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  1. #1
    bigborer (OP)
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    FZ6 versus Honda VTR 1000 f (firestorm / superhawk)

    Hello,

    As my FZ6 is STILL with it's engine in pieces, I've started looking for cheap second bikes. As I couldn't find any comparisons between these two, here is my mini review. Perhaps there are others looking for a comparison like this. I chose to check out the vtr because it was the cheapest faired bike with over 75HP and decent service history. Since it is a very unpopular model, the prices are low and the value for money incredible (IMO at least). Don't know what are the prices in your area, but here it costs the same as an 98-01 "soft" dual sport such as the BMW f650 or Suzuki xf650, or a 00-04 "first big bike" such as the CB500 or GS500, but it has an aluminum frame, 110 hp, rebound and preload adjustable front and rear suspension, "regular" sport bike tires (120/70 and 180/55), digital dashboard.

    My 04 fz6 is the naked version and has the r6 forks + brake swap, leo vince carbon exhaust, DOT 2017 conti road attack 3 tires, "new" (rebuilt) everything (brakes, fork, etc), and perhaps also has a quicker sprocket ratio (can't remember the exact number of teeth). The 01 VTR had an (alleged) dynojet carb kit, and "race" exhaust and air filter, 2 teeth quicker sprockets, otherwise stock. Oldish tires (some Pirellis, DOT 2014 but lots of thread).

    Given the fact that it was a different, new to me bike, quite heavy city traffic in an area I don't know too well, had the weight of the guy in the back (the seller only let me test ride the bike with him in the back and he was perhaps 90-95% my size), and I wore only a helmet and jacket I did keep a safety margin and didn't push it to the limits. I rode it for about 30 mins.

    UPDATE (written in blue): after riding for about 2600km/1600mi in all conditions- city, highway, twisty roads, rain, even did a track day with it.


    First impression: bike looked a bit rougher than expected, with multiple minor scratches all around, and it did make me remember that 2001 was a LONG time ago. And while I did appreciate that it wasn't "sale prepped", the dirt and bugs from what seemed like a 4 hour highway run did add up to the rougher look. Seller claimed that it wasn't ran for 3 weeks, and to my request he brought it with a cold engine (pushed it across the street). It started fine with almost no delay and the choke on.

    Weight: Although on a stand still it felt as light and easy to push as the fz6 with my GF on the back, until 20kmh or so it felt VERY top heavy while cornering. Nothing unmanageable, but it surprised me a few times as it was "falling" into the turns.

    Engine: this was the first liter v twin I've ever ridden. Very often this type of engine is pictured as a torque monster, pulling MUCH harder at low rpm than the "six hunnits". Even the seller warned me "be very careful with it if you're only used to l4's, at low rpms it's very strong AND it will lock the rear on hard downshifts". I was expecting some kind of monster, ready to launch it's self away from under me, pulling at 4000rpm as the fz6 does at 11000. Yes the low RPM pull is harder, but the power is very linear and predictable. 3000-6000 RPM on the VTR is like 5000-8000 on the FZ6. Perhaps it was the gearing but it also just felt natural to me to drive it in lower revs, just as I just never really find myself keeping the FZ6 in the low rpms. At first it felt a bit slow, but then I looked at the dials and saw that I was about just around the the highway speed limit (all this while being in the city). Downshifting was very easy with the revs easily matched (easier than with the fz6). Overall I'd say the VTR is 10-15% faster, but the FZ6 more fun, with it's high rpm's and the more abrupt, "peaky", delivery. Going full throttle on the VTR at 5000 rpm felt like "yeah this thing pulls". Going full throttle on the FZ6 at 7000 RPM feels like "boy it's like I'm racing ! ".
    The engine is both more lumpy and more powerful than it first appeared. Steady low rpm makes for a jerky ride, especially at slow speeds. To quote the track day trainer "used to own one of these- they do require more skill on a track, especially on low speed turns, where it can get a bit tricky to not get surprised by the big v-twin, and also difficult to run smoothly without great thorottle control, therefore not the ideal machine for a track noob, or at least harder than a supersport". On the plus side, mess up a corner entrance, run wide, loose a lot of speed and find yourself way under-revved? No problem, just roll on and don't think about it!
    Also used to be scared of allegedly poor mileage. Turns out the seller was 100% right with his claimed consumption, overall the bike eating about 1l more for each 100km compared to the FZ6. I can get 250-280km per tank (155-175 miles) which for me is decent, even for touring


