GOING UP A GEAR
Yamaha’s updated FJR1300 gets its long-overdue sixth cog
‘The shorter gears makes for quicker acceleration in the lower half of the gearbox’
Two days of blasting around Spain’s Almeria race track and chasing twisty tarmac through the gorgeous, sun-drenched surrounding mountains wasn’t the test route I’d imagined for the Yamaha FJR1300 launch. But the Japanese firm reckon they’ve got touring and comfort nailed so to show off the new performance-focused upgrades we ditched the straights and tasted more fruity corners than a Müller yoghurt factory could have supplied!
The FJR’S big update is the long- awaited (and overdue) sixth gear. It also gets Yamaha’s new Slip and Assist clutch, LEDS front and rear, adaptive cornering lights for peeking round bends, a redesigned tail unit, tweaks to the dash, and now has Dainese’s D-air Street airbag system as an option.
Despite the tangle of tight switchbacks we did get the opportunity to test sixth gear on the few straights that connect the Spanish mountains, and it’s a welcome addition. Yamaha have cleverly pulled this off without having to re-engineer the crankcases by using helical cut gears instead of straight cut and completely redesigning the gearbox to be more compact and lighter than the old one. The benefit of the shorter gears makes for quicker acceleration in the lower half of the ’box, while offering a tall and vibration-free sixth for cruising comfort and economy.
Yamaha’s new Slip and Assist clutch – first fitted to the 2015 YZF-R1 superbike, and now permeating through the range – keeps the FJR settled during aggressive downshifts, helping to stop the rear-wheel from locking up as you carve down a mountain pass. Yamaha say it will dramatically improve harsh braking for fast cornering, although I’m not sure how many owners will be riding their FJR that hard. But it is handy on such a big bike, where the tendency under hard braking is to transfer weight to the front wheel and lock up the rear. The new mechanism also equates to a 20% lighter clutch lever action, which is good news for left hands everywhere.
The redesigned tail unit now sports LED lights, as does the headlamp which also now boasts posh adaptive cornering lights. The system uses information from the FJR’S inertial measurement unit (IMU) to identify when the bike is cornering. When lean angle increases more than 5-degrees past vertical, it fires up the lights to illuminate the bend ahead. The dash has also been tweaked with a new anti-glare screen.
FJR lovers will be glad to know that Yamaha have also produced a top box which is compatible with the pannier system, something that wasn’t possible before as top box and panniers together put too much stress on the subframe.
There are still three FJR models to choose from: A (£13,299), AE (£14,799) and AS (£15,499). All three get Yamaha’s new Slip and Assist tech and panniers as standard but only the AE and AS model get the cornering lights, upsidedown fork and electronically adjustable suspension, leaving the A model with a conventional fork-set up and manually adjustable suspension. The AS model has the Auto Clutch system which does away with the clutch lever in favour of thumb and finger paddles for clicking through the gears. It still comes with a gear lever though, just in case your left foot feels left out.
A host of updates make the FJR even better on the straights, and in the corners too