Words Benjamin Lindley Pictures Yamaha
Today, sports tourers are getting more and more juvenile. Pannier-shod steeds need to be sports-biased, capable of 200-metre wheelies past your front door, barking engine notes that send the neighbourhood's feline population scattering. Even lairy orange paint jobs hardly qualify for a double take nowadays. But over here on a proper gentleman's drive, a Yamaha FJR1300 is decked out in unobtrusive monotone silver. Its historical lineage is still evident in its fairing design. Fire it up, and it simply purrs. Its engine is blessed with a buttery smooth power delivery to match. Welcome to the swanky end of Sports Tourer Street.
But what's this? The new version in Yamaha showrooms has been blinged up by laddish gadgets from, among other places, the look-at-me R1! Our proper gentleman has furrowed his brow, a strong show of emotion. There's no doubt he's deeply concerned. Do these new additions to the FJR help or hinder the bike's classy reputation?
Six Speed Cruising
Limitations in engine size meant that until now a six speed FJR1300 has been a much sought-after pipe dream. For the new model, however, this technical dilemma has been defeated. The solution is to cram a six speed box in the space left by the outgoing fiver. Cogs are thinner and cut at an angle to provide the same width gearing on a slimmer cog.
Compare the ratios, and the new 5th and 6th gears sit either side of the outgoing final ratio, giving a tad more power in 5th and a taller 6th for ludicrously low rpm cruising. Sit in top at 80mph and the crank turns round a measly 3,500 times per minute, 400rpm or so fewer than before. This means smoother and quieter cruising, but it also means you need to drop two gears to accelerate and overtake. First and second are now a little taller than they used to be, which still allows spirited acceleration while keeping the front wheel comfortably on the ground. A slight nod of approval there from our regular gentleman.
Riding the FJR1300 in Almeria
It's blindingly sunny on the A-1100 between Uleila del Campo and Cóbdar, southern Spain. Looking out from behind the FJR's tall screen and acres of fairing, the road I'm tasked with riding is surprisingly twisty for a sports tourer test. Where's the motorway? But, blimey, this machine turns quickly. I counter-steer along the undulating tarmac, simple inputs translating smoothly through 26˚ rake into the front wheel. I wouldn't guess the FJR weighs in at nearly 300kg; I'm convinced it's 50kg lighter than it is.
Brake and change down for a tight corner and the assist and slip clutch comes into play. It's the same one found on the new R1 and is unchanged on the FJR. Knocking down through the gears without rev-matching results in a slight lag while the slipper action gives the engine time to match rpm to speed in the new ratio, but otherwise the bike stays stable.
LED Eyes Follow Corners
Fantastic LED lights are found front and back and bring the bike's styling bang up-to-date. The square rear light fills up under braking, and bright white arrow-like running lights compliment the more traditionally-placed low and high beams. On top of that the FJR has cornering LEDs to fill in dark spots when threading this surprisingly agile bike through a corner. Six separate LEDs – three for each side – illuminate consecutively as the bike's lean angle increases.
What's Not To Like?
Other FJR foibles remain. The standard screen doesn't fully protect the rider's head from wind blast at either end of its electrically adjustable range of travel. Extend it fully and buffeting will still strain neck muscles. At four inches taller, the optional touring screen is a must buy. With a wet weight of 292kg it's a heavy beast to push around, too, but the girth is carried well and slow speed manoeuvring is easy. Tall and wide handlebars help this, and that 26˚ rake keeps steering sharp at speed.
Un-crease those brows, admirers of the FJR. You can breathe easy. The bike remains a classy traditional sports tourer with sharp bodywork and impeccable road manners. All these new gadgets for no extra cost over the previous model means buying a 2016-17 bike is clearly worth it – useful, unassuming, helpful gadgets, every one of them. Looks like our regular gent is booking in for a test ride.
Review Score: 8/10
2017 FJR1300 AE Technical Specifications
Engine: 1298cc, liquid-cooled, 16v four
Torque: 102 lb.ft
Top speed: 150mph
Tank size: 25 litres
Economy: 45.6mpg (claimed)
Wet weight: 292kg
Seat height: 805-825mm
Colours: Matt Silver, Tech Graphite
Test Ride a Yamaha FJR1300 Today
Interested in riding a Yamaha FJR1300 yourself? Head over to your local Yamaha dealership and book a test ride now. Here's a list of the Yamaha dealers in and around Hertfordshire:
Del Basso Bros [http://dealer.yamaha-motor.co.uk/delbasso/]
Address: 14 Bucklersbury, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, SG5 1BB
Tel: 01462 432165
Moores Motorcycles [http://www.mooresmotorcycles.co.uk/]
Address: London Road, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead, HP3 9SX
Tel: 01442 252601
Waltham Cross Motorcycles [http://dealer.yamaha-motor.co.uk/walthamcross/]
Address: 333-335 Fore Street, Edmonton, London, N9 0PD