Yamaha FJR1300 Gets Technology Updates for 2016

With Yamaha releasing new bikes at a rapid rate, it’s sometimes easy to overlook their existing range which includes some real stalwarts. One such bike is the Yamaha FJR1300, a great touring machine that has been available for 15 years now. And for 2016, the bike has gotten a whole lot of new gadgets and gizmos to help it stay relevant.

Mechanically the biggest change is the inclusion of a brand new gearbox – and it’s the first Yamaha to feature a separate dog clutch with newly designed helical gears. Compared to the current bike’s conventional transmission with a single unit dog gear and spur type gears, this new 6-speed design is around 400 grams lighter and is no larger than the 5-speed unit.

This redesigned box has also allowed the inclusion of both an assist and slipper clutch function. The assist function means that clutch lever input when going up gears is greatly reduced, while the slipper clutch allow riders to hammer down gears without engine rev matching.

The 2016 FJR1300AE/AS models are the first Yamaha motorcycles to be fitted with adaptive cornering lights that illuminate the road as the bike starts to lean into a bend. Three LEDs are located in an upper compartment above each of the twin-eye headlights, and these are illuminated in succession when the bike’s Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) detects that the motorcycle is banking over. Reflectors are positioned between each of the cornering lights in order to project the right amount of light onto the road, and the upper and lower portions of the headlamp are separated by a special attachment that is unique to the FJR1300AE/AS models.

Finally, the 2016 FJR1300 models are prepared for installation of the Dainese D-Air Street system. Unless we’re mistaken, this is the first time a bike that’s not from Ducati has been made to use the D-Air Street system and it’s good to see it’s starting to get widespread support..

Yamaha MT-03 Embraces the Learner Market

Joining what is now a smorgasbord of low capacity motorcycles, the Yamaha MT-03 will join the fight and sit alongside the impressive Yamaha R3 as the company’s entry level offerings in western markets. Bearing much of the styling cues of the bigger MT-09 and MT-07, the ‘baby’ MT will no doubt steal plenty of sales away from other rivals – and go head to head with BMW’s new offering as well.

As you’d expect, there’s not a huge difference between the MT-03 and the R3, save mainly for its looks and ergonomics. Being a naked, the riding position is far more upright than the little sportsbike. The upright handlebars offer a wide lock-to-lock steering angle of 68 degrees, giving the MT-03 rider plenty of maneuverability in slow traffic, and Liquid cooled parallel twin 321cc engine will be familiar to YZF-R3 owners this feature also makes the bike easy to move around when wheeling it in and out of garages or parking spaces.

The two-level seating arrangement features a 780 mm high rider seat that gives a feeling of sitting ‘in’ and not ‘on top of’ the bike, and enables the typical rider to get both feet on the ground during stop/start riding. The raised passenger seat gives plenty of space for a passenger, and features aluminium grab bars for added comfort.

No changes have been made to the engine, brakes or any other areas of the bike, which therefore means power of 30.9 kW @ 10,750 rpm and torque of 29.6 Nm @ 9,000 rpm, a 298 mm single disc at the front and a 220 mm one at the back. Wet weight is actually down on the R3 by a single kilogram.

2016 Yamaha XSR900 is Modern Retro Fun

As expected, Yamaha has officially unveiled their brand new XSR900, an MT-09/FZ-09 based retro styled street bike that pays homage to the XSR650 of yesteryear. Looking very similar to the just released XSR700, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel but should appeal to a lot of people out there wanting something that looks classical yet has a modern motor underneath.

The XSR900 keeps plastics down to a minimum, with the 14 litre fuel tank being what draws your eyes at first. There’s also the gorgeous looking split level sitched seat which is accompanied by front and rear aluminium fenders, aluminium side covers and aluminium headlight stay. Again, we would have liked Yamaha to try and hide the radiator a bit better, but given the price the XSR900 is likely to go for, these sacrifices have to be made for value.

The 850cc inline triple remains unchanged from the MT-09 and also includes three traction control modes, assist and slipper clutch and of course, ABS brakes. Unfortunately, it looks like the front end suspension has carried straight over from the MT-09, which means this is a bike that still has a chassis that’s not quite up to speed with the engine.

The TCS is fully adjustable with three performance modes depending on the road conditions. Riders can opt for minimal or maximal intervention and can also switch the system off completely when appropriate to do so. Expect there to be a vast sum of aftermarket accessories available too as part of Yamaha’s Yard Built campaign. The XSR900 has been confirmed for release in the US, Australia and Europe.


A New Yamaha MT Model to be Unveiled Next Week

Yamaha has issued a press release today with an accompanying video that continues its ‘Darkside of Japan’ theme from previous MT model releases. As is the case with most motorcycle promotional material of late, the video gives virtually nothing away save for plenty of money to ad agencies who continue to push out the same schlock.

