The Yamaha MT-10 is coming to the USA as the Yamaha FZ-10. I was a bit put-off by the bike’s radical design when it debuted at EICMA last year, but if you listen to the latest episode of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, you will see that I have been warming up to the machine, especially after seeing it in person in Los Angeles.
The Yamaha FZ-10 poses an interesting problem though, as it enters the domain of a very similar machine, the Yamaha FZ1, which has a very different, very cult following and core demographic.
The FZ1 is perhaps the last honest sport-tourer in the US market, and it enjoys a healthy loyalty from experienced riders who enjoy still riding fast, but require a little bit more in the ergonomics department than the current crop of sport bikes provide.
But, as much as the FZ-10 is the answer to the calls of FZ1 owners for an updated and modern version of their steed, this latest R1-derived street bike is probably more at home in the Michael Bay Transformers franchise, than it would be in the garage of current FZ-1 owner.
This dichotomy is the result of Yamaha’s “Dark Side of Japan” ethos with the MT line, which the FZ-10 is a part of, despite the name change.
Yamaha’s “MT” bikes are supposed to offer cheap, approachable, and fun motorcycles to a younger demographic, and the entire range does this well, all the way from the MT-03, to MT-07 and MT-09, on up to the MT-10.
In the US market, these “FZ” machines encapsulate many of the same goals: making fun and cheap bikes for younger/newer riders. At $13,000, the Yamaha FZ-10 is no exception to this rule; but, what about the rider who doesn’t want to look like they stole a set prop from Hollywood’s remake of Short Circuit?
The Yamaha FZ1 is still available of course, but it’s also still essentially the same bike that’s been on the market for a decade now. If Yamaha wants to avoid abandoning this loyal group of riders, something has to give.
With the Yamaha FZ-10, the core idea is there – the current generation R1 engine and chassis, refined for street use – it just needs to be packaged better for the diehard FZ1 crowd…or anyone over the age of 40.
That’s why when I saw these concepts from AK Koncept, the notion clicked for an FZ-10 variant that could draw from a more conservative design palate.
In many ways, the photo at the start of this article is closer to what would have been acceptable to FZ1 owners as a fitting replacement to their faithful steeds, and the photos below gives a tasteful idea of another direction to go with the FZ-10 platform – something a bit more retro.
Yamaha has shown its nack for making motorcycles into platforms, with the MT-09/FZ-09 already springing to life several other models that use the nimble chassis and three-cylinder engine, and package them into new creations for different riders.
Along the same vein the brought us the FJ-09 and XSR900, we could see the Tuning Fork brand take a page from AD Koncept here, and use the MT-10/FZ-10 package to make some really intriguing motorcycles.
I would rock the snot out of the last bike pictured here…me…Capt. Death to Hipsters. That should tell you something.