Yamaha R1 vs. FJR - impressions

Discussion in 'Yamaha Big Bike Riders Club' started by Franz, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    As I struggled to keep up with a VFR800 racer in the mountains of Nan, I decided to give it a go with Yamaha's newest R1. So I asked and was granted a full day with a brand new one, thanks again to Tum at Yamaha Square in CNX !! Today was the day, got up early, brought the FJR for a tyre change to Yamaha and off I went on the 118 to near Wiang Pa Pao, then on the 1150 to Phrao and the 1346 to somewhere north of Chiang Dao and then back over the mountains on the 107 via Chiang Dao to get some yummies at X-Centre and finally back to Yamaha.

    First impression of the R1: was thinking that my arse was higher than my head. On my way to Doi Saket had some awful slides just leaving the junction with spinning backwheel up to 3rd gear. What an unbelievable amount of power. Although the brakes are not what I expected them to be. In Phrao I had to stop as my excess body weight gave me real pain in the palms of my hand as you are perfectly forced to grip the R1's handlebars all time and all weight of the upper torso and head are there. Cornering is awful and you are tempted to open the throttle fully which you shouldn't do as you might perform a quick pirouette on the spot. What amazed me was the wide power band this bike has, recently rode the FZ1, which is in comparison a lame duck at lower revs. I know HP are also totally different....... :lol:
    What came to my mind was that if I really decide to change my FJR to a new R1, this will most definetely shorten my own lifespan immediately.
    Consumption is nothing less than the heavier FJR, but what would you expect from a street-racer......
    I wouldn't like to sit on the R1 while touring Thailand. For this I should be 20 years younger, at least 25 kgs lighter and have more exercise every morning or evening. As a 'weekend-blast-to-Phayao' bike I would love to own her.
    Here's a foto on a spot on the 1150 shortly before Phrao:


    I was riding back home once I changed bikes and must say I'll keep the FJR, it's such a comfortable bike and although weighing much more than the R1 it still will be able to keep up with it, at least when the R1 is not ridden by a Valentino Rossi like biker. The main noticeable technical advantage on the FJR are the front brakes which are much more to the point, I had a little worried feeling on the R1 while using them harder Another plus for the tourer is the softer suspension. On the R1 my back lifted off the seat not only once, she's perfect on even and not slippery tarmac whereas the FJR can go anywhere without the above lift-off. I mean while riding CNX to Lampang and on to Phrae, it would be a difficult choice as both bikes are real fun. As said before, going down south the choice is obvious the FJR. I also find the tank of the R1 not fit for longer tours...not to talk about storage room; would have to remove the backseat and fit a small case on the R1's back.
    This bike stays where it is, in my home :lol: :


    These are my personal impressions and in case anyone still doubts my choice for the FJR (Peter/Marco you read ?? :oops: ), now it's proved. If I would be very rich, of course a R1 would be mine..... :wink:
    Different riders, different opinions, different choices, mine is the old Tourer..........cheers, Franz
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  3. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    Nice one Franz and like always, this is your experience and i truly trust your common sence as i have seen you riding(or most of the times back light only :wink: )

    im sure R1 is fantastic bike nd uie the pourpose tosome of the other lads, but persn like my self also, i could not even dream o ride one as if i would sit in there 20+kms i could nto get up as my back would killing me, and my 40+exess weight will nto help te idea as well.

