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Old 07-25-2014, 06:53 AM   #1
Project84 OP
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Buy an FZ6 to replace a sumo and cruiser as a do-it-all?

99% sure I'm picking up an '04 FZ6 this weekend. Bike was on the cheap, test ride proved it did all things a motorcycle is supposed to do.

After test ride I wasn't all that thrilled with it honestly. I rode one about 3 years ago after starting on a Ninja 250 and the FZ6 blew me away. Did my first wheelie (accidental) on it actually, somewhere north of about 13,000 rpm the wheel just decided to reach for the sky.

Told myself the bike was too much for a 2nd step into the 2-wheel world. Always believed I would get one at a later date.


Fast forward to present day - I own a Kawi Vulcan (2nd bike) and a KTM Duke 2 (3rd bike) right now. Because I've grown bored w/ riding (bored on a SM? No but...) and I'm tired of working on them left and right, I'm looking for the "decent all around bike" and will likely sell off the other 2 once I find it. This all around bike should have very low maintenance and proven engine longevity. Enough power to thrill when needed, but still retain low maintenance.

The FZ6 came to mind as it's cheap, proven, and ergonomically what I prefer. So I go test ride this one last night and here are my impressions:

For a fuel injected bike, it sure sounds very mechanical in nature. Something about it felt dated, the sound, the feel of the engine, the riding position was even a little TOO upright for my short legs - though it was probably more due to my big feet, the brake pedal feels awkwardly high.


I've already shaken the seller's hand with an agreement to come back w/ cash tomorrow and buy it. I'm now realizing I'm somewhat on the fence! I feel terrible thinking of bailing on the seller, but I know at the asking price and bike condition that he won't have any trouble selling it if I bail.

I'm here writing this novel because (I did search) I wanna know what impressions are on the old FZ6. Will I be happy on it as my one and only?

My riding is 85% commute on a 14 mile round trip through city. The other 15% I spend once every 2 weeks meeting up with a few buds and hitting some back roads here in KY, quite twisty and fun. I have felt that the Duke 2 fit my riding very well. Big single for the daily commute is pure fun. I have grown increasingly annoyed w/ the quirks of the LC4 and as "bulletproof" as they're claimed to be, I've had a few annoying issues out of mine.

IDK what to do.
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:30 AM   #2
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just pass on it.
happens all the time
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:38 AM   #3
Project84 OP
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Trouble is, I lowballed the guy and at the price I'd be getting it, I could basically own it/ride it 2-3 years and so long as I don't wad it up, turn around and sell it for exactly what I paid. Almost like temporarily borrowing it. lol

More to the point -

My Vulcan is so silky smooth, the fuel injection and belt drive are so smooth! It sounds like a great big muscle bike, love it. Very reliable. Issue I have is I've got short legs and the forward controls put a lot of stress on my hips and lower back. A proper seat would probably fix a lot of that, but I'm not sure I have any love left for her. Hate getting her wet, too much plasti-chrome to polish afterwards. Plus she's heavy and slides around a bit on wet blacktop, fun but sketchy.

The Duke is a riot on wheels. Holy crap that thing is fun. Seems like it's always needing my attention though and I am short on time these days for projects requiring as much detail as a KTM demands. Pricey bugger too, dropped it a few years ago and learned to NEVER do that again. It does fit the commute extremely well though. Nice and tall, torquey fun, 50+ mpg city while doing wheelies to and from work. Plus I don't mind riding it in the rain, it's predictable powerband makes it feel quite safe, fun in cold temps too.


I've been this way my whole life - indecisive and completely neurotic. Grrrr
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:47 AM   #4
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Try an FZ1.
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:25 AM   #5
Project84 OP
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Very budget minded and lack interest in the carb'ed models (which is all I could afford) due to the "fun" I've had with the carb on my KTM. Though I do love that tubular frame on the early FZ1's, it's a good look.


G/f is gonna kill me if I buy a 3rd bike and don't sell one of the other two.... lol
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Old 07-25-2014, 10:33 AM   #6
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i have a '07 FZ6 which had some improvements to fuel delivery, suspension and brakes over the earlier models, so cannot comment too much. but its basically the same bike as a '04, i believe

the bike your getting is 10 years old however, so perhaps that is the "dated" feel? it is a bit dated. the "mechanical" feel of the engine may simply be its I4 wanting to rev out. the bike has 14,000rpm before redline. those rpm may be asking to be used a bit

can't comment on any other qualms your having as the riding position and ergos are just about perfect for my 6'3 frame, and i find the bike quite comfy to ride

last thing i can say is if it is such a good deal get the bike and try to acclimate to it. maybe the "dated" feel is you simply not being used to this kind of bike, its riding position, or how it operates? give yourself some times and it may fit you like a glove. maybe...

and if not you say you are getting it on the CHEAP. so you can turn it around and get something else. sounds like having three bikes is out of the question because of the girlfriend, however. but i am sure you can help her understand why you would have three bikes temperorily while YOU decide which to sell. if she cannot understand tell her you want a girlfriend, not a mother

good luck
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Old 07-25-2014, 11:11 AM   #7
Project84 OP
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^^^^ I'm thinking that's my plan of action. The KTM is down for maintenance right now anyway, so I have an excuse to keep it around, and I'm 1/2 way done with a re-paint on my Vulcan, so it's stuck in the garage at the moment as well. Justifies a 3rd one, if at lest temporarily.

