2015 Yamaha FJ-09

Editor Score: 87.25%
Engine 17.5/20
Suspension/Handling 12.75/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.75/10
Brakes 8.75/10
Instruments/Controls4.25/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.25/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 8.5/10
Value 9.0/10
Overall Score87.25/100

Almost exactly 14 months ago Yamaha jetted Motorcycle Courier Editor, Troy Siahaan, to San Francisco to sample the 2014 FZ-09, and he came back impressed. Just a little over two months later, MO gathered together four Triples to see how the new kid stacked up against the rest of the three-cylinder class. The results were quite favorable with the FZ-09 finishing second overall and being the editors’ choice if cost were the deciding factor. If it hadn’t been for its little sister, the FZ-07, claiming the Best Value Bike Of 2014, the FZ-09 would have been in a hard-fought battle for the number-one position in that category. That’s how much we love the FZ-09.

2014 Yamaha FZ-09 Review

If you’re wondering why I’m spending so much time mentioning the FZ-09 in an article about the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 press introduction, the answer is simple: The FJ-09 is the updated 2015 FZ-09 with the extras you’d expect from an adventure-styled sport-touring bike. We knew this bike was coming for a while before it was announced (look here, here, here, and here). Still, the thought of Yamaha taking a motorcycle that we loved last year, polishing off the rough spots (which I’ll get to later), making some well-placed additions, and giving us a chance to (finally) ride it, makes the MO staff collectively dewy eyed.

When the clouds finally parted and some dry pavement appeared, the FJ-09 showed that it has the chops to be a sibling to the FZ-09.

When the clouds finally parted and some dry pavement appeared, the FJ-09 showed that it has the chops to be a sibling of the FZ-09.

So, grab yerself a hot cuppa joe, sit down, and let me get down to the business of telling you all about the new bike carrying one of our favorite Triples.

If It Ain’t Broke, Tweak It

We love the FZ-09’s engine, calling it “a great engine with loads of torque and plenty of character.” E-i-C Kevin Duke opined, “If Yamaha could tune out the harshness of throttle application, this Triple would be one of my favorite engines of all time.” And there’s the rub. Yamaha’s engineers, being the smart folks who designed the FZ’s 847cc Triple, left it mechanically the same. Instead, they focused on tweaking and expanding the electronics package. (If you haven’t read Troy’s description of the FZ’s engine, go read it now.)

Mechanically the same as the FZ-09, the FJ benefits from updated fuel mapping for smoother throttle response and traction control for when things get slippery.

Mechanically the same as the FZ-09, the FJ benefits from updated fuel mapping for smoother throttle response and traction control for when things get slippery.

While Yamaha’s PR types were quick to say the ECU’s changes were directed at the differing requirements of the FJ’s sport-touring versus the FZ’s sporting roles, the answer to the question everyone has had since the FJ was announced at EICMA is: yes, the hinky off-to-on-throttle issues were targeted in development. The Drive Modes retain the same labels A, Standard, and B – with Standard and B delivering about 30% less power than the mode above it – but any similarities with how the modes feel compared with the FZ’s power delivery end there.

Since touring riders tend to ride more miles in more varied weather conditions, traction control was added to the FJ’s bag of tricks. In the age of ride-by-wire, we wouldn’t be surprised to see TC move over to the FZ in some future iteration. While we’re on technology the FJ sports that the FZ (currently) doesn’t, the FJ also benefits from ABS. Unlike the FJ-09’s TC, its ABS can’t be turned off.

The Four-Thirds Shootout: Tres Cool

The only changes to the chassis were those necessary for the shift to sport-touring duty. The fork features the same KYB components but with internals revised for the additional weight of touring. Additionally, the changes were designed to slow the damping profile of the suspension. The fork now has 1.5 times the compression damping of the FZ and 2.5 times the rebound damping. In the back, the KYB shock has 2.5 times and 2 times the compression and rebound damping, respectively. The stated goal was to “calm the ride down quite a bit.” The shock retains its preload and rebound adjustability, while the fork’s rebound-only adjustment switches from turns to clicks.

