Yamaha FJR 1300AE

 

 

 

Make Model

Yamaha FJR 1300AE

Year

2006

Engine

Four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder.

Capacity

1298 cc / 79.2 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 79 x 66.2 mm
Compression Ratio 10.8:1
Cooling System Liquid cooled
Lubrication Wet sump

Induction

Electronic Fuel Injection
Engine Oil Synthetic, 20W/40

Ignition 

TCI (Transistor Controlled Ignition)
Spark Plug NGK, CR8E
Starting Electric

Max Power

145 hp / 105.7 kW @ 8500 rpm

Max Torque

125 Nm / 13.7kgf-m @ 6000 rpm
Clutch Wet, multiple discs, cable operated

Transmission 

5 Speed  Yamaha Chip-Controlled Shift (YCC-S)
Final Drive Shaft
Frame Aluminium, twin spar

Front Suspension

48mm upside-down telescopic fork w/adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping;
Front Wheel Travel 137 mm / 5.3 in

Rear Suspension

Single shock, link-type, w/adjustable preload and rebound damping
Rear Wheel Travel 129 mm / 4.9 in

Front Brakes

2x 320mm discs 4 piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 283mm disc  2 piston caliper

Front Tyre

120/70 ZR17

Rear Tyre

180/55 ZR17
Dimensions

Length 2230 mm /  87.8 in. 

Width  749.3 mm / 29.5 in. 

Height 1455 mm / 57.3 in.

Wheelbase 1544.3 mm / 60.8 in
Ground Clearance 130 mm  /  5.1 in.
Rake 26.0°
Trail 102 mm  / 4.3 in.
Seat Height 805 mm - 825.5 mm  /  31.7 in - 32.5 in.

Dry Weight

264 kg / 582 lbs
Wet Weight 292 kg  /  644 lbs

Fuel Capacity

25 Liters   /  6.6 gal

Standing ¼ Mile  

11.4 sec

Top Speed

244.9 km/h / 152.1 mph

Yamaha's long-running FJR1300 sports-tourer has been revised for 2006 with new clothes, some intriguing chassis changes and, for Europe only, an optional semi-automatic transmission . The new fairing allows a 40mm greater range of adjustment on the power-operated screen that now moves through 135mm vertically and 49.7mm fore and aft. A new mid-cowl on either side is adjustable over a range of 30mm to micro-manage the climate around the rider's and pillion's legs and a new central sub-screen duct channels cool air into the riding space to reduce wind pressure on the rider's body

The new, larger headlights are individually adjustable from inside the fairing and there's a 12-volt socket inside the glove compartment on the left of the fairing – which also now locks when you switch of the ignition. Heatable grips are now standard and the handlebars are adjustable – although you need tools to do it – while the saddle can be mounted in a choice of two positions 20mm apart. The footpegs have also been moved 20mm down and 40mm forward for a more relaxed ride. The previously optional panniers are now standard; for 2006 their mountings have been moved closer to the centreline of the bike so although they're actually bigger than the old ones, the bike is 50mm narrower than the previous model with cases in place.

The 1298 cc / 79.2 cu-incc, 105kW engine and five-speed, shaft-drive transmission are unchanged but the swing-arm has been extended by 40mm to throw more weight on the front wheel
 
Anti-lock brakes, also previously an option, are now standard, as is form of linked brakes Yamaha has called the unified braking system (UBS). In this set-up the footbrake pedal operates the rear brake and the lower two pistons on the right-side front calliper while the handlebar lever is responsible for the upper two pistons on the right and all four on the left. 
The net effect is that sports riders who do most of their braking with the front brakes won't feel the difference in the dry but riders at all levels will notice that the bike is steadier when using both brakes on wet tar.

Europe-only auto

The first thing you notice about the new FJR1300AS is the clutch lever – it's not there; instead, an electronic clutch takes up automatically as you roll on the throttle. This is not a scooter-style CVT transmission, however, it has a gearbox with a foot-lever. Unlike the standard system, neutral is at the bottom, which takes a little getting used to – but even if you get it wrong the worst that's likely to happen is that you try to pull away in neutral, which is embarrassing but hardly life-threatening. You simply start the bike (remember to hold on to the front brake, there's a cut-out switch) change up into first and accelerate away.

You can change gears either by the usual foot lever or by a pair of buttons on the left handlebar – one in front to change up, one next to the hooter for down – similar to the paddle-shift system on many modern performance.  Either input will send a message to two small electric motors that operate the clutch and gear lever on your behalf.

In-house initiative

Yamaha admits the semi-auto wasn't introduced in response to riders' requests; its R&D boffins developed the technology as an in-house initiative and decided to introduce it as a limited-edition option on the company's touring flagship to test the market. Semi-auto transmissions were previously introduced in the 1970's by Honda (the CB750A and CB450A) and by Moto Guzzi (the 1000cc Convert). Each had car-style hydraulic torque converters and proved disappointingly sluggish. Yamaha's electrically operated clutch and shift mechanisms, however, may prove to be the answer for relaxed long-distance riding.

Road Test

All that's missing is the soundtrack. Slicing up the west side of Southern California's Palomar Mountain, I'm digging one of the most celebrated dual personalities in motorcycling. In the attack position on Yamaha's 2006 FJR1300AE, the curves sweep by effortlessly to the beat of my mental rendition of "Click Click Boom" by Saliva. Just 30 minutes earlier, I was tucked comfortably behind the bubble on I-5, humming Tom Petty's "Running Down a Dream."

Yeah, this is definitely a bike that begs for a diverse MP3 collection. The FJR has always covered the full range of sport-touring demands. For 2006, Yamaha has made some improvements to the standard FJR1300A ($13,499) but the new model isn't radically different. The big changes come with the new FJR1300AE ($15,299), which features speed-sensitive heated grips and an automatic clutch and electronic shifting.

