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FJR1300: Why Did Yamaha Leave the Ultimate Sport Tourer in Europe?

We have had considerable e-mail asking about the availability of the 2001 Yamaha FJR1300 Sport Tourer in the United States. As we said before, this bike will not be available in the U.S. during the model year 2001.

Apparently, Yamaha’s product planners believe that United States buyers do not fit this profile — this is a quote from Yamaha’s promotional material concerning the FJR1300, and its design goals:

“You crave the performance of a sportbike, but cramped riding positions soon grow tiring. You love to tour, but the sedate performance of most touring bikes barely gets your blood pumping. Enter the new FJR1300, a performance touring bike combining the high levels of engine and chassis performance of a sportbike with the luxurious comfort levels found on touring bikes.”

The FJR1300 is a massively powerful sport tourer (with 145 horsepower from 1298cc of 16-valve, in-line, four-cylinder motor)designed to handle like a sportbike (with a relatively light dry weight of 525 pounds — given its features and engine performance), while providing near luxury tourer comfort (including adjustable windshield) and convenience (standard shaft drive and available, matching hard luggage). Who doesn’t want a bike like this?

Yamaha is focused on statistics for sales of motorcycles in the United States in the “sport tourer” category. Leaving the FJR1300 in Europe resulted from an examination of these statistics — reflecting a slow growth of sales of motorcycles such as Kawasaki’s Concours, and Honda’s ST1100 — both roughly ten year old designs (other bikes are in this category, but these are two prominent ones).

The sport tourer category in the U.S. is not growing quickly due largely to the lack of exciting product in this category — not due to a lack of desire by U.S. consumers for cutting-edge bikes in this category. Leaving the FJR1300 in Europe is a mistake — a mistake Yamaha will hopefully rectify next year. Unfortunately for Yamaha, rather than having a market segment virtually to itself, Honda’s replacement of the ST1100 will likely debut next year in the U.S.

In the meantime, take a look at Yamaha Europe’s photos and specifications of the FJR1300.