    nice review and im sure we will keep on getting more pros and cons from the lads on the forum.
  4. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Hi Marco, right, pro's and con's: I think this very much depends on one's age and bodily constitution. I can just imagine that if I would be in my late 20's or early 30's the choice would be the R1. But our excess bodymass has also the advantage in handling the big'n'heavy fu....
    Personally I could do with some more power on the FJR but in the end I want to go 300kms ++ and not end up refuelling every 200 kms. Had this before with my companycar a 3.0 Escape and that pissed me off big time..... :? . As told before I'm just waiting for my funbike to come in about 3 months time from now the XT660X........... :p .
    Another pain I experienced today was that you have to keep your head up, that means, a good neck massage is a must tonight...... :cry: .
    On a positive note, the sound of the engine is something close to a roaring Tiger........ :lol: . No need for aftermarket exhaust as the engine noise is already none to any other. Maybe I could fit the engine onto the FJR... :? ......cheers, Franz
  5. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    So Colin, next bike you get in LOS is an FJR ????? :oops: . Got tired of the Phantom already ????? :wink: , let's have a look, once I fall in love again with an XT series bike, I might as well...................
    Anyway, the ride was sure as hell worth the try & fun and once more MANY THANKS TUM!!!!!!
    Yamaha sure put a lot of trust in me of lending me this >B870k marvel !!
    Sure some filmproducer cum selfpresenter cum no-workpermit business man cum trashed-up-Duc-rider will find it hard to get just to sit on it........
    (Ian Ambassador, I can't help it but I must hit below the belt, you remember that one do ya ??........ :twisted: )
    Colin, when are you back in CNX for some good dinner ????
    Cheers, Franz
  6. gobs

    gobs Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the review, Franz.

    The R1 is a wonderful and efficient bike as you say and IMHO (engine, frame and so on), but far beyond my "non-expert riding capabilities"!

    The FJR, for sure is a "kilometers-killer"... Well, for me, one of the best "sabai-sabai" long tourer...

  7. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Gobs, the FJR can also be more than a 'sabai-sabai tourer' as experienced recently with the Bangkok Hooligans (TonyBKK, Trent,....) in Doi Phu Ka mountains near Nan. You just have to dare and lean her over until you grind her underside..... :wink: , amazing how easily she still handles then, cheers, Franz
  8. brian66

    brian66 Ol'Timer

    I am one of those lucky people who has more than my fair share of motor cycles in my shed to ride, so each day I can make a choice.
    I own a 2008 R1. It has about 3000 kilometers on it in just the two years since I purchased it new.
    The low kilometers are not because I don’t like riding the bike but because I have a lot of bikes to ride plus I am not home all the time.
    I enjoyed every minute of those 3000 kilometers on the R1 as it doesn’t matter what bike I am riding, once I am in the seat I become part of the bike and I use it as it is designed and sometimes a little more.
    But every time I have completed my ride on the R1, my body has more aches and pains than I can bear and I need a good night’s rest just to recover. Mostly my knees, neck and wrists suffer.
    Aside from my body spoiling the ride, the bike, motor wise is brilliant. However as I said I have many choices, I have a couple of 2008 model CBR1000RR that are very similar to the R1 in regards the position of your body. One on my CBR’s is a track day bike, which is heavily modified, the other a street bike.
    When comparing the bikes, the R1 is a much more difficult bike to ride than the CBR. The R1 tends to under steer when trail braking into a fast corner. I have had a few occasions where I thought I was not going to make the bend because of understeer and running too wide. The brakes are good but require more initial pressure to begin working than compared to the CBR.
    The R1 also suffers from a really hot rear end due to the mufflers under the seat.
    I have attached photos of some of my bikes. I hope it works, as I am not sure how to do it so I apologise if I stuff up.
    My R1
    My White Black CBR1000RR
    My Red White CBR1000RR
    My FZ1
  9. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Cheers for the report Franz- it's about what I expected. The R1 is a sweet bike but certainly not a tourer!

    Have you tried the FZ1? I know that John seems quite happy to have traded his FJR for an FZ1 and certainly the FZ1 has to be a lot more comfortable than the R1!

    And isn't the FZ1 powered by a de-tuned R1 engine? Surely with a bit of tuning you could turn an FZ1 into a real rocket!

    But anyway- I think you are quite fast enough on your FJR! Always amazing to watch you throw that big bike around the corners like it's a 600cc supersport! :mrgreen:

    Wonderful to ride with you again and hope we can do it again soon!

