Long-Term Rides: 2016 Yamaha FJR1300ES

2016 Yamaha FJR1300ES
We burned nearly 240 gallons of regular unleaded during our 10,525-mile long-term test of the 2016 Yamaha FJR1300ES, and the only thing we’ve had to replace was the worn-out rear tire at 7,289 miles. We added a larger National Cycle VStream windscreen for more weather protection, but otherwise the FJR has been smooth, fast, comfortable, practical, reliable and enjoyable in stock form.

10,525 miles, MSRP $17,990

Since its U.S. introduction for 2003, Yamaha’s FJR1300 has become a sport-touring icon. With its big, 1,298cc in-line four smoothly generating more than 125 horsepower and nearly 90 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel, this velvet hammer is a favorite of go-fast enthusiasts, solo or two-up touring fanatics and endurance riders (FJRs are often top finishers in the Iron Butt Rally). Having evolved steadily over the years, it reached a high watermark of refinement for 2016 with a revamped transmission (including a new 6th gear), an assist-and-slipper clutch, LED lighting (plus cornering lights on the “ES” electronic suspension model) and updated instrumentation.

2016 Yamaha FJR1300ES
Most of our nitpicks about the Yamaha FJR1300ES are minor. Fixing them for the next model update would make a very refined motorcycle even better.

After I tagged California’s four corners on our 2016 FJR1300ES test bike as part of our 4,000-mile road test and it was flogged by staff and contributors alike, Clem Salvadori grabbed the keys and went wandering around the West. In all, we’ve logged 10,525 miles, averaging 44.2 mpg (low of 36.9, high of 54.6) and 292 miles of range from the 6.6-gallon tank on regular unleaded.

2016 Yamaha FJR1300ES
Tip-toeing among the California poppies on Yamaha’s big, smooth FJR1300ES. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

The FJR’s stock windscreen is on the smallish side and wind noise can be a bother, so we installed National Cycle’s taller, wider VStream Touring windscreen (#N20309, $209.95), which is made of FMR hardcoated Lexan. It provided smoother airflow and more protection, especially in the rain (nationalcycle.com). The stock Bridgestone BT-023 radials held up well to hard riding in varying conditions. We replaced the worn rear tire at 7,289 miles; the front tire is original, but it’s badly cupped even though it has some tread life left (motorcycle-karttires.com).

2016 Yamaha FJR1300ES
At the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, in California’s southeast corner.
2016 Yamaha FJR1300ES
At the Oregon state line on U.S. Route 101, in California’s northwest corner.

In the next model update, we’d love to see Yamaha address other concerns: the painted luggage rack scratches easily and has no hooks for bungees; the saddlebag locks are wonky and a key is always required to open them; the sidestand can be difficult to deploy; and the big front rotors make it challenging to check/adjust tire pressure, which could be fixed with a right-angle tire valve. No bike is perfect, but as a sport tourer, the FJR1300 comes pretty dang close.

2016 Yamaha FJR1300ES
Admiring the snow-capped Sierra Nevada off of June Lake Loop, near U.S Route 395, which runs up the eastern side of California.

21 COMMENTS

  1. I really like these big sport-tourers but find their footpeg location too far rearward for comfort. I wish they had a more feet-forward, extended knee seating position. Us older guys with arthritis don’t bend like we used to. I recently sold my 2016 BMW GS1200-Adventure for the same reason; even after installing Rox handlebar extenders and prototype Mick-O-Pegs, my knees would start to ache after thirty minutes.

    • I’m with you Dave. My ST1100 is great with the helibars but not being able to shift my feet forward kills my knees! I am seriously thinking about replacing my STeed with an FJR1300 if I ever wear it out. I hope they have it perfected by then!

