MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

2015 Yamaha FJ-09: MD Ride Review, Part Two

040715top2-i

This is our third and final report on the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09.  You can find our press launch story here, and Part One of our longer term evaluation here.

After putting hundreds of miles on the FJ-09, the overriding impression left by the motorcycle is that of  versatility and fun. This is the direct result of sensible, comfortable ergonomics and a kick-ass power-to-weight ratio that lets a skilled pilot hunt sport bikes on the weekend.

As we have already reported, good wind protection is part of the package, with a generously sized windscreen and hand guards to keep your mitts warm. The optional hand grip warmers on our test unit didn’t hurt, either.

We averaged 41mpg while riding more aggressively during our test than most of our readers would. 45mpg is certainly attainable with a calmer right wrist, and the 4.8 gallon fuel capacity provides reasonable range for touring.

We still feel that both the suspension and fuel injection are significantly improved when compared to those features on the model the FJ shares its incredible 847cc triple with, the 2014 FZ-09. Suspension damping is much more reasonable, and will suit a much broader range of riders, while throttle response is also improved.

For a genuine sport tourer, the FJ-09 is so light and flickable, and so powerful and responsive, that many riders will push the bike hard … riding it like a pure sport bike on canyon roads. We did.

040715middle1

That suspension isn’t up to the standards of a modern supersport or superbike, however. Adjustable only for rebound damping and spring preload, setting up the suspension stiffer (with more preload and increased rebound damping) reveals its limitations. If you really want to hang with faster sport bike riders, particularly at a track day, you will want more compression and rebound damping than is available on the stock FJ-09. But remember, the only reason we are having this discussion is the FJ-09 invites the sport bike comparison, while heavier sport tourers don’t.

As it is, heavier and more aggressive riders will have the rebound damping adjustment close to max hard on both the fork and shock. If you just want to tour, commute and have fun that is fine, but this bike offers more potential if you want to do some after-market suspension tuning.

The optional saddlebags are convenient and easy to remove – leaving a relatively clean look from the integrated brackets. Just plan on securing your full face helmet elsewhere, because the bags won’t swallow one.

We never experienced any brake fade, and the binders offer good power and feel. Yamaha opted for 298mm front discs to keep rotating weight down, and we think it was a good choice.

040715middle2

The six-speed transmission and clutch worked flawlessly during our test. Gear spacing is fine, particularly given the engine’s broad spread of torque.

Although we generally prefer an analogue tachometer, the instrumentation is otherwise very thorough and legible, with good contrast. A gear position indicator and fuel consumption readout are both included. Scrolling through the options from the handgrip area is easy and logical.

We can’t say enough about the engine. It feels alive and eager. It sounds good and feels good. It will put close to 110hp to the rear wheel on a dyno, and it is only responsible for moving 462 pounds of motorcycle (including a full tank of gas)!

At $10,490 U.S. MSRP, the FJ-09 is a tremendous value. It is available in Matte Gray and Candy Red. Visit Yamaha’s web site for additional details and specifications.

Editor’s Note – If you own an FJ-09, there is a recall in effect concerning the “shift cam segment stopper”, and Yamaha indicates you should not ride the bike until you take it to the dealer for repair. You can read the recall notice here.

040715bottom

152 Comments

  1. Joe Bogusheimer says:

    BTW, the FJ-09 is a smoking deal in Canada (much like the rest of Yamaha Canada’s lineup).
    For comparison, a Kawi Versys LT (complete with side bags, heated grips) is CDN$14,999. A Suzuki DL1000 SE (V-Strom) (with bags and grips, IIRC) is CDN$13,499.

    An FJ-09 is CDN$10,999. Even after adding factory hard bags, heated grips, and hand deflectors, it should still come out about a grand ahead of the V-Strom, and $2,500 ahead of the Kawi.

    It’s a really good deal compared to the US where the MSRP is USD$10,499, considering the current difference in currencies is greater than 25%.

  2. Mark says:

    Madstad make a windshield now!
    I LOVE mine on a Tiger1050
    Night and day

  3. frank says:

    Good point about belt drive…if it can and does work well on a Zero SR with 106 ft lbs of torque, it should also work well on many other street bikes.

    • todd says:

      It’s not about the torque at the crank, it’s about how much is at the sprocket (pulley) that counts. That’s why bicycles can have such tiny chains even though there is well over 100 ft lbs at the crank.

  4. Just bought a grey one. Dirck’s a seasoned journalist, but writes from a real-world perspective, so I was not surprised to find the bike much as he described. After just a couple of hundred miles, I have some impressions. It’s got a great engine, slick transmission, good chassis and adequate suspenders which, though on the “affordable” side, as long as your expectations are reasonable, respond well to the available adjustments. The riding position is great, great for comfort and great for riding “under the radar” because, you know, officer, I was just sitting here straight up on my bike! It looks a little “standard” but the thing invites such sporty riding that without even exceeding break-in rpm it was spinning the stock tire out of corners. The bike and I are much happier on a new set of Q3s. Brakes are good (will stoppie on the the Q3 though not so much on the D222) and linear. Windscreen provides good protection but is noisy. Is it too tall? I have a short-ish 30 in inseam and have the seat in the taller position, which I like just fine. (I’m not flat-footed, but you don’t have to be.) This bike is better in every way compared with the Wee-Strom I once owned, and is not that much more expensive than a new Suzuki with luggage. Speaking of cost – a lot of people seem to always want more for less. But I think this thing’s a steal. Put it this way: it starts $500 less than a new R6 and has a MUCH wider performance envelope in the real world (read: everywhere but the track). It’s comfortable, well-equipped, has modern electronics and a real mid-range which is nice, you know, where most of us live. Can’t wait to put some miles on her. Would I like anything different? Yeah, it’s a downer to see that the left hand switchgear appears identical to the Super Tenere which has cruise control. And the bags and heated grips are backordered.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Speaking of cost – a lot of people seem to always want more for less.”