There’s really not much lacking in Yamaha’s current range for a brand new engine to be put into the mix, so it’s hard to guess what exactly we will see next week. Could it however be an updated FZ1 like we wrote about just a few weeks ago? That would work well in America where the MT series is actually known as the FZ series. Or could it be a production model of Yamaha’s PES2 electric bike? That’s a possibility, given the wording used in Yamaha’s press release talks of ‘dark energy’ – oooh.

In the end, it’s likely to be a derivative of either the current MT-09 or MT-07 which makes sense barbecue as a base to work off, both bikes are brilliant. Yamaha today also ‘officially’ unveiled the Roland Sands Design ‘Faster Wasp’ concept which will soon morph into the production version XSR900.

All will be unveiled next week when EICMA kicks off.


Why MotoGP Has Become the Best Motosport Series in the World

For decades, Formula 1 has been the number one form of motorsport in the world, and from a purely monetary point of view remains so. But like anything, the quality of a series waxes and wanes over time and Formula 1 is currently undergoing one of its worst periods in history. And while it continues to decline, MotoGP has come from behind to become the best form of motorsport on the planet.

This hasn’t happened overnight, but it is amazing how quickly MotoGP transformed to a very sick series into the number one form of motorsport. The global financial crisis hit the motorcycle industry hard, and MotoGP wasn’t immune with even the big name teams of Honda and Yamaha struggling to get major sponsors. But fast forward to the present and MotoGP is the healthiest it’s been for decades.

Why MotoGP Has Become the Best Motosport Series in the World

Marquez is young and unlike some Formula 1 champions, seems to actually have a personality.

All of this was highlighted on the weekend at the latest round of MotoGP at Phillip Island. It was a combination of one of the best racetracks in the world along with a championship that is going down to the wire that produced a race with more excitement than all of this years’ Formula 1 championship combined. In Formula 1’s current state, it’s a battle between Mercedes powered cars with the odd Ferrari thrown in the mix if Mercedes trip over themselves. But at Phillip Island we saw three different manufacturers battling for the podium, with a fourth in Suzuki only a few positions behind.

Formula 1’s claim to fame has always been its speeds and the technological prowess. There’s no doubt F1 cars still remain the fastest way to get around a circuit and their technology is second to none but rules and regulations have seen this competitive advantage shrink ever more.

Amazingly, modern MotoGP come close to the performance of present day Formula 1 cars in many ways. The fastest a bike has ever been clocked came this year at Indianapolis where Jorge Lorenzo hit 216.858 mph – that’s 349 kph. This year, Kimi Räikkönen in his Ferrari managed 358.3kph (222.637 mph) – less than 10 kph more. Considering Formula 1 drivers sit inside one of the most advanced safety cells ever built, compared to riders who have only a thin layer of leather protecting them it shows how utterly incredible the speeds currently achieved in MotoGP are.

Why MotoGP Has Become the Best Motosport Series in the World

A Ducati, Honda, Yamaha and a Suzuki all battling.

This is one key area where Formula 1 has faltered over the past decade. While no one wants to see racers die or be injured, Formula 1 has become so risk averse that modern day tracks offer almost no repercussions for going off track. Run off areas that were once either grass or gravel traps are now bitumen – drivers can make mistakes and carry on – sometimes even gaining an advantage in the process.

Yet watching MotoGP, there’s a risk every time that a rider might go down. Two wheels instead of four with much narrower tires means far less grip and we’ve seen multiple instances of Marc Marquez coming off this year just pushing too hard and paying the price. In Formula 1, there’s almost never any price to pay.

And where passing in Formula 1 is a rarity (and a contrived one at that with DRS and the use of electrical energy to provide a power boost), MotoGP actually sees real race-craft in action, with riders not only plotting where to make their move but defending too – multiple times per lap.

For the most part, Dorna, the owner of the MotoGP championship has resisted the urge to sell out to developing world venues in order to make a quick dollar too. While Formula 1 is happy to take cash from questionable locales such as Bahrain, Russia and soon to be Azerbaijan at the expense of wonderful and historic tracks – races in Germany, Italy and even Silverstone in England are all under threat.

Why MotoGP Has Become the Best Motosport Series in the World

Lewis Hamilton wins again, daylight second.

And while Dorna isn’t saintly, the difference between how it goes about business and CVC Capital Partners (the private equity firm who owns F1) couldn’t be more stark. While some Formula 1 teams have begun court action in the European Union against F1 and other teams struggle to stay afloat, Dorna actually funds most of the MotoGP field to some degree (from 2017, Dorna will pay teams approximately €2 million a year for each rider they field, about half of what is required to complete a season in MotoGP) and provides transport and tires free of charge.

Couple that with how Dorna has adapted to the internet by allowing people to buy access online instead of putting their series into the hands of pay television like Formula 1 has and you couldn’t get two starker contrasts of how to run a motorsport series. And this ultimately is where MotoGP has gone ahead in leaps and bounds compared to Formula 1 – entertainment. At the end of the day, motorsport is about entertaining fans and as last weekends race at Phillip Island showed, MotoGP is doing that better than anyone else.


