The FZ6 Fazer S2 was my big bike of choice after passing my test this Summer, following five years of hooning around on a variety of 125s, and the odd spin on an R6, a Z750, a Street Triple and a SV650, all coutesy of very trusting mates and a dealership or two.
Like a lot of people, I was initially attracted to the FZ6 for its looks. When it first appeared in 2004, with its underseat cans and moulded alloy frame, it was head and shoulders above its immediate competition, looking like a much more expensive bike than it was. Four years, and a few pleasing mods later, the S2 version continues to hold its own, style-wise, against the increasingly aggressive and stubby-tailed designs that are currently homogenising the appearance of everything on two wheels these days.
The second reason for my choice was, well, not being sure what kind of big biker (or should that be motorcyclist?) I would eventually turn out to be, I wanted an all-rounder; something I could commute on, something I could do a bit of touring on (with my gf two-up), and something I could leave traffic far behind with on a sunny day's blast.
Having done a little over 2,500 miles on it so far (from new, what with the Summer we've had!!!), I can say the Fazer handles a central London commute in as unflustered a fashion as anything I've ridden in the past, and has seating and ergos, both for rider and pillion, that are conducive to quite a few hours on the open road at a time. Oh, and the handling is solid too.
Now, it seems that the main criticisms aimed at the FZ6 are it's notchy gearbox and it's - yep, you guessed it - LACK OF MIDRANGE PULL! Well, the gearbox does have a tendency to be on the notchy side between 1st and 2nd at low revs, but so what? I've had better, but I've certainly had worse, and it's a piece of p*** locating neutral either whilst moving or stationary, which is more than can be said for some gearboxes! As for the midrange; having read plenty of reviews before getting on the bike, I was prepared for the worse, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found that the Fazer wasn't as weak in the lower revs as I'd been led to believe by the biking press. Of course, it doesn't have the poke of the Street Triple - or even the SV - down there at the bottom end of the rev counter, but - it's been said before, and I'll say it again - we are talking about a 600 inline four, after all; you either love 'em or you don't. What is important to add is that the power does work its way down the revs as the miles rack up with this bike; there's a considerable difference between the low-end pull during the first week I had the bike and now that it's heading towards the 3000 mile mark.
And, of course, the rest of the fun is really to be had 7000rpm+; being a bit new to this big bike malark I've only been brave enough to take it up to about the 10k mark, but, let's be realistic, the rush you get out the power unleashed there is more than enough for most people! And to think, there's still another 4,000 revs that have yet to be explored!
Overall, this multitasker is good enough at all the things I want it to do, with the promise of more excitement to come. Granted, a bike that can suit all the criteria I expressed is never going to be top-drawer at any one task, but the Fazer FZ6 is a more than competent as a commuting-supersport-touring tool; it's great for beginners, due to the engine's character allowing you to grow into it, and yet still has plenty in reserve for the more experienced rider.
A far more fun and usefully real-world pair of wheels than some of the bike press would have you believe; no wonder it's been around for nearly as long as the hallowed '98 to '03 original model, ot's coz we love it!