Yamaha FJR 1300AE

Though I’m not much of a Touring fan, being more of a sport-bike guy, I’ve got to admit this bike definitely offers an out-of- the-ordinary riding experience. I guess it’d be safe to state that this motorcycle suffers of multiple personalities, but whether you ride it on narrow, winding two-laners or the wide open freeway the experience is one to cherish.

Being a sportbiker, what really came as a surprise is how smoothly everything went, especially – and I can’t insist enough on this, as it’s by far the best feature on the bike in my humble opinion – the shifting. Yamaha’s YCC-S (Yamaha Chip Controlled Shift) is a wonderful piece of engineering even a six year old could learn to operate. There is no clutch lever on the left handle, the rider only has to twist it, and the shifting is taken care of by a push button mechanism located on the inside of the grip. The upshift button is where one would expect the high-beam flasher to be, the downshift button is right under the horn – I honked that a few times instead of shifting down – which is kind of weird, but riders have ways of overcoming such awkward moments ( by positioning and keeping fingers over the two buttons, which are actually the two ends of the same lever sticking out of the control housing.). As I said before, it did give me a few awkward moments till I got used to it, but I honestly believe it’s a step forward from traditional foot-shifters. I was told – though nobody ever took the bike apart for me to see – that both the shifting and the clutch were handled by a state-of-the-art computer system that operated them in a close correlation, thus making possible the virtually unnoticeable gear transitions I experienced. The electronics also controls the clutch according to throttle and the type of terrain the bike is riding on (steep climb or downhill sweepers) In a word it is one of those things that most conservative riders would dismiss as a useless gadget, or they might say the more complicated something gets, the better the chances for it to break down, however any unbiased person has to admit it is an improvement and then again, who are we to stand in the way of progress? I for one truly enjoyed this new (for me that is) experience.

Another such feature of the FJR 1300AE is the heated grips. Now it wouldn’t be a Yamaha if it were kept that simple, would it? The grips heating can be set to High or Low but this is only a generic setup as it continuously adjusts itself according to the speed of the bike. Whenever the bike goes faster the grips heat up whenever you slow down they cool off accordingly. Theoretically with a balanced High-Low setting it can pretty much keep the rider’s hand at a constant temperature. Getting down to the powerplant: it’s all one would expect it to be. The 141 HPs can cope elegantly with anything a twisting mountain road riddled with steep inclines, or a long straight highway can throw at it. Regarding the engine: there’s been an important modification made on the engine compartment outlets and radiators. The old FJR seemed to push a whole lot of the engine heat right into the riders face. The modifications came to correct that problem. The brakes also do a good job of making you feel safe. Besides ABS it also has a nice little addition to make the bike more stable during braking. When the rear brake is applied one piston on the right front caliper is also activated.

As a sportbike rider I can hardly say I was overly thrilled by the looks of the FJR, however I do have to admit it has something of a thoroughbred appearance in a discrete noble kind of way. I understand the chassis has also been subject to a few modifications meant to improve air flow and solve the buffeting problems the old FJR supposedly had. The large mirrors and hard saddlebags are a bit of a turn-off from a design point of view however I was told the bags could hold full-face helmet and probably a bunch of other stuff, and that can come in quite handy every now and then.

Another little detail I appreciated ( being a rather tall person myself) was that the seat – besides being comfortable – could be adjusted, with a 20 mm range, to suit riders of different heights better. Handlebars could also be adjusted. All in all - despite the fact that the FJR1300AE is nowhere as nimble as a sportbike – it certainly is a remarkable motorcycle, the awesome engine and the extras it offers make it a flagship presence in its class.