      see Norm G’s dictionary entry for “free lunch”.

      re: “I think this thing’s a steal.”

      see Norm G’s dictionary entry for “valuing mentality”

  5. Tom R says:

    I wish that more manufacturers would embrace belt final drive for bikes of this class and mission. Big cruisers have them, and BMW has used it on their F800ST/GT for years. It is a logical alternative to a chain or shaft system.

    • mickey says:

      I saw a new Scorpion today and it had belt drive. 173 horsepower and belt drive. Amazing

    • Buckwheat says:

      Amen to that.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I confess to preferring chains above all else, but that is only because I often change ratios on my bikes. I have also never snapped a chain, and if I did it would be a field fix to get going again. I’ve had a belt leave me stranded after it gave up and only ventured out with a spare stored on the bike after that.

      However, I think a belt is a great alternative for the typical street rider. No mess, little to no maintenance, much lighter and cheaper than a shaft, eliminates the need for a cush drive, unrivaled connection between the throttle and rear wheel in my experience. So long as there isn’t much rear suspension travel, a belt is very reliable.

    • Selecter says:

      For the BMW belts, they recommend replacement at 24,000 miles. They are very much ready to be replaced by then, too. And they cost over $450. I fail to see what this would do for me, other than saving me 3-5 minutes a shot when the chain needs to be cleaned and lubed. I’ve gotten 30,000 miles out of a quality chain that’s been cared for. Even including new sprockets, it’s half of the BMW’s belt cost. Yes, the BMW F800 is a worst-case cost/replacement scenario for belts, but since it was put out there, I had to point those tidbits out… belts aren’t a cure-all for bikes in this price and performance category.

  6. DaveA says:

    Excellent point about the extreme value of this bike inviting what might be unfair criticism. You know you’re onto something when you build a $10,000 sport tourer that’s a practical commuter, looks great, does the 1/4 mile in under 11 seconds, and has cross-country touring cred, and people are talking about how some aspects of it might not be the equal of machines way more specialized and 50% more expensive.

    I think this thing is an absolute home run. If this thing isn’t BotY somewhere…er, never mind. It will be.

    Also, if they come out with a true ADV bike on this platform a) I will buy one immediately and b) it would be interesting what that would mean for the Super-T.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “it would be interesting what that would mean for the Super-T.”

      T will then stand for TURBO…

      as Yamaha will be want to give that thing the power it currently lacks. it’s brilliant 1200 class kit, but never really challenged the BM, the Duc, or the Katoom. it was woefully underpowered from the off.

  7. Is there anything about today’s Yamaha recall for the shift shaft stopper on this bike and others that could of adversely affected any part of this review? It is worth noting if so.

    All the best,
    Aaron Lephart

  8. peter harris says:

    As pictured with the bags it’s $11,500. The heated grips etc. add more. Still a good price but I mention it because you can pick up a Ducati Hyperstrada for similar money, and a 2 year warranty. It would certainly be worth it to cross shop. Same mission – different approach.

    • Curly says:

      Are you saying you can get a 2015 Hyperstrada for that? I’m seeing $13,795 base price plus another $1049 for a set of hard bags on Ducati’s website configurator. If you’re talking used, you’d have to wait a year or two to get a figure on the FJ.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “If you’re talking used, you’d have to wait a year or two to get a figure on the FJ.”

        exactly, and who wants to wait 2 years…? screw that, i’ll be dead in 2 years, life is happening NOW…!

    • bmidd says:

      Do you pay retail for everything you buy? I paid $10,045 for mine with heated grips and no bags. Don’t need bags, but if I did I would buy some used FJR1300 bags because they use the same mounts.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Do you pay retail for everything you buy?”

        a better question might be, how do we come to be so willing to invest time in “price discussion” on this 1 luxury good…?

        yet aren’t willing to invest time in “price discussion” on the 10,000 other luxury goods we consume…?

        we whip out the AMEX and say “get me outta here”.

        • todd says:

          I don’t consider motorcycles “luxury goods”, they’re my primary transportation. People price shop cars, why is that hard to understand with motorcycles? Boats and airplanes however…

  9. mg3 says:

    Come on MD. Another ‘ride review’ on the Yamaha FJ09?? Really?? I think your reviewers are great, but how many times do we need to read about this bike? It’s a great bike. We know that thanks to Dirk and the others who have reviewed every minute detail of it. What about the dozens of other bikes, new and not-so-new, that never get a mention in MD? What about the smaller engine motorcycles? I keep coming to this site to find something new being checked out, only to see more about this wonderful sport tourer. I think most of us are interested in all sizes and types of bikes. The market is full of great bikes, maybe over a hundred this year, yet all we get to see on your site is repeats of the same bike or type. If it’s big, expensive and full of gadgetry we will see it on MD, eventually. What about all the other bikes. Sorry, you reviewers do a great job, but you’ve got to loosen it up a little guys. Please.

