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2014 Yamaha FJR 1300 ES​​



 
 
 



   












​Update Dec. 2016- ​ I thought a update was needed on the FJR after 2 yeas and 20k miles.  My recent problem with seat is already documented, so I'm going to write in more general terms. 

​The FJR is less comfortable on a long ride than my other 2 bikes.  That is not to say the bike is uncomfortable, it is, just not to the degree of the Honda or the BMW.  There is more wind noise and buffeting, but the seating position and reach is good.   It is definitely slanted to the sport side compared to the  RT and ST.

​At 7k miles I switched oil to Mobile One full synthetic.  I change it at 15k miles or 1 once a year.  Anymore than that is a waste of time and money.  I went that course with the Honda at 40k and at 110k miles still runs like new.  I switched to Michelins at the 12k mile tire change.  I was surprised to see the FJR return such good mileage, but than again that's just me, it could be different for you.  I like the Pilot roads and so does the FJR.  The bike bike leans really well with them and great in the rain.  Most of all they are a quiet tire.

​Of my 3 bikes I'd have to says the FJR is my favorite bike.  It does everything well, and has all the extras you need in sport touring bike.  The bike now shows 20k miles and not had any issues.  I didn't expect any.

​The FjR does have a smaller gas tank, it will require filling up around 220 miles.  The RT and ST have a gallon more of gas and go 280 or so before gassing.  Out west I was gassing up at 2 bars. In this part of the country I'll ride deep into reserve before stopping.



The first generation of  FJRs (affectionately known as the "Feejer") were slanted too much to the sport side for my tastes.   Great motor and handling, but bad wind management, atrocious seat, poor electronics, and the list went on.   Compared to the ST 1300 it seemed a little primitive.   But Yamaha stayed with it, and listened to the demands of their fan base.

Everyone acknowledged the Feejer had a sound platform.  No matter what the bike didn't have, it always had  the race inspired R1 inline 4 motor, great frame and suspension, and reliability.   The 2014 is the third generation of the FJR.  Over the years the bike picked up cruise control, gear indicator, new cockpit, new aerodynamic fairing and windscreen, redesigned seat, better lighting, heated grips, just to name a few  things.
In 2013 Yamaha came out with the Gen III FJR, and in 2014 the final piece of the puzzle was added with the ES option, making the FJR one of the most technological advanced bikes in the world.   What we have now is the result of a time proven design tweaked and modified.  I'm glad Yamaha  decided bigger is not always better, the conversation at Yamaha was, "we have the bike, motor and frame, what can we do to make it better?"  They listened to the guys that rode the bike, with real world experience and incorporated their suggestions into the design, and that's what makes this bike so good. 


​Honda and Yamaha went in separate directions with their sport touring bikes.  In 2003 the ST 1300 was introduced by Honda.  In every way it was a step up from 1100.  Lighter, faster, FI, better wind management and comfort, all the way down to the luggage system.  They hit the mark right out of the gate.   In 2003 it was a modern bike.  But that's where it started and ended.  For the next 10 years, Honda ignored the bike, only changing the color.  The bike in my garage is a 2004, the same bike you'd find in Honda showroom today.  I have a Honda bias, but I had to accept they had been left behind in the sport touring world.  Most noticeably by BMW and Yamaha, with Kawasaki not far behind.  In 2014 Honda cashed in their chips, and left the field by ceasing to make the ST 1300. 

  
What a great position Yamaha found themselves in with their FJR.   The bike was fresh off a reset update, while at the same time Honda left the market.  Now they are poised to pick up all those guys looking to upgrade., and that's exactly what's happening.  Honda guys are making the trek down to the local Yamaha dealer for the FJR.  All you have to do is look are the number of FJRs in the Iron Butt Rally.  In the circles I run with, I know several who plan to make the switch.


Your really have 3 choices if you want a  modern sport tourer.  One of the BMWs (GT or RT) and their premium price tags, or the FJR.
Lets delve into the specifics of the Yamaha FJR 1300 ES.


The Motor-  The 1300 FJR is a water cooled, inline 4, with a heritage that runs deep into racing.  Yamaha has great success with the inline 4 in their racing bikes and that translates very well into the FJR.  The bike is fast,- at any gear, at any speed, it will quickly climb to 100 in a breath.  It will devour my other 2 bikes in any type of roll on contest. 

 
The motor is smooth and seamless.  Some have said the Feejer vibrates?  What bike are they on?  I  don't see it.  They must have something bad out of sync on their rides.  Mine is every bit as smooth as my Honda at cruising speed.


