Ever since they started building it in 2001, Yamaha has been continuously working to improve the their very special FJR1300. If those unfamiliar with the FJR nameplate were to go to Google Images and query up a 2001 FJR, they would be hard-pressed to notice significant differences. The fact that it can still run nicely with recently designed competitors such as the Triumph Trophy or the BMW K1600GT is a testament to the FJR1300’s solid roots and millions in research and developments.
Improvements last year to the Yamaha FJR1300 included a new headlight design, the introduction of ride-by-wire throttle, as well as a multi-adjustable traction control system. I have long since said that the FJR would likely be my next bike, so I was happy to borrow a 2014 Yamaha FJR1300ES to see how it actually holds up in my daily routine. It’s important to note that this 2014 FJR1300ES also includes an electronically adjustable suspension for dampening, compression, and pre-load.
A key factor in the long-standing success for the FJR1300 has to be the silky smooth motor that is capable of always providing ample power throughout the powerband. The big Yamaha may not make the crazy numbers its rivals do, but the combination of impeccably smooth throttle control and a smooth powertrain allows it to comfortably go up against the others. The well-mannered frame is stiff enough to allow the 644-lb motorcycle to be put through the paces effortlessly. Even though it only has a five-speed transmission rather than six, I never felt as though I was lacking an additional gear in either riding mode, and I rode it a considerable amount in both Sport and Touring settings.
The “Touring” mode offers a very linear fuel map useful for eating up the miles on the highways as well as steady runs down secondary backroads. As I previously mentioned, the throttle control is very smooth, allowing you to modulate the sweepers with ease. The “Sport” riding mode allows for snappier throttle response as well as adjusting the mapping for faster take-offs and more aggressive cornering. It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is; the Yamaha does this in a very simplistic and easy-to-use manner.
Some may have noticed that this particular model is called the FJR1300ES. The “ES” at the end of the bike’s moniker stands for “electronic suspension”. Browsing through the menu trigger and up/down toggle control, the rear pre-load as well as the rebound and compression on both the front and rear can be adjusted. This can be adjusted by toggling through the “solo”, “solo with luggage”, “two up” and “two up with luggage” icons in the menu. The new inverted front fork uses one leg for rebound dampening, while the other is used for compression. This is very similar to Yamaha’s own FZ1, R1, and R6.
The ergonomics on the FJR1300 are pushed slightly forward compared to the European offerings. The handlebar itself is slightly narrower, requiring more of a sport bike-type push/pull movement. The windscreen is electronically operated, allowing for the perfect amount of adjustment for any riding conditions or speeds. If the buyer desires, a much larger touring shield can be installed as a Yamaha accessory in order to cut a bigger hole through the air and reduce wind buffeting to a minimum level.
Regardless of its slightly older lineage, the 2014 Yamaha FJR1300 doesn’t feel old in any way, shape, or form. It’s a very well put-together package in that its totality makes for an awesome sport touring motorcycle. In Canada, this FJR1300ES is priced at $18,499 including the side bags. It’s worth mentioning that these bags are easily detachable, as well as being able to hold enough luggage for a weekend away in the mountains. They are also lockable and completely secure – I felt no rattling or added vibration while riding the bike. Even at this price point, the FJR1300 is worth serious consideration at a sticker thousands lower than either the Trophy or the K1600GT.