Comfortable, fun, sophisticated
When I recently purchased my FJR, I was concerned. It was a radical change for me after 9 years and over 60K miles on a cruiser (my first bike). My greatest joy in riding is to spend weeks on tour, so you can understand my concern. My cruiser was a great mile-muncher, but the FJR has impressed me since it first came out. I did a lot of reading about the FJR, but while I discovered that those that own them are VERY enthusiastic about them, most of what I read referred to the ‘sport’ side of the sport-touring mix. How would the bike measure up for someone looking at the ‘touring’ side?
I have just returned from a 3000 mile tour (averaging about 300 miles per day) and I’m relieved to say that, “THIS BIKE IS A KEEPER!”
I have found only two, relatively small areas where the FJR doesn’t quite surpass the Road Star. These are certainly not “deal-breakers” by any means, but they aren’t (in my opinion) totally insignificant either. My biggest worry when I first sat on the bike concerned the seating position (a slight tuck with body leaning slightly forward to reach the handlebars). For hours of riding the slightly tucked seating position proved quite comfortable, but I must say, I missed the highway foot pegs that I had mounted on the Road Star, which allowed me to stretch my legs forward. I eventually figured a way around this by occasionally taking my feet off the pegs and stretching them forward for a few seconds just holding them in the air. I’m guessing that a person might be able to mount some hi-way pegs, but in my view, that would be overkill (and ugly) (and expensive) for such a small issue.
The second item where the Road Star had a small edge was in rearward visibility. Its wide, handlebar-mounted mirrors gave me good vision behind me, but the more closely spaced, fairing-mounted mirrors on the FJR leave a fairly large space directly behind you that is hard (but not impossible) to see into. With great brakes and ABS, this makes the issue of tailgaters a definite safety challenge. I will be looking into the possibility of getting aftermarket, bar-end mounted mirrors, but I don’t know if they are available.
There were some other comfort issues, but I’m glad to say that all of these fall under the category of “stock” equipment needing to be “tweaked” to meet individual needs (much the same thing happened with the Road Star). These are personal things, and from my research, not everybody finds they need them.
I will definitely be looking into a new seat; I found I got ‘numb-butt’ after less than an hour on the road.
I may add some risers as well. So far I haven’t found quite the right set-up for my wrists and hands. The hand placement wasn’t a major discomfort, and I haven’t tried playing with the handlebar adjustments yet, although they can only be adjusted so they are slightly closer or further from you.
It’s just a learning process I guess, but I’d have to say that I still feel a bit awkward with the higher seat height and the foot peg placement (at the sides instead of more forward). I have a 32 inch inseam, which allows me to stand flat-footed at stops, and having a bike that is about 200 lbs. lighter helps, but the awkwardness comes in when I try to move the bike around by foot.
I’m afraid I can’t comment on how well you are protected from the elements, as we had no wet weather on our trip. It appears that it should be pretty good, though. One difference I found is that the air flow puts more wind on your shoulders and head than I had with the shield on the Road Star. You can adjust this by raising the FJR’s screen, and at its highest position, the FJR’s screen is close to the Road Star’s, but I found that the lowest position worked fine for me, and that’s where I left it most of the time.
I have been surprised at how effective the FJR’s heated grips are. Logic told me that it was the wind on the outside of your hands that makes them cold, but heated grips make a HUGE difference.
I was certainly NOT traveling light on this trip (in fact, I found I had considerably more than I needed), but the FJR’s large bags, plus a bag on the passenger seat/rack, worked very well. Top bags and tank bags are also available, but so far, I can’t find a use for them. I should add that I did not carry camping gear with me, but I have in the past, and I’m confident that I could have packed that along too. I averaged 49 mpg (American) which is significantly better than the Road Star. That would give the bike a range (if I had a seat I could do it on) of over 300 miles. A whole day’s riding on one tank!
As for the performance side, so much has been written on that that I’ll be brief. This thing can be scary-fast! When it comes time to pass, it can be done very efficiently, and if you find yourself running out of space, dropping a gear or two just makes it move with what I’d describe as jet-like acceleration. A bike like this requires a huge dose of respect (and some carefully developed skills would be a big plus). In a top gear roll-on comparison between the FJR and the Road Star, the FJR immediately began pulling ahead of the Road Star, and quite rapidly, even though the FJR had a passenger and the Road Star had none!
So to sum up, I’d say this bike is a huge step ahead of the Road Star technologically. It is every bit as comfortable, without any significant penalties (and some size-able advantages) for touring.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 19th May, 2008