18 Oct 2012

2013 Yamaha FJR1300A / AS

Finally! The faithful old Roads Policing steed has received a much needed and overdue makeover – so here it is; the low-down on the new Yamaha FJR1300….

‘Sharper style. More control. Improved functionality’ say Yamaha in their official press release. It would certainly seem that they’ve been doing their homework!

The original FJR can justifiably claim to have been responsible for the growth and development of the sport tourer category over the past 10 years or so.

By offering great engine and chassis performance combined with high levels of comfort and luggage space, with true long-distance capability, the FJR1300A and the FJR1300AS have built up a strong following with Europe's serious motorcyclists and the Police in the UK.

But that was then, and since it was first released the competition has overtaken the FJR in respect of performance, value for money and technology. The FJR is no longer the first choice on many a biker’s list when it comes to long distance two-up touring; the competition now includes the BMW R1200RT and K series tourers, Kawasaki GTR1400, Triumph’s Sprint ST, GT and the new Trophy, Honda’s Pan European and the Moto Guzzi Norge amongst others.

So, let’s have a look; the new bike features fresh and aggressive new bodywork, LED headlights, an electrically adjustable screen, as well as an uprated engine benefiting from Yamaha’s latest electronic control technology, combined with a more refined chassis.

Styling wise, the front cowl offers better wind and weather protection around the rider's leg area - and for added convenience, the adjustable panel in the lower cowl has been modified so that it can be adjusted without the need for tools. This can only be good news - just who has time to fiddle with tools when you need to adjust bodywork, and it happens to be chucking it down with rain?

Yamaha hopes the latest FJR1300A will bring higher levels of quality, performance and satisfaction to the discerning customer. And, for those sport tourer riders who demand two-wheeled technical excellence, the latest FJR1300AS is equipped with similar features seen on the FJR1300A. In addition to this, the 2013 FJR1300AS also benefits from an improved YCC-S clutchless gear change system, and - for the first time on any Yamaha production model - a new electronic suspension adjustment mechanism.

Both variants now have the benefit of the Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle system (YCC-T), used on the R1.

This system functions by monitoring the rider's throttle actions, which are then fed into the ECU. The ECU calculates the optimum degree of throttle valve opening to suit the prevailing conditions, and makes for smoother throttle response for ‘increased riding pleasure’. It also boosts engine output by a few horsepower too, which is no bad thing!

A significant change for 2013 is the addition of a new Traction Control System (TCS) which is sure to be welcomed, especially by those riders who use their bike all-year round, and in all weather conditions. This is particularly useful when accelerating on wet or cobbled roads, and it can be switched off.

Another new and just as useful addition is Cruise Control, which like BMW’s system functions in 3rd, 4th and 5th gears between 30mph and 112 mph, and is operated by two switches located on the left handlebar assembly.

The FJR1300AS benefits from a new Stop Mode function, which automatically downshifts to 1st gear when the bike is coming to a stop from low speeds. It operates by monitoring the bike's engine running speed, engine rpm and gear position, and is especially useful in start-stop-start riding situations around town, at traffic lights or in traffic jams. I like this idea, as it gives the rider less to think about and so increasing their ability to look for hazards on the road.

So, the changes you can see with the naked eye for 2013 are thus;
  • Adjustable electric screen 
  • New front cowls with modified adjustable panel 
  • New 'two-eyed' headlight with LED position lights and LED turn signals 
  • Upside-down front forks (FJR1300AS only) 
  • High-specification multi-function LCD instrument panel 
  • New multi-function handlebar switch units 
  • New-specification front and rear tyres 
  • New centre stand with lighter operation 
  • Suede-look seat cover side trim 
  • New tail-light lens 
  • New two-piece passenger footrests 
  • New colours – including a rather nice deep bronze (right), which is very eye catching
Overall, it looks like Yamaha have possibly come up with the goods – the FJR has always been a great bike, albeit some have had gearbox problems - but it desperately needed a revamp to keep it relevant in today’s market.

And I like what they’ve done – it is still instantly recognisable as an FJR, but looks much sharper and handsome with the new bodywork. The new gadgets can’t help but make a good bike even better. The motorcycling press will be road testing the new models this week, so I for one will be interested to see if they live up to the hype - and steal back some much needed sales for Yamaha.

Article by Angela Freeman