Yamaha FJR1300 Recall

I knew it! This is probably the fault that deadlined my FJR a few months ago. Details below:

Make: YAMAHA Model: FJR1300
Model Year: 2007
Manufacturer: YAMAHA MOTOR CORPORATION, USA Mfr’s Report Date: JAN 06, 2009
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 09V002000 NHTSA Action Number: EA08025
Component: ELECTRICAL SYSTEM:IGNITION:SWITCH
Summary:
 YAMAHA IS RECALLING 9,300 MY 2006-2009 FJR1300 MOTORCYCLES. THE INTERNAL SWITCH WIRING COULD BECOME DISCONNECTED. IF THIS OCCURS ELECTRICAL CURRENT FLOW WILL BE STOPPED AND THE ENGINE COULD STALL.
Consequence:
 IF THE ENGINE STALLS, THE OPERATOR MAY BE UNABLE TO START OR RESTART THE ENGINE INCREASING THE RISK OF A CRASH.
Remedy:
 DEALERS WILL REPLACE THE IGNITION SWITCH FREE OF CHARGE. THE RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN ON OR BEFORE JANUARY 16, 2009. OWNERS MAY CONTACT YAMAHA AT 1-800-962-7926.
Notes:
 CUSTOMERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION’S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV .

Triump Street Triple vs. Yamaha FZ8

Motorcycle Daily has done a head-to-head comparo between the Street Triple and the new FZ8. Both are naked bikes, but that’s about the only thing they have in common, according to the MD testers.  Both of them felt the FZ8 was boring, unless the poor suspension was frightening the bejeezus out of you. But that really isn’t the excitement you’re looking for in a motorcycle, is it?

Most of the FZ8’s reviews have been generally positive, so this overall thumbs down for it is a bit of a surprise.

Sad, really, because there does need to be something between the 600cc and 1000cc displacement sportbikes, with an extra dash of rider comfort. Like a GSXR-750 that doesn’t have tortuous ergos. Or a lighter VFR800 Interceptor.

The new Ninja 1000 is close, but it’d be nice to get something down in the sub-500lb range.

The naked bikes are back

The American love affair with motorcycles, such as it is, has not extended to the naked bikes in recent years.  They sell like hotcakes to our cousins across the pond, but in the US…not so much.  We like our cruisers and repli-racers and sport-tourers.

For the 2010 and 2011 model years, that has changed drastically, with a whole slew of naked standards, big and small, coming back to the US in a big way, and from nearly every manufacturer. Kawi completely redesigned the big Z1000 for 2010, Triumph has been pushing the Street Triple, and now Yamaha weighs in with the new FZ8, while BMW is trying to recapture the magic of the F800ST with the new F800R.

Motorcycle USA has stacked up some of these bikes against each other in a new comparo. What makes this one interesting is that the three bikes chosen, other than being middleweight standards, are powered by completely different powerplants. The F800R is a twin, the Street Triple is–as the name implies–a triple, and the FZ8 is an I-4.

So who wins? Is it the thumpy Twin of the BMW, the silky smoothness of the Yamaha I-4, or does the Street Triple offer a sporty compromise between the two that makes is a superior bike to ride?

Apparently, there are a lot of things about the Street Triple that catches the testers’ hearts.

Another 800cc Naked Standard

2011 Yamaha FZ8
2011 Yamaha FZ8

The BMW F800S is not the the only 800cc European naked standard making its way to our shores this year.  Yamaha is following up with the FZ8.

The FZ8 is powered by a 779cc I-4 powerplant that puts out a reported 105HP and 61ft-lbs of torque, which is plenty peppy for an urban bike that weighs 464 lbs. The engine itself is derived from the pre-crossplane R1.

It’s nice to see the manufacturers bringing back a lot of these mid-sized commuter-capable bikes back to the US.  And who knows, with oil prices on the rise again, it might be the perfect environment to do so.

Yamaha Star Stryker vs. Harley Davidson Rocker C

Yamaha’s Star brand of motorcycles recently joined the Harley-Davidson Rocker C and the Honda Fury in the factory chopper class with the Stryker.  In the cruiser world, of course, bikes in the US are pretty much judged on how they stack up against Harley-Davidsons, so Motorcycle USA pitted the Stryker against the Rocker C. The conclusion was fascinating.

For its better handling, smoother ride, more refined gearbox and a responsive engine, we give the 2011 Star Stryker the nod as the better all-around motorcycle. Its MSRP is $8500 less, too, which holds a lot of weight in these challenging economic times. In comparison to the price of the Rocker C, it also will leave you with money in your pocket for customization. Ironically though, both testers agreed that if they could own one of these bikes, they’d take the Harley. We both enjoyed the extra low end grunt and the superior fit and finish. The Rocker C is full of character that other cruiser manufacturers have yet to duplicate, from the pulse of its engine to the sound emanating from its pipes.