I can just tell her I'll get more money and faster sales come spring time w/ tax returns. That will give me 6 months or so to ride the FZ6 and make a decision whether to keep it or pass it on.


I wish I remembered what year FZ6 I rode a few years ago. It was much smoother than the '04 I rode last night. I remember it having a black frame, which I think indicates an '06+.

You're right on the RPM's wanting to be fed also. I am so used to my thumper, I was short shifting the FZ6 quite a bit. A few times I nailed on it during the test ride it almost scared me to allow the engine up near 10,000rpm. Not used to that sounds/feel at all.

I was playing w/ gears on the highway at 60 and got it into 2nd and there was still some RPM range... that confused me a bit as I shifted back up not 3, but 4 gears. I was beside myself!
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Old 07-25-2014, 12:27 PM   #8
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I went the other direction. I bought a 2006 model, rode it for 4-ish years and 25k miles then sold it for a DRZ-SM supermoto. I really, really, really wanted a Duke II, but the DRZ was what I could make happen from a budget and availability standpoint.

The FZ was a brilliant commuter and quite good as either a weekend carver and/or small sport-tourer. On the commuter front, it was as reliable as a stone axe, comfortable, efficient, and quiet. Then, on the weekends, head out and bring the revs up and it'd comport itself very well indeed. I did back-to-back 500 mile days on it with no issues, and with sticky tires, I could scare myself silly with speed and lean angle.

So why'd I sell? Sometimes I'm still not convinced that selling it was the right move. The roads I love are all really tight, slow, bumpy things. Goatpaths. And the FZ is utter crap in those conditions: too heavy, too wide, too crappily-suspended, and the power delivery is just wrong.

On mine, there was a very sharp transition between being off the throttle and on. To get around that, I'd usually ride the twisties in a higher-than-optimal gear so that I could keep the bike more constantly above the throttle snatch point. But that left me with little torque in reserve for post-apex acceleration, especially if a corner ended up slower than anticipated. Thus, I'd end up having to tapdance down thru the box to recover, and after a certain point, that just stopped being fun.

So, I got a DRZ-SM which was an absolute delight on those Appalachian goatpaths I so adore. But sucked rancid goat ass on the flat boring part between my driveway and the goatpaths. I started finding excuses NOT to ride on days off, and that spelled the end of the relationship.

The FZ is a good bike. I liked mine, although I don't think I ever truly loved it. I thought about buying another, and had no objections to the notion other than just wanting something different.

---

If you're in for a commuter and occasional carver, and especially if you're more game for sweepers than bumpy, off-camber hairpins, then the FZ sounds like it'll be a good choice.

If you're getting a pre-2007 model, one of the first things you should do is balance the throttle bodies. Then try to find the fork & brake assembly from a 2003~2004 R or 2005+ R6S. Those forks are a bolt-on proposition and offer much, MUCH better brakes than stock. The damping is also markedly improved. There is (was?) not much parts-bin help for the rear shock, but that's what the aftermarket is for.
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Old 07-25-2014, 12:33 PM   #9
Project84 OP
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Amazing response, thank you very much, Stuart.
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:51 PM   #10
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How about an SV650?

A bit less overall top end grunt than the FZ6, but it has lots of torque from about 4000 rpm so it should be more fun around town. I bought mine for $3k with only 6800 miles on it and I could have sold it for that much with the 31,000 that was on it when I did sell; but I had to move away from that town and had to sell it in a hurry so I sold it for 1500. I certainly had 1500 worth of fun with it.

The SV isn't a hooligan bike but it certainly isn't a slouch, the engine is bulletproof and the only thing you probably don't want to do yourself are the valve adjustments. The stock suspension is mildly crappy, but you can find bikes with upgraded suspension for quite cheap on craigslist.

I've never ridden the FZ6 to give you a direct comparison, but I did ride an FZ6R which very much failed to impress me after riding the SV as it has less perceptible power in all areas of the rev range, especially down low where the fun is around town.

