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.
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.