2016 Yamaha FJR1300A & FJR1300ES Sport Touring Models — Ride Review
Yamaha has unleashed their new 2016 FJR1300A and FJR1300ES sport-touring models onto the moto press. Riding through the city streets and highways of Phoenix, Arizona up into the pine forests at 7,000 feet and the red rock country of Sedona, these big blue machines were given a nice workout!
You're probably wondering what the letters A and ES after the FJR1300 mean, so let's get that out of the way first. The base “A” model has a conventional 48mm fork that is adjustable for both spring preload and rebound damping adjustments. The premium “ES” version has a male-slider (inverted) fork with electronically adjusted suspension, which allows changing settings by pushing a button. There are four spring pre-load settings, three damping adjustments and an additional seven damping fine-tuning adjustments, so the FJR1300ES’ suspension can be dialed in quickly to meet the needs of the rider, passenger, luggage loading and riding conditions.
Both versions are powered by the same liquid-cooled, 1,298cc, in-line, four-cylinder, fuel-injected, 16-valve engine as last year, but they managed to raise the rated torque slightly from 99.1 lb-ft to 101.8 lb-ft (both at 7,000 rpm). Redline is at 9,200 rpm, but no horsepower rating is offered. Fuel economy is claimed to be a rather low 36 mpg; however, despite the 10.8:1 compression ratio, Yamaha recommends regular unleaded 86 octane or higher gasoline, which can save some money over the years.
The FJR1300 is equipped with Yamaha’s Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC- T), a ride-by-wire system that provides smooth throttle response in a variety of riding conditions. The adjustable D-Mode throttle setting gives riders a choice of two throttle response modes to best suit preferences and riding conditions. The T-Mode provides a smoother throttle response, ideal for touring and wet, slippery conditions, while the S-Mode maximizes performance with a quicker throttle response for a sportier, more aggressive feel on dry roads.
The fuel injection feels like it's very well dialed in, with good rideability. Cold and hot starts are instant, and the bike can be ridden smoothly right away and will lug down to 2,000 rpm in high gear when warmed up. Mid-range is smooth and peppy, and acceleration and passing power approach sport-bike levels, especially when you bring the revs up near seven grand or more. However, it doesn't pull like a 1300cc Huyabusa.
Several new features were added, including a six-speed transmission (which replaces the outdated five speed) and an assist slipper (A) clutch. The all-new transmission has revised ratios, providing evenly spaced gearing for sporty riding, with a tall sixth gear for relaxed cruising on the highway. Additionally, the transmission gears are now helically cut, for smoother, quieter running, and new separated gear dogs improve shifting performance. The hydraulically actuated wet clutch requires moderate effort and allows smooth, chatter-free engagement. I found that I could go through the gears like a sport bike, and the taller top gear ratio brings revs down about 10 percent to a more comfortable level at highway speeds.
The engine is mounted in a strong and lightweight aluminum Deltabox frame, which feels plenty solid out on the road. Rake is a sporty 26 degrees and trail is 4.9 inches. A conventional double-sided aluminum swingarm with a single rear shock holds up the rear. Claimed wet weight is 635 pounds; add two pounds for emission system components on California models. A large 6.6 gallon fuel tank is also standard on both models for long range.
Large dual 320mm front discs, plus a single 282mm rear platter provide strong, yet controllable, stopping power. Unified braking provides some front braking when only the rear is applied, and standard ABS also provides passive safety. Coming down steep mountain grades with plenty of speed, the brakes never showed signs of fading or premature ABS application.
With the A model, once you get the desired ride dialed in, the bike feels well controlled, yet plusher than a sport bike, which is great for covering long distances. With the ES version, it's possible to change suspension settings at a long traffic light, to allow for changing road conditions. Either way, the ride quality is comfortable and handling is surprisingly good for such a hefty bike. Steering and turn-in are easy and the FJR rails through corners with authority, holding a line nicely, yet allowing mid-corner corrections when needed.
Both models include cruise control, which holds speed accurately, and allows the right hand a welcome rest on long trips. Heated grips are also standard, as is a 12 Volt accessory socket. There's an adjustable riding position with two seat heights (31.7 and 32.5 inches) — just unlock and lift the seat off, reset the attachment points, and reinstall. The tall handlebars have a limited three-level angle adjustment that requires tools.
Both models also feature updated instrumentation; the revised three-part instrument panel keeps riders informed, with trip computer functions, riding modes and more. Riders can customize the multi-function display to show the information desired by flicking of the bar-mounted switch. There's an analog-style tach, digital speedometer and tripmeters, plus temperature, clock and fuel readouts.
An electrically adjustable windscreen provides easy adjustments on the go, and a central vent improves airflow and reduces buffeting. Tool-less fairing side panels allow the rider to direct lower body airflow. A redesigned headlight and combination taillight/turnsignal assemblies feature all-LED lighting.
An interesting innovation is the front LED cornering lights, which utilize successive automatic illumination as the cornering lean deepens, providing a wider area of forward lighting in the direction of the turn. The system functions via high-speed computation of the bank angle, which is detected by the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). The resulting signal is transmitted to the Cornering Light Control Unit. Regardless of whether the headlight is on low- or high-beam, a slight bank angle will activate the innermost of the three cornering lights on the turning side and, as the lean angle deepens, the middle and outside lights come on in succession. It's a “brilliant” idea that solves the lighting dilemma during cornering at night, without the use of motors and mechanical servo systems to move the lights.
Passenger accommodations are reasonable, with a fairly comfy saddle, well placed footpegs, and a place to hang on. Standard equipment color-matched hard luggage is solidly mounted, yet can be unlocked and removed easily. Zippered cloth liners make carrying items to and from the bike easy. Most full-face helmets can fit inside, making stops along the way more convenient.
These bikes are smooth and fast, with great brakes and nice suspension, well designed, made with quality components, and exhibit excellent fit and finish. They have been proven over the years, and tend to hold their value well. Suggested retail price for the FJR1300A is $16,390 and the FJR1300ES is $17,990. Both FJR1300A and FJR1300ES are available only in Cobalt Blue, and are arriving in dealerships now.
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Photos by Brian J. Nelson & Yamaha