    Happy Trails,

  10. Tubber

    Tubber Ol'Timer

    Well Franz I think you are spot on. I sat on an R1 once and that was as far as I got, just sitting on it I was getting wrist, neck and knee pain. Even the smaller Thais I ride with stop after 50 km to stretch their legs. The FJR is a heavy old bike but as soon as you get moving the weight and bulk disappear. The brakes are rather nice too, really progressive. The power is enough for me as I bought it to slow down a bit. By the way I ain't an old git either. I am 35, 80kg and just under 6 foot and would never consider a sports bike, OK for trackdays but a liability on the road.
    Tony, the flip side of what you were saying about John is that I traded my FZ-1 for his FJR and I am also very happy I did it, just couldn't get the FZ comfortable. The FZ uses a previous generation 20 valve R1 engine. The crankshaft is heavier in the FZ and the cam profiles are different, supposedly for better mid-range but the FZ is still pretty gutless below 7,500rpm.
    Cpt Slash, if you are ever in Sakon Nakhon stop by for a chip butty, mushy peas and cup a char.
  11. johngooding

    johngooding Ol'Timer

    Interesting discussion guys, but the R1 and the FJR do sit at the opposite ends of the spectrum in Yamaha's bigger bike range.
    As Jim said he has my FJR and is comfortable on it and never was on the FZ1. I cannot argue that the FJR, long distance is the most comfortable bike I have owned, the R1200GS comes second. However I find the FZ1 is a bike that gives me some exitement, makes me want to push it and hit the road a bit harder than my other bikes. Despite Jim' comments about it being gutless below 7500rpm, I find that range is all I need for most acceleration and overtaking manouvers, it is quite flexible in 5th and 6th gears and I have found it easier to drive slow around the towns than the BMW. Above 7500 all the way to 12000rpm the engine takes on a different tone and power is abundant. Never hit the redline in more than 3rd gear as 200kph is reached in 6th at 8,000.
    I find the FZ1 chassis handles the power well and lets you put it down on the road easier than the sportier bikes. Riding with an R1 rider, we had an occasional quick start away from the lights, I found it easy to keep ahead of him as he admitted he just could not get away any quicker without spinning the back wheel or lifting the front end. I guess you will only be able to use all its potential if you are a truly expert rider on good road surfaces. To me that sounds like racetracks and I am not a racer.
    My recent trip to Loei, Nan CM and back, I cannot say I felt any discomfort at all except on a couple of fast straights on the way home. A shift on the seat or a 10 min fuel stop sorted that. The FJR is effortless once moving, but I feel much more confident that I can handle the FZ1 on the unfinished roads, rough stuff and gravel carparks or the odd heavily cambered badly parked situation.
    So yes for me it has been a good change from FJR to FZ1, but I will not be taking any further steps along to the R1, or anything similar.
  12. KZ

    KZ Ol'Timer

    I had an almost new '98 Ninja 900 (picked it up cheap with slight damage, must have slid for a few meters) and had to get used to it - you have to build stomach muscles, clamp the tank between your knees to have less weight on your wrists. But at speed the wind pushes you up and things get comfortable. Since it had only 200 mi on the clock I didn't open it more than 6000 rpm but that was no problem, with lots of shifting the bike was fast already. Later I opened it up to 9000 rpm, that's all I needed, it seemed like riding a rocket already! And power really builds up from 9-12,000rpm.
    It was a nice experience, I felt totally safe on the bike at lower speeds, felt able to do anything at anytime - I could ride turns inside turns, shoot off like a rocket, the brakes were great, the tires the best I ever experienced, like glued to the road. Anybody know which tires the 98 ZX9R came with?
    But I wouldn't get me another one. Too extreme, especially here in Thailand where people aren't used to fast bikes you'll be in trouble quick.
    A year later the R1 came out and changed everything...
  13. johngooding

