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Yamaha FJR1300 makes a comeback

2013-05-20 13:21

HOW RELEVANT IS IT? The 2013 Yamaha FJR1300 is set to make a comeback and hopefully regain its relevance it might have lost over the years. Images: DRIES VAN DER WALT


Yamaha South Africa has a host of upgraded models ready for the 2013 bike line-up.


When Yamaha introduced the original FJR1300 in 2001 I doubt the Triple Tuning Fork people thought it would still be going strong 12 years down the line. With its sound basic design, the FJR has developed a loyal following, especially in Europe where it has gained a lot of respect for its mile-munching prowess.

But time marched on and the FJR's competition drew steadily ahead by offering electronic gimmickry that enhances performance, safety and comfort on the long road.


The Tuning Forks' response was to completely update the FJR for 2013 with redesigned bodywork that gives it a sharp, modern look and an electronics package worthy of a top-line sports tourer. The result is that the bike, despite its 12-year-old design, is poised to regain some of the relevance it may have lost over the last few years.

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The list of updates is fairly impressive, much of it focused on riding comfort. Apart from the aforementioned redesigned fairing, the bike also has a new adjustable windscreen; Yamaha claims that the adjustment speed is now twice as fast. I particularly appreciated that the screen holds its position when the ignition is turned off.

The new Yamaha D-Mode fuel-mapping system offers a choice of T (touring) or S (sport) modes. The T-mode tames the engine's power and it seemed to me that the effect was most noticeable in the lower half of the rev range. S-mode gives the rider full advantage of the 1300cc mill's considerable power. It was, of course, the mode I used for most of the review period.

The bike now sports cruise control, with speed adjustment by a single push to the switch or, for larger adjustments, by holding it down until you reach the desired speed. As is expected, applying the brakes, clutch or throttle automatically releases the cruise control function.

Grip heater temperature, electronic windscreen adjustment and the instrument panel display modes can all be adjusted from the convenient handlebar switches, and an easy-to-reach knob allows quick adjustment of the head lamp beam.

The FJR1300 now features traction control which, considering its generous torque, is a welcome addition, especially on uncertain road surfaces. Lady Luck decreed that my review period should be blessed with dry weather and as a result I could not test its effectiveness, but just knowing that it's there added to my peace of mind while riding the bike.


The FJR is a big and heavy bike and it falls firmly in the touring side of the sports touring department. It is, however, surprisingly narrow (when you remove the panniers) which made it unexpectedly easy to use in traffic. That said, it's sheer size and weight means it is not a bike you would buy if commuting formed the bulk of your riding.

On the open road the size and weight counts in its favour and the bike felt stable and reassuring up to speeds well in excess of the national speed limit. With a wide, comfortable seat, a neutral sitting position and the increased wind protection thanks to the new fairing, I would happily spend many hours riding without a break.

Hours of riding are possible thanks to the generous 25-litre fuel tank. I got an average consumption of 5.8/100 during my review, which translates into a tank range of 425km. Combined with the comfort of the bike, stops on the open road will be few and far between, dictated by your bladder capacity more than anything else.

Although the FJR is biased towards touring, it is fast enough and handles well enough to be a blast on winding roads. You won't be able to embarrass the sport-bike set on mountain passes but they won't leave you too far behind. The big Yamaha doesn't pretend to be what it is not, but it is still a tremendously enjoyable bike to ride hard and fast.

While costing less than its Bavarian competition, the FJR doesn't bring much less to the market. It lacks some high-end features such as electronic suspension adjustment but generally it's a competent long-distance bike with enough sportiness to add a generous amount of fun to your quest for distant horizons.

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