SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW, Something Borrowed, Something Blue…
When Yamaha offered me the opportunity to “borrow” their new 2016 FJR 1300 ES for a review, I jumped at the chance. The main reason was that it happens to be the same model bike I own, albeit mine is a 2005 version. So there’s your “something old and something new” I just lucked out that they both happen to be blue! The 2016 ES model retails for $17,990 but if you want to do without electronic suspension or their new LED cornering lights (more on those later), you can buy their “A” version for $16,390.
The 2016 FJR has much improved styling compared to my own bike and some of that design was the result of their finding better ways over eleven years to deflect the heat from the super hot FJR powerplant. Sadly, my own bike does suffer from that heat issue. I rode the new FJR for about a thousand miles during our recent northeast heat wave and can tell you that if there was ever going to be a heat problem, it would have been then. I am happy to report a comfy cool ride from the 2016 FJR.
The most noticeable upgrades I found between my FJR and this modern super-sport-touring ES version were inside the moto’s computer. Featuring advanced technology like traction control, a slipper and assist clutch, ABS, LED headlights, heated grips, 2-riding modes, a wide variety of fully electronic suspension settings and cruise control, the 2016 FJR ES is for sure way more electronically advanced than my own bike. The digital speedometer was much easier to read than my analog one and I do like the 2016’s gear indicator which my bike does not have. The 2016 FJR also has a brand new sixth gear and to fit it into the existing transmission casing, they cut the gears helically. I found the sixth gear a plus on the highway as a gas-saving overdrive and overall the bike felt far smoother through shifts than mine. The 2016 FJR ES also has another new feature in the way of the aforementioned LED lights that are above their new LED headlights. These turn on in sequence based on the lean angle of the bike. The additional lights helped me see my way through nighttime corners way better than on my own machine. There are also two seat heights which are easily swapped out depending on your size. From an aesthetic standpoint, the fit and finish of the 2016 FJR is more clean and seemless than my 2005 ride and I love the 2016’s black wheels as opposed to my 05’s silver ones.
While testing the 2016 FJR ES I had the pleasure of being led on a 300 mile odyssey through some killer backroads in NJ, NY and PA by Vito, owner of Speer Yamaha in Passaic, NJ. Vito has a knack for finding the best twisties in existence and this day was no different. The route we took allowed me to really push the bike through some sweet, decreasing radius corners and I noticed that where my 2005 FJR might occasionally clip the ground with it’s undercarriage the 2016 FJR did not. The ground clearance just seemed to go on forever through tight corners on the newer machine. Comparatively speaking, the Tour mode of the 2016 seemed to emulate the power of my 2005 bike but Sport mode took things to a very new and exciting level. Sport mode was where I left the setting most of the time because the throttle response was so spirited and robust.
If I had to create a wishlist for Yamaha’s new and improved FJR it would be short but would include having the lean angle sensor tied into the traction control and ABS, not just the headlights. I would also like to see self-cancelling turn signals as well as something no one seems to ever do– include an onboard compass. Most cars have them now, why not a bike?! On a side note- one negative that I thought I would experience came after reading earlier reviews that claimed the 2016 FJR sidebags would not swallow a full face helmet. I had no problem getting my Schuberth C3 Pro in them so that falsehood turned out to be a huge positive. I dislike the fact that other manufacturers essentially force you to buy their expensive trunks by making the sidebags too tight for a full face helmet.
Overall, the 2016 FJR 1300 ES is absolutely wonderful and has been impressively improved since it first came out in 2003. I am almost afraid to get back on my 2005 because I have a feeling I am going to miss the 2016 a lot. The good news is that when I am ready for a new bike I think it will be another FJR 1300. Given its vast evolutionary upgrades, it’s hard to not fall in love with this super sport touring moto. Surf to www.yamahamotorsports.com to learn more about this and all of their new models. Ride safe!