The difference between brilliance and failure is often a matter of degrees. While some motorcycles boast immense specification sheets and accessories, other machines boast bugger all, but end up being much better motorcycles.
The Yamaha FJR1300A falls into the latter group on the specification score – and delivers a ride that is well in excess of the sum of its parts. Positioned towards the 'touring' rather than 'sport' end of the sports tourer market. Despite its more touring stance and ergonomics, the Yamaha FJR1300A can still be hustled hard on rural roads, and on most rides you'd barely be slower from A to B than on a sportsbike. The aluminum diamond frame isn't sportsbike technology, but it offers accurate feedback and a good degree of sporting civility. Combined with the 180-section rear and capable suspension, the Yamaha FJR1300A's 291 kilogram disappears beneath you.
The lack of a 6th gear in the 'gearbox is an irritation – not least because you keep stabbing away for it before remembering for the 40th time that it's not there. The gearing compensates for the lack of cogs to swap, but this has a knock-on effect to acceleration. The power and torque hardly leave you needing any more immediacy in the drive, but who never wanted more? The top cog is on par with any 1000cc motorcycle's 6th gar, so cruising at 145km/h on a rural highway will see you at 5,500rpm, riding a solid 100km on 5.23 liter of fuel. Extend the distances, and the Yamaha FJR1300A really starts to make sense. The comfort levels means you don't get tired in the saddle, and a motorway speeds the 25 liter fuel tank only needs to be filled every 388 kilometers riding, dipping to more like 306 kilometers if you're twisting the throttle extensive.
When the weather closes in you can simply raise the electric screen with you left thumb and nestle behind its protection. The heated grips are absolutely useless in Thailand, but they just come with the FJR1300A as standard.
The instrumentation is old school, with big analogue dials, which seem hard to read to our digitally accustomed eyes. An LCD screen accompanies them, with a useful array of information, including a gear indicator – although the angle of the unit is poorly set.
But these are minor irritations from a package that can claim to be almost as faultless as any motorcycle gets. Like most touring motorcycles, the Yamaha FJR1300A isn't brimming with headline grabbing features, but its brilliance comes from fulfilling the design brief with an almost nostalgic simplicity that you can't help but be impressed by.