2016 Yamaha FJR1300 (AE) Review, Inappropriate Abilities!

The invitation from Yamaha began: “Come to the Circuito de Almeria…” Expecting the next part of the sentence to read, “to test the new YZF R6,” it came as something of a shock to find that we’d be whizzing round this Andalucian winter haven aboard a revised for New 2016 Yamaha FJR1300.

Though added to Yamaha’s range in 2001 as a more sporting rival to the likes of Honda’s Pan European, it’s fair to say that hot knee-down action was not strictly in the remit of the bike back then… It’s some statement to bring a bike of this ilk to the track, and an indication of the faith Yamaha has in the machine’s dynamic ability. But, as is blatantly obvious, the FJR’s reputation has been built on its touring qualities. Any bike that breaks through the 100,000 units sold barrier must be doing something right, and in the 2016 FJR1300 Yamaha has found fans a plenty in the 15 years since its metamorphosis from the FJ range before it.

New for 2016 is a bike that belches out fewer emissions to meet EURO 4 regulations, an extra ratio inside the box to take it to a full complement of six, an assist and slip clutch to complete the transmissions changes. and new LED lighting front and rear, including adaptive lighting on the two models above the standard machine.

Owners of current FJR models will rejoice at the addition of a sixth gear, allowing better economy or more speed depending on your disposition. Yamaha previously claimed that there was no room to switch it to a sixer, and the Japanese manufacturer wasn’t lying. Using straight cut gears the crankcases would have needed to have been widened – a substantial undertaking – but the switch to helical-cut gears (that offer the same teeth width but for a narrower form) has allowed the extra cog to be nestled in nicely.

Yamaha also changed to new ratios for every other gear apart from third to spread them out better. A happy coincidence of all this work, including using a new dog gear, was a 400g weight reduction. On the clutch side, technology born from the YZF-R1 supersport bike has been employed on the 2016 FJR1300R – the assist and slip clutch works on both the engagement and disengagement action of the clutch, allowing lighter springs and offering a slipper action under engine braking.

LED lighting draws less power from the battery and alternator.

Using LEDs front and rear (which draw less power), the AE and AS versions benefit from the new adaptive lighting. Above each headlight is a row of smaller LEDs that light up dependant on the angle of lean. Using an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), the system detects five degrees of lean and then illuminates the innermost LED on that side to light up where you want to go – not where the headlights are pointing. Crank it over further and the remaining lights will engage at predetermined angles. We’ve seen this before in the market , but it’s a first on a Yamaha.

I addressing these areas, and knowing not to tamper with the package elsewhere, the enhancement made to the 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 are all the more impressive with the freezing of the bike’s price. The standard version (denoted the FJR1300A) gets conventional (not USD) and non-electronically adjustable forks – as well as the rear shock having to be adjusted manually. The adaptive light system is also omitted to get it to hit its £13,299 price point.

For the electronic suspension that sorts preload and damping you’re looking at £14,799 for the AE version. Add the auto clutch option to turn it Into the AS model and the price hits £15,499. only when you hit these heights that you get the adaptive lights ‘thrown in ’.

2016 Yamaha FJR1300 – To the Limit

Pushing hard will see the pegs scrape, but you’ll be hard pressed on the road.

But all this talk of tech spec and prices is detracting from discussing the bike’s performance on track. Lorenzo and Rossi won’t be making a surprise appearance on the 2016 FJR1300 at MotoGP, but I’d wager they would have a hoot on the bike. It shouldn’t work here, what with the bike’s not inconsiderable wet weight of 292kg (not helped by a tank that can fit a generous 25 litres of fuel in), but the enthusiasm of the inline four motor is hard to contain – especially after various button pushing engaged sport mode, set the preload level to single rider and the suspension to hard (additionally upped three notches to make the FJR as stiff as it could possibly be).

That new top gear was employed down the back straight to help propel 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 to speeds beyond 130mph with plenty more to come – although all that speed had to be shed by the time the ensuing 90° left arrived. Medium to hard braking was enough, with only light pulses of the ABS’s intervention felt, but knock this up a level to full-blown panic braking and the ABS doesn’t trust the grip levels achievable by the dependable front Bridgestone BT-023. At least the traction control had more faith in the Japanese rubber, not intervening once despite abusive attempts to engage it.

As a cornering machine, there’s much to appreciate – the pegs will only grind if you’ve got an appetite for their destruction, meaning that you can make proper progress, so long as you don’t overstep the line. You have to brake while the bike’s upright (there’s no cornering ABS here), you have to respect the bike’s weight, and changing direction mid-turn is greeted with a recalcitrant reluctance. In short, ride
well and the 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 will reward.

