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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two years on the Yamaha FJR - a review

Early morning, after workout and before work
September 15, 2010 - I picked up my first non-cruiser, the Yamaha FJR (pre-owned with only 751 miles).  I posted my initial impressions seven days later.  I was impressed and excited about a new style of riding and a bike with a lot of power.

Six months and 6,000 miles later another "review" of the bike was posted.  I had taken the FJR on only one multi-day trip and I was still learning a lot about riding a sport tourer.

Today, 734 days and 33,249 miles later, I enjoy the FJR more than ever!
Actual miles - September 19, 2012
Here is a little background that has influenced my thoughts on the bike: 
(I live in McKinney, Texas)
Trip to North Carolina/Tennessee state line - seven days, five trips on the Tail of the Dragon, and a lot of miles in the Smoky Mountains
One trip to Florida
One trip to southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana
Four trips to Arkansas and the Talimena Drive
One trip to Colorado/Northeast New Mexico - Camping off the bike, several miles on gravel, numerous mountain passes, Million Dollar Highway, Silver Thread Scenic Byway, and Enchanted Circle (NM).
Five days in Texas Hill Country
A lot of days commuting to work
Numerous benefit rides, dinner rides, breakfast rides, ice cream rides (see a pattern :) )
Loaded down for the camping trip in Colorado/New Mexico
 There are several scratches and signs of use, but the performance has been nonstop awesome!

The acceleration of a 1,300 in-line 4 is exhilarating.   It has so much snap and torque.  As I have gotten more familiar with the bike and the riding style I have enjoyed the "take off" a lot.  The 144 horses provides so much power in every gear.  Passing a vehicle is so easy and quick,  I have to be cognitive that the riders following me may not be able to pass as quickly.
Following Hugh on the Honda Saber improved my gas mileage
The economy is good.  When on longer trips the highway mileage can get as high as 55 mpg.  This past summer my friend on his Honda Saber lead 90% of the time on the Colorado/New Mexico trip.  He did not accelerate aggressively and maintained a good speed.  Up until I had a day of riding by myself I was getting 54.5 mpg!  Most of the time with a mixture of city and highway miles I am getting 42 mpg.
Riding the Silver Thread Scenic Byway reduced the MPG, but sure was fun!
I get a lot of questions about the comfort of the bike.  I readily admit the FJR does not have the same creature comforts of the Venture.  I have a harder time extending my legs and the Corbin seat is harder, but I have done well on the trips and I am not ready to change.  The "grin factor" of the ride out weights any of the minor discomforts.

The adjustable windshield is great.  Being able to adjust it while riding has been very helpful, especially when encountering rain.  The detachable luggage is great.  I love being about to carry the saddlebags and truck to the room or campsite.  
It is fun to leave the bags at home and taking the FJR out with the sport bikes and it looks so good!
Hard to tell it is a touring bike
The handling is very impressive.  I am sure that I have not pushed the bike to its limits, but I have leaned into some corners at high speeds with easy.  When riding the Tail of the Dragon it was easy to maneuver through the curves, even when I had a passenger.  Several times the peg feelers kissed the pavement.  It took me a while to learn how to "shift a cheek and drop a knee" and roll through the corners, but the FJR makes it easy.  Best handling bike I have owned so far.
Enjoying the cornering abilities of the FJR
I added the J and M CB/Audio system, GenMar handlebar risers, grip puppies, and the Cobin seat.  The Corbin lowered the seat 1.5 inches which was good since I am only 5'6".

Maintenance has not been difficult.  Both the oil and final drive oil is very easy and straightforward.  The radiator flush and change took some reading and careful work with the fairing.  Spark plug change was not difficult other than learning how to remove the appropriate fairing parts.  When I changed the plugs (later than recommended) I found the plugs in great shape. They looked almost unused.  The engine is so efficient. 

I did not attempt the valve adjustment, that was too involved for me, but my mechanic friend said they were still in range.

The two major "cons" of the FJR for me are: high center of gravity, especially for a short guy & tire wear.  I do realize riding aggressiveness has a great impact on the life of a tire, but it sure is difficult not to "get on it!"

