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Motor: Liquid-cooled four-stroke transverse four.
Capacity: 599cc.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 72kW at 12000rpm.
Torque: 63.1Nm at 10000rpm.
Induction: Group injection-type fuel injection system.
Clutch: Cable-operated, multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission:Vertically stacked, six-speed, constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by 530 chain.
Suspension: 43mm conventional cartridge forks at front, monoshock adjustable for preload at rear.
Brakes: Twin 298mm discs with twin-piston floating callipers at front, 245mm disc with single-piston floating calliper at rear.
Tyres: Front: 120/70 -ZR17 tubeless radial. Rear: 180/55 - ZR17 tubeless radial.
Wheelbase: 1440mm.
Seat height: 795mm.
Dry weight: 187kg.
Fuel capacity: 17 litres.

Yamaha 600 Fazer - a surprising package!

Road test and pictures by Adrian Percival

The Fazer 600 has always been a popular choice for the commuter, riding school, first bigger bike and so on, but when Yamaha announced that it was going to be killed off due to emmission problems we all wondered what was going to take its place.

The first incarnation of the Yamaha Fazer was a serious budget street bike and was based around the old 600 ThunderCat motor dropped into a tubular steel frame with the most basic of cycle parts. It proved to be a reliable and excellent all-rounder. The new 600 Fazer is a different breed from anything called Fazer in the past though! The striking new Fazer 600 is a truly capable middleweight that uses a host of technology from other Yamahas.

There's no question about it, just one look at the new Fazer and what you see is an attractive package. The overall look of the new Fazer is one of agression, with the sleek, twin headlight half fairing dominating the front, and the sleek sweep back over the side panels to the rear and the twin underseat exhaust system. The look is one of modern technology built into an everyday bike that will take you wherever you wish to go in total ease.

Get on to the new bike and the practical nature of the all-new design is immediately apparent. The straight, and relatively high handlebars provide your first clue that this little bike is going to be comfortable. Take a look forward and the relatively high, broad screen gives you exceptional protection from all but the worst of weather. Surprisingly enough even taller riders won't have a problem with the screen height as a slight duck is all you need to escape the wind blast.

The seating position is also extremely comfortable, and the pillion also sits comfortably, not too much higher than the rider, and with good cushioning and generous grab handles. The foot pegs are placed quite far forward in comparison to most supersport bikes, not too far but just in the right position to give you a very relaxed riding position and over a long distance this really shows.

Power for the new Fazer 600 comes from the current R6 motor, but it has been tuned for a lot more mid-range power and torque with milder camshafts, longer inlet tracts and a simpler fuel injection system that is designed to fit the bill for an everyday commuter/town bike. The Fazer for all its racetrack breeding is a very tractable bike and will pull from as low down as 2000rpm in the lower gears, amazing for a modern 600! Anywhere above 5000rpm though and away you go in typical 600 style, hit 7500rpm and it just flys up to its redline at 14,000rpm. There is a bit of vibration around 7000rpm but it never gets annoying and smooths out about 9000rpm. The power drops off sharply after 12,500rpm so there's absolutely no point in riding it up to the limiter, for the best results and to make the fastest progress just change gear at peak torque time, around 10,000rpm.

The Fazer accelerates quickly through the gears up to around 120mph (not on a public road of course!), after that you need to hang on for a bit, and find a long straight to reach its maximum speed of 145mph. This shows that Yamaha has the gearing for the little Fazer 600 just spot-on. It accelerates vividly in every gear although it does lack the wild rush of the R6. The Fazer actually has the advantage over the R6 of a much wider spread of torque thus giving you a really impressive mid-range pull. On full-throttle upshifts you will find that the Fazer shakes its head a little, not alarmingly like some other bikes, but it becomes very light at the front end due to the fact that there is very little, if any, weight on the front wheel. And yes, it will pull power wheelies if you nail it in the lower gears!! The transmission is typical Yamaha, slightly vocal on the change and a little notchy, but with time they do get better. s smooth and predictable, hot or cold, and I couldn't make it slip or judder.

