Sure, yep, lets ride...
Just thought I'd throw up my ride impressions as I test a few bikes in the process of finding a replacement for my K1200RS. Great way to get feedback from other's who've riden these beasties.
Sure, yep, lets ride...
Whoops kinda blew that, see: http://www.bcsportbikes.com/forum/sh...threadid=23203
Must be getting tired from all the bike testing
Sure, yep, lets ride...
FJR 1300 – the new class.
FJR 1300 – the new class.
For a while I owned an ST1100, and every year as the new models and updates were announced the speculation would begin. Half wish list and a lot of rumour mill (a friend of a friend’s second cousin works at Honda and…) people would put forth their take on Honda’s next generation of sport tourer, the successor to the ST1100. It would be lighter, it would have ABS, it would have an adjustable wind screen, it would handle better and keep the great range or better it, it would be closer the VFR… it went on and on. Then one year pictures were leaked on the net, it was the ST1300, the community was abuzz. Honda had listened; weight savings were there, range was there, a different look, electrically adjustable screen… the wishes were granted. Honda had listened, but Yamaha heard.
So the FJR 1300 entered the N.A. market in ’03 and was updated for ’04, and this bike is what the ST1300 could have been if Honda had listened and heard. To me the bike felt like the missing link between the near Goldwing opulence of the ST1300 and the VFR or Sprint ST. The styling even looks like an intermediary.
Sitting in the cockpit of the FJR you realize it’s a bigger bike than its low profile suggest. The ergos felt quite similar to the ST with a comfortable upright and slightly bent forward seating position and good leg room, though the ST may be a bit less forward and the windscreen far out infront.
Once you get the FJR out on the road you realize the inherent difference in the bikes, the FJR is a whole lot sportier. The engine has power the ST1300 didn’t even dream off. At an easy 120 pounds less (FJR come in at about 600lbs with bags and the ST at 720) it’s a whole lot lighter and a lot easier to paddle around the parking lot. But why paddle in the parking lot when you can ride, at low speed the FJR feels light and nimble, a pleasant surprise for anyone coming from another “big” bike to it, or from a sport bike.
The handling thankfully doesn’t stop at the low speed work, not that we’d expect it would. I’ve had the opportunity to attend a track day for big bikes and a co-rider was on an FJR. It did just fine, though the ‘03s have a propensity to scrape hard bits much earlier in a hard riding session than the ‘04s.
That the 04s have already seen upgrades has to be a good indication of the FJRs future and Yamaha’s contact with “the people” requesting beefier suspension (adjustable in ways an ST owner can only dream of), a minor styling update integrating the turn signals into the fairing and an improved windscreen (wider and taller than the 03). Most of these updates and the rest of the bike put on a great showing during the test ride.
The bike handled corners with aplomb, and just for kicks I was running both front and rear on the soft settings. Road noise and bumps were soaked up well by the front, but a good feel remained. The engines 126’ish (depending on which rear wheel dyno you believe) horses embued me with the superpower of making things in the rear views very small, very quickly and the brakes were ample in bringing me back to reality. I did find that the ABS was easy to provoke even in clean road conditions so getting a handle on the braking might take a bit of finesse, coming from the K1200RS I’m used to just pulling on the front lever and letting the linked breaking do a bit of thinking for me.
Passing was a doddle. Heck it was a great time. Using the power was easy and throttle response was good, heck it was more than good, in the wrong hands it could be used to downright uncivilized things. I don’t wheelie, but I idly found myself wondering that if I were a person who did wheelie how easy it would be on this bike. Instead I just took a series of on and off ramps and a riverside road at uncivilized speed seeing just how much they had improved the suspension. Luckily the binders are very effective at dropping you out of warp at the merest hint of the local speed tax collectors.
In the wet (yes convieniently construction has seen fit to spray down a 2 km section of road with thin mud for my test ride) the bike was firm and planted. Though I found myself having to watch the application of power closer than my K bike. The power comes on stronger and more suddenly, almost as if the FI is mimicking a carbed bike. This could be a little disconcerting in low traction conditions.
Weather protection was probably equal to that of my K-bike, sadly the ST1300 had the FJR trumped in a big way here. The FJR’s air pocket seemed a little misplaced, I spent a good portion of the ride playing with the windscreen at speed positioning it and repositioning it in and attempt the quiet “the World’s Loudest Helmet” but without much luck. Then I began to trace the air flow with my hand to determine where the “bubble’s” boundaries were – and I came to a stunning realization.
This is not a tourer.
This is a sport-bike.
Correction this is a big sport-bike that has been made to look like a tourer! Lean forward with the windscreen up like you were on a out and out sport bike, the R1 say, and the protection is fine… almost regardless of the windscreen position. It was as if the folks at Yamaha designed their 1298 cc super-sport-tourer, realized it was to sport-bike, put some bar backs on it and popped round the corner for a rousing session of karaoke and sake and called it a design day. This then may be the only sport-tourer which will find people buying bar forwards to bring them closer to the distant screen while moving thru the countryside at a extra-legal clip (and that’s just the corners).
