Ridden: 2007 Yamaha FJR1300A

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  • Model: 2007 Yamaha FJR1300A (FJR13AW)
  • Color: Black Cherry (Colorite # “Very Dark Red Metallic #2”)
  • Miles Ridden:
  • Fuel:
  • Location: Colorado—Denver west and southeast through the Rocky Mountains, down to Four Corners region, up Mesa Verde, and back to Denver.

This rental was my first experience riding Yamaha’s sport-touring motorcycle, the FJR1300A.  It was a rental during my trip to Colorado and the Four Corners area on October 5-8, 2007.

Below are my original notes from my trip, covering 1,416 miles in four days, where I managed to experience the bike in a variety of conditions: a day of very cold rain, a day of below-freezing riding, some high-elevation riding, mountain highway, open desert highway, Denver freeway, and even a little unpaved desert riding.

Prior to this trip, my only experience with a purpose-built sport-touring bike was the 2004 BMW R1150RT I had rented a few months earlier in the same area. As much as I liked the BMW, it felt heavy and bulky compared to the FJR.

I forget how much I liked the FJR until I re-read my original notes, written the week after my trip.  It took me another year or so to decide to buy one, but this is the trip where I was sold on it.

By the way, these rental motorcycles get ridden!  This 2007 model had 17,818 miles on it when I picked it up, and I added another 1,416 over four days.  They may sit for a week (or longer) between rides, but they get a lot of miles when they are ridden.

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October 15, 2007 – Rider Review: 2007 FJR1300A

After riding this bike for 1,416 miles in four days, I can say that this bike totally rocked! It wasn’t perfect, but there was a lot about it to love.

The list of things to love started with the shaft drive system. Transitions between gears had a seamless flow, resulting in uniformly smooth  performance. Coupled with a powerful engine that delivered 90 MPH as easily as 25 MPH, the heart of the FJR was nearly perfect.

Although the engine was quiet and smooth, I rarely had any problem knowing what gear I was in; occasionally I did find that I was zipping along at freeway speeds still in 4th gear.

I was also impressed by how easy the bike started compared to the cold-natured Bandit and how quietly the bike idled. My only problem was a surging that occurred when going uphill at high altitude, which I assumed was an oxygen/fuel mixture issue (and I reported it when I returned the bike).

Overall, the bike (equipped with non-stock Metzeler tires) felt very confident on every road surface. The Rockies have an interesting mix of steep grades and sharp curves. I encountered some wet roads, crossed more than a few cattle guards while riding open range land, and I even did a little light gravel riding. While I never tested the anti-lock braking system, the bike’s brakes felt solid and stopped quickly and reliably in every circumstance.

Despite the bike’s dry weight being about 50 pounds heavier than the Bandit, it still felt very nimble in the curves, and seemed to lean effortlessly.

Rider comfort was generally good. The seat itself was as comfortable as the Bandit’s, for about as many hours a day. I don’t know that any seat will be genuinely comfortable for several hours a day, several days in a row. I did feel that the seat/tank form were more crotch-friendly than the Bandit’s even though I rarely have significant complaints in that area.

I was not as pleased with the ergonomics of the downturned handlebar grips. The first couple days I had a lot of problems with my thumbs/wrists going numb. I eventually found that tucking my elbows into my sides and leaning forward a bit resolved the problem. By the end of the trip, I was no longer having much problem, but I would prefer to have the bike adopt to my posture,
rather than the other way around.

Also in the subject of ergonomics: While the FJR’s saddle height is listed as being a half-inch higher than my Bandit, I was able get more air between me and the seat when standing over the bike. I also felt it was easier to make tight U-turns on the FJR, despite it’s wheelbase being about four inches longer.

As for appearance, I don’t think I will ever be totally in love with any tourer. No matter how well-designed they are, saddle bags always add visual weight to the back end of a motorcycle. The FJR has a smaller front fairing profile than most of the other popular sport-tourers, so keeping the saddlebags in proportion becomes more of a problem. The OEM saddlebags didn’t
look too bad, but the bike looks really good without them. I think I would be tempted to leave them at home for daily commuting.

Little things can really please, or really annoy. On the plus side, the footpegs seemed to be a little longer, and the brake and shift pedals seemed to be tucked inside, giving a sense of more room to move my feet around without worrying about accidentally riding the brake or knocking the gear shift.

Another minor detail that I liked was the filter on the gas tank which reduced the splashing that occurs when the tank is nearly fully. It was still easy to see how close the tank was to being full.

The instrument panel was a mix of positive and negative. On the plus side was the digital gauge that offered ambient air temperatures, a miles-per-gallon calculation, a clock, and a couple trip-o-meters, and a gear indicator.

On the negative side was the analog speedometer. I prefer highway speed to be near the middle of the dial (as the 12 o’clock position), making it easier to have a sense of speed without having to actually focus my eyesight on the dial. This speedometer ranged along between the 7 o’clock to 2 o’clock positions, so that highway speeds seemed to be at an arbitrary position.

The motorized windscreen was a real annoyance. It seemed to work best when at its lowest and highest positions; mid-rage positions seemed to create a lot of wind buffeting. Also annoying was the way the screen retracted to the lowest position whenever I turned the engine off, which meant I had to re-set the windscreen to the desired position after every stop for gas, to take a picture, or to consult a map. (I have since found out a lot of owners disconnect the automatic-retraction wiring.)

I did find out about an intriguing feature until after my trip. The FJR’s fairings can be adjusted to direct engine heat onto the rider’s legs during cold weather. I would have enjoyed the additional heat during my unseasonably-cold weather riding.

My rental bike had a Givi topcase on the tail. It was huge, and provided all the storage I needed for several days of riding. However it looked like the over-sized add-on that it was. While I didn’t care for the look of it, I was very impressed with how easy it was to remove it at the motel, and to reattach it for the ride home. However, its sturdy construction also made it a bit heavy.

Overall, I really enjoyed this bike. It felt less bulky and more natural than the BMW R1150RT that I rented a few months earlier. The first couple days, I made mental notes about “this bike,” but somewhere along the way, I started thinking, “my bike.” If I were buying a new bike tomorrow, I would be tempted to make it an FJR1300A.