Things are not well at Yamaha Motor USA, and over the coming days you are going to read a number of reports from us about Yamaha and its US operations.
Before we dive into the multitude of issues that the Tuning Fork brand faces here in the United States though, we wanted to first talk about Yamaha’s crashing sales, because that best frames the company’s entire situation, and is the basis for the other stories that concern the brand.
Now halfway through 2018, Yamaha sales big bike sales (500cc and up) are down a staggering 19% for the last 12 consecutive months, compared to the same previous 12 months before that.
To put that figure into perspective, the big bike market in the USA is down roughly 8% over the same time period, though that figure is due mostly to Harley-Davidson, which accounts for half of the American bike bike market.
Yamaha Motor Corporation is recalling 3,493 units from its 689cc twin-cylinder platform – MT-07 & XSR700 – because of issues with the chain guard mounting bolts.
These are the bolts that connect the drive chain guard to the swingarm, and it is possible that they may loosen, which could cause the chain guard to contact the drive chain and break.
Since the Department of Transportation requires motorcycles to have a chain guard installed, this has lead to a recall for Yamaha MT-07 and Yamaha XSR700 owners.
We interrupt this EICMA show coverage for an adjustment in semantics, as Yamaha Motor USA has informed as that going forward into the 2018 model year, the company’s lineup of “FZ” motorcycle models will go by the designation “MT” – thus aligning themselves with the rest of the Yamaha markets worldwide.
The FZ designation – used on the FZ-10, FZ-09, and FZ-07 – was always a curiosity when Yamaha started using “MT” back in 2005, though it likely stems from the name-recognition found with the very popular Yamaha FZ-1 at the time.
Announced today at the AIMExpo, Yamaha is bringing the XSR700 to the US soil, as the tuning fork brand sees an opportunity for the twin-cylinder heritage model in the land that brought hipsters their skinny jeans.
The choice must have been an easy one for the folks at Yamaha Motor USA, with the Yamaha FZ-09 and Yamaha FZ-07 selling well here in the United States, and the XSR900 already being critically acclaimed by the US moto media.
Adding the Yamaha XSR700 to the 2018 model lineup seems like an obvious no-brainer for Yamaha, and we are happy to see it finally coming to the United States of America.
Part of Yamaha’s 2016 EICMA show program includes a nod to the future, teasing us today with the Yamaha T7 concept. Picking up the torch where the Yamaha XT600Z Ténéré left off, the Yamaha T7 concept uses the same 270° parallel-twin engine found in the Yamaha MT-07/FZ-07 street bike.
Yamaha has wrapped that stout twin-cylidner engine in a brand new chassis that is suited for dual-spot riding, and hopes to focus its efforts on offering a middleweight adventure-tourer that is high on off-road brapping, and low on electronic wizardry.
This should appease those who complain about ADV bikes being too road focused and sophisticated for true adventure riding, and Yamaha hopes to use the T7 concept to develop a bike that meets this ethos, and is suitable for production, but also capable of proper rally raid riding.
As such, the Yamaha T7 is a fully functional prototype, and it is being developed with help from the Official Rally Team in France, Yamaha R&D in Italy, and GK Design in The Netherlands.
There are two big things to note with the debut of the Yamaha Tracer 700 in Europe today. One, Yamaha firmly believes in the future of the sport-touring segment; and two, the Japanese brand is getting excellent mileage out of its three-cylinder and two-cylinder machines that comprise its new FZ/MT line of motorcycles.
As such, the Yamaha Tracer 700 offers to be a fun and affordable machine for those riders who find themselves many miles down the road after a “spirited” ride.
With bike sales in Europe finally on an upward trend, Yamaha hopes that the release of the Tracer 700 is well-timed, and of course the brand has more models in the works that are based on the same 689cc parallel-twin power plant.
Using a similar chassis and the same motor as the MT-07 (that’s the FZ-07 for us Yanks), the Yamaha Tracer 700 adds a longer swingarm (+50mm), larger fuel tank (+3 liters), revised suspension settings, manually adjustable windscreen, a new seat and headlight, as well luggage options.
It looks like Yamaha is getting ready to bring an updated Tiny Ténéré to market (photos here), giving ADV riders a new middleweight option in the Yamaha lineup. This is because spy photos from Europe show what looks like a adventure-tourer, powered by the 689cc FZ-07 parallel-twin engine.
If we do see a Yamaha XT700ZE enter the market, it would be a welcomed compliment to the 1200cc Yamaha Super Ténéré, and help the Japanese brand compete in the increasingly competitive ADV market, especially against brands that already have a ~800cc adventure model available.
Yamaha’s new FZ/MT platform has been a home run for the Japanese brand, with both the Yamaha FZ-09 and Yamaha FZ-07 selling well, here in the United States (the bikes sell around the rest of the world as the MT-09 and MT-07).
So how does Yamaha build on that success? How do they reach riders who aren’t looking for the modern naked aesthetic? Well, you give them what they want.
Meet the 2016 Yamaha XSR700. Underneath that retro-standard exterior resides the basic makings of the FZ-07. It’s the same 700cc parallel-twin engine with its 270° crankshaft mated to a new lightweight aluminum chassis.
The Yamaha XSR700 is the production version of Yamaha’s recently unveiled “Faster Sons” concept, and is an obvious offering to the hipster motorcycle crowd that has come to adore the work of Japanese bike builder Shinya Kimura, who made the concept bike.
Yamaha’s MT platform (that’s the FZ platform to us Americans) continues to spur variations from its three and two-cylinder machines. Called the Yamaha MT-07 Moto Cage, Yamaha’s latest bike seems ready for stunters and street-hooligans.
Think of it as the younger kid-brother to the Yamaha FZ-09 Street Rally, which we saw in the form of the Yamaha Cage-Six concept, and you will have a pretty good idea on what the MT-07 Moto Cage is all about.
At the core of the 2015 Yamaha MT-07 Moto Cage is the same 689cc parallel twin motor, which is good for 74hp, but Yamaha have added engine crash cage, skid plate, radiator guard, and supermoto-style hand protectors. Akrapovic also has a very fetching slip-on for the machine, as an aftermarket item.
Available in November 2014, for the European market, pricing is set at a very cheap €6,690. We doubt very much that Yamaha will bring the Moto Cage to North American soil, since it didn’t do so with the Street Rally…but we can dream.
We have seen a lot of concepts use Yamaha’s new MT line as their starting point. That is probably because the MT-09 (that’s FZ-09 to us Americans) and the MT-07 are very affordable versatile machines.
With rumors abound that Yamaha will use the MT-09 as the basis for a Yamaha TDM revival, the creative juices are certainly flowing. Not one to let the MT-09 have all the fun, Oberdan Bezzi has inked an intriguing street tracker concept from the Yamaha MT-07.
Yamaha Motor USA has confirmed to Asphalt & Rubber that the Yamaha MT-07, the twin-cylinder cousin to the MT-09, will be coming to the United States after all, and like its three-cylinder counterpart, the budget-conscious naked bike will get a renaming, known henceforth as the Yamaha FZ-07.
Yamaha has a real trend going with its MT/FZ line, with its three similarly styled bikes (don’t forget about the Yamaha MT-125) bringing some serious bang-for-the-buck to new and seasoned riders alike. For the American market, the Yamaha FZ-07 comes with an MSRP of $6,990, and will be available in July of this year.