Some might find it amazing that Yamaha's biggest, baddest supersport-tourer would borrow a feature from the company's tiniest bike, but that's what it did. Although the technical guts are waaaaay different, the clutch on the AE model works a bit like the clutch on a PW50. There's no lever on the left grip to worry about. You twist, you go. If a 4-year-old can get it, you can.

However, don't think easy-to-operate means simple. The system running the FJR auto-clutch is probably smarter than that 4-year old on the PW50—and definitely less temperamental. Indeed, the automatic clutch is only one half of something Yamaha terms the Yamaha Chip Controlled Shift, or YCC-S. The other half—the electronic shifting—is a more radical break from how we're used to operating motorcycles.

The most visible change to the bike is the push-button shift mechanism on the left handlebar. On the front of the grip, where you'd normally find the high-beam flasher, is the upshift button. On the back-side of the grip, just below the horn, is the down-shift button. Both the upshift and downshift buttons are part of the same piece of plastic that levers inside the control housing.

Although the button-shift feature draws the most attention, it's only one way to change gears on the AE. The bike still comes equipped with a foot shifter that can alternately be used to actuate the system.

Regardless of how it's triggered, the shifting and clutch are both managed by a sophisticated computer that operates the clutch in tandem with rider input (throttle, gear selection) and terrain (tight uphill twisties or long sweepers). What that means is, if it needs to slip, it'll slip.

But "controlled" does not mean "automatic." The rider still determines what the motorcycle does and when it does it. The YCC-S is still a manual transmission—although one that changes gears with an instantaneous click instead of a delayed clunk. But it's a manual transmission that you can operate with a finger instead of a toe.

Still, it's a lot to digest, and hard for some riders to accept, particularly when they rely on shifting reflexes honed over decades of riding. Trust me, though. After a few miles (and probably a couple of beeps of the horn when you really meant to downshift instead), you'll be a pro.

The other unique feature of the AE model is the heated grips. The rider chooses a setting between LO and HI on the rotary dial on the fairing and the grips adjust with the speed of the bike. Go faster, grips get warmer. Stop at a light, they cool off.

Yamaha also made some tweaks to the basic FJR package beyond the automatic clutch and electronic shifting and the heated grips on the AE (see sidebar above).

Styling-wise, the FJR has always been a looker. It gets even sleeker this year, with larger but more shapely mirrors and new lights, both front and back. Carried over are the detachable hard bags that are big enough to carry a full-face helmet, yet take nothing away from the rocket-ship looks.

Not that you'll be overly concerned with appearances after you swing a leg over the FJR. There's nothing like a bottomless pit of silky-smooth power and a day's worth of winding pavement on your schedule to take your mind off how you'll look on the boulevard.

The route that Yamaha planned for the FJR intro included ample time on both highway stretches and mountain roads. It was a great course for getting a feel for both versions of the FJR, which proved to be an exceedingly comfortable motorcycle for munching away the miles, regardless of the distance between curves.

No, the FJR is not as nimble as a 600cc sportbike. It's more at home in sweeping curves than tight switchbacks. But it is certainly one of the best handling motorcycles you can buy that can also comfortably carry a passenger and a weekend's worth of gear. The FJR is wonderfully stable on the freeway but still fun on the two-lanes.

When you do get into the tighter stuff, you'll really enjoy the push-button shift feature on the AE. Once your brain is wired for the push-button system, it's as instinctive as using the foot shifter. Different riders seem to develop their own method for changing gears. For example, it's possible to use just the index finger to both upshift and downshift. Because both buttons are actually different ends of the same lever, you can simply flick the forward button out to downshift and pull it in to upshift. When the roads got tight, my technique was to ride with my index finger poised above the upshift button and my thumb poised above the downshift.

Shifts are instantaneous. (Yamaha says they occur in 60 milliseconds, but suffice it to say they're a lot faster than a traditional foot shifter.) While the transition between the higher gears can be made without any chop in the throttle, the bike can lurch in the lower gears as the clutch reengages if you keep the throttle pegged during shifts. After I trained myself to ever so slightly roll off the throttle each time I shifted, up or down, gear transitions were imperceptible.

By comparison, the standard FJR, which I rode in the beginning and end of the day, had a particularly notchy transmission. Perhaps it would smooth out after a few more hundred miles, but it often took a serious boot and a fully disengaged clutch to coax the standard shift model's tranny into the next gear.

I wouldn't call the clutch on the standard FJR heavy or stiff, but it does require a healthy squeeze. More important, however, it is progressive, with no lurch in the transition from fully engaged to fully disengaged.

Powerwise, there's no doubting the capabilities of the FJR. The ponies start building as soon as you turn the throttle and don't stop until you reach the 9,000 rpm redline. The engine is equally at home cruising in triple-digit range or powering out of 180-degree corners on mountain roads.

Luckily, the brakes are up to the task of keeping it all in check. While the braking system features independent front brake controls, the rear brake pedal is tied into the front caliper. So, when the rear brake is applied, it not only activates the rear caliper, but also one piston on the right front brake caliper. For better feel and more unified brake wear, each piston has its own brake pad. ABS comes on both models.

Sure, there are a few quibbles—the somewhat notchy shifting on the standard bike the most noteworthy one—but with mile-munching bliss, 141 horsepower and canyon-carving handling capabilities all in the same tight and comfortable package, the new FJR is the two-headed monster of motorcycling thrills. And the AE version provides an entirely new alternative for those wanting to escape the rigors of clutching.

Only one question, Yamaha: Where's my radio?