Does Yamaha’s first retro motorcycle hit the sweet spot?

It is the age of retro-modern motorcycles. Everyone wants neo-retro styling with modern underpinnings. Royal Enfield, Triumph, Ducati are all tasting success with this formula. Even Yamaha makes desirable retro motorcycles abroad in the form of the XSR range. In fact, enthusiasts on social media banded together to implore Yamaha to get the XSR155 to India! The bike maker took note and instead of bringing in the expensive XSR155 has given the FZ a retro makeover! So does the ‘inspired’ FZ-X tick the right boxes? 

It gets a round LED headlamp, scrambler-ish fuel tank, bench seat and a functional grab rail for starters. For ‘modern’ design elements, it gets faux radiator shrouds which add to its size. However, despite the cosmetic add-ons the large fuel tank can hold just 10 litres which is three litres less than the FZ. 

The LCD instrument cluster has an MT-inspired negative-lit display. It gets large fonts but could do with more brightness. The layout misses out on a gearshift indicator. For an additional ₹ 3,000 you can also add the Bluetooth feature. With the Yamaha Y-connect app the screen displays call and message alerts and phone battery status. The Y-connect app also shows the motorcycle’s last parked position, fuel consumption and maintenance alerts. Interestingly it also gets a 12V charging socket below the instrument console. 

The paint finish feels premium and panel gaps are tight though the switchgear feels dated. In fact, the standard FZ features more premium switchgear. There are a few utilitarian looking design bits too like the grab rail and turn indicators. Yamaha does offer LED turn indicators that cost ₹ 1,490 for a pair! Even the instrument console has a flimsy mount which shakes when you ride over broken stretches of tarmac. 

The FZ-X shares its powertrain with the standard FZ-FI. Its 149cc SOHC air-cooled motor delivers 12.4PS and 13.3Nm — the lowest figures in the 150cc segment! Performance is average thus and the FZ-X takes time to reach 80kmph. The motor is tuned to deliver good midrange though which allows you to keep up with city traffic. While you won’t be able to win traffic light GPs you should be able to keep up with fast-moving traffic. Refinement levels are quite good, just like on the FZ-FI. 

Underpinnings remain unchanged, but the FZ-X features a revised riding position. The rider sits relaxed thanks to the taller handlebar and more forwardset footpegs. Even the new seat is wider and taller at 810mm, 20mm higher than the standard FZ. However, cushioning is a tad too low for my liking and the seat isn’t as comfortable as the standard FZ thus. 

Given the same underpinnings as the FZ-FI, the FZ-X feels light on its feet. Handling around corners is confident but the lazy, relaxed rider triangle makes pushing the motorcycle around corners feel odd. The FZ-X is shod with block tread pattern MRF Mogrip tyres to tackle less than ideal roads and also to add to its looks. The MRFs offer adequate grip in dry conditions but do not inspire confidence on wet. The scrambler styling is purely cosmetic though, given that the FZ-X carries similar underpinnings as the road-going FZ including the same suspension, which doesn’t have enough travel for off-roading.

At Rs 1.17 lakh ex-showroom the FZ-X commands a premium of around ₹ 6,000 over the top-spec Yamaha FZS-FI. If your goal is to stand apart Yamaha also offers the FZS-FI Vintage edition, which in my opinion is a more attractive and palatable offering. It gets a neutral riding position and should offer a higher tank range thanks to its larger 13-litre tank. If you are hell-bent on getting an FZ, I’d suggest you stick to the standard variant. However, if you want an affordable neo-retro, the FZ-X is your only option currently. Make sure you buy it in any colour but black though!

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