2003 Yamaha FJR1300: MD Ride Review -…

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Yamaha FJR 1300

2003 Yamaha FJR1300: MD Review

We get lots of logical from our readers. One theme to go something like this: don’t the manufacturers take a sportbike, relax its ergonomics, and it detachable luggage?” There are plenty of “ultimate sport running around with a bit too low, pegs a bit too high, and a bit too small. Seems logical but the manufacturers never listen. or do

Lately, Yamaha seems to to customers (existing and potential) than most. Expanding its sales market share in the from thirteen percent to percent in the last six years, has successfully, and consistently developed new that either set new standards a category, or fill a niche by competitors.

Sure, you’re about the R1 sportbike and, the YZ400F four-… motocross priced for the masses, but what the little TTR125 dirt Yamaha stepped in and created a larger and more powerful four-…, off-road play with an optional front brake. In the process, it filled a that was staring everyone in the but only Yamaha made the to fill it.

Let’s get back to the of taking a modern sportbike and its ergonomics to create a reasonably sport tourer with high performance. Although of enthusiasts have been for such a bike, American figures haven’t supported it. look at the sales in the “sport category, and they yawn. I been told this than once by more one manufacturer. My response is always the

Give Americans better within the sport tourer and unit sales will dramatically. Prior to the 2002 year, the leading sport machines were, for the most quite dated. Indeed, two of the key in this category were more than a decade ago is about to change with introduction of the 2003 ST1300).

In other words, I argued the notion that better, and current product within the tourer category would to increased unit sales in category. The reaction? Another

Which brings us to the subject of MD Ride Review. Yamaha the FJR1300 to the European market than a year ago. for U.S. enthusiasts, they only look on and drool at the and its design brief.

It appeared to be the of the “sport bike with bags” concept, but Yamaha not to bring the model to the United The rationale must have something like this: “We think a Hayabusa-engined, sport with state-of-the-art chassis, adjustable windshield and hard will sell in the United because unit sales in the tourer category aren’t strong.” Once again, the of the U.S. product development left me, and many others, whether we were from the planet.

Well, Yamaha has had a of heart, and the FJR1300 will be a of the U.S. line-up for 2003. The of its release, and the terms upon you can obtain one, were by MD on March 1, 2002. That also rehashed some data, and provided some photos of the machine.

Lo and behold, MD had the to ride one of only four here in the U.S. for several (and several hundred last week — solo, the bags removed, with the installed, with the bags with and without a passenger. we even took the time to down the gas mileage figures 40 miles per gallon, or so).

we tell you our thoughts on the machine, talk about the hype. calls the FJR1300 a “supersport bike, as opposed to a sport bike. Yamaha also the FJR1300 is another “category motorcycle that “explodes the (not quite sure how two statements fit together, myself, but my is flawed, remember?).

Leaving, once again, the of over excited press and back in the real world, the almost delivers what enthusiasts expected when all the began a year ago. The hauls …, and is exceedingly but doesn’t handle as well as we it to.

The reason it hauls … is the 1298cc, liquid-cooled, four-…, four-cylinder engine, featuring overhead cams and a sixteen-valve head. With ceramic cylinder coating, carburized forged pistons, dual balancers and electronic fuel this “clean sheet” was intended by Yamaha to put the FJR1300 at the top of the performance heap (that’s a way to put it) in the “category”.

Moving to the handling Yamaha has blessed the FJR1300 a sportbike-like twin-spar aluminum with (we are told) sufficient for precise and agile handling. The includes massive 48mm forks, adjustable for preload, and compression damping, as well as a shock adjustable for rebound, a two-stage, remote preload

With shaft drive, the big FJR quiet, low maintenance operation — for touring duties. The drive is neatly molded into the swingarm. That drive is twisted through a five-speed

The operation of the neat, thumb-controlled, windshield was illustrated in our article on 1, 2002. Similar to a design on BMW’s popular sport the R1150RT, Yamaha saw fit to include feature despite a clear to minimize the dry weight of the FJR (and its handling characteristics).

Other features include a huge 6.6 fuel tank and (standard in the detachable hard side (each of which will a helmet).

Brakes are sourced the original R1 and feature four-piston gripping dual 298mm in front. A large 282mm in the back is gripped by a single caliper.

Yamaha claims 145 crank and 93 foot/pounds of torque pushing a dry of 522 pounds. Riding the FJR1300 lead one to dispute these although the wet weight (all except fuel) should be at 560 pounds.

Engine response to throttle hand is smooth and and largely without the sudden associated with many injected engines. From 3,000 rpm right through at 9,000 rpm, the FJR pulls any sudden steps in power — just one, long thrust that mimics a caliber bullet with a seat.

