2016 Yamaha FJR1300 Review

Lots of refinements for Yamaha’s sport-tourer beyond a sixth gear!

Enthusiasts of Yamaha's long-running sport-touring motorcycle will gasp in delight when reading our FJR1300 review. The company has finally seen fit to give it a sixth gear. We always assumed that Yamaha had resisted the move simply because jamming a six-speed transmission into cases designed for five would be costly beyond the sales promise of the bike, especially for an engine that first landed on our shores in 2001. Manufacturers are loathe to spend a lot of development money on a mature design.

But Yamaha has, fitting both a new transmission gear set and a slip/assist clutch to the FJR’s otherwise unchanged 1,298cc inline-four. For the ’16 bike, the ratios were changed so that first and second are slightly taller, third is the same as before, and fourth and fifth slightly shorter than before. Sixth is, of course, considerably taller than the old fifth, promising a more serene long-distance platform. Primary and final-drive ratios remain unchanged.

This is a seemingly small improvement that should make FJR owners very happy. As smooth as the four-cylinder engine is, there's no denying that at elevated highway speeds, the old FJR felt a tad out of breath. Every one of us looked for sixth gear for the first few miles we spent on the bike. Moreover, the spacing required of the five-speed box often meant that aggressive riding uncovered a few unseemly gaps.

It’s not as though Yamaha has been sitting totally idle with the FJR. In 2013, it got a useful refresh with a new fairing and windshield, updated dash, ride-by-wire electronics, and cruise control. The next year, Yamaha introduced the ES version, with electronically adjusted suspension. For ’16, both models return, with the ES getting an inverted fork and the FJR1300A getting a conventional fork. Substantial effort went into the 2013 rework to manage engine heat and to improve aerodynamics for rider and passenger comfort.

Also for the ES this year are LED cornering lights, similar to the system that debuted on KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure. Three sets of LEDs in the headlight eyebrow illuminate based on information from the bike’s lean-angle sensor. For both models there is updated instrumentation, and new all-LED tail light/turnsignal combo lamps at the rear.

Otherwise, the basic bike carries over, with these standard features: color-matched hard luggage, cruise control, ABS brakes with linking, traction control, and heated grips. New accessories include an integrated top luggage rack and a 50-liter top box. Both models will come in Cobalt Blue only and arrive in dealerships in March 2016. Prices are due to be announced in February 2016.

2016 Yamaha FJR1300, sport touring bikes
First Look at Yamaha's sport-touring entry for 2016: the FJR1300©Motorcyclist
2016 Yamaha FJR1300