      • Mark, I bought a FJR1300 several years ago and sold it because of knee pain. The only bike I’m truly comfortable on is my Harley Street Glide with highway pegs mounted forward (& lateral) of the floor boards. With a Corbin saddle, backrest, and pull-back handlebars I can ride for hours and my wife & I regularly enjoy 300 mile day trips. In the past two years I’ve owned a FJR Yamaha, Moto Guzzi Stelvio, BMW GS-A, Gl1800 Gold Wing, Indian Vintage, Indian Chieftain, Haley Ultra, & the Street Glide. The only bikes that were day-long comfortable were the Indians & Harleys due to their upright, feet forward sitting position. BTW, the Indians are actually better bikes than the Harleys (more power, better suspension) and if a dump truck hadn’t totaled my Chieftain it would still be in my garage.

  2. I’m 64, and have been riding a Yamaha FZ1 the last 9 years. I had an ST1100 for many years back in the ’90s. I have been wanting a new, plusher mount, but have been reluctant to sign on for the weight and size of a full-on sport tourer, though this newest FJR looks awesome! I sat on a new FJ09 in a dealer showroom, and it has a much more open, relaxed seating position than my FZ1, minus all the bulk of the FJR1300. a good compromise? we shall see!!

    • Funny story: while receiving a root canal 4-5 years ago my dentist told me that he recently bought a bike that scared him; it was too fast; said he was afraid to ride it. Naturally I called him a pussy and continued with ‘there’s no such thing as too fast’ to which he offered to sell it to me for half price. It was a brand new Kawasaki Ninja 1200 with 300 miles for $6000; I quickly agreed & he delivered it to my home the following day. I’ve been riding for over fifty years, consider myself a seasoned motorcyclist, and have owned some fast bikes but… the first ride on that Ninja scared me so bad (full throttle in 1st spun the rear tire and pulled an unintended out-of-control wheelie straight up) that I parked it for three days. I’ve never accelerated that hard in my life. I then rode it a second time by short shifting until third gear and avoided more than half throttle but found myself cruising at 100+ mph on curvy state routes. The third ride where I decided that no bike would intimidate me, convinced me that this bike would kill me and it had to go. I put it on ebay and a young army GI fresh from Iraq immediately bought it; his first motorcycle; over my objections & against my advice. He said that he’d buy one elsewhere if I refused to sell him mine. I hope he is still okay.

  3. I agree totally with these comments. One year ago I purchased a used 2010 BMW R1200RT with engine guards and highway pegs. This is a game changer for me. Now 3 leg positions to go with cruise control and adjustable suspension. Long days no longer an issue. Relax on the boring stuff and ride hard on the challenging stuff. The perfect sport touring bike for me. C

  4. If you need forward pegs, for about $100 you can add biggest pegs to the FJR so you can cruise in comfort. Though 53 years old, I have a short inseam of 30″ and prefer the more sporty riding position.

    • Allen, I have a hard time imagining a pair of forward-mounted highway pegs on a FJR. The fairing will not allow a feet forward extended knee posture and if you could mount those pegs somehow, your legs would be rubbed raw by the posterior edge of the fairing unless the pegs were very long and had you spread-eagled like a wishbone. If you have a picture, I’d love to see it.

  5. After 40 years of riding mostly sport bikes, my doc said it was time to switch to something more comfortable for my 60 year old body. I thought that the new ’14 FJR that I bought would be just the ticket. Sadly to say, I consider buying it to be one of the worst purchase decisions I’ve EVER made. My dealership experience has been horrible–they let me ride the bike off the showroom floor with half flat tires–and recently they told me it would take 6 weeks to fix an electrical problem I’ve had since it was new. The bike does everything well, but does nothing outstandingly, which might be a plus for some riders, depending on your wants and needs. If you are looking for a “conveyance” to get from point A to point B, I’d say you’d be hard-pressed to find a better bike. But, if you’re looking for a ride that stirs your soul and causes you to remember why you love riding, then I’d recommend that you consider something else. It’s like I read in a review of the bike recently…the author said that, “The FJR is the Toyota Avalon of the bike world and that nobody ever lusted for an Avalon.” My feelings exactly! My FJR sits parked in my garage, covered up, on paddock stands most of the time. I walk right past it to ride my Suzuki or Kawasaki. My “Toyota Avalon” will be finding a new home come spring. Motorcycling (and life) are too much fun and too short to waste one’s time being bored riding an “appliance” such as the FJR.