I'd consider getting another SV if I wasn't in love with Moto Guzzi now and wishing for something different. Not having to deal with chains and sprockets is one of the big reasons I don't want another SV, or any other chain driven bike. That, and for some reason SVs are expensive in the seattle area.
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:08 PM   #11
Project84 OP
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^^^ ruled out SV's because my 2 riding buddies both have one, an SV650S and an SV650N. So I have always looked at the FZ6 as my go-to choice for that reason. I've ridden each and love the N, it's way smoother fuel injection/power delivery than the FZ6, no doubts there. I gotta do the bars man, hate clip-on bikes. I'm no speed racer, just a commuter who likes to have some fun.

The FZ6R is a turd. No way around that. I believe it has something like 30 hp less than the older FZ6. I think it looks hideous too, so you couldn't talk me into one if you tried!

I actually wouldn't be scared of doing valves on an SV, but on the FZ6 it worries me a tad because of how freakin many there are! I did the valves on my Ninja 250 and done them on my KTM twice. It's not rocket science, just gotta stay focused and save the celebratory beers for AFTER you've taken a test ride once completed. :) I also sync'ed the carbs on the Ninja 250, so a throttle-body sync on the FZ6 should be relatively the same, just + 2.


Well, tomorrow morning it's a done deal. 10 hours left to second guess it.

I really don't see any harm in "borrowing it" for at least 6 months. Even if I get it, figure out I hate it, and have to deal w/ selling it. I'm only out maybe $200-300 in the expense of a rear tire, plus registration fees and a few months insurance. That's pretty cheap for a 6 month rental!
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Old 07-25-2014, 10:06 PM   #12
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I seriously doubt you'll hate the bike, I have always considered the FZ6 to be a viable contender for a spot in my stable. The upright seating position and smooth motor makes it a great long distance bike

I do wonder if that mechanical sound you're hearing is a worn out chain? You never really notice that a chain is going out until you put a new one on and it's suddenly quiet as a mouse.
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Old 07-25-2014, 11:44 PM   #13
USMC_Engineer
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I have am kinda in the same boat as you, current ride is a DRZ SM, and seriously considering making the switch to a new leftover '13 FZ1 Tomm.

The deal is almost too good to be true. The stories of the lack of low end tq scare me a little as I prefer tq over high revs (fz8 did not impress me at all, my drz had more tq. Lol).. But the fz1 seems like a great all arounder.

I truly love the SM out in the country and the backroads, while I don't find myself commuting on it at all anymore and with my last 4 bikes or so I would commute a couple to a few times a week on... Knowing I have 10 miles of freeway (higher speed than drz is comfortable at, can do it but not enjoyable), I just drive my cage to work now.

Was also considering, a gladius, vstrom 650 adv, f800gs, and a street triple R...
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Old 07-26-2014, 05:14 AM   #14
Project84 OP
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Rotor - I'm wondering about the mechanical sounds myself, but I can say I noticed the chain was well kept and the sprocket looked to be OEM at 10k miles and in great shape. Apparently the bike was cared for...at least by this PO. He has had the bike 3 years and only put 4k miles on it in that time.

I was thinking valves, but the bike gave zero fit about starting from cold. Fired right up and ran like a sewing machine.

Hell, coming off my gutted exhaust 625cc single, maybe I'm just not used to hearing an engine since all I hear on my KTM is exhaust popping, and my cruiser is pretty loud too.



USMC - the reasons you list are the reasons I turned away from the DRZ-SM. I'm not bashing the bike, but I went and test rode a stock (3x3 and a can) one a few years ago and felt it was as anemic as my ninja 250. A few months later I drove 3 hours to go test ride my KTM and the second I left the guy's driveway I knew it was a winner. This is an expensive bike to maintain though, and quirky as hell. Nothing on it is simple. An oil change is a 2 hour ordeal.

Good luck with an FZ1 though. To me, I think it's too much hp. I think an FZ6 is too much HP for a commuter bike, but I'll likely never be up in the power. That's a big reason I'm split on this bike. Truthfully wanted a Buell XB12S to commute on. Smooth, heavy, torque monster. Trouble is, Buell's around here go for $3,500+ and a Uly is like $5k.


My live-in g/f is adopting her niece, so free time is about to be very rare. That's really what's motivating this whole idea. I have 2 bikes and an old "race car" and free time is constantly used tinkering on one of them.

Apparently those baby things require time and attention... and money? Who knew!?
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Old 07-27-2014, 06:48 PM   #15
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Well I did it. Bought it yesterday and was able to get about 50 miles on it today.

Wow what a different riding style. No torque. Power is fun but it's like a rocket blast-off from 8000-14000rpm. Riding it around the bike feels so gutless, it's not until you wring its neck that it starts to move. Reminds me tremendously of my Ninja 250 in that respect, except this one will do all things faster, including stopping. Never had a twin-disc front brake setup... this thing STOPS.

Thanks to all!

Not too bad looking either, for a 10 year old bike!
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