    • Brian says:

      While I admit that we’ve seen a lot about the FJ-09, as a regular reader (as well as someone who appreciates that I’m not paying a cent to read this site) your comment didn’t jibe with my perception. So I took a few minutes to browse the bike report archives for the past 12 months. Here’s what I found:

      Ride reports on 27 different models (some models had multiple reports).

      Of those, 8 models had engines of 500cc or less. 9 had engines between 500 and 1000cc. 10 had engines of 1000cc or greater.

      In terms of category…breaking things down very “quick and dirty,” I counted: 7 standards; 6 sport bikes; 5 adventure bikes; 4 cruisers; 2 dirtbikes; 2 scooters; and 1 large touring bike. (I’m not including the Polaris Slingshot, which was also reviewed).

      That’s a pretty good spread of both size and category. And so far as I can tell, this is pretty much a one-man show, with two or three different occasional contributors. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a breadth of coverage on par with Cycle World or Motorcyclist.

      So I guess what I’m saying is…I fail to see the problem.

      • mickey says:

        I agree good spread also spread among American, Italian Japanese, British, Austrian

        My ONLY complaint about this site is the report post is too close to the reply and my fat fingers sometimes report when I often want to reply

      • Dino says:

        +10…

        Love this site. Love the variety. Even love reading about bikes that don’t really yank my chain. If it has two wheels (and sometimes 3), I like to read about it.

        As far as web surfing, this is my main site, over any of the other Magazine sites.. Read the magazines on paper, love that, and the occasional web site for a specific bike or article.

        • TimC says:

          Absolutely! My only slight gripe is I would like one new article per day (Motorcycle Daily) and sometimes it’s 2-3 days give or take.

    • Blackcayman says:

      mg….see how this post has over 100 replies?

      • Blackcayman says:

        now over 140…

        • mg3 says:

          I don’t know. Can only see about 5 from my desk. But wouldn’t you know it, there’s a great test out today about some small light dual purpose bikes. That’s what I’m talkin about! I will eagerly read this new review. Also didn’t realize that Dirk is a one-man operation. If that’s the case he deserves a lot of praise, and a lot of viewers. Sorry about the whiney comment MD, but I enjoy the site so much I just wanted to vent a little. Keep up the great work.

  10. Michael Haz says:

    Nice bike, but why is it a “sport-tourer”? It’s a standard bike to which some decorative side cases can be added, and by the looks of them, they are good for carrying a sweater and a pair of pants. For actual touring, the rider will need to strap an Ortlieb bag or similar to the passenger seat.

    Still and all, nice bike.

    • TimC says:

      Agreed – it seems to be the buff books and now websites are mutating the definition of “sport touring” to include bikes like this (or, really, “sport touring” is becoming THIS.)

      I emphatically think that sport touring should remain its already-defined category, and that these bikes need a new name, like “sport adventure” or something.

      • TimC says:

        And yes, I am trying to figure out how to afford a Motus.

      • Dave says:

        Re: “(or, really, “sport touring” is becoming THIS.)”

        Bingo. 2-points for you. This may also be driven by the changing motorcycle demographics. Average age is getting older and fewer riders are originating on the street side, making the upright, wide-bar ergos more appealing for those who began in the dirt.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “these bikes need a new name, like “sport adventure” or something.”

        sir, you will “cease and desist” from using that term.

        BMW’s lawyers have designated it shall only be used in marketing materials and in contextual discussion of the new S1000XR.

        move along.

  11. Tommy See says:

    I wish the machine much success . The 650 V-Strom to me is the more comfortable ride. Longer wheel base and pegs further forward. Lacking the triples power but when is there going to be the perfect machine. Ok KTM probably has it or BMW.

    • carl says:

      I like the concept of these bikes but you are locked in that riding position, to me this is where are these bikes fail, can you do 12hr days?? I can on my present bike because 18 inch floorboards give you lots of position possibilities over 12 hrs.

      • Kagato says:

        you da man Carl. No way I could ride that long on anything.

        • carl says:

          You young guys are all soft lol, guess non of you would be doing any Iron butt rides anytime soon. What is the point of owning a full touring or sport touring bike if you don’t ride it. Yup when we go touring 12 hr days are the norm. Try a Victory Vision or CCT, that’s from a guy coming off a Goldwing. Definitely not fast bikes out there but all day long comfort. Beauty of these bikes is the ability to move around, way I see it your stuck in one position on the FJ, now that’s impossible for a long time.

          • Kagato says:

            hands go numb after about 30 minutes. hate to sound wimpy, but it is not fun at all.

          • carl says:

            Ya numbing of the hands is a real pain and I get that too must be a aging thing. Cruise control is a must for me to be able to do long distances because of numbing.

          • mickey says:

            Long days are possible in one position, without cruise, without highway pegs, without floorboards, without heated grips or heated seats. Ridden all over the country the last 50 years without any of those things, usually with my wife pillion. We have put in many, many 12 hour days and some days up to 17 hours. For petes sake, grow a pair. You are riding a motorcycle, not riding in a Lexus.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “hands go numb after about 30 minutes. hate to sound wimpy, but it is not fun at all.”

            re: “Ya numbing of the hands is a real pain and I get that too must be a aging thing. Cruise control is a must for me to be able to do long distances because of numbing.”

            3 words… Arm Pump Surgery. ask Dan for the brochure.