The seat was revised for more legroom and to better coddle the derriere. The bags are slightly narrower than those on the FJR for easier navigation through tight spaces.

The flatter, longer seat was revised for more legroom and to better coddle the derriere. The bags are slightly narrower than those on the FJR for easier navigation through tight spaces.

Focus on Comfort

The main frame is the same control-filled die-cast unit from FZ-09, and the engine retains its stressed-member role. However, the subframe was extended and beefed up to carry the accessory luggage that most FJ buyers will add. The additional room allows for changes to the saddle and the rider accommodations. First, the saddle is now a two-piece construction that is longer for both the rider and passenger. The seat is less aggressively positioned, meaning it is flatter and different foam is used for comfort during long stints. The seat height increases to 33.3 in. (and can be adjusted 0.9 in. higher), marking a 1.2 in. growth from the FZ. However, the front of the seat is narrower to make up for the increased altitude. Also, the edges of the seat are more curved for increased comfort.

2014 EICMA: 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Preview

The good news is that the higher seat gives the rider more separation between the seat and the pegs. Even before riding the FJ, the additional legroom is noticeable. Out on the road, the standard (read lower) position is all day comfortable for my 32-inch inseam. Bumping the seat into the high position (a two-minute process) is akin to moving from coach to business class, with only a slight lengthening of the reach to the ground.

For the additional time touring riders will spend in the saddle, the handlebar was made 40mm wider than that of the FZ, with the grips moved higher and rearward. The resulting upright riding position should also lead to more comfortable days in the saddle. However, larger framed riders could end up having their long arms feeling cramped, so the handlebar risers were designed such that they could be flipped 180°, moving the bar 10mm forward and providing some additional room. Riders will appreciate these ergonomic considerations when draining the 4.8 gallon tank. With a claimed fuel economy of 44 mpg, the FJ is theoretically capable of traveling 211 miles between stops.

The clever, dirtbike style risers rotate to give large-sized riders more room. The additional key required for the luggage will annoy those who don’t like scratches on their triple clamp.

The clever, dirtbike style risers rotate to give large-sized riders more room. The additional key required for the luggage will annoy those who don’t like scratches on their triple clamp.

Where the FZ-09 offers minimal weather protection, the FJ gives the naked FZ some sport-touring clothes with a frame-mounted fairing and an adjustable windshield. The more upright riding position requires a windshield to ease rider fatigue over the long haul. Without being overly large, the windscreen offers effective protection from the elements. In its high position, I was easily able to see over the screen while my 5-ft., 11-in. frame was almost completely out of the wind blast and experienced none of the back pressure that can sometimes occur. The airflow was directed over my head with no buffeting of the helmet, although I could hear the turbulence passing above. One side effect of the windshield was that, in the rain (What is it about me, rain, and sport-touring motorcycle introductions?), water drops collected on my faceshield because there was not enough wind to clear it, necessitating more frequent wipes with my glove. On a cold, wet ride, I consider this to be a quality problem and decided to keep it in the high position for more protection from the elements. For warmer, drier days, the windshield can be lowered two positions for a total range of 30mm, with the bottom position sending the airflow at my shoulders.

121714-2015-Yamaha-FJ-09-Action-68599

The Call of the Open Road

One of the advantages Yamaha believes the FJ has over other sport-tourers – even its own FJR1300 – is its smaller size and lighter weight. Not every rider who wants a sport-tourer wants the power and the associated weight of the open-class bikes that dominate the category. For example, the Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS and the FJR1300A weigh in at a claimed 690 lb. and 637 lb., respectively. The FJ tips the scales at a claimed 462 lb. (without bags), ready to ride. The riding experience is radically affected by 200 lb., particularly at parking lot speeds.

