Fast Motorcycles

The FJR isn’t a superbike. Well, not by today’s standards anyway. Back in the mid 80s, it would’ve been a frightening monster, but the V-Max, then the Hayabusa, and the literbikes took care of that.

Now, it’s just a really fast bike. Faster than most on the road, actually. The FJR will do a quarter mile in some time between 10 and 11 seconds, somewhere between 123 and 130 MPH. Depends on who’s riding it, of course. By comparison, Harley-Davidson only makes one bike, the V-Rod, that even comes close to matching that performance, and even the V-Rod does the quarter mile about one full second slower than the FJR.

As an aside, I’ve had a couple of the Harley cruiser boys meet me at lights, and give me the revs, like they wanted to see what we could do against each other stoplight to stoplight. I just smile, and wave when they take off.

Before I bought it, I was actually a bit scared of it. With 146HP and 99 ft/lbs at the crank (which comes out to around 125 HP and 90ft/lbs at the rear wheel), it is, by any standard a powerful motorcycle. My Sportster–after I did the Stage I, probably pushed out about 70HP and maybe 5ft/lbs of torque. Maybe a bit less.

So, I was wondering if the FJR’s performance would be frightening. For instance, I wondered if I’d be doing unintended wheelies coming away from a light. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that it isn’t frightening at all.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It can be. On a couple of occasions, I’ve twisted the throttle a bit too much, and thought, “Well, that was a bad idea,” and backed off. It’s never resulted in a dangerous situation, but things started happening faster than I thought they would, causing me to reconsider.

But, for the most part, the speed is…deceptive. You twist the throttle a bit to pass, and suddenly you’re bouncing off triple digits. But the air management is so good, and the bike is so stable, you simply don’t feel the speed. the environmental inputs you receive from a bike like the Sportster just aren’t there. And that’s a good thing–or a bad thing, if a cop happens to be lighting up the road with his KR-12.

The thingis, it doesn’t force the performance on you. It’ll certainly give it to you, willingly, if you ask for it, but it can also be as sedate as you want it to be.

This really has me wondering what it’s like to ride a real superbike, like a ‘Busa or ZX-14 Ninja. I wonder if they give you the sense of control that the FJR does, or if they have a more untamed feel.

I don’t think I could ever actually own one, of course. They don’t fit my needs at all. The riding position would get me cramped up pretty quick. And I hate the idea of having to go back to doing chain maintenance. No bags, and no two-up riding make them pretty impractical for my needs, too.

I bet it’d be fun to try one out, though.

Another bright spot for the FJR, by the way, has been the slow-speed handling. The lack of a clutch doesn’t worry me at all now. I know where the YCC-S releases the clutch on the tachometer, and a little trail braking is all you need. You can do a full-lock turn from a standing start on the FJR. That saves a lot of parking lot paddling, because you can really twist your way out of tight spaces at very low speeds. Of course, replacing the stock throttle tube with the G2 Ergo tube/cam has helped immensely there, too, by taming the throttle response into something more predictable and linear.

I’ve really been impressed by this motorcycle. It has great comfort, great–and useable–power, great maneuverability, and gives you loads of fun.

My only regret is that with the SO, and two big dogs, I’ll probably never get to take it on the road for a real touring ride.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

1 thought on “Fast Motorcycles”

  1. Dale, I just added an FZ1 to my stable, in addition to my Street Glide and my Sportster. As you might remember, I’m a former FJR owner. The fact that it didn’t feel fast got me into a little “performance award” trouble on occasion. The FZ1 is faster, quicker, lighter and just as torquey, yet the less refined wind management and generally more raucous nature of the engine’s revs let you know how fast you’re going. It’s great having the power. It’s also great having the reminder that you’re using hte power. The FJR is a fan-freaking-tastic machine that continue to miss and pine for. But keeping my license is easier now 🙂

    Enjoy it, man. I can think of very few bikes that do so much, so well.

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