Yamaha FZ6 versus Harley-Davidson Sportster 883

I don't know if any of the motorcycle magazines have run performance comparisons between the Yamaha FZ6 versus the Harley-Davidson Spo...

yamaha fz6
I don't know if any of the motorcycle magazines have run performance comparisons between the Yamaha FZ6 versus the Harley-Davidson Sportster 883, but it seems like these two bikes are indeed comparable in many ways, yet quite different in others.

But having only ridden cruisers, and not being all that familiar with sportbikes, I hadn't realized that these two bikes are similar in one other way: they're both considered beginner bikes.

The story goes back to last week when I was hanging out with some fellow riders at a Wings And Things in Murrieta, CA. Two of the guys there were from the local metric motorcycle dealer, one guy a salesman, and the other a wrench. Both were sportbike riders.

So I asked them what they thought about the Yamaha FZ6. I explained that I was actually interested in buying one, because I wanted something that could handle the twisties better than my Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic, that was a lot lighter, and was priced low. And the Yamaha FZ6 fits that bill.

They said, "The FZ6 is a good bike, but it's a beginner bike. In six months you're just going to want the R6. Since you already have a lot of experience riding motorcycles, my advice is to just buy the R6."

The R6 is Yamaha's 600cc sportbike. That is, it's a true sportbike. Whereas, the FZ6 is actually a 600cc standard, when you consider the more upright riding position and different gearing. The FZ6 simply has a sporty look, and often ends up being called a sportbike.

Their answer made me stop to think a moment.

Suddenly I saw myself seriously considering buying the sportbike equivalent of a Harley-Davidson Sportster 883.

I'm actually one of those guys who tells newbie riders to avoid the 883 Sportster, and get some kind of Twin-Cam based Harley. They're bigger bikes, more expensive, but you're going to want one anyways, and why put yourself through the hassel of selling off an 883 that you won't get full value for.

And so for a couple of days following, I found myself pricing R6's, which are all priced at $10,000. The FZ6 on the other hand, is priced at $7,000.

But then I forgot something important. I wanted to buy the FZ6 because it handles the twisties better, it's more lightweight than my Harley, and it's priced low. I never wanted it for power. But it still has power, generating 98hp tops, and weighing in at only 459 pounds. It's going to blow my Ultra Classic away as it is.

So I've forgotten about the R6, and am back to looking at the FZ6 again.

But I just can't afford to buy it now. I have some debts to get rid of first. It'll probably be after the 2010 FZ6 comes out that I'll seriously think about parting with my money.

But as far as the FZ6 being considered a beginner bike, well so be it. I'm not buying for that reason anyhow. But I wonder how many sportbike riders out there decide to buy an 883 Sportster just because they want to experience the joy of riding a Harley? Well, I just can't see them buying the 883.

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  1. I'm actually thinking of buying an FZ6N as my next bike as it seems a good step up from my 250 VTR beginner bike. I really would prefer a Triumph Street Triple but like you I don't have the cash to outlay on a brand new bike and the Yamaha 2nd hand comes in at around 6k with only a few thousand on the clock.

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  2. I had a Suzuki SV650 prior to my Sportster XL1200 and really enjoyed the handling. That said, with suspension upgrades the Sportster handles great. You can see my Sporty at http://www.harley-davidson-sportster.com/.

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  3. Never understood the "big bike" mentality or "beginner bike comments... Just the other night I had a guy APOLOGIZE to me after he pulled up on his 250 Ninja and I complimented him on its look.... I personally don't care if it's a 50 cc scooter or a Munch Mammoth. Different folks ride for different reasons ("cool" factor, high mpg, utility, twisties, etc). If it gives you lots of smiles per gallon, then what's the problem? Afterall, like they say... It ain't the size that matters, but you can do with it. =)

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  4. I am the proud owner of an '07 FZ6. It is not a beginners bike. Anything that has 100hp and is under 450 lbs has serious performance potential. You can not compare this bike to a sportster, the 883 and 1200 sporties are in the stone age compared to the FZ6. The brakes on the FZ6 are better (linear, feel, power) than any Harley I have ridden. The FZ6 is a perfect commuter bike and quasi sport tourer capable of some longer distance rides. Every Sportster I have ridden is seriously underpowered compared to the FZ6. The FZ6 redlines at 14,000 rpm, so you have to spin it to make power. If you want a nimble bike, check out a Buell, he gets over 100 hp out of a 1200 Harley motor.

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  5. I agree with Wolfc70. I have an 2007 fz6 and love i!. I started out on a Suzuki blvd s40 "thumper" liked the bike but wanted more comfort but really didn't need too much 'cc power. the FZ6 I studied and considered a long while. I learn something new everyday and I have ridden my FZ way more than my Suke. I checked the Harley sportster, SV650 and my son has a ninja 250 which is also fun to ride. I found the FZ makes me want to continue & enjoy riding all kids of bikes.

    Just get out choose your bike you love and enjoy it. I wave to all and really am glad for my new found "hobby". Never too young, old to learn!

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  6. I just bought a 2007 FZ6 and it rides great. Just sold 2007 1200 Low Sportster.It was a good bike but I like the ride and power of the FZ6. Before the Sportster I had a 1200 Bandit that felt big and bulky but was a good sport touring bike. FZ6 has almost as much HP as Bandit, but is more nimble. It is hard to compare between V Twins, to Inline Four, or V Four. The way the engines feel when you twist the throttle changes the whole ride of the bike.

