My neighbor always tells me I have seen so much of Japan, which is true, but there remains much more here to explore. Reaching the other places is slightly difficult on this motorcycle. I’ve done better than I thought possible but might be approaching the limit.
Whilst the FJR could be around a while longer five years is a good milestone. I have a few thoughts on the ownership experience which initially was looking to be short lived. Circumstance dictated I persist and I’m glad I did.
Five year ownership notes
I got the FJR because I wanted to explore the length of this country in comfort protected somewhat from the cold and rain that even the best riding seasons here experience. It’s done a fair job of this. The electric windscreen is like climate control, it lets you regulate air flow and thus temperature and also limit rain and eliminate buffeting. It’s brilliant. Getting to destinations has been effortless thanks to comfortable aerodynamics, seating and electronic cruise control. It averages 4.3L to 100km and range is usually 500km per tank.
I have 70,000km on the odometer and it has been totally reliable. The valves have still not needed adjusting, the bike has just had simple servicing which has been very cheap. Besides regular wear and tear items the only issue has been one of the badges on the panniers came off.
The finish is still very good. It sits under a tarp so has been exposed to a lot of rain and cold but plastics and paint still look good. No corrosion issues. I think it is fair to say it deserves the reputation of high build quality and reliability.
As alluded to though it has not all been rosy. Forgetting minor design niggles my main criticism would be, on an already heavy bike, Yamaha positions the 25L fuel load up high and wide creating a top heavy feel. This high COG then creates additional under steer on an already long wheel base.
Altering the ride height front and rear and bringing the bars up and rearward permitting more leverage went some way to improving turn in. (and to head off the FJR fanboy hate mail I always get, extra tyre inflation does not fix this but keep drinking the bathwater)
However the biggest adjustment I made was to my attitude. I set more realistic daily mileage, stopped thinking I need to ride at a certain pace and just tried to embrace the ride is the destination, no need to be pushing on. It’s been the best thing that has happened to my riding.
Where to next.
I’m hesitant to change, the FJR is worth very little now yet is still a premium touring bike. No shortage of dual purpose models renamed adventure in a stroke of marketing genius to inflate prices, but not easy to find anything that fits my bill.
If I think about dirt capability I would eliminate the road bias models in this segment which I have ridden and would struggle to take off road. Ducati Multistrada, Yamaha Tracer, Kawasaki Versys, Suzuki VStrom, Honda CB500X. All good bikes on road. The lifestyle models I have not ridden, Triumph Scrambler, Ducati Desert Sled etc, great bikes I’d love to own but perhaps not what I have in mind.
Shifting in this finely segmented group from ADV Touring and ADV Cafe to some closer to the old semi dual purpose I’m surprised how nobody seems to talk about how heavy they are. I presume like urban 4*4’s it’s the idea you can go off road, but never will.
BMW 1250 GSA 268kg. Honda Africa Twin 250kg, KTM 1090 Adventure 230kg. The ‘middle weight’ models; BMW F850GS 228kg, Triumph Tiger 800 215kg. The ‘rally’ models KTM 790 Adventure 209kg, Yamaha 700 Tenere 204kg. Still got to add your luggage to those curb weights. My Kawasaki KX two stroke I went bush on weighed 87 kg before fuel.
The BMW G650GS I rode in Australia is 191kg curb weight. It felt lighter thanks to fuel under the seat but was not sold here. The BMW G310GS I rode in South Africa was 169kg with full tank. I rode that down the Sani pass so I know I can control that weight on difficult terrain (just).
In the small ADV category there is also the Kawasaki Versys 300 but it has such a peaky engine, tiring to have it screaming constantly. The Honda CRF250L I rode in Laos and Philippines is very capable bike off road being much lighter and having a 21″ front wheel but has a low 24hp.
Maybe I’m over thinking all this (I tend to do that) and given how far I’ve managed to take the FJR already simply pick anything small and cheap and put a set of dual sport tyres on and go. Probably would work.
Speaking of which I picked up a set of superseded Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart 2 tyres at half price for the FJR so I’m taking it in to get a check up and these installed. The rainy season has just ended in Japan and it’s a steamy hot summer. Maybe get out for a few days ride on the big bike to see if I can decide what to do next.
Update: I did a 3 day tour of backroad riding Japan and discovered things are not how I imagined them when writing this.