Slip the easy-to-modulate clutch, and the FJ gets underway. The change to the fuel mapping is immediately apparent. Riding on mountain roads in the rain only highlights how much the power delivery is improved compared to the FZ. Whereas, before on the FZ, I was willing to sacrifice the power in B Mode – in the dry – to get less abrupt throttle response, I could keep the FJ in Standard Mode in the rain on a twisty road without concern. When the roads dried out, I spent some time in A Mode but found it not to my liking. As a rider who values smoothness over snappiness in the twisties, this is more a sign of personal taste than any shortcoming of the FJ. The Triple has been transformed into the engine we knew it could be. (Although Yamaha’s representatives were circumspect in their comments, they did acknowledge the mapping in the 2015 FZ-09’s ECU has been modified.)

Yamaha Triples Retrospective

Everything else we loved about this engine is as it was before: From the meaty torque of the mid-range to the top-end rush, those 847cc love to accelerate. The transmission snicks positively. Its sound is thrilling.

Mmm, heated grips. Worth the price every time. The instrument cluster is reminiscent of the FJR. The top button on the left turns off the traction control.

Mmm, heated grips. Worth the price every time. The instrument cluster is reminiscent of the FJR. The top button on the left turns off the traction control.

Weather? What Weather?

Alas, She Who Spoils Motojournalists’ Dreams of Shenanigans (AKA Mother Nature) put a literal damper on Yamaha’s plans for a fun mountain ride on the FJ-09. So, much of the ride allowed me to noodle on the engineers’ success in providing for my creature comfort in the cold and wet. Also, the rain-slickened pavement provided the ideal environment to ascertain that the ECU’s fuel-metering demons had been exorcised.

121714-2015-Yamaha-FJ-09-Action-0404Testing the FJ’s handling was much more limited, though. As the roads began to dry at the very end of the ride, the FJ showed that the weight of the fairing and luggage hadn’t lessened the bike’s sporty character. Turn-ins were still quick. The wider bar helped here. Mid-corner line changes were just a thought away. Although I didn’t do any peg scraping, the rider’s feet are located the same distance from the ground as on the FZ (since the legroom came from the taller seat), so one would expect the same cornering clearance.

The suspension feels nicely balanced, and the stiffer compression settings in the fork lessened the front-end dive under braking that annoyed me with the FZ-09. The bump absorption finds the right compromise between firmness for sport riding and suppleness for touring duties, but after having my sensors polluted by active suspensions, it feels like a compromise – even if it is a good one.

Discuss this at our Yamaha FZ-09 Forum.

The brakes proved to be predictable and controllable – essential in the wet – but I don’t have any report about how they work in outright sport riding. I can say that the ABS was a confidence builder that I only needed once when the traffic suddenly stopped as I accelerated away from a stop. The pedal pulsed, telling me that it had just saved me from myself. About the brake pedal: It needed to be depressed a fair amount before it would activate the rear caliper. The Traction Control behaved exactly as you’d want. It did nothing until it needed to intervene on some slippery mud that had flowed across the road.

Got something you want to power? An outlet is included on the dash.

Got something electric you want to power? A 12-volt outlet is included on the dash.

You Can Take it with You

Previously, we’ve questioned why a manufacturer would sell a sport-touring motorcycle without the bags to actually tour on them. Yes, we know that everyone wants the MSRP to be as low as possible, but no luggage on a sport-touring bike? Really? So, in order to get the FJ-09 with luggage to actually carry stuff with you on your tour, you’ll need to buy the Hard Saddlebag Mounts ($94), the Hard Saddlebags ($400 each), and a 3-Lock Set ($80).

Our test bike also included the luscious Grip Heaters ($284) and a Rear Rack ($171). When we add all of these to the $10,490 MSRP, the price of the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 – as tested – comes to $11,919. That’s way below the FJR1300A’s $15,890, below the $12,799 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT and the $13,999 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Adventure, and above the smaller Kawasaki Versys 650 LT ($8,699) and Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS Adventure ($10,049) – all of which include hard bags in their MSRP. For another comparison, the Honda Interceptor DLX retails for $13,499 (DLX for the ABS and TC) and $14,479 with bags.

