- Good fuel load
- Good luggage capacity
- Super smooth motor
- Hugely good brakes
- No hand protection from elements
I last road an FJR1300 in 2005 when I had the privilege
to secure a long term machine for use on the MSL Tours
program for that year. Five years is a long time in
motorcycle development and a lot of miles have passed
under our wheels in that time. Since then I’ve
spent a year on a BMW 1200GT another with a Honda
Silver Wing scooter, a BMW 1300GT and a Honda CBF
1000A tourer. The 1200 was a new model and needed
some adjustments in the mapping department before
it would run properly. For personal reasons I went
with the scooter and found it taught me that you could
tour on anything as long as you plan the journey.
That year I did all the tours on it including taking
it to Slovakia and the Tatra mountains. Next came
the BMW 1300GT which I covered 15000 miles on and
once the handle bar switch gear had been sorted I
was happy to ride it for the year.
couple of days after collecting it from the Yamaha
HQ in Weybridge I was on the cruise to Santander for
the MSL Tours Andalusian tour with nineteen other
bikes. Riding the bike felt as though I back with
an old friend. Nothing much had changed. A lockable
‘nik nak’ pocket, twin headlamp adjusters
and heated grips was all I could remember different
from the older model. The generous sidecases held
all of Gloria’s luggage and the lockable ‘nik
nak’ pocket took mine.
Leaving the scramble of Santander around mid day
we had 200 miles on good roads to cover before our
first hotel. The comfort from the heated grips was
well appeciated as the appearance of snow on the distant
Picos de Europa sent a shiver down my back. Rider
comfort is a strong point with the FJ. I seem to be
well suited to the riding position with the electric
screen fully up the bike just glided along the newly
constructed A67. No problems from the pillion seat
either. Footrests were nicely positioned and helmet
turbulence at the national speed limit was at a minimum.
route was down to Palencia then across the long straight
flat countryside to Aranda de Duero, joining the N122
to El Burgo de Osma. It was a cold ride but the welcome
was warm. Its true that in Spain that you seem to
get a ‘waiter for life’ and this guy in
the bar has been there for years and welcomes us as
old friends, it’s a skill that these guys have.
On top of that he speaks English but never moved outside
El Burgo his hometown, he tells us that we are the
only English to visit the hotel, amazing.
As usual the meal that night was special but historically
I new it would be. To start there were three plates
1. Fish including goose barnacles - you need to be
shown how to eat them,
2. Morcilla de Burgos black pudding – with rice
not pieces of fat as in our black pudding
3. Crab meat and prawns
Then local speciality soup – not so special!
Followed by a main course was Hake in chef’s
To finish a dessert of Tiramisu and ice cream cake.
Complemented by a plentiful supply of local red wine
from the Duero River region and coffee.
Goose barnacles are an expensive speciality. In
Spain they are mainly found off the coast in Galicia
and cost around 100euros per kilo.
the day with a full fuel load of 6.6 gallons I knew
I could get 200 miles with out a worry for fuel. The
bike had been averaging 50.4 mile per gallon during
that first stage so I knew I would get down to past
Madrid before a compulsory stop. Shortly after set
off we had a few nervous seconds as we approached
a police checkpoint, not 10 miles from the hotel.
But once the Guardia Civil had seen the UK registrations
they waved us on and we didn’t even stop the
motors. This next stage was 350 miles, which took
us around Madrid on the M50 ring road to pick up the
A4 directions Granada and into Andalusia.
Our hotel was at Priego de Cordoba, a small village
hotel surrounded by olive grooves and one we had used
this before. Winter weather had washed out many of
the entry roads to the village one of them being the
one we had suggested the group to take, eventually
after some pretty wild ‘D’ tours three
of us joined a fully tarmac road leading to the hotel.
I never realised how good the FJ would be off road!
Once again we were greeted by the ‘waiter for
life situation’ it was Antonio the same guy
who had been there on our last visit. We were booked
in here for two nights evening meal both nights but
no free wine. It didn’t matter since the bar
was good and cheap, gin and tonic 2.60euros and beer
After the rest day it was a short but demanding 150
miles leg down to Los Barrios via Ronda to have a
look at the famous gorge – if you can park!
The day’s route sent us down the twisties leaving
the main highway route via Malaga to the tourist traffic.