    Handling and suspension: First thing I've noticed, even before getting out of the parking lot, was how soft the front was. Almost as soft as an "adventure" bike. As expected, the narrower clip ons did provide a bit less leverage, and required more effort until 60kms or so, but not by much. I'd need to test it in the twisties to be able to properly compare it with my FZ6, but the front felt a bit more vague, with a bit less feedback and sharpness. With stiffer springs and a new set of some conti road attack 3s, they would likely be quite close, at least up to "sporty but still getting home alive and well" speeds.
    The suspension now feels even softer than at first, however after going through some bumpy roads I'm not sure if it'd be worth upgrading. The valving is also not that great, surely worse than the R6 forks. However, I'm not sure it'd be worth spending too much effort/money in this, at least not until I get my track skills from "complete crap" to "now I'm half decent".


    Brakes: Quite spongy on the VTR, and non linear with quite some pull needed before really biting, and then biting harder than expected. The brake lines are old and while not cracked, they do swell quite a lot. First thing I'd do to it is replace the front brake lines with steel braided ones- I'd do that even before washing it! Overall, the breaking power was adequate, and I did have the chance to successfully make a few genuine emergency stops. The R6 brakes on the FZ6 are a bit nicer, even with the original rubber lines (which were a bit spongy as well).
    Still using the OEM crap brake lines, though I have new Goodridge lines, I was too busy (ok... lazy) to swap them. Honestly, most times I use only engine braking and rear braking, as much breaking power is rarely needed for my riding style, and as 70% I'll ride with my GF, strong front braking will result in bumping helmets, me getting angry and her getting tired (and also angry) fast.
    On the track however the brakes really did feel weak. The fastest I got on the long straight was about 180-190kmh (they say a good rider on a superbike gets to 280-290kmh there), and hard braking didn't inspire confidence at all, especially after a bit of fade. But I'll make a final opinion after installing the steel lines and new fluid.


    Comfort: I am, in US units, 6'1 and have long... members. The VTR is a bit more crouched, but it is not that bad. I did notice some pressure on my wrists at the end of the ride, but looking down I say both my wrists strangely twisted to get to the controls- if I spent 5 minutes to adjust the angles for the levers it would get OK. If I rate the FZ6 with 8/10 for comfort, the VTR would be (barely) 7/10.
    I'll have to take down one point for comfort. Fast highway riding is good, fast twisty or track riding is good, but as soon as you need to drive at legal speeds it'll wear you down. If I didn't have good posture (holding on the tank), be in great shape, and be young, there is no way I could have been able to do 5-6 hour trips.

    Wind protection: Decent, especially compared to my naked FZ6, but couldn't fully tell as it would have been impossible to sustain high speeds in the city.
    Yes it is... decent. The nicest thing is that it removes the buffeting felt by the pillion, so now the GF no longer bounces around/ has to hold on hard not to get ejected at high speeds. On the other hand, it lets you fully relax, with the wind force keeping you straight, which makes it easier to ride for longer.

