Not that long ago I was sitting along side a patch of asphalt deep inside one of my favorite canyon roads. We were there filming a separate project that day and I just happened to have some down time. But while I sit there in my camping chair a faint rumbling in the distance started to grow louder. It was without a doubt a motorcycle, and it was definitely coming our way. And doing so with speed.

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I wasn’t alone, so like all moto enthusiasts do we started trying to guess what model was making this mechanical symphony. There was no question that it was a twin cylinder motorcycle, leading many calls for a Ducati. It didn’t have that distinctive Italian chatter and thud, nor did it sound like anything I was truly familiar with. The sound grew exponentially with every turn, matching my expanding curiosity. What ever it was, it was being ridden in proper form. Finally, It emerged from the tight right hander we were camped behind, before blitzing into a long sweeping left. As it streaked by I couldn’t believe my eyes, all that noise from… an FZ07!? This was my first experience hearing Yamaha’s new middle weight with some proper mods, and boy was it eye opening.

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Throughout our video shoot this FZ07 would rip up and down the canyon a handful of times. Each pass blew me away. I was amazed at the sound the 689cc parallel twin was able to emit. It’s as if Yamaha had mixed in a batch of black magic to the FZ’s build sheet. I had read many glowing reviews of Yamaha’s FZ, but never gave it much of a glance thanks to its unfavorable appearance. Yet I was now perplexed, not only does the FZ have great reviews, but it also sounds like a demon with a little tuning. Maybe this bike needs a second look after all.

So I started to dig into the FZ07 a little bit more. What I found is a bike that is hailed as one of the best all around motorcycles you can own, notwithstanding a few aftermarket tweaks. The FZ is essentially the replacement SV650, a bike hailed for being as versatile as it is cheap. Naturally, I should be in love with the little FZ, considering I actually own an SV. Unfortunately, I just can’t get over the awkward styling that comes along with the FZ. But in all my research I did find an area where that sweet little twin can really shine, and that is called the FZ07R.

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R stands for ‘race’, and anytime it is thrown into the name you know who ever built it means business. AP MotoArts is no different, pouring their heart and soul into this radical FZ. Even though the FZ07 is a ‘standard’ naked bike, AP has still managed to transform it into a full blown track weapon with some tasteful modifications.

The most noticeable upgrade is definitely the addition of full bodywork. AP took styling cues from the Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike, giving the FZ07R incredible good looks. From there the package unfolds into a massive collection of parts all designed to make the FZ platform just a little bit faster. If you are going to do it, you’d better do it right. That means a fork swap is in order. Upgrading to the front end from an R6 allows the mighty FZ to cope with the demands of the track with ease. Keeping with that trend AP will also swap in an R6 rear shock to complete the suspension. Pair that with R6 wheels or lighter and you have yourself a monster chassis. The frame from the FZ is actually really well sorted, it was just the budget bits attached to it that needed to go.

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Surprisingly to get that little ‘R’ badge on there the FZ only need a slight massaging when it came to hard parts. A custom air box with velocity stacks becomes the norm, as well as an aftermarket pipe. From there the ECU gets a nice reflash to better manage the new air flow. As with any race bike, rearsets were added for better foot controls, and while they were at it they went ahead and slapped on a quick shifter for seamless up-shifts. AP also added a slipper clutch to improve downshifts as well. The last bit to acknowledge on the FZ07R is the fact that it is light. AP Motoarts hasn’t published a wet weight, but we can imagine that the ‘R’ is easily sub 360lbs.

The FZ07R is the perfect answer for that middle ground rider. With the current crop of stupid fast supersports, and a growing group of thumpers(300cc) the mid-weight race bike has been missing since the discontinuation of the SV650. Sure, some guys still run the SV, but it’s quickly becoming dated and unfortunately seeing itself out the door. The FZ07R is a bike that fills that void perfectly, making it a fantastic option for new riders or those just looking for track time at a more manageable pace. AP Motoarts can build the FZ07R to fit almost any budget and certainly any skill level, making it one of the most versatile race bikes on the market today.

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