Yamaha FJR1300 First Ride

Published: 26 February 2016

Two days of blasting around Spain’s Almeria race track and chasing twirling tarmac through the gorgeous, sun-drenched surrounding mountains wasn’t the test route I’d imagined for the Yamaha FJR1300 launch. But Yamaha reckon they’ve got touring and comfort nailed, so to show off their 2016 performance focused upgrades we ditched the straights for more twirls than the Cadbury’s chocolate factory.

The FJR’s biggest update is the long-awaited (and overdue) sixth gear. It also gets Yamaha’s new Slip and Assist clutch technology, LED lights front and rear, adaptive cornering lights for peeking round corners, a redesigned tail unit, tweaks to the dash, a new colour and the model is now set-up for the Dainese D-Air Street System.

The trick was to add a sixth gear to a five speed engine without changing the crank cases. Yamaha has done this by using helical cut gears instead of straight cut and subsequently completely redesigned the gearbox. As a benefit the shorter gearing over the first five gears makes for quicker acceleration while offering a tall, silky smooth, vibration-free sixth for cruising between mountains, or more likely the M25.

Next up is Yamaha’s new Slip and Assist clutch technology. The system keeps the bike settled during hard and fast downshifting, helping to stop the rear-wheel from locking up. The new mechanism also equates to a 20% lighter clutch lever action which is good news for left hands everywhere.

The 2016 FJR gets a completely redesigned tail unit complete with LED lights. The front also gets LEDs to help lower the battery draw and posh adaptive cornering lights, which light up progressively the further the bike is leant over. The FJR’s inertial measurement unit (IMU) kicks in at five degrees of lean and lights up three LEDs in total, which are located above the main headlights.

The dash has also been tweaked. It now comes with an anti-glare screen and new fonts. The FJR is available in two colours, Matt Silver and Tech Graphite, with silver being the new colour for 2016.

There are still three FJR models to choose from; A (£13,299), AE (£14,799) and AS (£15,499). All three get Yamaha’s new Slip and Assist tech and panniers as standard. However, only the AE and AS model get the adaptive lights, upside-down forks and electronically adjustable suspension. The AS model has the Auto Clutch system, which does away with the clutch lever in favour of thumb and finger paddles for clicking through the gears. It still comes with a gear lever though, just in case your left foot feels left out. We rode the AE model on the launch, which is the current best seller. The A and AE models are available now and the AS will hit dealers in April.

Yamaha has sold over 100,000 FJRs world-wide, and now with bags of extras on the 2016 model for the exact same price as the outgoing model the FJR cements its place in the cream of the sports-touring crop.

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