Indeed, for a machine such a large spread of (five gears is much than enough — trust the acceleration is breathtaking. Our guess is the quarter mile would by in the mid-ten second range, about as quick as Kawasaki’s new (which contains a ZX11 on steroids, in effect). Undoubtedly, more motor than you and just about as much as you want.

The FJR delivers this with the precision and refinement of a powered by a modern, fuel engine that has been well sorted by the factory. For a bike, off/on throttle are quite good (though not and despite some vibration 6,000 rpm (which arrives at 110 per hour in top gear), the engine an A. No, make that an A+.

The ergonomics of the remind one of a German sport (such as a BMW — Yamaha may have the R1150RT, known as the R1100RT at the The rider seat is very utilizing a dual density The peg/seat/handlebar triangle is also although the hand grips feel a bit tall and close (again, somewhat like a bike).

Longer trips longest stint in the saddle we had was 150 miles non-stop) leave the relatively fresh and relaxed, in due to the adjustable windscreen.

That windscreen works well, particularly if you are under tall, or so. I am approximately 5’11″, but I a long torso and short I sit fairly high in the saddle, as a and I had some minor buffeting at level with the windscreen in its position on the freeway.

Riders shorter torsos (that you, Willy) find a still pocket of air. any effective windscreen of this (in its extended position), there is a amount of vacuum pulling the forward (as Willy put it, the bug splatters be on the back of your helmet, not the The only gripe in the comfort concerns grips made a relatively hard compound, can become uncomfortable on longer

Yamaha FJR 1300

This would easily be with after-market grips, of

When you have occasion to use the (you hardly ever to — fourth and fifth gear get you everywhere, from 15 miles per to well over 100 miles per it shifts positively, but can be a bit clunky, in the lower gears. We do not recall a shift.

The suspension does its job well, particularly the fork. The inside the massive, 48mm are well damped, and there is a range of adjustment available. We did with the rebound adjustors a but found a setting that was compliant, yet reasonably controlled. The on the other hand, does its job well in touring mode, but use more adjustment options.

The pre-load adjustor, when set on its setting, doesn’t provide spring preload for heavier Indeed, we preferred to run the bike the shock preload set on “hard” with a single rider because the bike seemed to better with the additional height in the rear.

Handling is always a difficult to discuss in the sport touring “Sport tourers”, in the minds of cover a very broad of motorcycles. On one end, you have a ZX-6R with a double-bubble and a tankbag (which, believe it or makes a remarkably comfortable mount) with a racing that includes the World and AMA 600 titles.

On the other end of the spectrum, you the much larger, much (more than 200 pounds in some cases) “near-luxury” tourers. Some of these, the FJR, have hard and shaft drive as standard None of the bikes at the near-luxury end of the handle like the ZX-6R,

We did our best to judge the FJR’s against bikes offering luxury. This is not always particularly, with one of our testers Ivins) having stepped off a track and his 125cc two-… GP just prior to riding the FJR 125 GP bike weighs about as as a saddlebag).

With our expectations calibrated (including, removal our brains of the Yamaha pronouncement the was so good it would “explode” we were, frankly, still in the FJR’s handling. The FJR will just fine for most of the who will purchase it. It goes you point it, and holds a line well through corners.

The FJR did not as “planted” or sure of itself as we had however. Chassis flex be to blame, because, at times, we an oscillation travel from the head area back the frame. Although noticeable a light fuel load, problem seemed more with a full tank of

With the frame design by appearing very stout, Willy and I were puzzled by We were still puzzled by chance, we noted the location of the battery, and began to investigate the of FJR components that significantly centralization of mass and polar (see definition in the automobile here and here ). The illustration at provided by Yamaha shows the of key components, and the story it tells center of gravity, and the location of components, is perhaps the reason for our concerns.

Note the location of the airbox as component 2 (low density/low the fuel tank and fuel identified as components 5 and 6 (high weight) and the battery identified as 18 (perhaps the most dense and per square inch, component). The and greatly de-centralized location of the — suspended to the side of the right leg — is better illustrated in the separate below.

Overall, the FJR exhibits than precise responses to “sporting” steering input. bumps also cause the to wallow a bit more than a tourer should.

Nevertheless, as we earlier, the handling is stable and enough for most riders for a near-luxury sport tourer. It doesn’t rise to the levels we or, for that matter, wanted the FJR to The bottom line is that the well deserves the “supersport label given by Yamaha, the handling does not.

The FJR is a looking bike with a motor, excellent ergonomics and of convenient features, but curious decisions seem to be the cause of characteristics that fall our expectations.

Yamaha FJR 1300
Yamaha FJR 1300


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