Yamaha FJ-09: Sport touring urban commuter

Staff reports
Farm Forum

Yamaha aficionados who are hip to the lineage know that the FJ-09 is the sport-touring sibling of the popular FZ-09, its naked and sportier sibling. But the FJ has better legs than the FZ for longer miles. Fuel capacity is up at 4.8 gallons, up from the FZ’s 3.7 gallons.

The motor is the liquid-cooled inline DOHC 4V fuel-injected triple used in the variants, allowing a lighter, slimmer engine size. The engineers opted for the Crossplane Crankshaft Design that spreads the rod journals evenly around the crank rotation. The design is said to provide a linear torque delivery and a quicker throttle response in the rev range most riders enjoy.

The motor makes 115 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and 65 lb.-ft. of torque peaks at 8,500 rpm. You’ll want to rev it to get into the “Fun Zone.” Freeway speed in fifth gear is 65 mph at 5,500 revs; that leaves another gear and plenty of eager motor room before nudging the rev limiter. A rider can easily defend a safe freeway location with the throttle. I like that.

The FJ-09 weighs in at 463 pounds. The raspy-voiced triple is liquid-cooled and transistor ignition controlled. Fuel delivery is by Moto GP-derived Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle. YCC-T was first introduced to the public on Yamaha’s ground breaking street bike, the R1; sensors read half dozen parameters, process that data in a high-speed ECU, then control fuel delivery with a stepper motor, it’s a sensitive Ride-By-Wire experience. Linked to this is a traction control system that prevents a heavy fist, aggressive braking, or dirty asphalt from upsetting the apple cart. It can be toggled off if stuck in “mud, sand, or snow,” says Yamaha.

Engine performance mapping is controlled by Yamaha’s D-Mode system in three tiered levels where the rider’s right thumb toggles the D-Mode through the variables. The owner’s manual suggests adjustments be made while the bike is stopped and throttle closed. I left it in “STD” mode mostly, although I sampled the lighter “B” mode, suitable for rain or slippery conditions, as well as the sportier “A” mode. The “A” mode provides a torquier low- and mid-range, which garnered me an unexpected clutchless second gear power wheelie, not something I usually seek.

Brakes are good for the tasks at hand and always felt secure during my ride. The front system features two radially mounted 298mm floating discs with four-piston calipers; the rear is a single 245mm. I found them to be fade-free when pressed hard on an enthusiastic 100-mile twisty canyon jaunt. A zesty round trip on Banner Grade will probe for any inherent weakness of mid-range torque or possible brake fade; the FJ worked well, both up and down the hill. Basic ABS is standard and always a good thing. You won’t feel it until you need it.

The front suspension is adjustable for pre-load and rebound damping with 5.4 inches of travel. Each front fork leg has its own preload adjuster bolt; the right leg is equipped with a rebound adjusting screw. There is 5.1 inches of travel on the single rear shock; suspension adjustment is with a typical spring preload cam ring and a rebound damping force adjuster screw.

Rabid high-end canyon-carvers may see where suspension money was saved, but simple and easy adjustments are available and they provide decent cush for the average street rider. There are riders who never set their suspension correctly to fit them but the owner’s manual for the FJ is very clear.

The bike felt a tad tall while climbing aboard but the standard seat can be lowered from the basic height of 3.3 inches. An available accessory seat that sits lower is also offered. The handlebars and levers are both adjustable for height and lever throw. The center stand is a standard accoutrement. The fuel tank is steel and partially shrouded by the plastic fairing but I could still use my magnetic tank bag for the rides where I don’t want the wideness of saddlebags. It’s nice to have the availability to stash a warm shirt, camera, or a bottle of water.

Tires are Dunlop Sport Max and felt secure at my test pace. Premium unleaded is required. Consumption averaged right at 44 mpg over my days of usage and I rode the bike enthusiastically; the tank holds 4.8 gallons, giving an easy 200-mile range.

I found the throttle response at low speed a bit twitchy but that’s a complaint to which an owner will easily adapt with more saddle time. No slipper clutch is available; slippers are a recent tech adjunct to which I have grown accustomed and they’ve made me lazy. An owner will enjoy rev-matching on downshifts and I quickly re-adapted.

The standard FJ-09 retails for $10,490 and the Yamaha accessory catalogue is rich in options and the bike can be personalized.

The Yamaha FJ-09 is a good urban commuter that can also provide a respectable patch of fun in the back country. It also has the legs to gear up with options and take a few weekend trips.