I love the bike and I hope to have her for years to come.  I highly recommend the FJR for anyone who enjoys touring and great performance.

On a personal note, I have been delayed in posting this past couple of months.  I am very blessed to have a mom that turned 92 in June and a dad that will be 88 in October, but as the years have gone by I have been spending more time visiting and assisting them.  I will try to not take so long between post.
An amazing and wonderful couple at the June, '12 family reunion.
I am so blessed to have them as my parents.


  1. 2 1/2 years ago I boiled it down to the Yamaha FJR and the Honda ST, and opted for the ST. I like the longer fuel range of the ST. The ST's fairing also shields the legs from the wind and keeps them warm. But it's hard to deny the FJR's better performance and lighter chassis. Glad you like it!

  2. Wow, hard to believe it has been two years already. I am glad you are enjoying it.

    And what a blessing to have both your parents with you and still together after all these years. Such a wonderful sight to see in this day and age. The picture made me smile.

  3. Being a good son is always a damn good reason to be behind in your postings!

  4. Great blog! Thanks for sharing. Just got my 04 FJR and looking forward to many miles on her.

  5. great blog I am thinking of getting an 05 fjr and I'm a shorter guy 5'7" like you ... also interested in camping off the bike headed out west this summer ... anything you can add about your gravel/mountain pass riding would be greatly appreciated

  6. Nice piece and enjoy your parents as long as you are able. Just had my '11 FJR for 3 weeks now, truly amazing bike.

  7. I bought a '04 FJR in August of 2003 and in 19 months had 54,000 miles on it. I liked your review and agree with you about not reaching it's limits. I never felt like I needed more power. Never! It will fly. Just as important as going is stopping and Yamaha has put excellent ABS brakes as standard on this ride. Oil changes are a snap and vale adjustments are like 25K miles apart. No breakdowns, and no worries when going on trips. Yamaha dealers are everywhere IF you needed something looked at.
    I read a lot of reviews and it's always on new bikes. It is nice to see a review on one with miles. Good Job!

  8. Oops!! What a amazing site!! Beautiful design, great engine power, excellent handling, stable power distribution in every RPM level, powerful acceleration, and the best top speed in class.
    Its’ another Yamaha Masterpiece and the best in the class.Thanks a lot for sharing this site!! Thanks…

  9. I'm 6'2, do you think the fjr will be a comfortable bike for me?

  10. Dale, I think you would find it very comfortable. If you have any problems with your knees the bend may be too much. The saddle and the angle of the torso is very comfortable. Take a test ride and see for yourself. It is great ride.

    1. The seat hight is adjustable in two positions. Low is default.

    2. Dale. I am 6'1 and have a 2010. Set the seat at it's highest and it is great.

      Ft McMurray, Canada

    3. Adjustable seat is nice. The FJR can fit a lot of people. I am only 5'6'' and it worked great for me.

  11. Great review! Just what I was looking for. Testing a 2012 with 3500 miles this afternoon. Will likely purchase this bike. Thanks again!

    1. You will love it. The FJR handles great and performs superb.

    2. Thomas, so I did buy the 2012. I surely love the ride and handling except...While riding the 70+ miles home I received an unfortunate neck pain. Another ride the next day with same results. After reading reviews I see that many FJR owners use risers. Yourself...the 'Genmar'. Recommendations of installing this one, the 'Helibar', or other? Cruise...'Throttlemiester' or other? What tires did you like best?

      Thank you sir for any information that you provide. You're like the 'Yoda' of FJR's...with 60,000 miles. Plus similar age...I feel you've worked out bugs that I may not have to research further.

      Enjoy the VFR,


  12. I did have the Genmar risers, but the Helibars are also a good option. The risers were very helpful. I installed the Throttlemiester, but did not use it much. I found the Michelin Pilot Road 2 (now there is PR 3 and 4 - all are good) handled great and had good wear.

    I don't know that I am the Yoda of FJR's, but I do love the bike and one day will be back on the FJR. It is a great machine.

    Hope this is helpful.

  13. Thank you sir for the advice! Still considering which riser to go with, plus other accessories. Appreciate the direction. Stay safe friend :)