2015 Yamaha FJ-09 | Road Test Review

With its low weight and rowdy engine, the Yamaha FJ-09 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It has an appealingly low base price, but we’d gladly pay a little more for better suspension and brakes and a more refined throttle-by-wire system.
With its low weight and rowdy engine, the Yamaha FJ-09 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It has an appealingly low base price, but we’d gladly pay a little more for better suspension and brakes and a more refined throttle-by-wire system.

(This is a sidebar for a comparison test with the Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT and Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS. To read the full article and see full spec charts on all the bikes, CLICK HERE.)

Yamaha made a big splash when it introduced the FZ-09 for 2014. The naked sportbike offered cool styling, hot performance and excellent value, with a rip-snortin’ 847cc in-line triple that made 110 horsepower and 63 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel in a package that weighed only 413 pounds fully fueled, all for just $7,990 ($8,190 in 2015). As fun as the FZ-09 was, it felt rough around the edges, with abrupt throttle response (in two of the three throttle-by-wire modes), suspension that was too soft and a seat that was too hard.

We like the dual-panel digital display, but not the uneven segments on the fuel gauge bar graph.
We like the dual-panel digital display, but not the uneven segments on the fuel gauge bar graph.

These issues were (mostly) addressed on a new-for-2015 model, the touring-oriented FJ-09. The liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves-per-cylinder engine and cast aluminum frame and swingarm are unchanged from the FZ-09, but the FJ has new throttle-by-wire settings, standard ABS and traction control, a longer subframe (to support a passenger and luggage), a more comfortable seat (with adjustable height), a more upright seating position and new instrumentation. The FJ-09’s KYB suspension, with a 41mm inverted fork and a linked shock, both adjustable for spring preload and rebound with 5.4/5.1 inches of front/rear travel, offers firmer damping than the FZ-09’s. A pair of 4-piston radial front calipers and a single 1-piston rear caliper handle braking, and the 17-inch cast wheels are shod with Dunlop Sportmax D222 tires.

Standard touring features include a manually adjustable windscreen, hand guards, a centerstand and a 12V outlet. Saddlebags, heated grips, a luggage rack and other touring items are available as factory accessories. Colors options include Candy Red or Matte Gray.

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“Crossplane concept” in-line triple has 120-degree crankpin offset and fires in 240-degree intervals.
“Crossplane concept” in-line triple has 120-degree crankpin offset and fires in 240-degree intervals.
Despite having dual 4-piston radial front calipers, the brakes have poor initial bite and feedback.
Despite having dual 4-piston radial front calipers, the brakes have poor initial bite and feedback.

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