          • mickey says:

            and jeez with everyone running around the country regularly at over 100 mph, they can’t be getting more than 25-30 mpg, so then tank is going to run out in 150 miles and you get to rest your butt every hour and a half while you refill.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I have only ridden one cruiser that I have found comfortable for more than an hour or so – some big Yamaha, don’t remember which model – though I admittedly have only ridden a handful of cruisers. A bike like this Yamaha, I can ride all day long. More importantly, I would WANT to ride it all day long because it wouldn’t bore me to tears like any bike with floorboards undoubtedly would.

        • Hot Dog says:

          I had a gigantic feet forward cruiser with 3′ floorboards (or so it seemed). All of my weight was on my arse cuz my feet were way out in front of me. After a couple of hours my butt was numb but the most uncomfortable aspect was having to “pull myself up” to the bars. I soon developed a “burning coal” at the base of my neck, between the shoulder blades. I like my feet under me to help support my phat arse.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            That is what I experienced on all the cruisers I have ridden. I got the “burning coal” sensation as well, but the pressure on my tailbone is the worst. I didn’t get the “burning coal” with the big Yamaha I mentioned, but I still got the pressure on my arse though not as bad as other cruisers. I imagine it would have gotten distracting had I stayed on the bike for more than two hours.

            Anything that puts my feet forward is uncomfortable after a pretty short while. I like an upright position like this FJ or a slight forward lean.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “3′ floorboards”

            truck world calls those “running boards”. got a set down the sides of me dually.

      • Dino says:

        iron-butt certified (or certifiable) on a Vstrom 1000. Old school. No floorboards, no stereo, no cruise control, or extended gas tank. You can scoot around a bit on any bike… Toes on the foot pegs, or heels on the foot pegs. Highway pegs if you want, all give leg movement. Comfortable seats don’t require much scootin around, so you just sit there, and burn up the Dino-fuel if you need to make a lot of miles. Fill up the tank, drain the bladder, and hit it again.

        15+ hour days are not always fun, but they help make 12 hour days seem like a walk in the park! Haven’t gotten the bug to do a Rally, as back to back days like that still don’t seem like it would be worth it, just for bragging rights. But I like knowing I can do 1000 mile, 20 hour days if I need to.

      • david says:

        With the foot peg underneath vs forward floorboard, I can stand up on them for a few minutes to stretch out my leg muscles. I fount it critically important when on saddle for long hours. Plus I feel safer and more control of my bike than a cruiser that sits like on a couch!

        • Kagato says:

          yep! The only advantage of the forward mount pegs (that I’ve noticed) is the benefit of having your feet out front to brace when braking hard. I do sometimes miss my 1100 V-Star Custom. but I don’t miss having to drop the front exhaust to change the oil filter.

  12. James says:

    I don’t see how you can fault – or even contemplate – this bike for not having a suspension up to a track day. Who would take a new FJ-09 to the race track? What’s that all about?

    You get an older race bike for track days, not new sport tourers.

    • Joe Bogusheimer says:

      I know guys that have taken their DL650 and DL1000 V-Stroms to the track, among other unlikely bikes that I’ve seen taken to the track, like Goldwings. I suspect that one can get some benefit of running almost any streetbike around a track, free from the dangers of the road, even if the bike is far from optimal for track use. Would the FJ-09 be my frist choice for a regular track-day bike, though? No. I’d probably pick myself up a used CBR250 or Ninja 250 to start with, maybe working up to something like a (used) 600 Supersport.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “But remember, the only reason we are having this discussion is the FJ-09 invites the sport bike comparison, while heavier sport tourers don’t.”

      There ya go.

  13. James S says:

    Is it just me or is that fairing and windscreen incredibly ugly and awkward looking? I can’t figure out why it has those huge gaps between the fairing and windscreen on the sides. Personally, the aesthetics of tall windscreens offend my senses so much that I would rather get a shorter one or remove it. That still wouldn’t solve the weird gap though… I’d probably look at the new Versys instead of this just because it looks so much better. I guess I’m just shallow that way.

    • Justyn says:

      It’s to allow clearance for the hand guards at full lock.

    • TimC says:

      The irony is in many cases a shorter screen may not shield all of you as well but does a better job of positioning the airflow to avoid helmet-level buffeting.

    • JohnF says:

      It’s not just you! It looks like the designer of the fairing and the side panels wasn’t even looking at the rest of the bike – the frame and tank have organic curves, let’s make angular panels to go “with” that!

    • SausageCreature says:

      No, it’s not just you. I don’t mind the fairing (such as it is), but the windscreen looks even worse in person. Function-over-form types might like it, but it *looks* like an afterthought and doesn’t flow with the rest of the bike.

  14. Cruizin says:

    There are alot of ex Tiger and Vstrom owners on the FJ-09 Forums.
    ADV Riders? Lol, most real ADV riders ride dirtbikes because heavy ADV bikes cannot keep up with them.

  15. Neil Mahrer says:

    I’m always surprised by people who comment that bike a or b will be no good for touring because its screen isn’t big enough or it isn’t powerful enough or any other reason. I toured all over Europe on a Triumph Thunderbird 900 and a Speed Triple and used to sit all day at 90 or 100mph. I used to cross France in a day without feeling particularly cramped or tired. I guess I just hadn’t been told my bikes were the wrong type. More recently I’ve been up to the north of Scotland and back on a 350 Bullet and loved it. It’s slower but not worse. I say go where you like on anything and don’t listen to people who say you shouldn’t.

