2015 Yamaha FJ-09 First Touring Test Ride

With sport-touring motorcycle sales increasing every year since 2009, the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 is a natural addition to the brand’s stable. Based on the universally praised FZ-09 naked sport bike, the new FJ-09 makes some wisely chosen updates to make it into a comfortable touring bike that retains the motor and chassis’ taste for sport riding.

Although they share many parts, the two bikes are distinctive from one another. Among the changes to the FZ-09 that make it into the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 are a fairing and adjustable windshield, sport-touring tuning of the DOHC triple, relaxed ergonomics that can be personalized, less aggressive KYB suspension settings with a longer swingarm, high-mileage Dunlop Sportmax D222 Roadsmart II rubber, a larger fuel tank, a power port, handguards, a centerstand, and access to a range of Genuine Yamaha Parts and Accessories touring accoutrements such as hard touring bags (which should be standard on a sport-tourer).

Certainly, the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 is more comfortable than its naked sport brother. The flatter seat and wider handlebars are raised and pulled back from their positions relative to the FZ, which opens the ergonomics up nicely without seriously compromising its sporting heritage. The three-position windshield (no tools needed, but must be moved manually when at a stop) allows for the slightly more upright seating position to be used without causing undue fatigue when putting on miles at high speed.

With a further focus on reducing wear-and-tear on the rider, essential for a touring bike, the ECU has been remapped for the ride-by-wire FJ-09. Don’t worry, however. There are three Yamaha D-Mode power settings, and each change the characteristic of the bike, as well as the mindset of the rider. Switching between the modes can be done on the fly through its own control on the right handlebar, which I like.

The Standard Mode is perfect for touring. Engine response is good, but not snappy. The Crossplane Concept triple offers smoothly developing power, making it easy to ride at a good clip, yet you do not have to concentrate fully on the throttle. If you’re interested in the touring aspect of sport-touring, this leaves some of your attention available to take in the sights.

The B mode is either a rain or urban mode, depending on how you view it. Power is retarded, and throttle response is noticeably slowed. It’s not much fun, but it can be useful in certain situations and conditions.

When it comes time to start pressing matters, you can switch into the A Mode and the FJ-09’s sportbike soul is roused — it does rev to an 11,250 rpm redline, after all. The power delivery becomes considerably snappier, and your focus is on the road, not your surroundings. That option is a great one when you need to clear out the cobwebs or get back home before dark. You forget, for the most part, that you’re on a sport-tourer, and it becomes a nice, faired upright sport bike.

The six-speed transmission is perfect. Shifting requires no thought, and there’s a cog for every situation. The clutch feel is good and it doesn’t have a hard pull.

ABS and traction control are standard. The ABS cannot be turned off, but the traction control can be. I rode in dry and wet conditions and never turned off the traction control, as it was never obtrusive. The ABS is equally agreeable. These are two safety features I appreciate full-time on a sport-tourer.

The brakes themselves are flawless. The front four-piston Advics calipers are radially mounted, giving a nice, soft initial bite, which ramps up in a linear manner as you pull harder. The rear Nissin brake is a good addendum to the front, especially in the wet.

Yamaha slowed down the damping on the FJ-09’s suspension, which means you can’t quite ride it as hard as the FZ. The agility is a bit diminished, but you’re still able to move the bike around in corners. Keep in mind that at 462 pounds wet (with no saddlebags), it’s in the ballpark weight-wise with the Ducati Hyperstrada, another mid-size sport-tourer that was based on a full-on sport bike.

Although it has a longer swingarm than the FZ, the Yamaha FJ-09 does have a one-degree steeper rake, so that helps keep it nimble in turns. Turn-in is neutral and finishing corners requires no unexpected effort. The Dunlop Sportmax D222 Roadsmart II tires let me lean over as far as I pleased — I was able to touch down the peg feelers — and they maintained traction in the rain. No surprises is a good thing. Overall, handling is predictable and fully confidence inspiring.

Long drones on the freeway at extra-legal speeds are not a problem, and stability is excellent. Even at freeway speeds, I preferred the windshield in the low position. In the highest position of three, it was quite noisy inside my Arai Signet-Q.

Keep in mind that I’m 5’ 6”, so the ideal windshield position will be different for taller (or shorter) riders. I would prefer an electric adjuster for the windshield, rather than having to stop the bike to change it. There’s also a taller, accessory Touring Windshield from Yamaha that runs $188.

The seat height on the FJ-09 is adjustable, with a choice between 33.25 inches (stock) and 33.85 inches. That might sound a bit tall, but I was fine with the seat in the lower position. Remember, if you raise the seat (a no-tool job), then the bars and footpegs are lowered in relation. At the end of the day, I was considering going to the higher seat position to give my legs a bit more room. Also, you can spin the bar clamps around and move the handlebars nearly a half-inch forward for more room and a slightly sportier forward lean.

I like the seat, even after a full day at the controls. Yamaha offers a Comfort Saddle ($365) and Lower Seat ($285) for those who aren’t satisfied with the stock perch.

As I mentioned, the bags on the FJ-09 I tested are not standard. The mounts for the hard bags are $94, and the side bags run $800 for the pair. You’ll also have to buy a 3-Lock Set for $80. If you feel you are being nickeled-and-dimed on this, well, you are. Oh, and if you want the bag liners, they are $108 for the pair. Add those items up and you’ve added over a grand to the price of the FJ-09.

The upside to not having the bags standard is that you can mount aftermarket bags, such as those from Cortech, Firstgear, or Nelson-Rigg. Price aside, the Yamaha hard bags are nice, remove and install easily, and match the FJ-09 perfectly.

There will be a Top Case available, though Yamaha recommends it not be used with hard side bags; the price for the Top Case is not yet determined. The Top Case must be mounted to a $171 rear rack.

My test 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 also had Yamaha accessory Grip Heaters ($284), which I was happy to have when the temperatures dropped into the low 50s. There’s also one DC outlet standard, and another can be added for $37.

Yamaha’s decision to turn the best-selling FZ-09 into a sport-touring FJ-09 was an inspired one. Taken individually, the changes are not dramatic. However, collectively, they turn the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 into a solid sport-touring mount that will appeal to those who don’t want or need a big, liter-plus, ultra high-speed touring bike.

Photography by Riles & Nelson

Riding Style
Helmet: Arai Signet-Q Tropic
Jacket: Firstgear Kilimanjaro Women’s
Gloves: Firstgear Women’s Fargo
Pants: Firstgear Women’s H/T Overpants
Basewear: Firstgear TPG Cold Weather Basegear pants and long sleeve top
Boots: Sidi Livia Rain

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Specifications
Engine: 847cc, liquid-cooled, inline-3, DOHC, 12 valves
Bore x stroke: 78.0 x 59.1mm
Compression ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel delivery: Denso EFI with YCC-T
Ignition TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: chain
Front suspension: 41mm KYB fork; adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.4-in travel
Rear suspension: Single KYB shock; adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.1-in travel
Brakes / Front ABS, Dual hydraulic disc, 298mm
Brakes / Rear Hydraulic disc, 245mm
Front tire: 120/70-ZR17 Dunlop D222 Sportmax II
Rear tire: 180/55-ZR17 Dunlop D222 Sportmax II
Seat Height 33.3 or 33.9 inches
Wheelbase: 56.7 inches
Rake: 24°
Trail: 3.9 inches
Fuel capacity: 4.8 gal
Estimated fuel economy* 44 mpg
Wet weight: 462 pounds (sans bags)
Weight distribution f/r: 51/49
Colors: Matte Gray; Candy Red
2015 Yamaha FJ-09 MSRP: $10,490 ($11,748, as tested)