2002 Yamaha FJR1300
After we got done with the photos, he came back in to report what I'd find out later on myself: with only two pre-load positions available, there's not as much room for adjustment as we'd like. There's no ramped adjuster or even a threaded type of adjuster anywhere under there. You get two positions to choose from, soft and not-as-soft. This is especially annoying since the excellent front forks are completely adjustable, even though we never needed to touch them. Sure, the Hard pre-load setting may be in the ballpark for most of your riding, but what about when you're loaded down with luggage or a passenger on back or, God forbid, both?
Back under way we were headed down the mountain and out to the Interstate where this bike is really made to shine. With any luck we'd stop our incessant bitching about the obvious lack of eight-thousand different clickers out back and get back to the business of riding the thing as we should.
Pulling onto the freeway I knew full well that my compatriots on the sport twins must be getting low on fuel, but I didn't care. Surely they'd be able to make it 20 miles or so to the next gas stop. And if not, I had enough left in the FJR's 6.6 gallon tank to fuel up the others enough to get them back on the road. With just over 100 miles showing on the FJR's trip-meter, the fuel gauge was showing things only half empty. (Okay, I'm a pessimist. So what?) I just rolled onto the freeway and thumbed the rocker switch on the left control cluster that magically raises the wind screen, placing me in serious high-mileage mode.In it's lowest position the bike looks, from the saddle, just like any good sport-tourer should. The fairing puts the windblast at upper-chest level, leaving the helmet in a nearly buffet-free flow. With my 6'2" tall frame, however, I was in the mood for complete comfort and only the tallest position would suffice. This placed me in the sort of negative pressure zone that finds a bit of added pressure on the wrists despite the perfectly comfortable upright seating position as you actually get air flow from behind you. I found that with just a little bit of a slouch in my posture I could keep my helmet completely out of the flow of air up top while minimizing any other unwanted wind forces around my body. The ergonomics even suit my lanky frame just fine, though a little bit more legroom wouldn't be an unwelcome addition. All-new from the ground up, Yamaha's new FJR was designed to be the perfect blend of "super sport performance with long-distance luxury."
Out on the highway, that smooth flow of power we felt in the twisties comes through as one of this machine's shining points. The twin counter-balancers do a remarkable job of damping out any vibes before they find their way to the hands, butt or feet. In fact I'd venture to say this is the smoothest in-line four-cylinder motor I've felt maybe ever. Rolling along at an indicated 70 mph the engine is ticking over at 4,000 rpm, with an additional 500 rpm generating eight more mph. Despite the smoothness of the motor, however, it feels like it wants me to grab another gear so we can both motor down the highway, loafing along whilst we approach our destination at roughly 80 mph. But it's not to be.The transmission, you see, is only a five-speed unit. There is no sixth gear to notch into. This is especially frustrating since the first few gear changes seem like they're tight and perfectly spaced for a six-speed box. But when you get rolling, the sixth gear is missing. Say again: D'oh! When starting from scratch, and especially knowing the bike would see tons of Autobahn use, this is a surprising flaw in an otherwise nearly flawless package.
The up-side of this otherwise nagging trait, however, is that a twist of the wrist while cruising along at 75 mph will see nearly 70 horses and 90 foot pounds of torque generated at the rear wheel. Just the stuff you need to squirt past that lumbering Milk Truck of an SUV in front of you, even with your fat girlfriend on back, pulling a two-horse trailer, without downshifting.
So, at the end of it all, we have what's sure to be an absolute hit with buyers. The engineers who designed this newest iteration of the venerable FJR line certainly paid a lot of attention to detail, things that will make life and thousands of miles with the 1300 all the merrier. There are a few things they could have maybe done better, but then what would you have left to fiddle with? You can only polish a bike so many times before it gets that annoying waxy build-up.
Yamaha's new FJR is fast, smooth, comfortable, adjustable, sporty, toury, and just a bit sexy, all at once. If you can find a dealer with one on the way, this is a highly recommended ride we suggest you go take a long, hard look.