In other words, the Stryker is the better all-around bike, but the testers would pay almost twice as much to buy the Harley.

I guess I understand that, but for the same price, why not buy both a Stryker, and a Ninja 650 for those fun Sunday rides?

2010 Sport Touring Shootout Gen III FJR?

Motorcycle USA has published its annual sport-touring shootout, but sadly, this time, two of the top contenders aren’t even being tested.  Instead, the shootout is limited to just three bikes: The Kawasaki Concours14, The Triumph Sprint GT, and the Honda VFR1200F.  The final results were…interesting, and I can’t say I agree, as the winning bike has some serious touring shortcomings.  But I won’t spoil the surprise any more than that.

What I found more interesting was that both BMW and Yamaha refused to make their sport-touring bikes available.  The BMW refusal to supply a K1300GT is understandable, as it’s a dead motorcycle, with the new K1600GT I-6-engined bike already announced as a replacement.

The lack of an FJR1300 in the line-up, however, makes me go, “Hmmmm.”  I take it that this means that Yamaha is about to release a Gen III FJR, or an FJR replacement bike.  Now, that really does interest me, because as an FJR rider on a daily basis, I really do like that motorcycle.  But Yamaha has kept the performance pretty much the same for almost a decade, while BMW, Honda, and Kawasaki have all produced more horsepower-charged mounts. So, I’m fascinated to see what Yamaha has planned for the third generation of what used to be the gold standard of sport-tourers, but now is the most underpowered of them, except, of course, for the Triumph Sprint GT.

There’s been tons of speculation about what the Gen III FJR might be.  Everything from an updated FJR1300 as hinted at by Cycle World:

2011 Yamaha FJR1300 Mockup
2011 Yamaha FJR1300 Mockup

To the rumored FJR1400 reported by the (not always reliable) French site, Moto Revue:

2011 Yamaha FJR1400 Mockup
2011 Yamaha FJR1400 Mockup

Both of these mockups are obviously computer-generated, and may or may not have anything to do with the actual motorcycle Yamaha actually produces.  Of the two imaginary motorcycles, though, I prefer the imaginary motorcycle on the bottom.

Huh.  This post ended up being about something entirely different than what it started out being about.

Yamaha V-Max vs Triumph Rocket III

The Yamaha (or Star Motorcycles, as I guess we’re calling that branch of the company now) V-Max has been the archetypal hooligan/power/super cruiser since its debut in October, 1984, at the dealer show in Las Vegas. In 2010, we’re so jaded about “superbikes” and whatnot, that it’s hard to remember sometimes, just what a revolutionary–and frightening–machine that 1985 V-Max was. There were professionals who were frightened of the thing back then.

Many years–and several generations of engine power upgrades–have passed since then, but after a bit of an absence, the V-Max returned in 2009, with the original 1200cc V-4 replaced by a monster 1700cc V-4, with a claimed output of nearly 200HP.

But, Triumph’s response to the V-Max is the 2300cc triple of the Rocket III.  With the largest motorcycle engine in regular production–the Boss Hogs notwithstanding–the Rocket III is no slouch in the musclecruiser category.

Now, Motorcycle USA has tested these two bikes head-to-head. At the end of the test, the difference between the bikes–aside from the much lower price of the Rocket III–really is a tale of the Dyno.

Triumph Rocket III Roadster vs. Yamaha V-Max: The difference is in the Dyno.  Simply choose your preference: torque or horsepower
Triumph Rocket III Roadster vs. Yamaha V-Max: The difference is in the Dyno. Simply choose your preference: torque or horsepower

With its much higher torque and low RPMs, the Rocket has grunt to spare, starting below 1,000RPM.  The V-Max, on the other hand, requires a more sportbikey riding style, dragging the power out of the high-RPM horsepower.  Either way, these bikes have tire-shredding, front-wheel-lifting power to spare.

2010 Yamaha Super Ténéré First Ride

Janie Omorogbe got to ride a new Yamaha Super Ténéré from Portugal to Morocco, and wrote up her impressions for Motorcycle USA.

The Super Ténéré has been a long-awaited entry into the adventure bike category–long-dominated by the BMW R1200GS.  Available only in Europe at present, a lot of people on this side of the pond have been eagerly awaiting news of it.  Well, how we have some.

Most of her impressions of the bike seem positive:

[T]he Super Tenere is pretty capable and it’s extremely comfortable…The torque curve is as steady as a surgeon’s hand and the power delivery is predictable and measured…[A]ttacking twisties is actually really good fun, not only because of the superb braking system which allows you to grab a fistful at the last moment, (within reason of course) but the bike also has effortless handling…At a faster pace, the Super T feels planted and secure…It’s fun, comfortable and easy to ride.

