I have had my 2005 Fazer for almost five years now. I was looking for a machine in this class after selling a BMW1150GS. (At the risk of upsetting all the BMW fans out there I'll say that, although it was the most comfortable and most efficient bike I have owned, it was sooo BORING!! Sorry, just didn't do it for me.) The choices at the time we machines such as the Suzuki Bandit, which was a little too old school, and the Honda Hornet 900. The Fazer seemed to be the best overall package as the motor at 145BHP had more stomp than the others, it had the suspension lifted from the Thunderace, brakes from the R1 and it had a modern look. I found mine in the MCN classifieds and purchased it as an 18 month old machine with only 1100 miles on it. It was if it had just come out of the crate.
So what's it like to own - great! It's a fast and easy bike to ride. The engine is smooth and picks up really well from almost any revs. It's actually a little more modified than the 'detuned R1 engine' label tends to suggest. Amongst other subtle modifications is a heavier flywheel which makes the engine more tractable from low RPM. The carbs are also smaller which give better mid-range. I have not ridden an R1 so can't comment on how much stomp the motor has lost at the top end of the rev range but, take my word for it, it's fast enough!
The suspension often comes in for criticism as being too soft and past its best by 10,000 miles. I have increased the pre-load at both ends a little and set the bike up for me. The result is a bike that handles very well and is still comfortable. With 7,000 miles now showing the suspension shows no signs of fading yet. (Yes, I know I have only put 6,000 miles on it but I am lucky enough to own more than one bike. As and when the suspension shows signs of fading I'll upgrade it because I intend to keep this bike long term.
There's probably no need to comment on the brakes - R1 stuff so enough said.
The riding position is day long comfortable and the controls are light and easy. The switchgear is standard Yamaha fare so no problems there. I usually get around 150 miles to the tank in general use with 170+ on a run. Starting is a first time affair as long as you never use full choke. Even in the coldest weather on half choke is needed or the bike coughs and dies. A lot of the time there is no need to use the choke at all. I have had it checked and no, the bike is not running rich. My machine is also fitted with a Scorpion end can which sounds fantastic; even with the baffles still in. The OE Metzler tyres were not to my liking and have been changed to my preferred choice - Bridgestone BT023's. A big improvement! The half fairing is very effective, particularly with a slightly taller screen. I have a double bubble on mine and cruising at three figure speeds is no problem.
The build quality looks good although to be honest it hasn't really been tested as this machine is used mainly in the dry; year round but only on dry roads. There are no stone chips on the paintwork and even the paint on the engine, so often a weak spot, is immaculate. The only mark is on the tail fairing where is caught it a few times with my boot getting on and off the bike. (Well, I am only 5'9")
The only let down with this bike so far has been my local Yamaha dealer but I won't go into details. Perhaps I have been spoilt having dealt almost exclusively with Honda dealers in recent years. However, I now use Woking Yamaha for my servicing and they boys down there are top guys.
So, there you have it; a good all round machine. When I purchased mine they were still a little under rated so they were a bit of a bargain. You don't see too many for sale and I think that's because, when you own one, you tend to hang onto it when you realize what a good bike this is. How's that for a recommendation? I have seen the described as 'The thinking man's sportsbike' and whilst I don't fully agree with that it's not completely untrue either. Buy one and enjoy.