Other quirks were minor. I found the bars buzzy, though it may be different once the bike is broken in. It wasn’t hand numbing over the course of the test ride, but it was intrusively noticeable. A set of gel grips would easily sort it. The other quick is the price.
For $18,899 CND (ABS model) the bike didn’t gel for me not in comparison to the creature comforts of the ST1300. A slight reduction of price and the ferocious FJR would truly fulfill the unique niche between the luxo-barges like the ST1300, R1150RT and the likes of the VFR and Sprint ST.
Flieger sind Sieger!
Ah, Neil, I thought I heard a rumor that you bought a VFR?
Sure, yep, lets ride...
I pick up the new ride in the AM from Carter. The rumours are true I've returned to Honda.
Sure, yep, lets ride...
At the behest of a few on the board who got a giggle out of my other ride impressions
R1150GS – An afternoon with the Angry Platypus
I’m going to tell you a secret. I rode this bike earlier this year for the BMW test ride days, and I liked it –a lot. I know the cartoon character headlights, one eye wide and the other squinted, and beak front fender, are ungainly and somewhat odd in appearance. The GS is really big (at 536 pounds) and really high (easily accommodating a 31 inch inseam) and this bike would intimidate if it weren’t so quirky and fun. This is then is what a fun German exotic looks like.
So when Beldar owner of CliXX Motorsport offered me up the use of his R1150GS this weekend I pretty much jumped at the chance. The bike is tricked out a bit more than the standard GS with a Remus Pipe and a few other mods to take advantage of it. So this GS sounds, well, angry, really angry, it gets a lot of attention in traffic and probably develops a bit more than the standard 85hp. With its duckbill and angry pipe it wasn’t long before we’d dubbed it “the Angry Platypus”.
Despite the trail bike stylings this is a great road bike. The comfortable upright seating position give you a commanding view. There is something amazingly empowering about lording over the traffic at SUV drive eye level. The suspension doesn’t just travel, it tours up and down soaking up even the worst bits of road noise, pot holes, frost heaves and other bike upsetting phenomena. For a large portion of the ride I reveled in taking on such obstacles to see if I could even vaguely unsettle this bike. I was not successful. The Angry Platypus simply eats it up, and does it comfortably.
So blasting along the Upper Levels Highway sitting bolt upright you quickly realize that this bike is a mixed bag. If you want to revel in top end speeds, you’ll want to move on. I only got the bike up to 160kph in a series of quick clutchless up-shifts through the smooth transmission but suspect that 180 kph this bike is pretty much giving it all it’s got. But if you want to comfortably cruise at 120-130 all day it’s great! The R engine develops it’s power at around 3000 rpm and pulls to 6500 or so, and with a red line at 7000 you are relying on the engines torque to get where you’re going. You’re also relying on the torque for a smooth ride.
Anyone who’s ridden an R engine equipped bike knows they have character. The horizontally opposed twin becomes smooth in the 4-5500 range, and out side of that it shakes. At a stand still a crank of the throttle will pull the bike to one side, an effect of the shaft drive and the inertia of those horizontal cylinders. It’s not that noticeable once in motion, but the twin vibe remains and is transmitted to the wide elk-horn bars.
A minor change of riding style and the vibe isn’t an issue. The relaxed seating style means you don’t have to rest your weight on the grips saving you any wrist ache from the vibes. The other key is to remember that the R1150GS’s engine has tractor like torque, so to kill the vibe just up-shift a gear and your are left with a gentle thrum of the engine. Until you crank on it and unleash the Angry Platypus!
The grip heaters, power port for electrics, hand guards and narrow windscreen do an great job of keeping you comfortable and warm – while adding to the eccentric look of the bike. The windscreen especially is well thought out, for a narrow piece of plastic it does it’s job by creating a high but narrow flow of air that even kept quiet the World’s Loudest Helmet. The protection is narrow but this is not a bike you have to move around on much anyway so you feel well protected. Enough about cruising fun on this beast is in terrorizing the traffic in the twists.
This bike handles it ways nothing two stories high has a right to. One of the reasons I had to try the bike was I watched several R1150GSs at a BMW track day and if taking a corner standing up nearly scraping a cylinder head while waving strikes you as fun then there things are a laugh riot. In twisties this bike performs like nothing I have ever ridden, and it’s almost all counter steer.
Just push on the elk-horns and lean, lean, then lean some more, and just when you think you shouldn’t go further do. Then do it all over in the other direction. And it’s almost all counter steer! Making it one of the most relaxing bikes to take through tight twisties I have ever ridden – stay put in the comfy chair and push. Heck while your at wave as you take an inside line past a sport bike or two… not that you would, that would be rude, but you honestly could.
You will also find yourself doing really silly things in parking lots; mostly circles and figure-eights in spaces that would make your MSF instructors weep in joy. The bike plays well at slow speeds and even parking lots become a source of entertainment.
The R1150GS may not be the best high speed highway hauler, but it more than make up for it in other departments. On the periodically rough roads of BC or constantly twisty canyons of California this bike in real world conditions could well out perform most others on the road. That or one could just tour Africa… it’s almost a trailly.
Last edited by ZenOfZoom; 09-22-2003 at 11:24 PM.