Blog: Kerrang's Luke Wilkins on bikes part 2

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Motorbike: Yamaha FZ-1
CC: 1000
Miles: 250ish
Fun Level: Uber

Wow wow wow wow wow wow!!!

Is that an excitable enough start for you?? I knew when I started these diaries, I would a. have a lot of fun and b. live out every bikers dream of getting to try lots of different styles of bikes, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer unbridled joy that the new Yamaha FZ-1 has given me these past 7 days.

Hell it hasn’t even been that sunny but I have literally gone everywhere on this thing, I was even tempted to sleep on it!! If the Gladius last week was the perfect bike for someone who has just passed their test, the FZ-1 is the bike for an experienced rider, who loves his full on faired superbikes, but wants something that they can use everyday. 

Ever since I was a young Wilkins, my brothers Gavin and Gideon had a string of quick and powerful superbikes, all over 1000cc, and I enviously looked on as they rode a succession of Katana’s, Hayabusa’s and Blackbirds. It has always been my aim to have a “Big” bike because of this, but I have never had the chance before this week and now I know what all the fuss is about! The lads at Streetbike ( said to me before hand I would feel like a “hooligan” on this beast, and that I would have a lot of fun…..they weren’t wrong!

The FZ-1 is the more upright, and non faired “Streetfighter” version of Yamaha’s brand new R1 superbike, and to say it’s not exactly subtle on the looks front would be an understatement. It looks menacing, and is a much more “Macho” bike than the Gladius, it kind of reminds me of a rugby player, big bulky, loud and a lot of fun, although at least this won’t drop its trousers at the mere sight of a pint of Snakebite.

Lets start with the engine, which is an R1 lump, just slightly detuned to give a smoother throttle response, and wow does it pull! The torque and power on tap is amazing, but what really got me was how smooth the delivery was, none of the jerkiness you would associate with a race tuned faired bike, as they have taken that slight edge off, and the result means that I have felt uber confident riding this beast even at slow speeds, in fact it handles better riding around town than anything I have ever been on the back of, well apart from one of my ex’s Carol, but let’s not go there.

Don’t let that fool you though because as soon as you twist your right wrist, the power is relentless and seemingly never ending as this beast transforms from a comfortable cruiser into a bruising, screaming monster!

Honestly, the power delivery is so smooth and there is no drop out right the way round the dial to where it redlines at 12,000 rpm, and if your brave enough to give it the full taps you might want to hold on to your brains as not only does the scenery start disappearing at an alarming rate, but you might find your front wheel lifting up and tickling your chin! Not to worry though as the brakes and suspension make slowing down from the stupid speeds this thing can propel you too in the blink of an eye so easy, and at no point this week have I felt out of control, even with the front wheel around my ears.

I have taken the bike all over the shop this week, from just nipping in to work, riding around the busy streets of Brum in the rain without any panic, taking it out on a blast down to Worcestershire, to just posing with bands in the Kerrang car park, and I’ve done it all with this massive, gormless grin plastered across my face! In fact, You Me At Six (who have already signed the R6 we are auctioning off for Charity!) popped in to do a Live at Kerrang on Wednesday liked it so much, they wanted there pic taken with it………………..rock n roll or what!

Yep, that’s right, a bike that is incredibly easy and safe to ride around town at low speeds, that’s uber comfortable even for a big 6’3” rugby lug like myself, that you can ride without having to get fully leathered up, and that can keep up with the best of the big superbikes, I’m hooked!

Oh and I haven’t even mentioned the best bit yet, the “burble” you get through the exhaust when you come off the throttle hard…….honestly…………every time I did this my knees went a bit weak it was so sexy, in fact you will find yourself overtaking cars, then slowing down and letting them pass you, just so you can go again and give them that “Burble” sound while you ride off into the sunset!

It is with a very heavy heart that I will return the FZ-1, or Faye as she is known, but thank goodness I won’t have to do it until Monday, as I have asked Streetbike for an extension so I can take it out again this weekend!!!

So I have no idea what bike is next, although I know what I will be asking Gary at Streetbike for, namely the brand new Suzuki GSXR1000 that they launched last night, as it looks amazing!!! Gary even let me have a sit on his, one of the first in the country, which was very dangerous as I was tempted to point it towards the door and just go, but I think I will have to somehow devise a way to prise him off it first, as I get the feeling it might be a bit special! Here are some pics from the launch, I’m off to go hit the road on Faye while I still have time…….bring on the sun, burbles and open road!



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Luke Wilkins

By Luke Wilkins