​The Feejer has a huge radiator.   The fan doesn't kick on often, but when it does you're going to know it.  You will feel the heat move up the the frame to the rider.  Now it's not intolerable, but you will feel it.,  That only happens when the bike is trapped in traffic on a HOT day.  I'll say the same thing I said on the Honda page, on a hot day, on 1300cc motorcycle, stuck in traffic, you will know you are on a motorcycle.
My brother has a 2010  Kawasaki Concours.  If that bike is faster than my FJR,  it is hardly noticeable, so I don't know.  Never been on the 1600 GT BMW.   Those in the know say it can take the FJR, I'll defer to those that have tested both bikes.   It also costs 12,000 dollars more, now if that slight performance advantage is worth 12,000 dollars, only you can make the call.

  
In the real world, (like my recent 4000 mile Midwest Tour) it is plenty fast for whatever you want to do.  Pass a line of trucks?  Go ahead.  Uphill with touring load?   No need to drop a gear.  Two up with luggage?  It won't even notice.
On the Midwest Tour the Feejer delivered 45 mpg and some change.  Not bad.

Handling-  I'll say this from the get go-the ES equipped FJR is a great handling bike.   The dial in suspension on the Yamaha is just fantastic.  It will give all the performance riding you will need, and a few miles later it will absorb the most beat up road you find yourself on.   Once you learn what your preferences are, the ES will be there to make it happen.  I can't say enough about it.

This bike has great neutral steering, meaning you don't have to counter steer it when leaned over.  It just seems to fall into a lean, and once the line is picked will hold to it.  But one thing many miss, is how a bike transitions out of lean into a straight or the next curve, and the Yamaha loves transition.   Put this bike in the switchbacks, and you'll have a blast.  Of course all this is contingent you have the suspension dialed in correctly.

The FJR is equipped with second generation ESA.  That means the preload and dampening can be adjusted,  My RT is first generation, it can only be adjusted on the preload side, which is good, but not  the best.  I have always enjoyed the ESA on the  RT, and use it often.  
The inverted front forks on the Feejer make it one of the best handling touring bike ever made.

When it comes to handling, the only bikes that compete are the BMWs, and I'm going say when it comes to the Yamaha vs BMW battle in the twisties, it will come down to the rider.
  
I can really notice the weight difference in my garage when I have to shuffle the bikes around to take one out.  Backing up the FJ from the ground is way easier than the Honda, and slightly better than the RT to my surprise.

Transmission-  Come on, it's Japanese, the bike is going to shift flawlessly.  I've never seen a Asian bike with anything less than a perfec transmission.   The FJR follows that tradition.

Comfort-  The cockpit on the FJR is a little less than other sport tourers.  I find it more narrow than my other 2 bikes.   That means a little less wind management, but I like it.  It makes me feel more connected to the ride.  The electric screen adjusts the wind flow to the desired level.   I play with it all the time on a long ride.  I do the same on my other bikes.
  
In turbulent air, with the screen low, the wind bill buck around your head.   Outside of that, you're ok.  On long rides across the prairies I generally kept the screen low, and the air moved around me nicely.  Yes, I had the feel of the wind, but it was not noisy (ear plugs).  The screen high made for quiet ride, and I sometimes did that.


I don't know why in truck turbulence, strong headwinds, screen low, a rider gets rocked around the head. One thing it doesn't do is wiggle.  The Honda ST 1300, with screen high, high speeds, will wiggle.  I've never had a problem with it, and don't fear it.   The FJR is nothing but steady in such situations.


I sometimes get confused with the mode thing, because I'm switching between 3 bikes.  I forget I'm in data mode, so when I go to adjust the screen I change data pages.  I forget to put the menu on the icon screen.   The RT and ST have stand alone switches for screen adjustments.  You don't do anything but hit the switch., whereas on the FJ you have to note the mode.  Not a big deal, and if I rode the same bike everyday I wouldn't have the problem. 

The Feejer has great feedback for the rider.   The one thing needed is TPMS.  I have that on my Zumo so I'm good to go.  
 Handlebar reach is adjustable.  I have my set on #2, which gives me a slight lean in.  I like it and have no problem with it.
 Footpeg placement works for me.  No problems with it.

The Small Things when added up make it great-  Excellent headlights.  Bright and height adjustable..  It can still benefit from PIAAs.
Cruise control!  It ought to be a law that all touring bikes have cruise control.  The Yamaha unit is solid and works well.
LED running lights and turn signals.  Turn signals are also visible from the side, so guys viewing you from there can see what you're planning to do.

