In an economy that has dealt a major body blow to motorcycle sales, there are a few categories that have weathered the storm better than most. One of them is the sport-touring market, which has been grabbing an increasing share of total sportbike sales since the economic crisis initially struck in 2008. This is an expected trend, as sport-touring riders tend to be more affluent and thus have expendable cash that makes them more likely to continue buying bikes.
This hasn't been lost on Yamaha, especially after it considered how long it's been since its popular FJR1300 had any sort of upgrade. The basic engine and chassis have stayed the same since its debut back in 2003, with a smattering of detail changes plus an ill-fated foray into the semi-automatic transmission category with the AE model back in 2006 (it was discontinued in 2010). With the big FJR beginning to look a little stagnant and long in the tooth compared to an ever-increasing and more sophisticated competition (Kawasaki Concours 14, BMW K 1600 GT, Triumph Trophy, et al), it's no surprise Yamaha decided an upgrade was in order for 2013.
Those who were expecting a completely new FJR might be disappointed, but rest assured the changes—and there are many—to the 2013 FJR1300 are not just window dressing. Yamaha conducted extensive research into what customers considered most important in their FJR buying decision, and the company engineers took that to heart in their development direction.
While the engine architecture remains identical, some key detail revisions result in a claimed power boost of three horsepower and three foot-pounds of torque. Although probably not the most important contributor, the biggest change in the engine bay is the switch to Yamaha's now-famous YCC-T (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle) ride-by-wire throttle system. By using the electronic throttle control, Yamaha was able to gain numerous benefits, including the addition of traction control, cruise control, and selectable drive modes. And because you're not pulling on cables against a throttle spring, the throttle effort can be lighter (something we complained about in our last test of the FJR).
The traction control system on the FJR (which can be shut off if desired) utilizes the ABS sensors on both wheels, with the anti-lock braking system being a standard equipment carryover from last years model. If the rear tire traction loss exceeds parameters, the Yamaha system can intervene using throttle valve, ignition, or fuel—or any combination of the three. The two-position D-mode (Drive Mode) system offers Sport or Touring settings; both provide full power, but throttle response and power delivery are different.
Cruise control was an item at or near the top of every FJR owners wanted list surveyed by Yamaha, so a new system designed to be easy to use and unobtrusive is now standard on the 2013 model. Only working in third through fifth gears—yes, the FJR's transmission remains a five-speed—the cruise control systems controls are all located on the left switchgear. And speaking of the transmission, a new machining method for the gears is employed to reduce gear noise, provide less gear lash, and in combination with a new shift shaft, smoother shifting as well.
The fairing sides now feature a tool-less adjustable panel that slides outward 20mm to redirect the hot air coming out of the radiator duct around the rider. The case guard is a Yamaha accessory.
The new FJR’s dashboard is...
The new FJR’s dashboard is well designed and easy to read, with the multi-function LCD panel on the right allowing customizable screens to give the information you want.
The FJR1300’s fork now features...
The FJR1300’s fork now features an independent damping setup, with compression and rebound damping only adjustable in the right fork leg. Linked dual 320mm front disc and ABS return for 2013.
The switchgear on the left...
The switchgear on the left handlebar responsible for the cruise control and other functions is actually easy to use after a short acclimation period, unlike some other bikes we can think of. Heated grips are standard.
Longer header pipe lengths and redesigned mufflers allow only two catalyzers (instead of one additional in each muffler) to be used for better flow and more power. Redesigned centerstand is much easier to lift the FJR onto.
New piston rings with less drag slide in a new sleeveless cylinder block (instead of pressed-in steel cylinder liners, the aluminum cylinders are part of the block). This cuts weight, improves heat dissipation, provides better durability and reduces power-robbing friction for better performance. Down below, a new exhaust system sports different header lengths, with the number of catalyzers reduced from four to two, allowing greater flow and better performance. The muffler packing material is changed for better durability and reduced noise, and a new heat guard keeps excess warmth from intruding upon the ride.
The new FJR’s front fairing...
The new FJR’s front fairing has a more aggressive look, with its new headlights now sporting the popular LED position lights around the edge. Turn signals are now LED units integrated into the leading edge of the fairing.
The bodywork and suspension also received numerous revisions aimed at improving comfort and performance. The 48mm conventional fork now features compression and rebound damping adjustment in the right fork leg only, although both legs offer spring preload adjustment. A new aluminum piston rod, plunger, and bottoming cone work with dual-rate springs to provide a sportier ride while keeping overall action still acceptably plush. Same goes for the rear shock, which receives a stiffer spring and firmer damping settings (spring preload and rebound damping remain adjustable as before).
The front fairing and windscreen have been redesigned, with the now-one-piece fairing (from the previous three-piece unit) sporting a more aggressive shape and styling. Tool-less adjustable side panels in the fairings side radiator outlets can be moved outward 20mm to help direct hot air away from the rider, and a new air channel beneath the adjustable windscreen reduces the negative pressure area directly behind the windscreen that causes turbulence. The electrically adjustable windscreen system is claimed to be lighter and has a new shape for improved protection and less buffeting, with a drive unit that is simpler and has a more rigid structure; the adjustment speed is now twice as quick as before, and the screen stays in position when the key is turned off. The twin headlight design is new, shedding weight and sporting the increasingly popular LED position lights around the headlight rim; front turn signals are now LED and integrated into the fairings leading edge.