  6. Never owned or rode BMW RT, always wanted to. Getting to old and weak knees. Although I have owned
    two FJR’s, ’07 & 13. Not one thing mechanicly wrong with either. Took the ’07 on a little ride awhile back. Stopped 3 to 4 o’clock local time each day. 6098 miles in 12 days. Mile after mile 85 mph, day after day. If want to cover some ground, a good pick, maybe not the best but will get the job done. Does a good job around town, working traffic. The 13 had a sport mode, punch it and have a different bike. Yep, it’s heavy in slow u-turns, and to pick up. Some good tip over bars for front and bags are on the market and available.

  7. I gave up my Goldwing at 70 and am riding a 2015 Triumph Trophy. It had the same issue with the rearward pegs so I purchased the engine guards and added highway pegs on that how I can stretch out.
    I also raised my handlebars an 1″ and lowering links now I have a fine bike

  8. Love reading these comments. I am 67 and have toured for 48 years. I was happy and am happy with my old man’s bike, the Honda NT-700v. But last winter I bought a left over 2014 FJR for 14K. Just because I love the way it looks. I love it. I am not a “go fast and lean hard” person and its perfect for touring, except that in my advanced years, it can be a handful around parking lots and gas pumps at slow speeds. I like the rear pegs as my back cant stand the gynochological chair seating position of cruisers. I know in a few short years the bike will be too much for me to horse around, but till then, I will love it. And my Honda NT-700v will be waiting.

  9. I am always happy to see a good review of the FJR, a review based on many miles, not just a spin around the neighborhood. Although I have logged over 220,000 miles on my FJR, an 05, I always asked Yamaha to make a lighter FJR. I weigh around 160 lbs, which make moving the bike around the garage, on gravel, any kind of slight incline hard and questionalbe. A aspect of review never touched on by mags. Although I have only dropped it twice, an event eventually done by just about every owner. Just notice the minor scratches on the lower edges of the saddlebags at any ralley or gather of FJRs. For some the 6th gear was a wish long in the making, but for me and many other FJR owners, not necessary. Nothing is gained, other than a twitchy toe that wants to continue shifting for lower RPM. My 05 will still preform as well and as good of fuel mileage. I average 43 mpg with a low of 37mpg and a high of 51mpg. About that weight thing, the FJR has gotten heavier, as mine is 50lbs less and the main reason I haven’t bought a new one, I really liked the 2014. But Yamaha did come out with a light weight tourer, the FJ-09 at 463 lbs. that FJR saddle bags can be mounted to without any modifications as well as a Yamaha top case or any from Givi, Shad or knock-offs. And for me the FJ is more comfortable, and with the weight reduction less work to ride, allowing me to be more rested after long days in the saddle. 400-600 miles equates to long days in the saddle, which has allowed me to rack up 38,000 in the two years I have owned it.

    Thanks for the good review of the 2016 FJR.
    Ken

    • I agree with Ken. Take off 100 lbs, make it a 900 cc, ditch the 6 gear, (I always skipped gears on my Concours C10) or if you must have a 6th, make the transmission a wide ratio one. If someone wants a crotch rocket, there are pleanty to chose from. Unfortunately, there are very few sport tourers out there being sold. I just hope every year I can still handle my 2014.

  10. Greg,

    It does an old man good to hear State Line again so many times it’s called “” the boarder “”.
    I have an 05 bought new many LD trips love it cant seem to trade it in .
    Thanks for all the great articals

  11. Oh happy day, I just sold my 2014 Yamaha FJR after 2-1/2 years of miserable ownership experience! Good riddance to that boring “appliance” masquerading as a motorcycle. Save your money, folks, and don’t waste it on an FJR. There are so many better alternatives available out there.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here