Got to ride my buddy's 2006 FZ1 a few days ago. About 15 miles of slab, then 30-40 miles of mixed twisties.
FZ1 is nowhere near stock, has some Ivans parts, full Akrapovic system, R1 fork and brakes. I remember how frustrated I'd be, when he'd pull away from me out of the corners when I was on my 919. But in this review, it'll be more compared to my Ninja 1000, since it's been a few years since I've ridden a 919.
Weight - felt roughly the same as the Ninja, and not as top heavy as the 919. I could flat foot (I'm 5'7") the FZ1 - but his R1 forks sits the bike lower than stock. I'm on the balls of my feet on the Ninja, but I went up from a 190/50 to a 190/55 series rear tire. All 3 bikes hide the weight well, once moving.
Ergonomics - I immediately felt that sitting on the FZ1 was a little "tighter". Leg positioning, and the reach. He's got Driven rearsets, but he said they are raised just slightly above stock. Compared to a 919, the reach is close to the 919 stock bar, but a little wider, and wrists a little more flared out. My back was much more upright, just like riding with the stock 919 bar (I had Renthal UL on my 919, to get more weight up front, and fix the weird wrist positioning). However, I felt closer to over the front axle than both the 919 and Ninja 1000. I was hoping that this would attribute to a better front end feel - but it did not. Could be due to the Pilot Road 2 front tire. I remember those tires feeling a bit numb on the 919.
It had a Puig screen on it, I could feel the wind buffering starting at 60 mph. Reminded me of my 919, oh how I do not miss touring on nakeds.
Engine - the difference here is huge between the Ninja and the FZ1. The FZ1 loves to wind up, like a 600 supersport - the characteristics really reminded me of the R6 and 600RR. In the real world, it felt like I was always undergeared when needing to accelerate. This feeling is probably more pronounced, since the Ninja pulls from a lower rev range. But the flexibility of this engine seems like it'd be great to ride really hard - staying high in the rpms, and not having to worry about grabbing too much throttle. Winding it up sounds awesome, you can hear the intake howling, and the Akrapovic pipe of course is sex. I also need to mention that he has the Graves velocity stacks. On this bike, it really felt like you weren't going as fast as the numbers indicated...which could be a bad thing, or not a thing at all. Power delivery was smooth, and like the 919 and the Ninja, there was a slight buzz at traveling speed.
Braking - It's got the 6 pot R1 brakes, with steel braided lines. You can endo it with your pinky. Took me about 20 minutes to get used to it. It shits on the Ninja's and 919's stock brakes, obviously.
Cornering - I was surprised at how easily this bike rode. I think within the first 20 minutes in the twisties, I was very comfortable leaning it over. Although, even with the shorter R1 fork, the turn-in required some effort. (Front tire is new, rear tire is on its way out - this could have something to do with the handling.)But once there, the bike was very stable. The PR2 front tire had plenty of grip, and although the feedback was lacking, I had a lot of confidence in the bike. Felt like I could lean it over more and more.
Exiting the corners, the bike felt great as well. Keeping the FZ in 6-7 grand through the corners, it pulled smoothly on the exits. Probably wouldn't be fun just piddling around the corners, but who rides like that anyways, and it'd be like that on any bike. I was rarely in 5th or 6th gears in the twisties.
I like the bike, could definitely see myself on one. It would make a fantastic, comfortable track bike, or light tourer. I think Yamaha racing school used FZ1's at one point. Around my area, I see the second gens going for $3500 and up. Like the 919, I think these are a lot of bike for the money.
As far as my buddy's reactions to my Ninja 1000, he felt like it was too shortly geared - the redline came on too quickly. It lifted the front end very easily - he said it with a grin, some could say it with a frown. Under hard accelations, it really pushed him back into the seat. Bike felt smaller between the legs, gas tank felt smaller. Transitions felt light and fast. Engine sounded great. Brakes felt woody. Wind protection was good. That's all I can remember.