    • carl says:

      It’s America everything has be big or go home. It’s like have a having a 6 litre diesel engine in a half ton pickup, overkill. In Europe the same pickup has a 4 litre diesel with correct gearing does exactly same job with real fuel savings. I now ride a Victory cross country tour because it is super comfortable on long distance rides but can’t understand why it needs 1731cc’s and its still a giant turd and heavy. If you could get the victory comfort in a 500lb bike would be all over it. Not getting any younger and these bikes seem heavier to me every year.

  16. Vrooom says:

    I really like this trend of inexpensive/affordable yet still reasonable performance motorcycles.

  17. Curly says:

    I test rode an FJ yesterday and today I gave my dealer a check to get one for me in Matte Gray. It should be here next week. Can’t wait! Sad to be selling the TDM but it’s time to update my main ride.

    • Blackcayman says:

      Like I’ve been blathering on endlessly about since this bike broke cover – its a more logical replacement for the TDM than the FJR.

      That’s great Curly! I hope you love it.

      _______________________________________________

      I hope they’ll make my FJ “R” -09….. if not

      Maybe Triumph will take two floundering models and make one amazing bike on the Triple 1050… wait for it…..

      The Tiger & the Sprint.

      True SPORT-touring stance, lines and wind protection combined with (The best selling)upright ergos.

      Drop the Sportbike ergos and the tallish suspension, both of which can be easily found in other bikes in the lineup.

  18. bill hines says:

    As far as wind and weight, I’ve found if you have enough power you can plow through almost anything;)

  19. Ed says:

    I stopped looking at this bike when I saw the burned out headlight. That’s the way you designed the bike to look… Really ? Please leave the 80’s behind.

    • Neil says:

      When I, am riding, I don’t look at my headlights.

    • red says:

      I’m with ya Ed! those durn kids and their crazy headlights… Get off my lawn!

    • Joe Bogusheimer says:

      I also don’t like that, but not so much because of the way it looks. I think a sport-tourer, particularly, should have the best lighting possible. A single bulb for the low beam and a single bulb for the high beam are the not the best possible. Sure, each of them can have an optimized reflector for the purpose, but I’d still rather have two not-quite optimal 55W/60W bulbs running than one or the other. My Fazer 8 has the same stupid headlight setup.

      • The lights on the FJ are great. If a person doesn’t care for the asymmetry that’s fine, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I don’t mind it, myself. But if the concern is function, you’d might try them out before criticism. They’re crisp and bright. The low beam stays on when the high beam lights up. It’s a reasonably impressive combo, and the beam heights can be adjusted independently to suit your needs. The only thing I can think of that would be an obvious improvement would be the new bikes with lights that look around corners (which I have not tried but would be interested).

      • DaveA says:

        I realize that this might sound crazy, but perhaps actually witnessing the performance of the headlights you’re criticizing would be a good idea before, you know…criticizing the performance of the headlights.

        Cripes.

  20. Provologna says:

    BOTY?

    Re. curb weight w/full fuel tank: 462 lbs. One of my favorite bikes of about seventy was Yamaha’s ’83 XZ550R Vision w/ full fairing including lowers w/3-position vents (outside/off/radiator). Vision curb weight w/full fuel tank (similar capacity) was a little over 480 lbs w/shaft drive, but making only about half the FJ’s HP (or less).

    I perceive this lovely new FJ as an ultra-refined Vision thirty-two years later. Riding the Vision on one particular ten mile stretch of highly technical canyon I knew well (really well), I passed riders on Superbikes, sometimes like they were in reverse. Occasionally I would slow down, let them by, then pass a second time waving with my left hand. I know, it was mean, but also irresistible.

    • Curly says:

      I loved my ’83 Vision too. The 83 made 62hp at the crank (4 more than the carb glitchy ’82) so a bit more than half as much power as the FJ09. It was a smooth bike that rewarded a smooth riding style. “If only” they had stayed with it and bumped it up to 650-700cc. That would have been a keeper. Hard to believe they’ve packed so much more bike into less weight than the old Vision but I think they’ve done it.

  21. jim says:

    As a current Tiger 800 owner, if I were in the market for a new bike it would be a tough decision between this FJ-09 and another Tiger. Nice job Yamaha!

  22. Kagato says:

    We suddenly have a plethora of Triples to choose from–I’m really liking this : – ) Been looking at a blue Tiger Xrx, about 3K more than the FJ. Both bikes have centerstands, which I appreciate. Tiger has cruise. FJ does not, or I can’t find it. Power output about the same? I would love to see a side by side comparison.

    • Mark says:

      While I have not ridden the FJ, I have done some time on the 800 Tiger. The engines are worlds apart in terms of performance from what i can tell. The Tiger is not slow, but very liner and not very typical for a Triple, with no real excitement compared to the 1050 (I have owned two) and the 675 (which I also owned. The 800 is a bit bland, which is why I don’t own one.

      • Kagato says:

        Thanks for the heads-up! I never would have thought that the Triumph mill would not inspire. I always judge bike engines by my long gone KH400 triple, which WANTED to have the crap run out of it–it would toodle around when I wanted to but I’ll never forget the first time I romped on it. : – ) Rode all night long I did, Precioussss

        • Mark says:

          Don’t just take my word for it. I am sure many guys love their 800s. I happen to live and ride at 6000 feet and higher so that is a factor for me as well. I felt my SV650 was a blast, but ran out of steam when running super fast. I like CHARACTER in a motor, which most triples have in spades, but the 800 just felt detuned.
          Tiger 800 about 80-85 horsepower at the rear wheel
          FJ-09 over 100, and is perhaps a bit lighter as well.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I thought the Tiger 800 was going to be my next ADV bike, so I rented an XC for a week-long motorcycle trip through Colorado and Utah a few years ago to see how I liked it. Very nice bike, but I also found the engine’s character to be pretty uninspiring. Power delivery is linear and friendly and works at just about any rpm. But there is no hit of power anywhere, no top-end rush or any part of the rev range that feels particularly meaty. I never bought one.

