2013 Yamaha FJR1300A: A Sportbike for Grownups!

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Brian Nelson

Yamaha has launched its FJR1300A model for 2013 with some notable improvements that dyed-in-the-ballistic-nylon aficionados of sport touring should appreciate.

It’s been a whole decade since this Yamaha model first appeared on our shores, and the bike’s capabilities, reliability, and comfort have made it a popular choice among enthusiasts who like their “sport” combined with a good bit of “touring” prowess. Styling tweaks for 2013 include new headlights with LED position lights, and reshaped front fairings with hidden fasteners are now one piece instead of three. Tool-less, manually adjustable fairing slats now let the rider open the vents in hot weather to direct air away from the bike; while in cooler conditions, the vents may be set to direct engine-warmed air toward the rider.

Powertrain and Performance

Engine modifications to the 1298cc DOHC inline four are limited. Lightweight aluminum cylinders shave weight and improve heat exchange, and new piston rings reduce drag. Also, the throttle bodies, intake funnels, and air cleaner are changed.

Two of the four previous catalytic converters have been eliminated from the exhaust system. They are now located close to the engine so they warm quickly; and if stock mufflers are replaced with aftermarket units, it won’t affect exhaust emissions. Fuel and spark maps in the ECU are changed too. These modifications are credited with adding three horsepower and three pound-feet of torque for a total of 144 hp at 8,000 rpm and 102 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm.

Our testing was conducted in and around California’s lovely Napa Valley, but rain and overnight temperatures that plunged below freezing felt far from balmy. Come morning, a touch of the starter awakened the ice-encrusted engine, and it was quickly ready to ride.

The engine is so tractable that it can run smoothly at 30 mph in fifth gear, and then accelerate effortlessly back to cruising speed. But four-valve-per-cylinder engines like to rev, and this one’s no exception. From about 5,000 rpm on up to the 9,500 redline, the engine comes alive and pulls like a sportbike. Throughout its operating range there is very little vibration; although we did feel a hint of buzzing in the handgrips and footpegs when cruising in the vicinity of 70 mph in top gear.

Yamaha’s Chip Controlled Throttle (fly-by-wire) simplifies adding electronic cruise control and D-drive traction control, both of which are now standard. With D-drive, riders can select either of two settings; T for touring or S for sport. Peak power doesn’t change, but the T setting slows throttle opening, which reduces the likelihood of tire spin on wet, slick roads. It can also improve passenger comfort by reducing abrupt throttle inputs. Switch to Sport mode to experience faster throttle response and realize just how powerful that engine is!

Clutch pull is fairly stiff, but both clutch and gearbox work well. Although the machining method for the gears was improved, we were surprised that the transmission still has only five ratios. That said, fifth gear keeps engine revs reasonable at interstate speeds, and the gearbox and shaft drive are quiet and smooth.

Chassis and Handling

An aluminum frame connects to a fully adjustable conventional fork with 48mm legs, which has all new internals, an increased spring rate, and 5.3 inches of travel. A single rear shock also gets revised damping and spring rates, has adjustable rebound and stepped preload, and offers 4.9 inches of travel.

Bridgestone BT-023 radial, 120/70-17 front, and 180/55-17 rear tires are standard. We rode on both wet and dry roads, and they delivered good traction, were stable at highway velocities, and felt neutral and planted in corners.

Braking is strong and effective with dual 320mm front discs grabbed by four-piston conventional calipers and a single rear 282mm disc clamped by a one-pot caliper. Unified (linked) ABS is standard, and the system delivers strong stopping power free of fade or drama with excellent control.

Accoutrements and Ergonomics

The electronically controlled windscreen has been redesigned with more adjustment, and it now stays put when the engine is switched off. It noticeably reduces buffeting and the wind’s effect on the rider. The saddle is quite comfy, and seat height can be set to 31.7 or 32.5 inches.

A revamped dash carries an analog tach on the left side; a digital speedometer, fuel gauge, clock, and power-mode readout in the center; and to the right, an LCD cluster houses the odometer, twin trip meters, and ambient and coolant temperature readouts. Yamaha’s engineers put some effort into this; riders can select between displays of average and instantaneous fuel consumption, elapsed time, gear position, heated grip setting, windscreen position, and fuel range, and users can even stack them different ways.

Standard equipment includes three-level heated handgrips, matching hard saddlebags, the adjustable-height saddle and handlebars, a 12-volt power outlet, and locking dash compartment. Saddlebags are unchanged and still fit a full-face helmet in each side. Accessories include a large touring windshield, a 50-liter trunk (which holds two helmets), a tankbag, saddlebag liners, frame sliders, and a comfort seat.

The FJR (Feejer) has impeccable road manners. Even at triple-digit speeds, the machine is stable, confidence inspiring, and goes where you point it. Claimed wet weight is 637 pounds, which although substantial, is several pounds lighter than before. Initial turn-in takes a little more effort than a smaller sportbike, but the Feejer will lean over far and follow your inputs faithfully. It’s not at all quirky, and within a brief period, this big sport-touring mount begins to feel like you’ve owned it for years. We averaged 42 mpg, and with that capacious 6.6-gallon gas tank, a 250-mile range between fuel stops is doable.

Final Thoughts

During the ensuing decade since the FJR1300 was introduced in the United States (it was launched two years earlier in Europe), it has earned a reputation for being a robust, reliable performer, and resale prices reflect that. We’re pleased to report that all of the changes seem to be legitimate improvements and that component quality, fit, and finish continue to be top notch. Suggested retail list price is $ 15,890, which is a modest increase of 0. With high resale values, the FJR continues to be a good choice in the sport-touring segment.