A Rider's Journal
photo of a 2007 Yamaha FJR1300A
Yamaha's FJR puts the "sport" in "touring bike".

After seven years of owning el Bandido, the only bike that I have loved as much is another big-bore inline four, the Yamaha FJR1300.

A sport tourer that emphasizes "sport", the FJR is zippy, nimble, comfortable, and manages to avoid the motor home-on-two-wheels look.

The FJR has had relatively few modifications from the 2003 model that launched the line. And why should it? With an electrically-adjusted windscreen, three handlebar heights, an adjustable fairing to direct engine heat onto the rider in cold weather, a standard 12V outlet in the "glove box" and a useful set of dials and gauges (that unfortunately mix analog and digital designs) all wrapped around a smooth shaft-driven final drive, there's not much left to wish for.

Sure, like the Bandit, the FJR's 5-gear transmission seems to top out a little too early. And it would be nice to have heated grips (a feature on the discontinued electronically-assisted shift model).

Still, no bike is perfect, and it you wait long enough, something else will come out that offers just a few more farkles.

2005 FJR1300A

The "Galaxy Blue" model took me from Seattle up into Canada, across British Columbia and down through the awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies. I don't think I could have enjoyed the trip any more on any other bike. Nuff said.

2007 FJR1300A

The "Black Cherry" edition carried me faithfully across the Colorado Rockies down to the Four Corners area and back. I found that it was indeed possible to be very cold on an FJR despite the bike's reputation for throwing engine heat on the rider. I'm not sure sub-freezing weather would be much more comfortable on any bike.

2008 FJR1300AE

I test-rode a "Granite Gray" (pretty much "black") AE model in Phoenix. The electronically-assisted shift (introduced in 2006 and discontinued after 2009) wasn't an automatic transmission, but it did allow riders to shift without pulling a clutch level. You could start from a stop in any of the lower gears, making stop-and-go commuting a lot easier. Still, who commutes on a bike this big and fast and expensive? (Big and slow and expensive, yes.  See entry on "Harley-Davidson" products.) I didn't see enough benefit to the feature to risk the complications the additional engineering required.

photo of a 2010 Yamaha FJR1300AE

2010 FJR1300A—Dangan Gin, the Silver Bullet

You keep riding one of these, you'll end up buying one.