Used Bike

Buyer Guide: Yamaha FJR1300

Two million miles on Yamaha’s supersonic sofa, the FJR1300. Owners give us the lowdown on what the bike’s really like to live with

Click to view: Yamaha FJR1300 owners reviews, specs and image galleries.

You can’t have your cake and eat it. Either choose a fast bike or a comfy one. That all changed when Yamaha launched the FJR1300 at the end of 2000. It was the first bike to combine the levels of luxury and luggage capacity of a full tourer with engine performance not far off the hyper bikes like Honda’s BlackBird. It even handled well too thanks to being comparatively light.

Not only does it make good power, it has loads of torque in the midrange. Open the throttle on an FJR and there’s colossal drive at any revs. It almost seems weird when you’re sitting so upright and comfy to be propelled that quickly with no effort – like the driver of a Japanese Bullet train giving it maximum power. Touring’s far from boring on an FJR.

Rivals were non-existent when the FJR was launched. Honda’s Pan European was heavier, less powerful and some owners had issues with high speed stability. BMW tried to catch up with their first K1200GT in late 2002 but it handled like a drunken duck and had all the charm of a well delivered head butt.

The FJR remained top class until BMW introduced their new in-line four engine K1200GT in 2006 and Kawasaki launched the GTR1400 in 2007. The Yamaha’s still a very credible choice as a new buy and on the used market it’s by far the cheapest route to that mix of mega engine, business class luxury and decent handling.

A very impressive ninety FJR owners filled in our on-line survey this month, telling us all about their bike. They’ve covered over two million miles between them on these machines and their bikes total odometer readings come to nearer two and a half million miles. That’s a lot of cross-continent missions, tyre changes, services and experiences. We’ve boiled down every owner’s view, their tips and tricks and shoe-horned them (not the owners) into these pages. Enjoy.

Running costs

Average fuel consumption is 46.1mpg with loads of riders getting 50mpg or more on steady runs.
Servicing is due every 6000 miles alternating minor then major with the biggy including valve clearances at 24,000 miles. Average price paid in our survey for a minor service was £143 while a major one was £332. A lot of owners highly recommend FJ/FJR specialists, The FJR Centre (01454 299325) in Gloucestershire.

They only work on FJs and FJRs and do servicing to an exceptionally high standard with ballpark all inclusive figures: 6000 miles; £130, 12,000 miles; £330, 24,000 miles £420. They’re happy to let you stay and watch the whole process. 30% of owners don’t do any servicing themselves, 47% do minor jobs like oil changes and brake pads while 23% do everything.

FJR culture

Repeat purchase is a good indicator of a happy customer. Out of 90 people who completed their survey, 11 were on their second FJR, three were on their third and one on his fourth. We’ve been doing this article based on the survey for about two years and we’ve never seen anything like that degree of model loyalty.

There’s a couple of great forums loaded with model specific info, parts for sale and much more. Check out FJ & FJR Club UK and FJR Owners.

What goes wrong?

Not a lot. Out of 90 owners, 66 had never had a problem beyond normal wear and tear, 20 had one minor issue and five had suffered a few. None had loads. This makes the FJR one of the most reliable bikes we’ve surveyed.

From the problems reported there were four which affected more than one bike. Four owners had their battery die mysteriously. Three had their original shock leak prematurely and four had the ECU replaced by Yamaha as their bikes ran badly, especially at high altitude. Two owners had problems due to valve guide wear, one got them replaced and the other’s living with a noisier engine for the moment. All other problems were one-offs and most were pretty minor except one 2003 bike required a new clutch and gearbox at 12,000 miles and another bike (the AS model) needed its automatic clutch replacing at 2000 miles. That’s excellent considering these bikes have covered about two million miles and it proves what we suspected – the FJR is one of the most reliable bikes out there.

But the rear shock linkage is a worry. If not properly greased as per the service schedule, the rear suspension linkage can break. We’ve spoken to one person this happened to but due to ongoing legal wrangling we can’t mention any details. Ernie at the FJR Centre confirms it’s a genuine problem and also believes some mechanics skip greasing the rear linkage as it’s a time consuming job requiring removal of the centre stand and exhaust.  He told Visordown as long as the linkage is greased every 12,000 miles then it’s not a problem.

Just over half (46) of owners had no complaints about their bike’s finish – which is well above average. The most common grumble was paint flaking off the final drive with 12 owners mentioning it. Four thought the fasteners corroded too easily and the rest were pretty minor or isolated.

We asked owners what they’d look for if they were buying another FJR. As well as the regular stuff and things covered elsewhere here, the points which stood out were: ticking from the engine which indicates valve guide issues, both fuse boxes for corrosion which can cause problems, fork condition as they bend easily and seized rear brakes.

Owner Case Study: “I’ve owned four since 2002.”

Alan Sharkey has owned four different FJR1300s, his first being a nearly new 2002 model.