    johngooding Ol'Timer

    Hey KZ, do you have any recommendations for reasonably fit 61 yr olds to help build up the stomach muscles and also the inner thigh presumably, to achieve the correct clamping pressure between the knees. Thanks in anticipation.
  14. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Tony, had the FZ1 already several times for use, courtesy of Yamaha CNX again. For me it's simple, the FZ1 has the same stiff suspension like the R1 but lacks the power from lower rpm up. For me it was never the question like it was with John, I'm giving it another try maybe with the R6.
    Let's say for the lighter bikes I liked the FZ6 most, yes you have to rev it but let's say the low weight makes it very versatile but then again, what do I need a second bike that goes well above 200 km/h when the FJR does just this effortlessly. My decision was made yesterday and Yamaha CNX promised me the first XT660X, this should fill my hole of multipurpose/fun bike. Today on the toy ride up north I was 2 up and on the way back pushed her a little again (not that much as when I'm alone, got some responsibility with my better half riding pillion......) other than the usual sliding and up and down movements of her back in bumps she still sticks to the road perfectly to outrun other bikes.
    And again, it will be my perfect pleasure to ride with you again soon; need to go down the Rayong way soon and as promised will come to your Secret Soi.
    John, as for the FJR on gravel here the higher weight helps as she stays more stable at higher speeds, just today had to do again a longer part on a dirtroad, I always keep it that way: don't look at the gravel just ride her quickly over it, the occasional dance of both front and end can be easily handled.
    Jim, wouldn't say the FJR is a slower bike, it's just the way you move it and you need to dare her down in tight turns, then it's easy to ride like a Fazer. Haven't been overtaken by any other bike for a long time now, just need to be daring with the FJR and do things with her she actually wasn't built for.
    Power/sportsbike/tourer/displacement is not an important thing once you get the feeling of any bike, just look at Tony and his old Ninja 250, now the same on his 650, he simply is one with the bike and can keep up with any superbike although 'underpowered'. Good riders can even sit on a KLX250 and power her back from the burmese border just second to me as Ian did today.... :lol: , cheers guys :wink:
  15. johngooding

    johngooding Ol'Timer

    Hi Franz,
    I think the suspension issue on the FZ1 is one of adjustment. I found Brians FZ1 very stiff and harsh on bumps, but mine is not. Both front and back have considerable adjustment. I am sure it is not designed to be as stiff as a pure sports bike like the R1.
    I was only referring to manual handling of the FJR on difficult surfaces like gravel, not actually driving it. I was thinking of a gravelly car park in Sakhon Nakhon which was very difficult to get out of once I had been boxed in. I could not drive out, but had to manhandle.
    I think you are matched to the FJR and get the most out of it. Long may it continue.
  16. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    John, tried to adjust the FZ1 suspension on the given freebie rides, but still too rough, I'm more used to Enduros, MC's and Tourers which pamper me........ :mrgreen: , got already a car with a suspension like a wooden board..... :? . 55555 it will last long even though I got an incredible offer for the FJR but kindly refused :wink: , XT660X is the next one, 1000 %...........
    Gravel & parking are no big issues for me, I stick to my motto: If I can't move it alone I don't buy it, and here same as Marco, our heavenly bodies although inflated help us.... :p . Won't expect a 55kgs Thai to move it but for me still doable although you need to wear and watch your shoework. FJR's nothing for 'slippers'. :oops: Cheers, FR
  17. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Today I finally closed the agenda FJR or R1 and this is the next project I'm saving for to be used together with the FJR:


    Isn't she a marvellous beauty....... :oops: , cheers, Franz
  18. gobs

    gobs Ol'Timer

    Hi all,

    Thanks to share.
    I do appreciate this kind of discussion... Sincere and friendly, out of these so-so trendy things...
    Same bikes but different riders, and not same feelings... Very interesting...

    For part, it also shows how it may be difficult to give advices about a bike purchase. We all expect different use. We all have different abilities. Without speaking of our different "personnal response to a design"...

    Awesome bike, Franz, this XT660X... I'm waiting for your review!

