At first sight it looks quite small and climbing on board it feels narrow, the only bike you can really compare it too is the Pan and up against it there are a few surprises. The FJR is 45mm longer in the wheelbase but 57mm shorter with the plastics; the seat is 10mm higher, ground clearance is 15mm less and 185mm narrower, a significant difference.
The dash gives you plenty of information from clear, easy to read speedo and rev dials to info such as fuel, trip meters, gear indicator and temperature etc on the LED display, a 12v socket gives you somewhere to plug the TV in to and a neat little glove box in the fairing gives you somewhere to put your change.
From a purely personal point of view 4 things that are a bonus and come as standard on this bike are, side boxes, heated grips, electric screen and ABS brakes. All of these work very well especially the grips; turn them over half and you get 2nd degree burns. The other really nice touch is shaft drive, low maintenance and clean hands-wonderful.
Now to riding the beast. I picked it up from Yamaha UK at 09.00 at Brooklands, home of the famous race track, after a quick look round I was on my way at 09:30 and onto the dreaded M25. Luckily I only had to travel 20 to the M40, and where I did hit standing traffic filtering was easy. Once on the M40 it was plain sailing all the way, literally. The rest of this route and the M42 seemed to flash past and before I knew it I was on the M6, I missed the new toll road and ended up on the old route but no problems.
Sitting at MY motorway speed I was guessing I’d be stopping every 150ish miles for petrol but how wrong I was, 200 miles later I still had one bar left on the digi fuel gauge, I wasn’t suffering any discomfort in the never regions or my back, in fact I felt quite chirpy. So my first stop for go go juice was at the Poplar 2000 services at jct20 on the M6. Impressive.
After eating and filling up with coffee I was back on the road and started to play, I’d had a couple of hours to get used to it now lets see what we can do. The engine on this bike is second to none, keeping it low in the rev range and getting up the gearbox quickly it is effortless and steady, give it a few more revs and it changes into a beast.
Though it kicks out 143bhp which is very nice it’s the torque that makes this engine what it is. Anyone who has travelled the M6 north of Kendal will know there’s not that much there to look at, especially between Penrith and Carlisle so if you’re going to push on a bit this is the place to do it.
With a gap in the traffic I let her drop to 50 in top gear (5th) and wound in the power, gradually at first and the response was good, twist it quick and it is like the proverbial off a shovel. This bike has got some serious power anywhere you look for it and the guy I flew past in the Porsche can testify to that.
Between jct 5 & 6 on the M74 it was time for more fuel, I had still managed over 200 miles from the 25 litre tank and as it was beginning to cloud over it gave me the chance to put my wet suit on for the last 73 miles. Cutting across on the A/M80 and up the A9 the speed was lower because of the rain which the screen was deflecting off my visor, only problem was that it was pushing it down so my neck was getting damp, other than that I was able to have a look around as I rode the last part to Dunkeld where the meetings were being held. It was drizzling when I arrived but I was dry, I had left home at 0800 and it was now 1730-not bad when you knock off 45 mins for dinner and another fuel stop, total miles 541 and I felt quite relaxed. I got up from the seat slowly expecting something to go twang, rip, or ouch but I got off the bike and could move, amazing.
I wanted to get some miles in while I was there on some of the A/B roads but with rain every morning, the chance was lost, so I had to wait until Monday and the trip back.
10am and I didn’t want to spend the next 2 days on the motorway so I headed off towards Edinburgh. It was dry when I left so I just had my leathers on, 10 miles down the road in Perth it began raining and by the time I had reached the south side and the M90 it was hoying down, so a change of kit was needed.
Putting on the ‘hazard lights’, another standard fit; I was on the hard shoulder putting on my waterproofs again. As I looked back along the motorway I could see a fast approaching Scotland flag on wheels, Colin Pate was on his way home and wasn’t hanging around despite the weather, but he’s probably used to it?
Suited and booted I set off again; I passed Colin about 10 minutes later and carried on my merry way until I was approaching Dunfermline and the Forth Bridge when the heavens opened. Speeds dropped dramatically and the ring road round Edinburgh was awash.
I had planned this bit in advance of leaving home, the father-in-law lives in Newcastle and I hadn’t seen him for over a year so the idea was to ride one of the best bike roads in the north of England, the A68. I stopped for fuel near the butterfly farm, surprisingly not many of them about today so off I went taking the wrong turn and ending up on the A7.
Bugger it, “I’m not going back” I thought so I carried on. The first part is boring but it starts to liven up in the Moorfoot Hills, and in the end it’s quite a nice road until Galashiels where the road signs are not up to much. From here I was back on the A68 but the weather was putting a damper on things, but, this showed another side to the FJR.
There are a lot of blind summits and tight bends all the way too, and over, Carter Bar at the border, so you need to concentrate on where you are on the road. With the bike having such good gearing matched to the torque I found I could leave it in top gear for all but the sharpest corners, letting the revs drop right off and the speed down to 25mph in some corners, you can roll the power back in and you get instant response.
There’s no hint of the rear spinning up, it never felt like it was going to cut out on me mid corner, ‘handy that bit’, and it was smooth with the suspension soaking up the bumps very well. The 48mm fully adjustable forks are easy to adjust should you need too and the rear has a ‘big knob’ to adjust that. The brakes are excellent and working with the chassis you know exactly what the bike is doing underneath you, and believe me in this weather that helps.
As I got closer to Newcastle it stopped raining and the rest of the ride in was pretty uneventful, it had taken me around 5 hours but it wasn’t like I was in a rush so time was irrelevant, but I was learning more about the bike every mile.
Monday morning saw me on the road at 10am again, in the rain, and on my way home, via Yamaha to drop the bike off (bugger). A lot of the route south has changed since I was last up there, bits that were A roads are now motorway and I was thrown further south when I needed petrol, where has Ferrybridge gone?
I totally missed it, basically because there are no signs for it. I followed the M1 as I had to come anti clock round the M25 and couldn’t find a services, then the dash made a noise, no more bars on the gauge; I was on empty, sh…ugar!
I dropped my speed and headed towards Wakefield, finding a garage looked like an impossibility-the phrase ‘never one when you want one ‘came to mind. I had done 11 miles on fumes when I found one and boy did she suck it in when I filled up, a fraction under 25 litres went in and I was off again.
Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, all went before I’d realised I was that far down and then I was in Watford Gap services. It had finally stopped raining but I couldn’t be bothered taking my suit off, a cup of coffee gave me a bit more life and a walk round the car park loosened off my knees which were getting a bit tight. The bike has an adjustable seat and it was on the lowest setting but I couldn’t suss out how to adjust it, so I left it and just let my legs hang once up to motorway speeds.
Dropping the bike off at Yamaha I was sorry to see it go, I really enjoyed riding it, was surprised how comfortable it was on a long ride, and how much fun it can be on the smaller roads. Yamaha have got it just right with this bike, it says on the tin Sports/Tourer and it is.
Now then, Dear Mr Yamaha…………..
Dave Muckle - BMF.