        I have not ridden the FJ, but I have ridden the FZ. The Tiger and Yamaha triples are worlds apart. Not only is the Yamaha significantly more powerful, but it’s power delivery characteristics are far more entertaining as well.

  23. Stephen Parenteau says:

    Sounds like the bike I’ve been waiting for from Yamaha since my 1981 Seca 750. Sure wish it came in a optional
    low 30 inch saddle. Yellow and black would be a nice option.

    • Bob says:

      There’s an accessory saddle from Yamaha that brings the height down to FZ-09 levels… worth a try?

  24. VLJ says:

    Dirck, a number of other FJ-09 reviews have mentioned excessive turbulence/wind buffeting coming off of that screen, which is something that always scares me away from upright bikes with smallish windscreens. Those things usually work fine when the rider is leaned over a bit, but it seems the more upright and further from the screen the rider sits, the worse the buffeting. It drove me crazy on the V-Strom and, to a lesser degree, on the ST1300, to the point that I’ve almost sworn off uprights with small windshields.

    I don’t care about wind-protection. I just want smooth, quiet airflow at helmet level, without having to look through the windshield. In this regard, how does the FJ-09 fare?

    • hipsabad says:

      The noisy buffeting that drove you crazy on your V-Strom was cured on mine by simply removing the windshield–never been happier! Currently planning a test ride of an FJ and if it is ‘successful’ I might have to lose the shield on that bike as well!

      • TimC says:

        I still can’t believe in this day and age that problems like this aren’t figured out. Wind tunnel anyone? Seems the aftermarket steps in and supplies better-shaped screens (long-term tests in Motorcyclist magazine, which makes a point of detailed mod reports, frequently bear this out), so one would think OEMs would have the resources for this to be a non-issue.

        Then again, one would also think think that if the instrument panel is LCD, you wouldn’t have a problem showing the right data together (in this case it drives me bananas that you can’t see trip odo and regular odo together – a far better use of real estate – that isn’t at a premium anyway if the UI was designed better or the screen was half an inch bigger, your pick – than showing instantaneous fuel economy)….

        • Corpus Frisky says:

          The LCD display is fully customizable so you can show regular ODO and trip ODO on the same panel.

          • TimC says:

            Interesting…thanks for that info. Though I still think it wouldn’t be hard to just show everything at once since the real estate is overly compromised unnecessarily.

      • VLJ says:

        hipsabad, yes, I tried ditching the screen with my V-Strom. While that did cure the buffeting issue, it simply made the bike look too ugly.

        What most people tend to do is add width and height to the screen, which is the exact opposite of what usually works for me. Cutting the screen down and/or flattening its angle often works best.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “While that did cure the buffeting issue, it simply made the bike look too ugly. ”

          I believe this is why so many OE bike’s wind screens don’t offer excellent protection. Sometimes the best solution isn’t easy on the eyes..

    • Vrooom says:

      Nearly every aftermarket screen for the Strom is an improvement over the stock one. I use a Givi Airflow and suffer no buffeting at all, unlike stock.

    • Curly says:

      On my test ride yesterday and got to try the windscreen in the up and down position. It was best and not too bad for helmet buffeting in the lowest position. I’d rate it better than my old TDM in that regard.

  25. Louis says:

    I was able to test ride one at Bikefest (or whatever it’s called, in Glendale AZ a week ago) and I was amazed at this bike. First of all, it had more leg room than what appears in the photo above; it was very roomy for my legs. The riding position felt almost dirt-bike like to me, I liked it. The brakes were really strong, the handling light. The engine sounded incredible! It was fast. There was some turbulence from the windshield, but it was minImal. This bike also has a lot of character. I just got another bike last year, but if I got a new one now this one would be at the top of my list, and I’ve only owned one Yamaha in my life. And finally, Consumer Reports just released a report that shows Yamaha makes the most reliable motorcycles.

  26. Fast Fred says:

    Has anybody commented on the 115MPH speed limiter on this model to cover up the HIGH SPEED wobble when fully loaded.

    • Hot Dog says:

      Why would anyone want to load down a motorcycle with their precious gear and ride like a madman? You might be able to blip the throttle for a bit to get it up to 100+ mph but if you have a need for speed, perhaps a R1 would better suit your needs.

      • Mark says:

        ME! I ride at speed, hitting over 100 on a regular occasion, loaded down with gear (called clothing). It’s called sport touring and you can do it on just about anything. (Tiger 1050, Triumph 675, FJ1200, etc) I have for 35 years. Come on out west and enjoy the experience! R1, don’t need not stinking R1 🙂

        • Butch says:

          Kinda miss my ol’ FJ1200.
          The original “sports tourer”.
          If I wasn’t so damned old, I’d probably buy another one.

          • Barry says:

            The ’81 and ’82 Honda CBX is the original sport tourer. Sport fairing, smaller hard side cases, 1050CC 6 cyl. But, very heavy at 680 pounds.

          • mickey says:

            I think the mid 70s BMW with factory mini fairing and Krauser bags was a pretty sporty tourer long before the 81 CBX.

