Yamaha FJR1300 Review

FJR1300 Test By Wayne Vickers


The smallest things can transform a riding experience. I’d been riding the big FJR a few days with the screen at its highest setting, which is bloody tall and offers enviable protection from the cold wind of a Melbourne winter. It was a huge welcome in my long commute each day but made the bike feel a little awkward to corner at speed. I couldn’t really decide where to position my upper body, how far to lean forward. The issue was the visual distortion from the top of the screen, as you dip in and out from behind the curved ‘glass’. I couldn’t get comfortable with my vision behind the screen and sitting up to see over it felt barking mad.

Yamaha FJR
2019 Yamaha FJR1300

I’d let it go a few days before exploring the doo-dads. Then I discovered one of the aces up its sleeve is that you can adjust the height of the screen at the touch of a button. On the move. Boom. In a couple of seconds it will drop from full height to its lowest setting and then you’re free to position yourself naturally for corners – it all made sense from there. Instant perception change. Loved it.

Yamaha FJR
Yamaha FJR1300 switchgear

There’s something to be said for a ‘full bodied’ bike. I like its scale. It’s a welcome departure from tiny bikes built for little folks. I’m no giant – I’m only 6ft, but felt quite at home on the big FJR. Feels roomy without being too big. Nice to move about on. There’s no denying that its carrying a bit of weight. It’s noticeable when walking it around and shuffling out of parking spots; It scrapes in just under the 300-kilogram mark wet after all, and you probably need to pay a bit more attention to your parking spots to make sure you won’t be pulling/pushing it uphill for any serious distance. But it’s not cumbersome. And the anti-stall idle system works quite nicely when you want to let it do the work for you while walking it about in a tight parking lot.

Yamaha FJR
2019 Yamaha FJR1300

Styling wise it’s a nicely finished thing. Lots of nice details here and there, good quality materials and with the two big hard bags on the side it certainly looks every inch the part of being a rapid modern tourer.

Yamaha FJR
Yamaha FJR1300

First impressions when you sit on it are that its low, long and wide between the legs. Comfy though. The seat really is quite wide which does make you spread the legs out a bit more than you’d expect, but you get used to it after a few days. And the steering lock is great so while the wheelbase is a bit stretched-limo you don’t notice it too much. Quite good low speed maneuverability really.

Yamaha FJR
Yamaha FJR1300

Pillions are well catered for with a big comfy seat and grab rails. Riding position was a bit of a surprise – it’s even more upright than I expected. No need to put any real weight on the wrists if you don’t feel like it.

Yamaha FJR
2019 Yamaha FJR1300

On the go the steering is nice and light and the angled bar risers not only feel comfortable but let the controls feel naturally positioned. Being a sports-tourer the brief is all about stability and comfort at speed – and it nails it. This is a jet on an airbed. A cruise missile if you will. Well tuned damping action from both ends works a treat to soak up regular road imperfections and let you just enjoy the ride. All while giving you plenty of feedback, encouraging you to twist the throttle that little bit harder… It’s mind boggling how well the big girl handles being punted along with a bit of spirit, I had to occasionally reign myself in… Its proper fast on sweepers as you might expect, but even seems to handle slower corners pretty well. All very predictable and sure footed. And when the road opens up and you allow the afterburners to kick in, you’re catapulted to big numbers.

Yamaha FJR
Yamaha FJR1300

Speaking of catapults, the engine is like opening the taps on a pressure valve. From as low as 2 grand there’s seamless shove – and it doesn’t dip or tail off it just gives more. The fuelling is excellent – No hesitation or coughs or burbles, just.. thrust. We’re talking 135 odd Nms of torque. Great gobs of it.

Sure it doesn’t have the urgency of something lighter but it sill delivers effortless, relentless poke. It’s the heart and hero of the bike for sure. It comes with two ride modes, Touring and Sport. Touring softens things up quite a bit and I did use it to start with and in the rain, but I mostly left it in Sport to enjoy the hump.

Yamaha FJR
2019 Yamaha FJR1300

There’s a plethora of suspension settings too, some adjustable on the go. Electric settings for preload to adjust for one rider, luggage, two, two and luggage as well as soft, standard and hard settings. They all made slight differences that were definitely felt. I actually enjoyed riding it with the pre-load set to two riders on the standard damping. Soft setting was quite nice on the smooth highway too…

Yamaha FJR
Yamaha FJR1300

I felt that the brakes could be a little stronger though. They didn’t catch me out anywhere, I just felt that a big heavy bike with that much poke could have some more stopping power to balance things out. Lever feel is ok, but needs a decent squeeze to really get the picks working their hardest. And yes the ABS works just fine, even on gravel.

Yamaha FJR
Yamaha FJR1300

Clutch feel is nice and light, the box shifts were all fairly solid, but it’s not the smoothest shift I’ve ever ridden. They went in. And there was never any massive clunks or false neutrals, but compared to other Yamaha gearboxes it suffers a little in refinement. Either way, I got used to it.

Yamaha FJR
Yamaha FJR1300

More on the other doo-dads: heated grips have 3 settings for toasty warm mits, cruise control is easily set on the left hand side and the mode switching for the dash to cycle through control sets is done via what used to be the ‘flash’ button on the front of the left button block. All of it is intuitive and easy to control, even at night time.

Yamaha FJR
Yamaha FJR1300

The LCD dash design itself is probably starting to look dated but is still nice and legible. And it has a distance to empty meter! (one of my pet hates is how many modern bikes don’t). I was enjoying that right up until.. it disappears with about 35ks left in the tank when you need it most and is replaced with a counter that starts counting fuel used from the start of reserve. I’ll need the decision making process behind that design explained to me I think… Just leave the distance to empty there!!

Yamaha FJR
Yamaha FJR1300

Speaking of fuel though, loved the big range. Comfortably into the mid 400’s for me on my regular route. Which just confirms it as a proper mile eater – a genuine sports tourer.

Yamaha FJR
2019 Yamaha FJR1300

2019 Yamaha FJR1300 at a glance

Why I like it:

  • All the hump. At any revs. Relentless torque.
  • Super comfy, nice and roomy
  • Superb ride, surprisingly capable at speed even on tighter stuff
  • Big Range
  • Excellent pillion accomodations

I’d like it more if:

  • I reckon it could have more powerful stoppers
  • Gearbox could be a little more refined

Yamaha FJR
2019 Yamaha FJR1300

2019 Yamaha FJR1300 Specifications

Specifications
Engine Type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve, forward-inclined parallel 4-cylinder
Displacement1298 cc
Bore x Stroke79.0 x 66.2 mm
Compression Ratio10.8 : 1
Lubrication SystemWet sump
Fuel ManagementFuel Injection
IgnitionTCI
Starter SystemElectric
Fuel Tank Capacity25 L
Final TransmissionShaft
TransmissionConstant mesh 6-speed
Frame TypeAluminium Diamond
Suspension FrontTelescopic forks, 135 mm travel
Suspension RearSwingarm (link suspension), 12 5mm travel
Brakes FrontHydraulic dual discs, 320 mm – ABS
Brakes RearHydraulic single disc, 282 mm – ABS
Tyres Front120/70ZR17M/C (58W) Tubeless
Tyres Rear180/55ZR17M/C(73W) Tubeless
Length 2230 mm
Width 750 mm
Height 1325 / 1455 mm
Seat Height 805 mm / 825 mm
Wheelbase1545 mm
Ground Clearance125 mm
Wet Weight 292 Kg
RRP Ride Away$30,649