Yamaha FJR 1300A and FJR1300

22 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Yamaha FJR 1300A and FJR1300

Yamaha FJR 1300A and FJR1300

Back for 2006, Yamaha’s all conquering FJR 1300 turns up the heat in the sport-touring category again this year with not one, but two new models. Designated the 1300A and the 1300AE, the popular FJR’s basic architecture remains the same for both bikes, with some ground breaking new technology known as YCC-S (Yamaha Chip Controlled-Shifting) being used on the AE.

For our test, Yamaha chose a mixture of city riding, highway crawling, and canyon carving up in the picturesque Palomar Mountains north of San Diego. Presented with a choice of either bike, I decided to spend my day on the new AE to get a full understanding of the new electric shifting. Having tested both previous incarnations (like it) of the FJR1300 I have no complaints with the super sport-touring machine, so wasn’t expecting too many surprises from the riding experience.

As a new model for 2006, there are numerous changes to the new FJR, and due to their subtle nature might be seen more as revisions rather than re-makes. Visually, the new fairing is a lot sharper and sportier, and the bike presents a narrower target to the oncoming wind. The turn signal lenses are clear this year, and the mirrors are larger for increased rearward visibility, as well as being more aggressively styled.

To help with this slimmer profile, the side bags have new mounting points that allow them to sit two inches closer to the bike. Easily detachable, they are lockable with the ignition key, hold a full-face helmet, and are going to make lane-splitting duties a little easier in busy traffic.

Up at the sharp end, the electrically adjustable windshield has had its upward range increased by 25mm, and comes 47mm closer to the rider: Or one inch and two inches respectfully, if you don’t use the metric system. Yamaha say this helps to reduce negative air pressure and buffeting, and in the highest position, it does a great job. As the weather was warm, I mostly left it down for more airflow, which was nice as we dealt with progressively hotter temperatures.

On the bottom of the windshield, there are new air ducts that help channel more air to the rider, and these are complimented by vents underneath the speedometer that get fresh air from intakes either side of the headlights. It is no secret that previous FJRs have been noted for the heat they generate, and Yamaha has listened to its customers and worked hard to address this on the ’06 models.

A new curved radiator with twin ring fans is used, and this is mounted in a way that it lets the hot air escape the fairing. To further help things, there is a heat shield between the gas tank and the engine, and the air channel beneath the tank has been raised 10mm. There are also some adjustable louvers on the side of the fairing. We opened mine up mid ride, but I can’t say I noticed much difference.

Overall, the only time heat was any issue was stuck in traffic when my right leg started getting warm. By that time the temperature gauge was up at 11 bars, and it was very hot out with a lot of heat coming up from the asphalt as well.

With manufacturers beginning to realize we motorcyclist’s come in a variety of shape and sizes, it is good to see the handlebars have three positions of adjustment. With a total range of 11mm front to back, this nicely compliments the seat, which has two positions of adjustment over a 20mm range. My bike came set on the middle handlebar position and the lowest seat height so I left it alone, not wanting to be any higher off the floor: Stock seat height is already 31.7 inches.

The rider foot pegs offer no adjustment, but the passenger pegs have been moved forward, down and out to give the Missus even more comfort. From the rider perspective, we spent a good day in the saddle and the big FJR is a couch.

There are no changes to the power plant for ’06. Using the venerable 1298cc four cylinder, the FJR pumps out over 140 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and a healthy 99 ft.lbs of torque at 7,000 rpm. Digital fuel injection fires fuel through a bank of 42mm throttle bodies, while power makes its way to the rear wheel through a five-speed gearbox and shaft drive.

There is a slight change to the power delivery with revised gear ratios making things more relaxed at highway speeds. Running a steady 70mph sees 3500 rpm on the tachometer, and overtaking at this speed requires little more than cracking the throttle. There is no change to the seamless flow of power though, as the big FJR still feels like a land locked Lear Jet on full throttle.

Getting things back under control after a high-speed blast, top shelf braking components do a fantastic job and come with Yamaha’s Unified Braking System that they haven’t decided to call UBS for some reason. You know how the Japanese like their monikers. For their method of linking, the front brakes are independent, and the rear brake pedal operates the rear caliper and one of the front ones. Both ends get ABS, and it takes a lot of hard braking to get the system to kick in.

I personally like this as I still feel in control of the brakes, and in a dire emergency the anti lock is an added security blanket.

Yamaha’s are well known for excellent brakes and the FJR’s set up is not going to disappoint. Four-piston mono-block Nissin calipers use four individual pads, and the right hand caliper, the one used for the unified braking, gets a smaller piston and pad for this operation. The set up is said to prevent unbalanced wear on the pads and give the best feel.