          • mickey says:

            R90S I meant to say

      • TimC says:

        Because 115 – probably 110 or less unless Yamaha has fixed their infamously optimistic speedometers – isn’t that fast if traffic is going 80 and you need to get away from someone who decides to be a jerk.

      • Curly says:

        In my state anything over 85mph is called “Super Speeder” by the cops and comes in for the really big fine.

        • TimC says:

          Not my concern if someone in (say) a BMW SUV (i.e, something with some sauce) decides to get uppity.

      • mickey says:

        Get caught by the Ohio State Highway Patrol doing over 100 and you’ll be getting your one free phone call while they tow your bike away on a flatbed.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Why would anyone want to load down a motorcycle with their precious gear and ride like a madman? You might be able to blip the throttle for a bit to get it up to 100+ mph but if you have a need for speed, perhaps a…”

        (wait for it)

        (wait for it)

        …Connie 14 would be more to your liking.

      • Scott G says:

        twenty-five years ago, I used to ride with hot dog when I was no a Yamaha Venture and he was on a Yamaha liter-class crotch rocket. “Out west” and more than once, he would drop back and blast past us at 150 or so just to scare the crap out of us, and did so very effectively. forgive him, longevity contributes to his skirt blowing up in his face now and then. Even now, you won’t stay with him if he doesn’t want you to.

  27. todd says:

    Interesting how you mention one would want more compression and rebound adjustability for track days. I’ve usually found that a track is much smoother and more forgiving of suspension than most back roads.

  28. Eric W says:

    Wow, even sitting still that chain tension looks ‘taut’ at the least. Is anyone else concerned about hitting dips while loaded and bending the countershaft? This is a huge concern to me as I can’t see that covered by warranty.

    • Mark says:

      Have you ever experienced or have first hand experience with countershafts “bending” due to a too tight chain?

      • Provologna says:

        Ditto.

        Not an engineer, but me thinks bike and rider would occupy different zip codes (or different solar system) before too-high chain tension results in “bending the counter shaft” while riding the bike.

        I have never seen, heard of, nor imagined anything related to riding a bike (including too much chain tension) resulting in bent counter shaft. Hold a counter shaft in your hand and tell me what, other than being run over by a train or direct hit with a .50 caliber slug, might cause one to “bend.” It’s probably the most over built part on any bike ever manufactured. The liability associated with under built counter shaft could cause major financial pain to any OEM.

      • Vrooom says:

        Countershaft leakage around the seal, not bending. That’s a pretty thick piece of metal on most bikes. However I have seen the seals get damaged.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Have you ever experienced or have first hand experience with countershafts “bending” due to a too tight chain?”

        that’s what I’m screamin’, but you know what…? I’m going to allow it.

        why…?

        well it’s like when a cop pulls you over for a driving violation and says, if you can come up with an excuse I haven’t heard before, i’ll let out of this ticket.

        right then, this isn’t a worry/complaint I’ve ever heard somebody have in the age of computer design and modern metallurgy. as you were eric W.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I have read on forums of people bending countershafts from too tight a chain, and I have actually seen one myself. The owner an old dirt bike broke the chain on a jump. Two seals failed shortly after replacing the chain. We spun it and could just barely detect the slight wobble in the shaft.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “old”, “jump”

          operative words.

          forgot to mention this before, but the real and more IMMEDIATE threat of a tight chain isn’t bending of any shafts (the lesser quality stock chain will invariably stretch or perhaps break as a consequence) but the “lock out” of suspension movement leading to crash.

          take a digger and yup, you will have “bent” all kinds of stuff. on your bike AND on your person.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I can’t say it looks too tight or not just looking at the pics, but I read recently in the “maintenance help” section of a print mag that an owner was worried Yamaha’s spec for the FZ-09 chain tension is pretty tight. The “guru” replying to comments agreed with the owner and recommended the owner go with a looser spec. Any FZ/FJ-09 owners out there know anything about it?

  29. John says:

    I don’t understand the point of such a high seat height for a sport tourer. It’s obviously not an ADV tourer of any kind.

    The price is decent compared to, say, a VFR or Tiger, but then again, they’re wiping out a pretty large swath of the audience with a 33″ seat height on a street bike.

    • Kent says:

      They may chase away some shorter customers, but they’ll be attracting the taller ones. I simply can’t ride very far on a bike with a low seat, so I’ve always ridden dual-sport/ADV bikes. I love the ergonomics of them, and it’s a popular style.

      If a bike could have the same adjustability as a car’s seating position, there’d be a lot more options.

      • DCE says:

        +10! It’s great to have more bike options with more peg-to-seat distance and cast wheels! And I’m also a big proponent of vastly more adjustable bike ergos (again, like all autos and light trucks world-wide).

    • Blackcayman says:

      “I don’t understand the point of such a high seat height for a sport tourer. It’s obviously not an ADV tourer of any kind.”

      What ADV Bikes are you referring? It seems “Every” ADV Bike (in the Open Class) has a high seat – goes along with the long travel suspension.

      Yamaha styled this bike to look like and ADV bike because it s a hot selling segment.

      This motor deserves a real SPORT-tourer version. the fj”R”-09 with UPGRADED SUSPENSION bits, modernized ST styling, wind protection and seat height under 32″.

    • Curly says:

      The European Yamaha website is offering a pair of shorter suspension links in the accessory page for the MT-09 Tracer that lower the seat height by 15mm. They have a Yamaha part number so that means they may be available in North America too. I’ll be trying to get some for mine so that I can run the accessory “Comfort Seat”. As it is the standard seat puts me just at the top of the height I consider OK for my 30″ inseam. The shorter dogbones should make it about the same with the thicker seat.