121714-2015-Yamaha-FJ-09-Beauty-47405

While possibly not hitting the same price sweet spot as the FZ-09 in its class, the FJ-09 still feels to be a bargain for what it offers in displacement and performance. Available in either Candy Red or Matte Gray, Yamaha FJ-09s are rolling in to dealers this week. Time for another sport-touring shootout, methinks.

2014 EICMA: 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Video

+ Highs

  • Well sorted fuel metering
  • ABS and TC
  • Good weather protection
– Sighs

  • No included hard bags on a sport-touring bike?
  • Bags require additional key
  • Rain on another sport-touring intro? Really?
2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Specs
MSRP $10,490 ($11,919 as tested)
Engine Liquid-cooled, Triple
Displacement 847cc
Bore x stroke 78.0 x 59.1 mm
Horsepower N/A
Torque 65 lb-ft. (claimed)
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Fuel System Denso EFI with YCC-T
Ignition TCI
Transmission Six-speed
Final drive Chain
Frame type Aluminum Controlled filled die-cast w/sub-frame
Front suspension 41 mm hydraulic inverted fork, adjustable for rebound, 5.4 in. travel
Rear suspension KYB shock, adjustable for preload and rebound, 5.1 in. travel
Front brake Dual 298×4.5 mm discs, 4-piston Advics calipers, ABS
Rear brake 245×5.0 mm disc, single-piston caliper, ABS
Front tire 120/70 ZR17 (Dunlop D222F)
Rear tire 180/55 ZR17 (Dunlop D222)
Wheelbase 56.7 in.
Electronics ABS, traction control, rider modes
Fuel capacity 4.8 gal ( 0.74 gal reserve)
Seat height 33.3 in. (34.2 in.)
Ground clearance 12.8 in.
Claimed Curb Weight 462 lbs (without bags)
Warranty 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color choices Candy Red, Matte Gray

 

Free Insurance Quote

Enter your ZIP code below to get a free insurance quote.

Yamaha Dealer Price Quote

Get price quotes for Yamaha from local motorcycle dealers.

Yamaha Communities

  • kawatwo

    Fuel capacity is 4.8 gallon. 3.7 would suck for a sport tourer :) Bike looks just about perfect. Wish the seat was an inch lower though.

    • Dani

      I would suggest seating on it. I was very impressed at the IMS show. Although the stated seat height is high, the seat is shaped in a way that is narrow and it is a relatively easy reach to the floor for my 5’8″ frame.

      • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

        At the NY IMSm, the first one I got on was a bit high, but doable. After hearing from a rep that the one I was on had the higher seat, I tried the completely stock setup. Pretty much just right for me at 5’8″/9″. I think I’d like if the headlight was more reminiscent of the FZ’s light, but it definitely felt good to mount.

        I just wish these guys would come up with some way to actually give you the sensation of what it’s like to ride at the shows…

    • ted kolter

      Thanks Kawatwo. I about__when I saw the 3.7.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Good catch. I’ll correct the specs.

      • Bruce Steever

        Also, correct the 30% power figures for Std and B vs A.

        Rwhp in A and STD is the same, around 105 rwhp, and B is reduced, to about 95 rwhp.

    • Speedwayrn@yahoo.com

      Has there ever been and OEM tank that was “too big”?

  • Old MOron

    Very thorough, Evans. Thanks. Now, bring on the shootout! Please compare this bike to anything. I’ve got new bike lust, and not even the crack of dawn is safe.

  • Jack

    Great review. I think the purpose of no hard bags included is because there are a lot of people like me who have been sport touring for a long time on bikes that aren’t exactly sport tourers. That means that we already have soft luggage and we might not have the extra coin in our pockets to shell out for the hard bags so Yamaha gives us the option. I can swing the FJ-09 at $10500. I can’t really justify $11900. Just my two cents.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Good point, Jack.

