An On-The-Road Review of Yamaha’s FJ-09 Motorcycle

By: Liz Jansen

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When I started planning my 4-day road trip to Ontario’s Prince Edward County, I was excited to learn I’d be doing it on Yamaha’s widely acclaimed 2015 847cc FJ-09. Newly designed and described as a “Versatile, Sporty, Multi-use machine”, it’s meant to be the perfect all-purpose bike, pulling triple duty commuting, sport riding, and touring—exactly what I was looking for.

Wanting to test it in the variety of situations it was intended for, my route from Orangeville snaked across the back country via scenic secondary roads until I hopped on full-blown freeway riding on Highway 401 at Bowmanville.

Just before arriving at ‘the County’, 10 kilometres of stop and go traffic behind highway line painters added an unintended but realistic commuter scenario. Surfaces were slightly wet when I started the day, but for the most part of my ride I was on dry, warm tarmac.

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Right off the mark, I appreciated the FJ-09’s light weight, pep, and nimbleness. Given the displacement, it felt surprisingly small. It’s super easy to manage and handles like it read your mind. The engine responds delightfully to throttle input, and is torquey and smooth in every gear. The clutch is a dream and the transmission shifts cleanly through all six gears.

The height-adjustable seat was very comfortable and there was room to move around. In the lowest position, it was at the upper end of my comfort level, but because the seat is narrow and the bike so well balanced, and light (207 kilograms,) it wasn’t an issue.

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Except for putting the side stand down. You need to lift the foot peg to get at it, but it’s the kind of thing that once you figure out how to do that while maintaining your balance, it’s becomes less noticeable.

The upright, relaxed seating position together with the tall and wide handlebars was conducive to enjoyable all-day riding. I like to raise myself off the seat on bumpy roads or crossing railway tracks, however the foot angle makes it difficult to stand on the pegs for long periods of time. But then it’s not meant as an adventure bike.

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Suspension was more than adequate, keeping the bike agile yet poised and the rider confident. There’s plenty of braking power from dual front and single rear discs. ABS is standard and always active. Traction control, which can be turned off, has three settings: Standard, A, or B. I kept it in Standard mode for most of my riding.

The windscreen, hand guards and small fairing with twin LED headlights provide good wind protection with minimal buffeting. A 12-volt DC outlet is conveniently placed for powering heated gear or charging electronics with an additional port to install an optional outlet. The digital display on the instrument cluster offers plenty of information from menus that are easy and intuitive to scroll through. I preferred using the trip meter to monitor fuel consumption, as the bar graph gauge was not as accurate as I’d like. The range on the 18-liter tank is about 290 kilometres.

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I had the base model, which doesn’t come equipped with saddlebags or optional carrier so I carried gear between a 49-litre Ortlieb Moto Rack Pack and tank bag. Because the underside of the rear fender is so finely finished, finding secure tie-offs to attach straps to would be lessened with the installation of the rack.

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Not only is the FJ-09’s inherent versatility suitable for a variety of riding conditions, there’s also adjustability built in to fit the rider properly, from the adjustable windscreen, to the 5-point adjustment on the brake lever, 3-height options on the seat (changeable without tools), and handlebars which can be moved away from the ride by reversing the handlebar riser clamps. This bike has versatility written all over it, which is especially good for riders today who want everything and don’t want to compromise.

A centre-stand is standard, a necessity for any chain-driven bike, in my opinion. Many useful accessories are available, including a touring windshield, lowered seat, heated grips, a variety of side and top cases, and a rear carrier.

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The FJ-09 is a generalist, not a specialist, but is it very good at all the things it does. And that’s what makes it so appealing. It’s ideal for the rider who wants to use it during the week for commuting, escaping to shake off the workday or carve up the curves on the weekend, and take it touring on short vacations. Priced at $10,999 (with $2000 in credits available), it’s versatile and affordable. Keeping purpose in mind, it offers great value per mile of pleasure.

Photo Credits: Liz Jansen, Barbara Wynd, Yamaha Motor Canada

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