The su­per tourer, re­fined.

It’s hard to be­lieve that Yamaha’s FJR1300 is now al­most 20 years old. In­tro­duced in 2001, the FJR has come to de­fine the Sport Tourer cat­e­gory, and through suc­ces­sive mod­els has gained in­creas­ing de­grees of re­fine­ment.

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For the first 15 years of its ex­is­tence, a five-speed gear­box was con­sid­ered suf­fi­cient, in view of the mas­sive torque and flex­i­bil­ity gen­er­ated by the 1,298cc en­gine, but a sixth ra­tio was added in 2016 to give an over­drive top gear as well as bet­ter ac­cel­er­a­tion due to the closer ra­tios. Shaft drive keeps ev­ery­thing clean and vir­tu­ally main­te­nance free in the back end. I couldn’t calculate the mileage I’ve knocked up on var­i­ous FJRs, not just in Aus­tralia but the length and breadth of New Zealand, and ev­ery kilo­me­tre has been trou­ble free and im­mensely sat­is­fy­ing. It never ceases to amaze me that for a mo­tor­cy­cle weigh­ing around 270kg dry, just how in­cred­i­bly ma­noeu­vrable it is. Once you drop into the seat, which is a sen­si­ble 805mm from the road, the FJR fits like an old glove. That seat height is im­por­tant not just in it­self, but in the whole rid­ing po­si­tion re­la­tion­ship be­tween seat, han­dle­bars and footrests, be­cause this is a mo­tor­cy­cle where you tend to spend long hours on the road.

For 2019, the venerable FJR1300 de­liv­ers more of the same pack­age that has made it such an icon amongst tour­ers the world over, with fea­tures that make life eas­ier on the road. The front screen is ad­justable elec­tron­i­cally while on the move, and in its high­est po­si­tion does an ad­mirable job of fend­ing off rain and wind. Light­ing is now LED front and rear, and a handy in­no­va­tion is a pair of aux­il­iary front lights that are bank­ing sen­si­tive – in other words, when you tip into a cor­ner, one or other of these come on to high­light the patch of road to your im­me­di­ate left or right, rather than sim­ply dead ahead. Cosy heated grips are stan­dard along with a 12 volt socket to power all sorts of de­vices. When you’re fully loaded with gear and a pil­lion, the su­per light As­sist & Slip­per clutch makes for smooth down­shift­ing, and there are trac­tion con­trol and cruise con­trol sys­tems which are ac­ti­vated via the han­dle­bar switches.

One of the big­gest changes in the re­cent mod­els has been the ad­di­tion of elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable sus­pen­sion which means you can set the ride ac­cord­ing to load and/or the road con­di­tions – for rider only, rider and pas­sen­ger, rider/pas­sen­ger plus lug­gage and so on. The damp­ing for

front and rear sus­pen­sion is also ad­justable, giv­ing myr­iad choices for set up. It makes a huge dif­fer­ence in sta­bil­ity and hence, con­trol and com­fort. There are also two en­gine power modes – Tour­ing and Sport – to suit con­di­tions.

Frame-wise, the FJR sports a sports­bike-style alu­minium beam chas­sis and the 2019 model now has USD forks. The fair­ing has been care­fully de­signed to de­flect the el­e­ments without be­ing overly bulky, and I can at­test to its ef­fec­tive­ness, hav­ing rid­den from Hay to Syd­ney in tor­ren­tial rain without be­ing soaked to the skin. There are handy lock­able and water­proof com­part­ments built into the sides on the fair­ing. The lat­est FJR1300 comes in a stylish Tech Graphite dé­cor with colour-matched pan­niers that are sim­ple to at­tach and re­lease. This is a mile-eater par ex­cel­lence, with ex­cep­tional road man­ners (and ex­cep­tional ac­cel­er­a­tion when re­quired) packed with fea­tures that are dead easy to ac­cess via the menus and for $27,999 (in­clud­ing GST plus On Road Costs) it rep­re­sents great value for money.

The bank­ing-sen­si­tive cor­ner­ing front light in ac­tion.

Six-speed slick-shift­ing box with A&S clutch makes for smooth rid­ing. Colour matched pan­niers are sim­ple to fit and re­move. Ad­justable front screen.

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