WORDS: Marc Cook
Sport-touring enthusiasts have quite a year to look forward to, with new product coming from Europe and a substantially revised Yamaha FJR1300, now with an A suffix. Yamaha elected to leave the core of the FJR1300 alone, so the chassis largely carries over as does the 1298cc inline-four, five-speed transmission and shaft final drive. Yamaha revamped the bike in 2006, and this round is even more thorough.
The changes start with the application of Y-CCT or, Yamaha Chip-Controlled Throttle; that’s ride by wire to the rest of us. This application of RBW is similar to that of the Super Tenere in that there are two drive modes, Sport and Touring, that moderate throttle response appropriate to the endeavor. Sport gives the engine sharper reflexes, Touring softens throttle response; peak torque and horsepower are the same for both modes. Yamaha says Y-CCT for the FJR provides improved performance and “linear and direct feel.”
But what Y-CCT also makes possible are two technologies new to the FJR: traction control and cruise control. Yamaha’s TC has one operating mode—there are no gradations, as there are in the Super Tenere—but it can be defeated by the rider. Going to RBW allows the TC to cut ignition and moderate throttle angle for smoother performance. With a computer managing the throttles, cruise control is a relatively easy add-on, so the FJR is now competitive with the BMW R1200RT and Triumph Trophy, and one-ups the Honda ST1300 and Kawasaki Concours 14 in this regard.
FJR1300 pilots will gaze upon an entirely new instrument cluster, with an analog tach and multifunction display bracketing a large digital speedometer that also shows fuel level, time, and drive mode setting. The multifunction display is comprehensive, with two trip meters, ambient air temperature, fuel consumption, and estimated fuel range, among other things. The power level of the standard heated handgrips is also displayed on the new panel. Virtually all new functions are controlled through a multifunction rocker switch atop the left cluster, while the cruise control gets its own switches just inboard. The adjustable drive mode is inboard of your right thumb and the modes can be switched on the fly as long as the throttle grip is closed.
Yamaha says it has improved the FJR’s already good weather protection with an entirely new forward fairing. (The tank, seat, and tail section carry over from before.) It claims better aerodynamics from the fairing, including reduced vacuum behind the screen. What’s more, the electrically adjusted screen has smoother action, moves twice as quickly as before, and will remain in the position you choose when turning off the bike; the current FJR “parks” the screen upon shutdown. LED running lights line the twin headlights, and the front turnsignals are now LED strips in the fairing’s leading edge. New panels grace the FJR’s flanks. They’re repositionable two ways: Tucked in and air flows closely around the side fairings, but extended they help push engine heat further from the rider.
While Yamaha was at these changes, it also tweaked the FJR’s suspension, often felt to be on the soft side for larger or aggressive riders. We didn’t have specifics on the changes, but both ends are slightly stiffer this year for “more sporty handling character,” according to the company. New fork internals—an aluminum piston rod and plunger along with stiffer springs—complete the front-end changes. The fork is still adjustable for spring preload, as well as rebound and compression damping.
Yamaha held the line in pricing. At $15,890, the 2013 FJR is $300 more than the current bike, and undercuts the Concours 14 ABS by $309, the base model (non-TC) BMW R1200RT by $1460, and Honda ST1300 by $2340 (based on the 2012 ST).
Updated FJRs go on sale in late October.