Well, time to dig out and whip another much-abused cliché – beauty is only skin deep. Yamaha's 'newest' offering, the Fazer, is a shining example of this statement. How? Well, for starters, it looks like a million bucks and way better than the original, bug-eyed Fazer (remember that bike?). Apparently, this FZ-based Fazer offers the 'Touring Spirit' to those who desire it. But does simply adding on a mass of plastic at the front do that to a motorcycle? What does a touring motorcycle need, really? Let's try to break it down, shall we?
What we have here is the FZ-16 with a fairing bolted on to its front end. Quite a nice looking fairing it is too; the Fazer looks bigger than almost every other bike in the market today and cloaks its 150cc capacity with ease. We won't make fun of you if you say that it's a proper 250 or even a 400 because we think it looks the part too. The fairing does not look like an add-on or an afterthought and gels perfectly with the rest of the bike. The R6-like pilot lamp is a sweet detail and the new and cool blue colour helps the bike look newer. But that's it really.
Three minutes into the ride, I was tired of the looks it got me and all I wanted was the go to back up the show. The familiar 153cc motor's 13.8 bhp and 1.4 kgm now has to lug around 141 kg, four more kilos than the FZ, and it doesn't help the Fazer at all. No matter how much you wring the throttle, the rate of progress leaves a lot to be desired on this bike. The way I see it, Yamaha needs to launch a few touring-oriented accessories for the Fazer. A taller screen and saddlebags are bits that every tourer worth his salt will want. Also, the Fazer's seat is good enough for short urban sprints, but is not too supportive for long-distance marathons - a gel seat is a must-have. While at it, mirrors that work would be great too. The whole point is, if it can't be made faster, at least make it more comfortable. So, that's what it is - a different-looking motorcycle that is at home in the city just like its un-faired sibling, but needs to be made a little more comfortable and a lot more powerful in order to make it a proper mile-munching bruiser. At Rs 72,000 (ex-showroom, Mumbai), the price-to-performance ratio is way too unbalanced for my liking. The Fazer might just sell enough to justify its presence in Yamaha's lineup, but really Yamaha, enough with the skin-deep. We need the real deal. Until then, I'll take the FZ, thank you very much.
On the FZ, the wind blast at least lets you think that you’re going fast, but on the Fazer, the fairing redirects the air flow over your head pretty well and you know exactly how slow you're going. Good for comfort, not so good for excitement. Steering has become a mite heavier, but it takes away nothing from the FZ's sure and stable handling or its decent ride quality.