Tested: 2008 Yamaha FJR1300AE (Semi-Automatic Transmission)

2008 - Yamaha FJR1300AE  - Granite Gray

  • Model: 2008 Yamaha FJR1300AE
  • Color: Granite Gray
  • Miles ridden: Test Ride ≅ 25 miles
  • Fuel:
  • Location: Cycle World International Motorcycle Show, Phoenix AZ.

The paddle-shift (semi-automatic transmission) version of the FJR1300 was sold in North America for four model years (2006-2009) as the FJR1300AE.  (As of 2015, the model is still sold in the rest of the world, as the FJR1300AS.)

I had a chance to test this bike at the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show in Phoenix on October 27, 2007.

The electronically-assisted shift (introduced in 2006 and discontinued after 2009) isn’t a fully-automatic transmission, but it does allow riders to shift without pulling a clutch lever. The shift control (a short lever that toggled to shift up or down) replaces the clutch normally found on the left hand grip.  The left footpeg has  a traditional shift lever, but it’s a five up, so experienced riders have multiple mental adjustments to make.

The benefit (in my opinion) of the semi-automatic transmission is in stop-and-go commuting. With this bike, you can come to a stop in any of the lower gears, and take off again without shifting down to first gear. (I tried it as part of the test ride included street riding with four-way stop signs.) The motor automatically makes adjustments as you take off until your speed and gear match again.

I think what hurt the bike in this country was that it filled a market segment that was too small.  People who primarily ride to commute are generally looking for smaller and cheaper bikes (or scooters) with great gas mileage. People who are looking for a motorcycle that can do anything, from long-distance riding to commuting were simply unwilling to pay the additional cost of the semiautomatic transmission.

Factor in the large number of motorcyclists who like to tinker with traditional motors and have more direct control over engine performance and the perfectly-good FJR1300A sitting nearby on the showroom floor looked even better. If anything, the AE model cannibalized its sales from standard FJR, which sealed its fate in North America.