The Fazers motor and drive is rigidly mounted, so there's your vibration. It is all in an alloy frame made up of two big, die-cast spars. These spars are mirror images of each other and are connected together at the steering head and engine plates. That makes welding and the use of cross-struts unnecessary, it's also a very clever way of using the latest technology to make a simple yet totally rigid frame. The rest of the Fazer chassis is not so hi-tech. A standard tubular-steel sub-frame is mounted as per normal together with a long rectangular section swing-arm. The suspension and forks are equally straightforward and simple. The forks are 43mm non-adjustable and the rear shock-absorber mounts directly to the frame and swing-arm without linkages.

The brakes on the Fazer are twin-pot sliding callipers biting onto two 298mm discs, a little old fashioned but on the test bike they were found to be more than adequate of hauling it down quickly and safely from almost any speed you care to do. The brakes are predictable and have a very good feel to them, in fact the feel and stopping power seemed to be linked directly to the lever, the more you squeezed it, the more you stopped. The rear brake by comparison is almost non-existent, it is far less powerful and barely held the bike on a hill.

Riding the Fazer as an everyday bike is an absolute treat, it may be a simple set-up as far as the suspension, braking and so on is concerned, but the result is a surprise. The handling feels very predictable and neutral, and with the higher bars you get good leverage and making it easy to just tip the Fazer into tight corners with total confidence. The suspension works very well and completely soaks up all the bumps and road irregularities, even when riding two-up. I used the Fazer in almost every road condition over the period of the test, in fact I think I did more miles on it in one week than on any other bike this year to date. Riding in London traffic, out on the motorways and 'A' roads and country lane exploits were all taken in its stride, never a hint of being stressed or being in the wrong place, it all just seemed to work as a package and it worked very well indeed.

When you first get on the Fazer and ride it the turn-in feels a little vague, with the possibility of running wide through some corners, but once you get used to the Fazers weight distribution you realise that you need to take a slightly more strong-handed approach to the bike, and suddenly you find you have sorted this little initial problem out. There was a tendency to wander at speeds of more than 100mph, but this disappeared with a slight crouch. The reason for this is the buffeting from the screen hitting your shoulders, this has a tendency to shake the steering through the bars, fitting a higher screen or a slightly different shape screen would cure it, in fact Yamaha offer a 90mm taller one as an option.

As per all Yamahas the switches and controls are all straightforward and robust with the new instrument set all mounted in one LCD pod. Most bikes seem to be going this way nowadays for the simple reason that it is cheaper to produce, lighter and more accurate than dials and needles, but I find with most of them that reading the bar style rev counter is difficult at a glance, it is, however all neatly back-lit and a lot easier to read at night.

The little Fazer 600 is a very impressive bike to ride, and with its relatively unsophisticated suspension it was surprising just how well it worked on some of the more bumpy roads around the Oxfordshire are where it was tested the most. The Fazer just soaked up the big bumps and ruts far better than a lot of tourers or sports/tourers have evr done. The only other bikes that have ever scored better on this section are bikes like the 1200GS and with their long-travel suspension. The suspension set up does hinder the Fazer a little in faster turns and precise steering control, but once you get used to the handling trait of the bike it will hold its line as well as most sports bikes.

When I got on the Fazer my first thought was that the seat was too hard and would be uncomfortable over any sort of distance, I was proved to be wrong almost from the off. Yes it is firm, but the shape and the contour is just right for long rides. My first ride was a full tank and I had no inclination to stop for a rest or a stretch, I just rod on until I needed to fill up anyway, than I had a break and stood back to look at the Fazer, as a lot of other people did at the motorway service area!

Yamaha's Fazer 600 is a great bike to look at, it has style and is bang up to date in the technology stakes. It has a great motor based around the R6, and has a superb frame and although the brakes are a bit on the budget side, they work well and never show signs of fade or not being able to stop you. The Fazer is a surprising package, a competent do-anything street bike designed for the everyday rider to go to work on or to tour or even scratch at the weekend. Its a comfortable bike for both rider and especially the pillion and this give it an added touring ability. Don't think you can't have fun on this bike, there's plenty of R6 left in it for those wilder moments when you want to play, just twist the throttle and see, you won't be dissapointed at all!



Read external Fazer FZS 600 reviews on ciao.


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