well thought out motorcycle. If need be, it possesses the punch of a sledgehammer and at the same time versatility of a swiss knife.

With more grunt in it guts, a comfortable riding position and reasonable road going etiquettes- the new Yamaha FZ25 would make for a great first time buy or even for someone graduating from a 150cc motorcycle. At INR 1,19,500/- (Ex-showroom, Delhi)- it still makes for a rational purchase and a value for money proposition. As is generally perceived that one cannot go wrong with a Japanese machine, and the new FZ25 is no different. Test ride one to find out for yourself.

Yamaha FZ25 Technical Specifications

Also Read –

New KTM Duke 250 vs Yamaha FZ25 : 0-100 kmph, Top Speed – Video
KTM Duke 250 Review – Is it worthy KTM Duke 200 upgrade?

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