2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Review: Basem's Second Opinion

Basem's Second Opinion

2015 Yamaha FJ-09
The 2015 Yamaha FJ-09. Photo © Basem Wasef

When our last contributor broke down the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09, he said the all-new FZ-09-based sport adventure tourer should appeal to “… naked bike fans who are looking for versatility in a motorcycle that can accomplish smile-inducing short rides as well as long distance touring,” adding that the bike has “an impressive list of standard options and is priced competitively.”

Now that I’ve had several weeks of saddle time on the $10,490 motorcycle, here’s my two cents.

For starters, my FJ-09 tester had a handsome, angular, masculine air to it thanks to its chiseled lines and dark grey finishes. Sure, a few of the small touches are inauthentic (like the faux vent grilles made out of plastic) but the overall direction strikes a nice balance between aggressive and lithe.

Though the 33.3-inch seat height may be high for some, my 32-inch inseam didn’t pose much of a challenge when mounting or dismounting because the seat is relatively narrow; when propped up on its centerstand (which comes standard with the bike), it takes standing on the footpeg to swing a leg over, but in general the bike’s suspension shouldn’t be too unwieldy for most middle-of-the-road body types.

The multifunction LCD display offers a rich amount of information which is managed via an index finger-operated trigger button on the left switchgear; that button toggles between grip heater and trip computer controls, and the latter is managed by a rocker switch atop the switchgear.

Though the trigger button is easy to actuate, the rocker switch is a bit awkwardly positioned, especially since it sometimes requires your hand to reach over the horn and turn signal controls.

The Yamaha FJ-09’s engine is a honey of a mill, with nice, smooth revs and slight whine that accompanies its soulful exhaust note.

Complementing the liquid-cooled 847cc inline three-cylinder is a six-speed that shifts with light effort but positive engagement. The gearbox is easy to shift without using the clutch, and when the lever is pulled, it doesn't take much effort to yank with your left hand, making the FJ-09 easy to ride in traffic.

Though the saddle starts to show its limitations on long jaunts—I found it somewhat stiff and forward tilted, begging for an accessory gel option—the bike is otherwise a pleasure to ride for extended periods, offering flexible power, light, nimble handling, and strong brakes.

Is the FJ-09 a perfect bike? Well, I never quite felt like the stock windscreen offered as much protection as I’d like, the traction control sometimes intruded too abruptly during hard acceleration from a standstill, and it can take a bit of fiddling to securely lock the available saddlebags (which unfortunately require a separate key). But apart from those small irks, the 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 is a sweet, satisfying, and fun-to-ride motorcycle that strikes a great balance between the entertainment factor of a sportbike and the versatility of a sport tourer.