2009 Yamaha FJR1300A | Motorcycle Test


Sport Dexterity, Touring Ability.

I’ve never why sport-touring motorcycles have not caught on big in the United States. Perhaps it is a problem of marketing. Sport riders think the bikes are too much “tour” and, therefore, boring and stodgy.  Touring riders see them as overly “sporty”, conjuring images of bent over riders nursing back spasms at the end of a long day in the saddle.  If you fit into either of these templates, you probably haven’t ridden the Yamaha FJR1300A. As both a sporting rider, as well as a touring aficionado, the FJR nicely satisfies my desires.

Off the track, I prefer an upright for street sport riding. I consider the visibility offered by the upright ergonomics to improve both my speed and safety on the street. Pull those hard bags off the FJR and you have a fully faired upright sport bike that, while a bit heavy at 641 pounds (claimed wet), is a credible sport bike. The torquey 1298cc motor is what you would expect in a Japanese sport bike-an in-line-4 with liquid-cooling, DOHC, and 16 valves-so you do not have to worry about getting left behind when it comes time to twist the throttle.

The FJR has neither the neck-snapping acceleration on straightaways nor the cornering prowess of an R1, but those are features that are difficult to exploit safely on public roads. Set the FJR into a turn and it sticks. If a mid-corner adjustment is necessary, you will be accommodated, as long as you aren’t in too much of a hurry or overly demanding. The ABS-equipped calipers with 320mm rotors are superb, as are the Z-rated 17-inch radials, front and back. And, certainly, you can dive through the canyons from dawn until dusk in complete comfort. It doesn’t approach the hardest core sport bikes, but the FJR is a great upright sport machine.

Touring riders do not have to feel slighted either. The same ergonomics that work all day in the canyons can also take you from Los Angeles to San Francisco without any sore joints. The fairing, seat height and handlebar pullback are adjustable, so you can tailor the bike to your body and expected activity. If the windshield isn’t tall enough for you, even in the highest position, Yamaha offers an accessory Touring Windshield that is four inches taller and a half-inch wider.

Riders accustomed to the relaxed position of a luxury tourer or cruiser-tourer may find the FJR’s ergonomics foreign, but they will likely fall in love posthaste. If you have properly set-up the bike, the 6.6-gallon fuel tank can be emptied on the back roads or one of Pres. Eisenhower’s finest legacies without a single stop to stretch.

Without any doubt, the power is there. The FJR doesn’t care if you are traveling alone, or two-up with the hardbags (and an accessory touring trunk with passenger backrest) filled for a weeklong getaway. Acceleration is brisk and sure, and you can comfortably cruise fast enough to get you in deep trouble with the highway speed enforcers. Your passenger can keep a lookout and alert you via a ChatterBox XBi Bluetooth Intercom that Yamaha offers.

About the only thing a touring rider may find missing on the FJR is a sixth gear. While fifth is decently high, it does not quite settle the engine down as much as we would like at Interstate cruising speeds. There is a bit of a buzz there that sport riders won’t likely notice, but the most demanding touring riders will find distracting.

In many ways, the Yamaha FJR1300A is a great do-it-all bike, even though it is not sold that way. In a matter of minutes it can be transformed from a long-distance/long-term touring bike into a credible faired upright sport bike, and then back at the end of the day. While many of us have both kinds of bikes in our garage, there is certainly something appealing about having a motorcycle that can handle two disparate jobs quite handily.


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