Alan Sharkey bought a 2002 FJR with just 1500 miles on the clock. He sold it three months later as he wanted anti lock brakes and bought an 2004 ABS version and clocked up10,000 miles. When the significantly improved model came out in 2006 he bought one new, kept it a year and did just over 10,000 miles before buying a maroon 2007 model because he liked the colour. He’s since clocked up 22,000 miles.

Commenting on his FJR, Alan said: “The brakes on the newer models are better. The gearing is higher too which makes for a more relaxing ride. The panniers are more inboard, which makes filtering easier. The rear suspension is better on the newer bikes too. The engine in the new models is easier to work. The fairing design is better on the new model. The old one directs all the heat to your ankles - lovely in winter, not so good in the summer.

“There have been two recalls. One to change the instruments because the mpg never got over 17.7. Also one to change the ECU because changes in altitude messed up the fuelling. Both done by my dealer. Apart from that, I’ve had no issues.”

Tyres and pads

With popular sizes there’s a huge range available but almost everyone goes for sports touring rubber. Most popular is Michelin’s Pilot Road II with 21% favouring them. Second is Avon’s Storm ST with 11% and Dunlop’s Roadsmart with 10%. All three are excellent, modern tyres. Continental Road Attacks are the preferred choice of 7% who say they work fine – and they’re very good value for money. OE Metzeler MEZ4s are not liked. Average life is 7500 miles front and 6000 rear.

OE pads are the most popular by far with 52% using them with only one person not that impressed.  10% use EBC HH and they’re all very happy with them.

Modification

Hard luggage is very popular and the most common choice is Yamaha’s own. It was originally a cost option but has been standard since 2006. Most riders think it’s pretty good but criticisms include pannier  capacity being a bit small and them being heavy to carry. It does fit close to the bike and keeps it narrow. Givi is very popular too and everyone using it seems impressed overall. Pete Heyes has both and uses the slimmer Yamaha kit day to day and puts the more capacious Givi boxes on for touring. Topboxes can cause instability at very high speed (125+mph).

Just 21 of 90 owners have aftermarket exhausts. The most popular are Beowulf cans which are sensibly priced and the four owners with them have no complaints. The original rear shock doesn’t perform well with a pillion. Ohlins, Technoflex, Hagon and Wilbers all get the thumbs up but Nitron seems the most popular overall. R&G crash bungs are considered better than Yamaha’s own. Different screens are popular, especially on pre 2006 bikes with MRA Vario being the most favoured. Cruise controls, GPS and Autocoms are all widely fitted.

Model History

2001 Yamaha FJR1300 launched

Yamaha’s first full tourer for ages is a winner. Light weight (237kg dry), big power and torque plus good handling put it ahead of all the competition. It gets updated for 2003 with revised front brakes (up from 298mm to 320), revised suspension settings, immobilizer system fitted.

Engine liquid-cooled 16v, injected, four, 1298cc, Power 141bhp @ 8000rpm Torque 99ftlb @ 7000rpm,
Wet weight
268kg, Seat height 805mm Fuel capacity 25 litres, Top speed 155mph

2006 Major up date

It looks similar but the 2006 model gets significant updates: revised throttle, longer gearing to reduce vibration, curved radiator with twin fans to reduce heat directed at rider, modified exhaust to meet EU3 regs, unified brake system (one set of front pads applied when rear brake operated).

Engine liquid-cooled 16v, injected, four, 1298cc Power 141bhp @ 8000rpm Torque 99ftlb @ 7000rpm
Wet weight
291kg Seat height 805mm Fuel capacity 25 litres Top speed 155mph

2006 Yamaha FJR1300AS launched

Semi automatic model with YCC-S (Yamaha Chip Controlled - Shift). Change gear with buttons on the handlebar or use the ‘gear lever’ to the same effect. No clutch lever. First modern bike with this option and works well but can be jerky at slow speed.

Engine liquid-cooled 16v, injected, four, 1298cc Power 141bhp @ 8000rpm Torque 99ftlb @ 7000rpm
Wet weight
295kg Seat height 805mm Fuel capacity 25 litres Top speed 155mph

Owner Case Study: “I’ve done 91,000 miles on mine.”

Peter Thompson bought a 2005 FJR1300A new and has covered 91,000 miles on it since.

Peter discusses his Yamaha tourer: “It’s a bike that covers a lot of tasks, commuter, tourer and sports bike. It does all of them well plus it’s a bike that stirs the blood making riding it real fun.

“The problem I’ve had are front brake caliper pistons seizing due to winter rubbish and wearing the brake rotors out. I replaced the calipers with gold spots off an R1 and didn’t have any further problems. The rear shock had to be replaced at about 35,000 miles and I was lucky to get a Hyperpro unit from the FJ Club garage, which is superb and still going strong.

"The camchain started rattling at about 80,000 miles and the camchain tensioner was replaced but it’s started rattling again and I’m not sure yet if it’s a dodgy tensioner or the chain needs replacing. The worst problems I’ve had are electrical connections becoming corroded which have stopped the bike a few times. The rear suspension bearings had to be replaced at 72K miles which I thought was reasonable as the bike had done three winters. That was mainly because I made sure the linkage was serviced every 12,000 miles."

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