Dear Yamaha, Can we Have a New FZ1?

Yamaha has been one of the strongest companies in the motorcycle scene over the past few years, the resurgence beginning with the release of the wonderfully fun MT-09. That was followed by the MT-07 and then the all new R1 which has certainly raised the bar for other brands. There’s just one thing missing that we’d really, really like – a new super naked.

There’s no doubt the Yamaha R1 is a killer machine but it’s sole flaw in many people’s eyes is that it’s a superbike. It’s designed for the track which means it isn’t the most comfortable machine around, especially for those taller in stature. Such an issue is easily rectified with a more casually arranged naked motorcycle.

Some might argue that the MT-09 fits that bill and while it’s a great bike, it is made to a price whereas a headlining super naked would come with all the best components the R1 offers, just in a more upright riding position. The MT-09’s engine is great, but there’s no disputing that the R1’s engine with its cross plane crankshaft has a special place in the motorcycle world..

The current FZ1 model was launched back in 2006 and has had only very minor modifications since then. Its biggest failing is that it still uses the pre-big-bang engine that makes the current generation R1’s so unique among current literbikes. No doubt Yamaha has saved big amounts of money in not updating the bike, but that goes hand in hand with mediocre sales, too. Given the upcoming Euro IV emissions, Yamaha’s hand will likely be forced regardless – either by discontinuing the model or giving it the upgrade it deserves.

Given how popular and hard fought the super naked category has become, it’s highly likely that Yamaha will give the FZ1 some love in the near future. The foundations are there in the new R1 – all that’s needed is some tweaks to the geometry, a retune of the engine to be more focused for street riding and some minimal fairing design and no doubt Yamaha would have a hit on their hands.

Pretty please, Yamaha?

The current FZ1 hasn't had a major update since 2006 and is looking very dated.

The current FZ1 hasn’t had a major update since 2006 and is looking very dated.

Let’s Talk – Honda, BMW and Yamaha to Colloborate on Motorcycle Connectvity

Three of the biggest players in the motorcycle world, BMW Motorrad, Honda and Yamaha have announced a joint initiative – called the Connected Motorcycle Consortium – that will work towards enhancing what is known as Cooperative-Intelligent Transportation Systems (C-ITS) for use in motorcycles.

According to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, with C-ITS vehicles communicate with each other and/or with roadside infrastructure, greatly increasing the quality and reliability of information available about the vehicles, their location and the road environment.

Basic applications of ITS currently exist in GPS navigation systems, where real-time traffic information is provided such as rerouting advice based on traffic jams ahead. For road transport in particular, interoperable networked wireless communication between vehicles can enable road users to make coordinated and informed decisions about their route as well as allowing safer maneuvering in busy urban environments.


According to the three partners for this announcement, ITS systems designed for cars cannot simply be transferred to motorcycles. Due to the limited space available, electronic systems have to be smaller and be resilient to water, dust and vibration. Since motorcycles exhibit different driving dynamics, software development and algorithms need to consider special requirements.

“Our aim is to promote a timely and comprehensive use of cooperative ITS systems in powered-two wheelers offering the potential to improve safety. We therefore encourage other companies to join us,” explains Prof. Dr. Karl Viktor Schaller, Executive Vice President Development BMW Motorrad.

The plan is for all three manufacturers to feature C-ITS systems on their bikes by 2020.

Let's Talk - Honda, BMW and Yamaha to Colloborate on Motorcycle Connectvity





Yamaha R1S – A Cheaper Superbike but for US Only

As was expected, Yamaha will be making available a cheaper version of their new Yamaha R1, titled the R1S. Priced $1,500 below the asking price of the standard R1, it loses its magnesium oil pan, engine covers and wheels (replaced with aluminium) and the titanium exhaust headers and connecting rods are replaced with steel versions. Less aggressive tires are also fitted.

Initially we thought the idea of a cheaper R1 that was more in line with the previous models pricing was a good idea, but seeing on paper what Yamaha have done makes us reconsider. With the changes the bike gains 9 pounds of weight (4kg) plus with the changes to the valve design and the use of the steel connecting rods, peak power and ultimate redline is down, too.

Yamaha hasn’t disclosed how much the performance is blunted but by looking at the dyno chart below, it looks to be around 5hp down on peak power and around a 2,000 rpm lower rev limit. That turns the Yamaha R1 from a bike that has for many, many years maintained a 1:1 power to weight ratio into a bike that is likely probably down a total of 5% on performance.

Yamaha R1S - A Cheaper Superbike but for US Only

For $1,500 cheaper that’s not a big hit but it does somewhat spoil what Yamaha R1 has always been about. Even with the reduction in performance the bike will offer far more than anyone can use on the street and even on the track for most people, but the question we’d have to ask is if anyone who was willing to spend $14,999 on a brand new bike really not going to consider spending another $1,500 on buying the bike the way it was meant to be?

As it stands, the R1S will only be released in the United States with both Europe and Australia having no plans to offer the bike in their respective markets for now.