After those long straight stretches of autovia from
Madrid it was time to re profile the tyres around
some of the mountain roads of the A333, A367, A369,
which are lined by green on Michelin. Up until now
the comfort of the FJR had been paramount. I fitted
the bike, the riding position was great but now on
roads that demanded flickability I looked for a different
virtue from the Yamaha. Here I felt that the FJR could
have done with an update. I was having to haul the
bike from side to side it didn’t roll as I expected
and I was having to put in a lot of effort to put
it through the flip flop bends. I checked the tyre
pressures to find them spot on but the front tyre
was wearing badly which I can only assume was the
problem with the heavy steering. The bike though is
a heavy 283kg compared with the BMW 1300GT 249kg.
arrived at this next hotel at Guardacorte Park just
ten minutes from Gibraltar a convenient sight seeing
location. The tour formula changed here and we ate
out in nearby restaurants. It was an experience and
a brilliant laugh as weslowly demolished the succession
of moreish tapas of fish and meat.
Back on the road after three days of carnival at
the local Los Barrios fiesta was a relief from the
constant sounds of flamenco and load pop music that
blasted out of each casetas.
Once past Malaga the next leg of 260 miles tour took
us along the newly finished A45 autovia was a joy.
Screen fully raised, a constant glance in the mirror
for a possible unmarked police car, yes they have
them as well! We clocked along at well over the legal
limit – naughty but nice.
Sometimes you hit a road that reminds you why you
ride a motorcycle, well, this was it. After Cordoba
we joined the N432 and N502 to Almaden a stretch of
road that has everything. It wound though dense pine
forests whose trees had an unusual jet black trunks
and a fragrance, which reminded me of Corsica. When
the road opened out wild flowers edged the road one-moment
mauve then the vista would change to yellow and white.
in Almaden was a surprise to us all. We had not used
this hotel before and we only had a photocopy brochure
of the hotel to work by. I knew it was a converted
bullring but it never registered with me that at 350
years old it was the oldest active bullring in Europe,
great. Almaden was an ex mining town and the miners
lived in rooms around and overlooking the ring. At
first sight parking would have been a problem but
the gates opened and we were able to use the ring
as our own bike park. This was the unique opportunity
of photographs of the bikes pictured against the yellow
bullring sand with a backdrop of the arched terraces.
Evening meals here were incredibly good, nothing
fancy like goose barnacles but generous portions each
1. Two great slabs of Salmon mousse and salad
2. Two huge cutlets of pork, courgettes and chips
3. Ice cream with fresh fruit
Wine, coffee and water and some of the best crusty
bread I have ever tasted.
on the next leg up to the Picos de Europa region bordered
on 400 miles, some left early because of the long
day ahead but no worries the road was good and as
experience has told us 400 miles is easily attainable
on Spanish roads. Try the N502 for size, yet another
road on which is an absolute pleasure to ride a motorcycle.
From Talavera the route headed towards Madrid branching
off onto the N403 to Avila, Valladolid and Palencia.
At Reinosa we took a white road on Michelin across
Puerto de Palombera 1260ms. and down the C280 to Cabuerniga.
Snow was banked up on the sides but apart from some
wet patches the road was clear. This is a one car
wide road, littered with hairpin bends and cow dung.
It was the first time that I felt that the bike needed
another set of gear ratios there being too larger
gaps between gears, a sixth gear slipped in somewhere
would have help to smooth out my ride.
This final leg was one of the best. What a way to
end a tour I thought as I arrived at the end of the
C180 and our last hotel. The tour had everything,
a diversity of landscapes, and a varied selection
of hotels - ancient and modern, roads that demanded
maximum concentration and others on which you would
think you were the only person on the planet.
the final evening together was in true Spanish style
with an enormous seafood paella washed down with a
plentiful supply of cava. The table was left, as it
should be after a good meal, empty cava bottles, broken
lobster and mussel shells, screwed up table napkins
a mess maybe but a great evening. On reflection the
group had covered around 20,000 touring miles some
had topped this with trips out on the free days. Nothing
went wrong with any of the bikes not so much as a
lamp blew. No illnesses, only one of the group spent
an extremely tender day as a result of too much sun.
For further information on these tours and full colour
brochure call 01732 367441 or email email@example.com