    Overall opinion: IF I were to choose between a VTR and FZ6, both stock, the VTR would be superior in almost all aspects, and much better value for money, especially if the FZ6 was an S1. IF money didn't matter or they cost the same, I'd still get an FZ6 and redo all the mods. Have it scheduled for a dyno run (IMO the easiest way to really tell if an engine is in proper condition), and if that checks out fine I'll then have both.
    I'm still happy with this bike- it's far from a track weapon but still better performing than many new bikes such as the SV650 or most adventure bikes. For the price, NOTHING would have been better.
    Last edited by bigborer; 07-12-2018 at 08:17 AM.
    2004 FZ6 with R6 Fork and brakes, Leo Vince SBK Carbon Exhaust, Venhill SS Race brake lines

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  3. #2
    Senior Member swedespeed's Avatar
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    Re: FZ6 versus Honda VTR 1000 f (firestorm / superhawk)

    Interesting comparison/review, thanks! I find it a bit ridiculous that he would only let you test ride with him on the pillion. That's hilarious.

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    Never stop exploring darius's Avatar
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    Re: FZ6 versus Honda VTR 1000 f (firestorm / superhawk)

    Make a list of everything it needs with estimated pricing and use that as leverage on the price. If the guy has been trying to sell it for a long time then use that, too. Don't forget to check the chain and sprockets. Big V-twins eat tires and wear chains, sprockets fast.

    Does it make you smile? That's the real question.

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  7. #4
    bigborer (OP)
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    Re: FZ6 versus Honda VTR 1000 f (firestorm / superhawk)

    Quote Originally Posted by swedespeed View Post
    Interesting comparison/review, thanks! I find it a bit ridiculous that he would only let you test ride with him on the pillion. That's hilarious.
    It was a bit comical, he said something like "do you have experience with passengers? can you handle that?" me- yeah, no problem, then he paused a bit perhaps thinking "you SOB, ok.. **** it" before saying "oook then, let me get my helmet". Myself I would have rather risked having it stolen than risk getting killed on maimed by some random dude testing the crap out of it. When we got of he said "I hope you were happy with how it pulls cos I almost fell off on some pulls" (it has no grab rails, only an aftermarket top case rack), then lit a cigarette.

    Quote Originally Posted by darius View Post
    Make a list of everything it needs with estimated pricing and use that as leverage on the price. If the guy has been trying to sell it for a long time then use that, too. Don't forget to check the chain and sprockets. Big V-twins eat tires and wear chains, sprockets fast.

    Does it make you smile? That's the real question.
    I've already negotiated the price- if it the dyno run checks fine, and if the guys from the shop don't notice anything I don't already know about (more severe than say a cracked hose) I'll get it for that price. Otherwise, I'll take my loss with the dyno fee (~60$) and walk away. The rear sprocket still has about 60-70%, and the chain perhaps 50%. The front sprocket is hidden, and the tires have about 50-60% left, but they are 4y old and not really the softest or grippiest compound ever. What really matters to me is that the bike is safe to ride and reliable or at least it won't leave me stranded or get any severe malfunction within the near future (such as engine or frame failure). Scraping 100 or 200 less matters less.

    What it would need done to ride it with peace of mind (at least as far as I currently know):
    1-front steel braided brake lines 80
    2-oil and filters 20-60 (already got some spare motul 7100 but not sure how much)
    3-new tires + labor (that's one the few repair jobs I won't willingly do) 280 minus 60-90 (what I'd get selling the old ones)
    4-rear brake pads (they are almost metal to metal) 20
    5-rubber cush drive (no symptoms noticeable by me, but was suggested by the seller) 25-50 depending on them being OEM or not
    6- 12V volt meter + 12V relay 10
    7- new stiffer fork springs 100-120
    8- mosfet rectifier upgrade (as older hondas are famous for rectifiers suddenly dying) 20-100

    However the above are pretty much standard for any used bike, even for a 2 year old bike I'd still do at least #2, #3 and #7 (#7 only for non sport bikes).

