Badass Factory turns a Fazer 750 into a dirt track-inspired fun machine…
In the mid 1980s, Yamaha introduced the FZX750 Fazer, also known as the “Baby V-Max.” While the styling echoed that of the company’s V4 super brute, the engine was a retuned version of the FZ750 powerplant, offering a strong 94 horsepower with plenty of midrange punch:
“Based on the 20-valve, liquid-cooled, inline four-cylinder Genesis engine in the FZ750, the 698cc motor in the Fazer screams ‘sport’ from every pore. The engine retains nearly everything that’s good in the FZ750’s, but gets a few minor changes and additions to better suit its purpose as an urban assault vehicle.” —Rider
The FZX750 blasted through the 1/4 mile in 11.6 seconds — about a second down from the original V-Max, but still plenty strong. On the other hand, the V-Max was sorely lacking in the handling department:
“In a straight line, [the V-Max] will out-accelerate anything this side of the space shuttle. Unfortunately, it’s about as adept at going round corners as a double wardrobe.” —Richard Hammond
The FZX, however, with its 447-pound dry weight and sport-oriented design, could handle some twisties, too:
“Although one could say that the Fazer is like the all-powerful V-Max in eyeball-jiggling acceleration ability, the difference between these two motorcycles is like night and day when it comes to cornering…. The 16-inch front wheel, low center of gravity and wide handlebars of the Fazer give the steering a quick, low-effort feel…. The Fazer is able to generate impressive cornering speeds without touching any metal to the pavement.” —Rider
Enter our friend Thomas Jean-François of France’s Badass Factory, whose Triumph Speed Triple and Ducati 1098 café racers we’ve featured on BikeBound. Now he’s back with something in a different style entirely, an FZX750 street tracker. Thomas say the FZX goes back to his earliest days of riding:
“I know the behavior of this bike well in its original configuration, because it was the first bike I bought in 1990!”
He found this one in poor shape — it had been abandoned for more than a decade! After completely disassembling the bike to repaint the frame and engine, he swapped in the running gear from a Yamaha XJR1300SP, including fork, longer swingarm, 17-inch wheels, high-performance brakes, and Öhlins shock absorbers.
Thomas says his original FZX was highly wheelie-prone, and the small 16-inch front / 15-inch rear wheels were anything but confidence-inspiring over rough roads. With the XJR running gear, the change in the ride of the machine is night and day:
“The change of attitude also radically changed the behavior of the bike. To conclude, this machine with a fickle front, now allows you to go into a curve by leaning on the brakes, and to open the throttle sooner when exiting a curve without fear of losing the front on entry and the rear on exit! It finally became a fun bike!!”
Of course, if you’re going to build a dirt track-inspired Yamaha, you’ve got to consider the iconic speed block paint, which Thomas says is one of his favorite parts of the build. Below, we talk to him for more details on this Fazer street tracker.
Yamaha Fazer 750 Street Tracker: Builder Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
Yamaha 750 FZX, 1992.
• Why was this bike built? (Customer project, company promotion, personal, etc.)
I’d never seen any FZX modified.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Dirt track bike.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Complete disassembly, removal of the engine and the electrical system to repaint the frame and the engine, both being completely rusty…the bike had been abandoned for 10 years. Manufacture of a rear shell in composite materials. Triumph Daytona 955i yellow paint, Yamaha US team 80’s style.
Adaptation of the running gear of a 1300 XJR SP (fork, swingarm, wheels, brakes, and shock absorbers). Opened up intake and exhaust. 99.99% homemade except the saddle, which was made by NCdesign.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
I know the behavior of this bike well in its original configuration, because it was the first bike I bought in 1990!
It was so dangerous with its front wheel which seemed to just touch the ground, that an acceleration on a slightly bumpy road and it was guaranteed steering wobble. This is why I grafted the running gear of 1300XJR to it.
17″ wheels instead of 15″ and 16″ ride better on bumps and offer a choice of more efficient tires. The longer swingarm limits wheelie. Ohlins shock absorbers…what else?
The diameter of the fork, which increases from 38mm to 44mm, with the trail of the R1, finally secures the front!
The change of attitude also radically changed the behavior of the bike. To conclude, this machine with a fickle front, now allows you to go into a curve by leaning on the brakes, and to open the throttle sooner when exiting a curve without fear of losing the front on entry and the rear on exit! It finally became a fun bike!!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I think the paint.