    • ted kolter

      That would be me also, Jack. :-)

    • Rick Vera

      Agreed. There’s a decent community that seems to get general Pelican bags that seems to work quite well to so long as you know someone or there exists aftermarket support for the mounting hardware. Personally, that’s the way I’d rather go as I’ll take top-load bags any day over their side-load offering.

    • Allison Sullivan

      Perfect point. I’m looking at one of these, but I’d equip it with a Ventura rack instead of hard bags.

  • Craig Hoffman

    This bike may just be the “Goldilocks ride”. Not too big, not too small, it is sorted better than it’s forebear but with the same attractive engine character and performance. Yamaha did not dumb down the engine for this bike, they refined it. That is kick ass. They should sell tons of them. This would be a worthy replacement for my FZ1.

  • Chris haddad

    Add cruise control and I will absolutely buy one….

    • http://harleydatingsite.weebly.com/ Aimee Raman

      looking for female Harley companions at Harleywomendating.com

    • Curtis Brandt

      I was wondering what the extra covers were for, on the left-handed control pod. Then I saw the same pod on the Tenere – those plugs are covering up the places where cruise control buttons live on the larger bike. Sure wish it were an option!

  • Kenneth

    I have read many complaints by exasperated FZ-09 owners regarding cam chain tensioners having to be replaced again-and-again. Has Yamaha finally come up with a lasting solution?

    • Craig Hoffman

      Drop a manual adjuster in it from APE or whoever, problem solved for $50.

  • Jack McLovin

    I wonder why not PR 4’s considering they’re on the 07.

  • Matt Howerton

    Great performing “little” bike. Love that modern and powerful triple. But for my aging needs and naked likes right now, I like the little twin FZ-07 even better still. Enough in fact that it’s going to be my next bike. The black one. Have been shopping smaller displacement bikes for the past several years… from the CBR300F to the KTM 690 Duke and all points in between. Until I read everything that I could find on the 2015 FZ-07 over the past several days. I’ve had faster and much heavier bikes before. Looking forwards to light and nimble and a 12.3 1/4 mile is just fine and dandy with me. Can’t pull the trigger until this coming Spring. Can’t fkn wait!! The Tuning Fork Company is on a roll. Wish there was a Kenny Roberts edition… black and yellow. And no, I’m not a Steelers fan. lol

  • chumaroot

    Yep. No cruise control. No sale. It’s too bad because it is just what I would replace my FJR with. But once you’ve had cc it’s hard to go back. Especially frustrating when you can see just where the blanked off the switches for it. The other niggle is the idiotic and incessant use of one headlight for low and the other for high. I don’t get and don’t like it. The last thing a motorcycle needs is to be less conspicuous. Also do we drive slower than cars at night so we just don’t need the light. An example of wide spread industry stupidity. I don’t see cars doing the one headlight thing. I think Ducati stated this years ago

    • TonyCarlos

      Add aftermarket lighting.

    • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

      ?

      So you want all bikes to have dual filament bulbs?

    • RyYYZ

      I think the manufacturers would argue that it’s partially so they can optimize each headlight’s reflector for low beam or high beam use. I don’t buy it, either. My V-Strom had two dual filament bulbs and had the best headlights I’ve experienced on a motorcycle. My new FZ8S (Fazer 8) has the one low and one high setup and its poor at night by comparison.

  • kawatwo

    Just saw on the Yamaha Canada site the lower seat lowers the height by 32mm or 1.25 inches. I think Yamaha has created the perfect bike now! http://www.yamaha-motor.ca/pna/detail.php?sectionId=AC&groupId=19&subGroupId=26&categoryId=95&itemId=4578

  • Sentinel

    Last I heard Yamaha is on it’s third revision of the cam-chain tensioner
    in that engine and it’s still failing. That’s not my idea of “bang for
    the buck”.