  19. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Colin, Foto & brochure I have, was downloaded from Yamaha Austria, might be that as a mountainous country they sell only spoked wheels in some European countries. Cast Aluminium rims should be no problem. We'll have to wait and see what the Thai version gets. Don't even know what colours they will be available with. Cheers, Franz
  20. feejer

    feejer Ol'Timer


    I did this

    http://www.fjrforum.com/forum/lofiversi ... 719-0.html

    on my '05 and it resulted in a dyno proven 4HP peak and 5 ft/lb torque increase in the 4-6K range right where you need it. The bike pulls noticeably stronger all the way up with no negative impact to MPG at all. That stock airbox is designed to pass noise regs, not for optimal flow.

    This guy had the right idea opening up the box from both sides, but he made a mess of the cuts, looks ragged etc. All I did differently is use a 1 1/4" holesaw to make nice clean cuts on the upper and lower radii. Then use a Dremel to trim the small V-shaped nubs that are left on the left and right sides of the oval where the holesaw didnt cut. Trim back the snorkel tube on the left, clean up the cuts with sandpaper or file and you're done with the fabrication part. Takes 20-30 minutes to do. I checked my TBS after and it was still good to go, but you should re-check to be sure.

    Another thing I have found to have helped power, throttle response, and mileage on this bike is the spark plug type. I used to run the NGK CR8EIX iridium, but the CR8EK seems to work better in my motor. Hard to believe a spark plug can make a difference, but it does. I think its due to the fact that the FJR motor only has 2 coils with a pair of plugs wired in series. That means that the #2 and #4 plugs have the spark jump from the ground electrode to center vs. the #1 and #3 jumping the other (normal) way. Having 2 ground electrodes seems to be beneficial in this application.

  21. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Feejer, many thanks, gonna try this ! Especially the spark plugs seem to be a good idea; airflow is always a topic with any bike, need just to see if the FJR doesn't cook the engine then and needs remapping. Cheers, FR
  22. Tubber

    Tubber Ol'Timer

    Many thanks also Feejer, gonna give it a go. Did your bike also have the AIS crap on it? I am going to get rid of mine as it supposedly makes a difference.
  23. feejer

    feejer Ol'Timer


    Yes, mine had all the air injection hoses etc. Its not a California bike so I didn't have the canister etc, but they all will have the air system for the catalyst to work efficiently. I removed all that stuff and capped the holes on the valve cover.

    I have aftermarket exhaust cans with the cats removed so it flows much better than stock. But downside is you can get some popping on decel. Usually adding extra fuel at closed throttle via the fuel injection piggyback (PowerCommander) will fix this, but on the FJR it will not. Just too much air in the system like you have an exhaust leak.

    Taking off the AIS stopped the popping but its not a performance mod, I didn't notice any other benefits.
  24. feejer

    feejer Ol'Timer


    I was concerned about the remapping too and had mine re-dynoed to be sure that the A/F mix was not screwed up after the mod. The only slight adjustment that Dynojet software did was a 3% increase in fuel at the 2.5-3.5K range. Target was 13.0:1 from the prior tune and now it was at 13.8, still totally safe. You should have no issues with mapping especially if you still have the OEM O2 sensor in place to auto adjust your mix.
  25. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Thanks Feejer, no modification done yet and I seriously consider not doing any at all as where I'm riding now there's no need for additional torque or power, little bit different to Chonburi/Rayong area where I used to work'n'live and roads are for much higher speeds. Cheers, FR
  26. Not on a Yamaha

    Not on a Yamaha Ol'Timer

    The Yamaha superbike is considered out of the big four, ZX10R, CBR1000RR, GXSR1000 & R!.
    To be the more comfy one for touring.
    Take Ken Saunders who managed a round the world trip several times on the Yamaha R1. One of the round the world trip took place within a 24hours time frame. Truly remarkable.

    Also chasing an Austrian on a VFR800 is no easy feat. So hat off!

    Perhaps you have not been able to see the woods for all the trees. Why not consider the VFR800? Good solid bike, with a solid reliable history.

    Another alternative is consider the Triumph Tiger. This bike will do it all.
    Commute with ease.
    Tour with comfort.
    Eat the twistes with confidence.

    Incidentally, the Tiger will snap at the VFR800 tail through the twisties. Been there many times!

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