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  7. Just sold my 883C and purchased a 2009 FZ6 off of the showroom floor. Not a beginner's bike. Top speed is around 150 MPH, handles like a dream, and gets about 50 MPG commuting on the highway. I do miss the Sporty though. Handled significantly better in-town. Looked nice too.
    Don't write the FZ6 off as a beginner though. Super-fast! Just more comfortable than the c-rockets.

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Sorry, but I'll take my "beginner" XL 883 over any "sportbike" any day. More so since i'm fixing to do +2500 miles to Sedona this fall. Try that laying down on your gas tank the whole way (which btw, I've also done, but never again).

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  10. If 883 are so not recommended why they still making them? Just curious. For chicks? you sexists!!

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  11. To Dave: FZ6=upright seating position.

    While the 883 is often considered the "beginner" bike of the Harley line, any 600cc and up sport/standard bikes are anything but beginner bikes.

    I would never consider touring on an 883/1200 "Sport"ster. I hope you replace that peanut tank!

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  12. I am here to say the New 883 Iron is a Fine 1st bike, my Girlfriend bought one a few months ago and it fits her fine (5'3" 109lbs) as its low and unlike other Sporties I have riden its Not Top heavy nor ugly as sin as most are except the Iron and Nighster models (HD apparently has a problem letting go of those other, out dated Sportie Customs etc.. that crowd every dealership I visit, they are crap to look at and so out dated that no one wants that and as the HD Intro Bike they should REALLY just keep it to the Nighster and Iron models).
    Anyways she loves it and its more than enough bike for Her. One day Maybe a Monster 696 or 1100 after she tres of this one i dunno.
    As far as 1st Bike "Myths" I am here to tell you I bought a 2002 VROD in 2005 and Never even sat on a bike before, 4 years and 70,000 miles later I can say the Whole 1st bike "Rules" are Garbage, its all what you can handle, set your sites LOW and you will be stuck with a Bike you didnt want to begin with and now cannot get rid of because no one else wants it either. Buy what you want and learn how to ride it.
    On another Note I am guessing this Blog Site is Dead as it hasnt been Updated all summer.

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  13. I hope you wind up getting the FZ6. Looks like a great bike. I went from my Zuki standard to a Harley Ultra... While I definitely appreciate the upgrade, I do miss the small/medium bike with a standard layout in turns and stop-n-go traffic. Good luck with whichever you choose.

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  14. Good blog!.. both are good in one or the other way... thanx for sharing...

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  15. 883 is the ugliest bike harley ever made. lux, ur crazy if u think the nightster and iron looks better than 1200 custom. i also agree with ray. my 1200 custom is for cruising around town. i would never go on a long trip with it. dave, u better carry a gas can with u.

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  16. If all you want is a good bike for the twisties I would encourage you to consider the Ninja 250. I own one in addition to my Sporty and its a great bike for the mountain roads; light, nimble, and quick. Don't laugh, its quick enough to kill in the wrong hands on the wrong road. With a top speed of about 110 mph it will kill you just as easily as an RZ if you don't pay attention.

    For those of you in the Los Angeles area who already own an 883 check out this meetup group and see if it appeals to you.



    http://www.meetup.com/Sportster883/

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  17. Your comparisons are way off.
    Just because Harleys base model is the 883 Sportster, it dosent make it a beginers bike.
    Just because Yamahas lowest priced sport model is the FZ6R, dosent make it a beginers sport model.
    Any beginers bike should be under 500 lbs, and under 50hp.
    The Sportster is overweight, and the FZ6R is way overpowered. Though beginners may do better with the Sportster, since your only looking at it being about 50 lbs too much. The bad thing about the Sportster is that used ones arent that cheap, and if they want to upgrade in a year they wont recoup as much of their investment.
    Smaller bikes like 250's - 500's either sport or cruiser make good beginer bikes because they are often can be bought cheap without having a note used, light, cheap to insure, and low on hp. Practice with them, drop them, put 1,500 miles on it, and sell it for what you paid for it.

    Why learn on a $10,000 bike with high insurance, a big note, depreciating faster than you can pay it off, where if you do screw up hopefully the worst thing that happens is you spend as much replacing a fairing and metal parts as that used beginner bike would have cost to begin with!

    Save up for the year from the insurance and notes your saving on, sell your beginner bike for most of what you paid for it, and have twice as much to put down on the $7,000 sport bike.

    Then laugh at the squids in your mirrors on their $10,000 YZF-R6!

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  18. When in the name of Sam Hill did a $7000, 90+ horsepower motorcycle become a beginner's bike? I started out (many, many moons ago...) on a 100cc Honda dirt bike rated at about 10 HP - rode all over NW Oklahoma on that thing, and NEVER was in danger of twisting that right grip too far for the conditions.

    I just think this "mine's bigger" attitude has gotten out of hand - ride what you like!

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  19. Fun Fact...over 50% of motorcycle deaths happen when riding under 35 mph

    Also 16% of riders grind to their painful death annually so there must be a lot of beginners

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  20. You cant possibly be serious about this, the FZ6 will do the 1/4 mile in under 12 seconds and the 883 takes at least 15...do you guys realize how far behind the 883 would be at 3 full seconds apart??? seriously, and if you seriously try to compare these 2 bikes in the corners it would be much worse than 3 seconds, it would be similar to a peter built semi trying to keep up with a chevy silverado pick up truck. Maybe you will compare those two vehicles next?

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