Traction control.  This keeps your tires from spinning on take off.   Very helpful on wet or gravel roads.  Not to be confused with ABS.
Touring/sport throttle option.  This is manually operated by the rider.   Best way to describe this is touring mode takes the hair trigger off the throttle.  All of us have had our right hand jerk at low speeds or bump, bleeping the throttle.  I saw this happen to a guy coming into the dealer parking lot.  The bike shot up and he fell off.  This option reduces the chance of that happening.  In sport mode you have the instant response when you need it.  One of those things you didn't know you needed till you used it a few times.


Electronics- Yamaha has vast experience in the music business with receivers, keyboards, and speakers.  That expertise is manifested all over the place in the FJR.   

The left handlebar is home to the menu switch.  The menu has 4 modes., they are;  Windshield, heated grips, data pages, and ESA.   Use the menu to bring up the desired topic -say grips.  In grip mode you move to the selector  up/down function, and from there you can dial in the needed output for the heated grips.  Same with the windscreen.

Use the menu switch to go to data.  From here you can select one of 3 pages.  Each page can display 3 fields of info.   The fields are customizable.  A rider can pick 9 fields of info from a  list of 20.

On my ride I have the following setup:

Page 1 displays- Trip meter 1- how many miles I rode on THIS day
                              Coolant temp-vital info, l like knowing exactly what's going on.  
                              Air temp- Gives me a sense of the environment.  I like knowing that.

Because I'm in data mode, I can hit the select switch and go to page 2, and see the following:

Page 2 displays- Trip meter 2-miles since my last gas stop, or whatever.
                              Odometer-total miles on the bike.  Good for stuff like oil changes
                              Trip Time- hours and min from last stop.   That's good to know.
 
Press selector once more brings me to page 3.  I set this up to tell me everything I need to know about the gas situation.


Page 3 displays - Miles to empty Avg mpg since last reset (usually at last fill up)
                               Current mpg (what the mpg is right now)

                               Average MPG since last reset

The bike has a 12v plug in the fairing pocket, and works really well charging my Iphone.
Brakes-  Outstanding brakes that inspire confidence.  A bike with such power commands great brakes and the Yamaha delivers.  All my bikes have good brakes.

Stuff I don't like- You really have to nit pick here.  Only 1 fairing pocket and you have to have the switch on to open it.


The battery is in right the right fairing where you'd expect to find a compartment.  Just put it under the seat like everyone else.


The FJR is not all that tall, but the seat is wide, and that shortens my legs, making me use my tip toes.  Short seam guys have to note the slopes before putting a foot down.

No good place to latch bungee to around the seat, and the luggage rack is small.
  
The panniers are probably the smallest you'll find on a sport touring bike, but I still manage to get my stuff in them.

1 year warranty?  C'mon.  I bought the extended warranty.  My bike is covered for 7 years unlimited miles.  Yamaha should be ashamed of such a flimsy warranty.  The bike deserves better.

And that's about it.

Conclusion-  In my opinion, the 3 best sport touring bikes currently available, are the 2 BMWs and the FJR.   You really have to like the BMW marquee to pay 10-12000 dollars more for the GT, or 4-5000 more for the RT.   The FJ will be close to the GT in the things the GT can do better.   If it is faster than a FJ it won't be by much.   Handling will be a toss up,  It has all the amenities of the GT except heated seat, GPS, TPMS, and audio.   As far as the RT, it can't beat the FJR outright at anything, except play some music. and navigate.
I don't see the BMWs being more reliable.

My FJR was 14,500 out the door, Coolsprings Power Sports of Franklin, Tenn.  A lot of bike for the money.
All of the above just my opinion.  I can qualify that by saying it is a informed one from being around sport touring bikes for 14 years, but not everyone will agree, and that's ok.


The FJR had no issues in 2015, and runs great.

As of August 3, 2016 the FJR showed 15,034 miles.




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

    

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



Update    11-24-2016

After 2 years, and 20k, the normally compliant FJR seat racked me on the recent Southwest Tour.   The first 2 days went ok, but halfway through the 3rd day it began to burn my butt.  I would do ok the first half of the day (about 200 miles) after that butt burn would set in.  At times I was only able to do 50 miles before I had get off the bike.   I'd never had a bike I couldn't make the stock seat work, but I fear I've met my match.  I haven't done anything different, to cause my seat to no longer work, but I'm definitely going to have to do something.

I'm looking into a corbin or Russell, and will report back when I pull the trigger.