When it comes to my sport-touring preferences, I like an accent on sport. I used to rack up hundreds of miles in a day on my Yamaha Seca 550, sans its distinctive bikini fairing, so I do not need to be pampered to go the distance.
The Yamaha FJR1300 is a traditional design with a sporting bent that puts performance ahead of bells and whistles, and when swapping between the 2009 Kawasaki Concours 14 and BMW K 1300 GT, it is indisputably the king of the twisties.
I enjoyed the FJR1300 ergonomics every time I slipped into the cockpit. It feels compact and ready to dice-definitely more sport than touring. The Yamaha gauges are easy to read, though I would rather have a large digital velocity readout than its distracting 270-degree, 170 mph analog needle sweep.
The Yamaha FJR has a natural turn-in that makes it carve through turns with remarkable dexterity for a motorcycle that weighs a claimed 641 pounds, filled with fluids (it has the largest capacity fuel tank of the three). Once committed, the FJR1300 willingly holds its line, yet allows necessary adjustments as conditions (including rider error) require. In comparison, to the 2009 Concours 14 feels a bit ponderous, due to a few more pounds and plusher suspension, while the BMW K 1300 GT has the odd feel of its no-dive Duolever single-shock front suspension (which is undoubtedly nice for two-up riding).
Entering corners, the Yamaha shines. In addition to superior engine braking characteristics, the FJR1300 offers a unique ABS-enhanced Unified Braking System-the hand lever controls six of the eight front pistons, with the foot pedal activating two rear pistons and the remaining two front pistons. It sounds tricky, but everything happens transparently. I simply operated the Yamaha brakes in a normal manner and was rewarded by fully predictable braking manners.
Once the corner has been executed, the Yamaha 1298cc motor spins up faster on the straight. Certainly, the BMW has an extremely broad torque curve, while the Kawasaki has a blinding top end boost, but the FJR’s spunky delivery won me over. Even if the FJR1300 is not quicker, it feels like it is, and that’s what it’s all about if you are not on the track. However, a sixth gear is on my wish list.
Performance is not the entire story. The Yamaha FJR1300 also offers outstanding comfort for less-sporting portions of the road. Vibration is minimal, and the seat perfectly balances the demands of sport riding and touring. As a bonus, the bags come off quickly and the stripped FJR (reminiscent of the original 1984 FJ1100) becomes a fine upright, fully faired sport motorcycle.
|MSRP||$15,190 (Liquid Silver) Available from February 2010|
|Type||1298cc liquid-cooled inline 4-cylinder; DOHC, 16 valves|
|Bore x Stroke||79 x 66.2mm|
|Fuel Delivery||Fuel Injection|
|Ignition||TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition|
|Transmission||5-speed; multiplate wet clutch|
|Suspension/Front||48mm fork; fully adjustable, 5.4-in travel|
|Suspension/Rear||Single shock; adjustable preload and rebound damping, 4.8-in travel|
|Brakes/Front||Dual 320mm disc, UBS ABS|
|Brakes/Rear||282mm disc, UBS ABS|
|Seat Height||31.69 or 32.48 in|
|Rake (Caster Angle)||26°|
|Fuel Capacity||6.6 gal|
|Fuel Economy||39 mpg|
|Wet Weight||641 lb|
|Warranty||1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)|