  30. xLaYN says:

    Add to the already jealous making job the scenery.
    I noticed Dirck looks to be using plain ol jeans, or are they kevlar reinforced?
    You have to make the feather weight/heavy weight comparison (the Concours post made me spent quite some time looking to tourer videos) and it seems FJ1300 is the actual King (outside of the all mighty all powerful we all want it: 6 cyl bimmer).
    (Did I mention that I am really jealous at the scenery???)

    • Larry Kahn says:

      Check with your BMW dealer, the sixes are not moving off the floor like the twins. Too much everything?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I noticed Dirck looks to be using plain ol jeans, or are they kevlar reinforced?”

      no but he’s in SoCal, as such that look is “reinforced” by Jay Leno.

      • xLaYN says:

        I spent some hours checking the crashes on Mulholland and you see the people with proper gear walking away from it in good shape.
        Even a guy with a cheap gear did it.
        But jeans lead to holes in your knees.
        I recently bought leg gear for such an unfortunate scenario and I confess I don’t have boots (next on my list), I can’t go out calmly thinking I can get my knee under 500 pounds @ 60mph.

        “no but he’s in SoCal, as such that look is “reinforced” by Jay Leno.”

        still missing the rocket motorcycle isn’t it?

  31. North of Missoula says:

    Well thought out write up. It does not seem like that long ago that 460lbs wet with 110hp at the rear wheel was the domain of the supersport. (Ok, I know I’m a little long in the tooth). Now it is just good clean affordable fun with a nice seat, upright riding position and factory panniers.

    Yamaha is getting it done.

  32. I got overly excited wen I glance at the headline of this article. I am curious on how this bike handles 2up riding with a passenger?

    All the best,
    Aaron Lephart

    • Larry Kahn says:

      Depends on how big your passenger is.

    • Blackcayman says:

      IMHO…

      These middle-weight STs are Built-4-the-Rider. The Two-Up crowd are going to stick with the 700 pounders for comfort and stability.

  33. rapier says:

    How is it in stronger winds? Especially front quartering, then side? This is an absolutely crucial thing when you say touring, to me anyway. I wish reviews would give impressions on how bikes are susceptible or not to sailing around in winds. I’ve spent days heeled over from front quartering winds on some bikes that my ZZR1200 doesn’t even notice.(the darn thing is more stable in really strong winds than most cars) Lighter bikes of necessity are probably not as good in this regard as heavier ones of course. I keep telling myself I want something smaller and lighter, but……..

    • North of Missoula says:

      Looking at the riding position, slim figure and light weight I agree, my guess is that it would be tiring to ride in heavy wind or at sustained speeds above 90mph. It is far from a ZZR1200. Having said that it looks like it would be a great fair weather bike for a 200 mile afternoon ride. Sounds like you would be better served by the Ninja 1000 or something along those lines.

    • Gordon Haight says:

      Weight is a large factor when choosing a bike for touring. So is a windshield that big enough to provide protection from the elements with minimal buffeting and passenger accommodations that leave your girl smiling after a 300 mile ride. The ability to move your legs around to different positions and cruise control are also a factor to avoid cramping on longer rides. As far as I can see, the FJ-09 has none of these long distance advantages. However, for shorter solo trips there’s nothing out there that can touch it at its price. Just don’t get frustrated when you realize that while it does a lot, it can’t do it all.

      • todd says:

        I have never found weight to be an advantage, anywhere, ever. It’s funny how people attribute steering geometry stability and aerodynamic stability to weight. Weight just plain sucks.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “I have never found weight to be an advantage, anywhere, ever.”

          no worries, it just means you (personally) have never found it, not to be confused with it NOT existing.

          re: “It’s funny”

          it’s Physics.

        • Gordon Haight says:

          Weight sucks for a sporting bike, but it helps bikes intended to be used for long distance riding by fat, old men. It gives you a more stable ride. For everything else, lighter is better.

    • Neil says:

      ZZR12; Not as comfortable. Heavy with that huge motor in it. It’s not trying to be the ZZR nor the Concours, nor any fully faired tourer. People above talk about going 100 mph. A friend has been across the U.S. multiple times on his Bonneville Thruxton, mostly off the beaten path, far from 100 mph, no wind protection, and it was “touring”. Let’s have an open mind. The ZZR12 has its place, but so does the FJ. Nice triple motor that is LIGHT. Lightweight frame. Upright to relax those tense shoulders and enjoy the scenery. A wind screen which lets SOME air thru as if riding a motorcycle (LoL). A guy on youtube recently recorded a review and loves it. Full fairings are great and fast. This bike is a great bike as well. Kudos Yamaha. Thanks for the review, Dirck.

    • FJ Owner says:

      Having just ridden at highway speeds (not breaking the law) with a stiff crosswind at +2 celsius, the Fj is more stable than my Super Tenere. Even though it gives up around 150+ lbs in weight. Much better than my BMW RT for cross and headwinds for sure. It just needs a decent touring shield.

      • bmidd says:

        Just put the Ermax touring shield on mine, it does the job nicely.

      • rapier says:

        Just what I was looking for. This susceptibility to sailing around in the wind is not simply a matter of weight. I imagine the big tall ‘adventure’ bikes take a hit on this score. Still it’s probably complicated with each bike having its own characteristics. Which is why I ask for reviewers to mention it even if it can’t be quantified.