So far, so good.  Alas, all is not roses with the Super Ténéré , however:

But ask for more aggression, and the ST just won’t play ball…[I]n the mountains, the ST almost throws in the towel, wheezing through the thinning air indecisively. At “normal” altitudes, the bike behaves far more predictably…although it definitely has less punch than BMW’s latest GS…The onboard technology is as limited as the optional extras list…The screen is adjustable, but doing so is not exactly a two-minute job. Where the GS just needs you to twist a couple of knobs, the ST requires an allen key, screw driver and the removal of a side panel.

So, the engine is a bit sluggish, and there aren’t a lot of farkles.  But that’s livable for many riders I suppose.  What may not be livable is surprising, especially when compared to BMW:

But in the UK the biggest stumbling block isn’t its performance but its price. Compared to BMW’s R1200GS, it isn’t any better, it has fewer options and it is more expensive.

Well.  That’s not good.  The big knock on BMW is that they’re generally priced as if they were crafted from purest unobtainium. Now that may be unfair, considering how many technical and comfort doohickeys BMW puts on their bikes. After all, you pay for what you get, and with BMW, you generally get a lot.

But if Yamaha is producing a less capable and less farkled-up bike, and still charging you more for it…well, then I afraid that’s just not on, as our British cousins like to say.

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WSBK or MotoGP aren’t risky enough?

You’d think that, if you were spending big money on a world-class motorcycle racing team, you’d prevent your riders from doing things that might endanger their health during the racing season, but apparently not.

Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi joins his teammate Jorge Lorenzo on the “recently bitten by a dirt bike” list. Rossi crashed his dirt bike yesterday in Italy and reportedly injured his back and shoulder in the fall.

Perhaps these motorcycle racers have some sort of adrenaline junkie problem.

As hard as that is to believe.

2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe: MD First Ride

Motorcycle Daily has their first-ride impressions of the Star Stratoliner Deluxe, Yamaha’s anwer to the Harley-Davidson Street Glide.  They seem to like it, concluding:

Star has introduced a worthy contender in the bagger category. Stylish, but practical, the 2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe can look cool and edgey while delivering you and your 13.7 gallons of stuff comfortably and swiftly.

Yamaha now joins Victory in providing a Street Glide alternative.

2010 Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré (UPDATED)

After months of speculation and teasers, Yamaha has finally revealed the new XT1200Z Super Ténéré.  It seems like quite a bike.  The 1200cc parallel-twin powerplant puts out…well…we don’t know.  Yamaha hasn’t released HP or torque figures.  But with a compression ratio of 11:1, I’m thinking we’re probably somewhere in the vicinity of 110HP and 80-ish lb-ft of torque.

Like the R1200GS, it sports a full set of aluminum panniers, and other goodies for going on the road–or perhaps off it.

The full specs for the shaft-driven, 574lb, adventure bike are below the fold.

The only question is, will this bike be released in the US, or will it only be available to our cousins in the Old Country?

UPDATE: The folks at Asphalt & Rubber come through in the clinch with the output of the ST’s engine:

With 1,199cc under the hoood, the XT1200Z Super Ténéré is aiming its sights on the class-leading BMW R1200GS and new-comer Ducati Multistrada 1200. The powerplant features a parallel twin motor with four valves per cylinder, and makes 108hp @ 7,250 RPM and 84lbs•ft @ 6,000 RPM.

Pretty much what I thought it’d be.

Continue reading “2010 Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré (UPDATED)”

Yamaha Announces 2010 Model Lineup

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2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 Special Edition
2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 Special Edition

Yamaha has announced the remainder of their 2010 motorcycle lineup, and all the models for 2010 are now up on their web site.  There are several changes for the new model year, of course, although few big ones.

One of the biggest changes appears to be the elimination of the clutchless FJR1300AE version of their flagship sports tourer.  Beyond that, both the R1 and R6 get bold new graphics packages.  The R1 also has a Special Edition graphics package that replicates the graphics on Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP R1.  Other than that, the R1 remains unchanged.

The R6, on the other hand, gets a host of changes to replace the power loss that environmental controls imposed on the 2009 models.  Included in the changes for the R6 are “optimized the intake funnels and airbox”, changing the diameter of the exhaust pipe, a 100mm longer muffler, and new ECU mapping to put back low and mid-range power.

2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe.
2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe.

Yamaha has also introduced a new flagship “casual full dress touring” bike, the Stratoliner Deluxe.  the new Deluxe sports a streamlined bat-wing fairing and matching bags.  The fairing also has speakers and iPod connectivity.  This new bike gives Yamaha a direct competitor to the Harley-Davidson Street Glide and Victory Cross Country.  The Deluxe uses the same 1854cc V-Twin engine and chassis as the base-model Stratoliner.

I’ve always felt the styling on the Star Cruisers–the Venture excepted–were attractive and the Stratoliner Deluxe adds yet another attractive cruiser to the Star line-up.

More information about the 2010 Line-up can be found at Motorcycle USA.