    • MicMacACT

      and where did you hear that??

  • Steve A

    Really? No horsepower available?

    • Evans Brasfield

      Never fear, we’ll get horsepower figures when we get a bike in our garage just after the new year.

    • Speedwayrn@yahoo.com

      Forget horsepower, give me the torques!

  • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

    Mr. Brasfield, did anyone bother checking the mileage in each of the different engine settings? This bike is mighty intriguing, but the 58 MPG from the FZ-07 is mighty darned attracitve.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Unfortunately, on these introductions, we don’t get to check mileage. So, you (and I) will have to wait until our shootout.

  • Michael

    Its very interesting isn’t it. I was looking at the new Versys 650 (I’ve ridden the original model and it is the sweet spot) and now this arrives with a more powerful engine and LESS weight. Woo Hoo!

  • appliance5000

    At 13k with bags its about the same price as the hyperstrada. That would be an interesting comparison.

    • Speedwayrn@yahoo.com

      Especially since you can get left over hyperstradas for the same money. However in a year these will be discounted also. Cost of ownership will be much less for the yamaha.

      • appliance5000

        I got mine a year ago for the same price as the Yamaha. With valve adjustments every 18,000miles, and a 2 year warranty, I wonder how much more ownership will be? For the first 2 years I’m thinking less.

        • Speedwayrn@yahoo.com

          Having owned several Ducatis consumable parts will cost you more money but the big money is in the service. If you can do your own service you will save tons. The 18k valves is a big improvement for sure. Example brake and clutch levers will cost 3 times more. Do they still call for belt changes every 2 years or 12k miles? Those are easy to do yourself but it will cost you to pay someone to do those. I wouldn’t stop me from buying another Ducati. However I am being drawn more and more to KTM for some reason.

          • appliance5000

            I hear you on the KTM. The thing is that they’re really big. There really is nothing with the form factor of the Ducati – small, light and powerful. If you stay out of their absurd catalog and go with the wonderful world of Chinese cnc, life is good. I think the belt is at 18k as well.
            I will say – if I was to plan a round the world type tour I’d go with a Honda cb500x or F. They’re less complex, blend in, and are so underrated in the fun department. Just a great bike. Had an F and I miss it.

  • Roland Strauss

    I crashed my Suzuki V-Strom 650. This will be my new bike, i am sure.

  • johnny mars

    This is the bike I was asking Yamaha to build around that sweet and potent triple. Is it perfect? Not yet. Add shaft drive, cruise control, and bring it at $9,995 with the back rack and there you have it: the perfect all-around motorcycle for the money (formerly the V-Strom 650). The ONLY other bike I would consider is a FJ-07 adventurer with similar bells and whistles, for $7,995. Good work so far, Yamaha.

    • Curtis Brandt

      I’ve had a V-Strom 650. And just bought an FJ-09. The new bike is WAY more motorcycle. Completely worth the extra dollars. Just close your eyes and hit the “buy” button.

  • Peter

    Gutted about the increased height – been waiting for this ever since the mt09 launched… Me and my 28inch inseam are on tip toes on that meaning this is now out of reach. Sad.

    • Curtis Brandt

      Like another commenter said below, consider sitting on it before you rule it out. Try the low seat, too, though I suspect it might be too thin to be comfortable…

  • Barometerone

    Guys The FJ-09 is limited to 115mph in North America. This is a bitter disappointment as the mt-09 tracer (identical bike in Europe) does 135mph as fast as the FZ. They say the throttle was remapped to smooth out the snatchy throttle. They don’t say they reduced the top speed by 20%

  • STRTRRR

    Bought mine two weeks ago. FJ is a gentleman on the freeway, and a whore in the canyons.
    Could. Not. Be. Happier.

  • Speedwayrn@yahoo.com

    Someone tell me why two plastic boxes cost $1000 USD?

  • Tim Donahue

    I rode my FJ-09 448 miles last weekend, Every thing works great!