I am not big fan of linked systems, but this one works well, and you don’t feel like you are going to tuck the front wheel if you use the rear brake while turning.

Handling is typical FJR, solid and predictable with the pegs hitting terra firma too early for my liking. The bike can rail through the turns, and it seems capable of a lot more before the sparks start flying. Maybe this is a good thing, as the bike really is for sport touring, and it speaks well about the confidence inspiring nature of the bike’s handling.

Steering input is light, and the bike transitions well. Although, it shows its weight more than BMW’s new K1200GT when you are really hustling in the tight stuff. For ’06 Yamaha has used a longer swingarm and this might explain the bike’s manners in these situations. Front forks get a little spongy under hard braking, or during manic riding, but for the other 95 per cent of the ride provide a supple, compliant ride.

They are adjustable for pre-load, compression and rebound damping, so with time we could probably have dialed a bunch of that out. Ditto the rear shock, which comes with the same adjustments except compression damping. Sport bike sized tires wrap around the alloy wheels and appear to be a good balance of wear against grip.

To conclude, the FJR just keeps getting better and for ’06 comes with the most interesting technological innovation on two wheels in the AE version. To fully explain YCC-S to us, Yamaha’s Mike Ulrich gave us a complete break down on the system before our ride. According to Ulrich, FJR owners are very tech savvy and the AE was designed with them in mind.

Yamaha FJR 1300

Basically, the system eliminates the need for a clutch, without removing the act of shifting. There are two ways to change gear on the new AE, and as it is most conventional I will start with the good old left boot. Using a standard shift lever to select first you shift up, not down, as neutral is now at the bottom of the gearbox.

Older Yamaha mopeds of my youth used this system, as I’m sure many other motorcycles have during history, but this does take a moment to get your mind not pressing down for first gear to begin with. After clicking up into first, the rest of the gears follow in the normal process. To return to neutral, you have to pass down through each gear, which is exactly the same as normal.

Neutral is just all the way down now.

The second method of shifting is found up on the left handlebar and is via a pair of toggle switches. To activate the hand system, you must first depress the button in the clutch side switchgear housing, which turns on an LED light. Then, you pull the toggle lever toward you to select first. Each subsequent up shift is performed by pulling the lever again, and to down shift just push forward on the front lever.

In my mind, this was the opposite of what was needed, as slowing down is usually associated with pulling the left hand toward the bar to downshift, and pushing away during stopping felt a little alien. It obviously felt somewhat unnatural to my fellow journalists with the amount of times I heard the horn honking as we were approaching traffic lights. Someone would miss the shift lever and hit the horn every time.

I also thought the down shift lever could have been larger, but that could just be my lack of coordination.

Once the bike is started, you simply select first by either of the options available, twist the throttle to take off. While you are at idle the clutch is disengaged, and as you twist the throttle it progressively engages so you can make forward progress. This all feels very weird to begin with, as you don’t know what to do with your left hand, and it is hard at first to trust the system.

Ulrich told us the idea is to make life easier for the rider, with less stress and fatigue when riding around town, which in theory makes perfect sense: Even the lightest clutch is a bear if you are in stop and go traffic long enough. In reality, I found some flaws in the system. Stuck in California traffic on I-5, we got plenty of practice, which exposed a rough spot between 15-1800rpm.

As you twist the throttle, essentially letting out the clutch, the bike moves forward smoothly. But if you don_t come all the way on the throttle, crawling in traffic as an example, it gets a little jerky, or hesitant: Almost in the same way a lean spot in a fuel injection system feels Once passed this it is smooth, and with practice you can make seamless up and down shifts with either your hand or foot.

Just expect a lot of ugly, clunking noises during the early part of the learning curve and choose the hand option if you want to get sporty. It reacts faster than the foot shifter.

It isn’t really surprising to find this sort of technology on a new Yamaha, as they really do seem to be the most exiting of the manufacturers when it comes to trying new technology. Will this clutchless shifting be on every new machine in the next years, I tend to think not? Riding a motorcycle is so much fun, because of the involvement with the machine, and taking away so much control from the rider might not be welcome.

But with Yamaha bringing the AE as an optional model this year, to the standard A, it will without a doubt appeal to some people Maybe it’s not your job to sell it, but if so, this is weak). For those interested the FJR1300AE will retail for $15,299 and the standard FJR1300A for $13,999.

Yamaha FJR 1300
Yamaha FJR 1300

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