    It did make me smile, but I'm not gonna lie, something like a brand new z1000sx with some suspension mods would have probably made that smile even bigger.
    On the other hand, the older I get the more I realize that having fun isn't necessarily directly proportional to having the highest performance stuff possible. I did have fun that weekend I was overtaking many bimmers and audis in the twisties while in a POS full size rental Reanult Master van of +10y old and 120hp. And I also had fun that week in that POS rental 1.2 (70 hp?) Opel Corsa, keeping it barely below the rev limiter, squealing tires in the tight 2nd and 3rd gear turns, while getting almost as little steering feel as I got from the aforementioned van. And after all, one bike (actually two after I finally revive the FZ6) is much better than no bike.
    2004 FZ6 with R6 Fork and brakes, Leo Vince SBK Carbon Exhaust, Venhill SS Race brake lines

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  9. #5
    bigborer (OP)
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    Re: FZ6 versus Honda VTR 1000 f (firestorm / superhawk)

    When we got of he said "I hope you were happy with how it pulls cos I almost fell off on some pulls....then lit a cigarette."
    Now this quoted out of context doesn't sound right at all
    2004 FZ6 with R6 Fork and brakes, Leo Vince SBK Carbon Exhaust, Venhill SS Race brake lines

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    Senior Member swedespeed's Avatar
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    Re: FZ6 versus Honda VTR 1000 f (firestorm / superhawk)

    Quote Originally Posted by bigborer View Post
    Now this quoted out of context doesn't sound right at all
    Hahahaha

    He sounds like a bit of a weirdo though.

    You gonna buy it?
    Last edited by swedespeed; 05-21-2018 at 06:20 PM.

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    bigborer (OP)
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    Re: FZ6 versus Honda VTR 1000 f (firestorm / superhawk)

    More like paranoid than weirdo, but that's irrelevant, only thing that matters is the bike's condition.

    I'll tell you if I'll buy it in about 30 hours, after the dyno run.
    2004 FZ6 with R6 Fork and brakes, Leo Vince SBK Carbon Exhaust, Venhill SS Race brake lines

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    bigborer (OP)
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    Re: FZ6 versus Honda VTR 1000 f (firestorm / superhawk)

    Dyno checked out with 98WHP and 122 "corrected" BHP (+12 over stock).

    Also, the guy from the shop was happy with it's overall condition, and recommended new brake lines, new fork springs and fork bushings, new spark plugs, new fluids, and new OEM levers (saying the existing Chinese ones are a safety hazard). He also mentioned that he'd rate the condition in "top 3 out of those who came in my shop for pre-purchase checks so far this year".

    So we shook hands, and tomorrow we'll meet at a tax office (the sales contract needs to be stamped by them to prove that the seller is tax-debt free) to complete the papers and give/take the money/bike.
    2004 FZ6 with R6 Fork and brakes, Leo Vince SBK Carbon Exhaust, Venhill SS Race brake lines

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    Senior Member swedespeed's Avatar
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    Re: FZ6 versus Honda VTR 1000 f (firestorm / superhawk)

    Quote Originally Posted by bigborer View Post
    Dyno checked out with 98WHP and 122 "corrected" BHP (+12 over stock).

    Also, the guy from the shop was happy with it's overall condition, and recommended new brake lines, new fork springs and fork bushings, new spark plugs, new fluids, and new OEM levers (saying the existing Chinese ones are a safety hazard). He also mentioned that he'd rate the condition in "top 3 out of those who came in my shop for pre-purchase checks so far this year".

    So we shook hands, and tomorrow we'll meet at a tax office (the sales contract needs to be stamped by them to prove that the seller is tax-debt free) to complete the papers and give/take the money/bike.
    Awesome, congrats! You certainly did your homework!

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    bigborer (OP)
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    Re: FZ6 versus Honda VTR 1000 f (firestorm / superhawk)

    Now it's officially mine! Only thing left is a "box of misc" which I'll get from the seller next week (OEM levers, seat post, new oil filter, etc)

    It seems to use the same oil filter as the FZ6, which is nice. At least I'll be able to do the oil change this evening with existing parts.

    Will get back with more feedback and comparaisons after I manage to ride it for a bit.
    2004 FZ6 with R6 Fork and brakes, Leo Vince SBK Carbon Exhaust, Venhill SS Race brake lines

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