Cornering headlights on the AE and AS models illuminate as you lean.

So what was the point of this irreverence; excess in an arena the 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 is unlikely to ever find itself in again? Well, exit the circuit in any direction you’d care to consider and you’ll find some of the most impressively twisty and well-surfaced roads in Europe. Knowing what the bike is ultimately capable of offers a rider confidence galore in a playground that’s worth crossing a continent for.

After its abuse at Almeria, the Yamaha’s motor was having a much easier time on road. On track it loved revving above 8.000 RPM, but now the 2016 FJR1300 offered clean drive from just 1.800 RPM. Even in Sport mode, delivery to the rear tyre – via the shaft drive – was impeccable. Switch to Touring mode and what was once friendly now became loving. If you want to hurry things along in this mode the engine lingers a little in the lower reaches of the range, but the motor loses no power in this guise – it just takes a little longer to get things done. We’re all getting a bit like that, aren’t we?

Another onslaught of toggling set the bike in its most recumbent mode, the soft damping setting additionally tempered by knocking it down a further three increments. The electronic suspension has three core settings – soft, standard and hard, with adjustment able to go plus/minus three stages. Changes are applied equally to front and rear, so there’s no micro-level tinkering available, but having tested the spectrum, there’s more than enough to be getting on with. Additionally, preload settings can change to accommodate luggage, a pillion, or both.

What should have been blancmange-like offered a decent ride on, admittedly, billiard smooth surfaces. Harsh application of either throttle or brake would reveal the suspension’s softness, but the pace could be upped to brisk without any detriment to the suspension’s control.

Take time to stiffen it all up, and the 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 reverts to its track manners. And then there’s the rest of the bike to consider. Fuel consumption isn’t brilliant (it was too varied a test to offer a definitive figure, but 35mpg was a rough average for the spirited country blast), nor are service intervals (6000 miles), but they are within the realms of acceptability.

The 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 comfort, however, is superb, with the ergonomics and seat to offer all day contentment – and given the choice I would have rather ridden the bike back to Blighty than suffered in Easyjet’s cheap seats. The electric screen can be moved on the go, but I preferred it on the lower setting where the wind-blast would hit my shoulders rather than upping the noise levels on its highest setting. Then there are the small touches, like the three-level heated grips being individually customisable between one and ten, while the display is clear (with a new backing to make it easy to read in bright conditions), mirrors well placed and pillion seat very accommodating.

The standard panniers can easily swallow up a helmet, and Yamaha is now offering an official aftermarket top-box, something to this point not recommended by the manufacturer due to stability issues. As a package it’s got almost everything you’d be looking for. The only obvious comission is cornering ABS.

While at lunch, a German guy on a BMW bike tour turned up, excited that he’d just spied his first 2016 Yamaha FJR1300. He knew about all the changes, quizzed us on the gearbox revision and wanted to know about the minutiae of the bike. I think we could have sold him one there and then.

With the likes of BMW’s K1600 series offering bells, and the Kawasaki GTR1400 providing the whistles, the 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 was in danger of losing loyal customers looking for these improvements. But Yamaha has provided enough reasons to at least visit a dealership for a sit. Or a test ride. Or to work out a trade-in value for your old one and a new monthly payment to finance this new model…

2016 Yamaha FJR1300 (AE) Specifications and Price

Engine : 4-Stroke, Forward-Inclined Parallel 4-Cylinder, DOHC 16-Valve, Liquid-Cooled
Bore x Stroke : 79 x 66.2 mm
Capacity : 1.298 cc
Compression Ratio : 10.8 : 1
Induction : Fuel Injection
Transmission : 6-Speed, Chain-Drive
Power : 144 BHP @ 8.000 RPM (claimed)
Torque : 138 N.m @ 7.000 RPM (claimed)

Dimensions (LxWxH) : 2.230 x 750 x 1.455 mm
Wheelbase : 1.545 mm
Seat Height : 805-825 mm
Ground Clearance : 125 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity : 25 Litres
Weight : 292 kg (wet, claimed)

Frame : Alumunium Diamond-shape Frame
Front Suspension : 48mm Upside-Down Fork, 115mm Travel
Rear Suspension : Linked Monoshock, Preload/Compression Adjustable, 120mm Travel
Front Brakes : Twin 320mm Discs, with 4-Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes : 282mm Discs, with 2-piston Caliper
Front Tyre : 120/70 – ZR17M/C (58W)
Rear Tyre : 180/55 – ZR17 M/C (73W)

Price : From £14,799

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