There’s one thing you can’t buy in the custom world: pedigree. And Roland Sands has one of the best pedigrees of all. He’s a former 250GP national champion, so he’s got the track smarts and knows how to make a bike handle.
Sands started his racing career on a Yamaha TZ250, a fact not lost on Yamaha Europe. So when they wanted a flat tracker based on the FZ-09 (known as the MT-09 outside of the US), Sands was the guy who took the call.
Fast forward a few months, and here’s the result. It’s called ‘Faster Wasp’ and it’s dressed in the fabulous ‘bumblebee’ color scheme made famous by Kenny Roberts’ TZ750.
The bike slots into Yamaha’s ‘Faster Sons’ project, which means taking a current-model Yamaha and giving it a splash of classic style. Sands has added a third element—Yamaha’s racing history.
The Yamaha FZ-09 offers rapid performance straight out of the box. The inline triple delivers 115hp at the (crossplane) crank, and the aluminum frame keeps wet weight down to a creditable 190kg or so.
So the RSD mechanics have left the fueling alone, and freed up the breathing with Two Brothers Racing stainless steel headers. They’re hooked up to an RSD Slant muffler, which should lose a few extra kilos.
The brake system gets an upgrade with RSD custom front rotors, Performance Machine radial calipers, an RSD radial master cylinder and Spiegler brake lines.
The suspension gets a tweak as well, with a fork cartridge kit and rear shock from Öhlins. The wheels are the RSD ‘Morris’ design in forged aluminum—17×3.5 up front and a mighty 17×6.0 at the back. The rubber is Dunlop’s super-sticky, track-friendly Sportmax Q3.
Swing a leg over the new leather seat (nice work, Bitchin Seat Co.) and straight off you’ll notice the Renthal Fatbars. They’re clamped via RSD Nostalgia risers, with RSD Traction grips to give a little extra control.
The stars of the show are the hand-fabricated parts, though. That means the scalloped aluminum gas tank and the kicked-up tail section—plus the intake scoops, radiator covers and front fender.
Like most modern bikes, the Yamaha FZ-09 looks quite ‘busy.’ It can’t have been easy to give it a dash of retro style, but Sands has pulled it off spectacularly—helped by the glossy paint and powder from Airtrix and Specialized Coatings.
Will we see a production bike like this? Maybe. “Roland did a fantastic job with this build,” says Yamaha’s product manager Shun Miyazawa. “This concept is going to help us to accelerate bringing future products to the market.”
‘Faster Wasp’ is no doubt destined for the show circuit, but it won’t be wrapped in cotton wool. Sands has already thrashed the bike hard, and there’s a video to prove it.