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The Eternal Struggle: FJ-09 v. Versys 1000LT


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Long time lurker new poster here.
 
Guys,
 
I am looking for a bike that I could do weekend trips with and the occasional longer term rides (1000 miles maybe). Relative two up riding comfort is a must. I would like something that is still fun to hustle through the twisties as well. I cannot decide for the life of me, between the Versys 1000 and the Fj-09. Both seem like they would fit the bill but here are the pros and cons Ive come up with for each bike after digging around online
 
FJ-09
Pro:
-Cheaper
-lighter
-more fun engine (seems to be the consesus)
 
Cons:
-additional cost for bags basically closes the price gap
-questionable two up ability
-front end issues (vague lightness, speed wobbles is what Im hearing from people, also possibly made worse with two people and full bags?)
-bad wind protection
-oil sump prone to damage?
 
Versys 1000LT:
Pro:
-better wind protection
-bigger fuel tank
-larger/more comfortable for two people
-fewer reports of handling issues
 
Cons:
-heavy!
-maybe not as fun
-more expensive
 
 
The fun factor plays a big part for me but so does the two up ability....and cheaper is always better if possible. My biggest concerns about the FJ are really the front end issues that I can only imagine would be exacerbated by two up touring. Could anybody speak to my specific concerns regarding the FJ? Unfortunately all the dealers in my area do not do test rides at all unless you have basically bought the bike already.
 
 
 
 
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In regards to the front end wobble, in my experience it is fixed by simply tuning the suspension for your weight. For me @ 160lbs + saddlebags I softened the rear preload to #2 and added front preload to approx 3 lines. Furthermore, I've only experienced the wobble at 100+ mph speeds. Again, after suspension changes no more wobble ever, even with a passenger. 
 
For bags, may I recommend the Givi E22. Together with the required mounts costs approx $500 versus the $1000 for the OEM. Additionally, they open from the top which I much prefer. The OEM bags opening out to the sides seems stupid to me. I think they look pretty good too. I have pics if you want to see.
 
In my opinion the seat was by far the worst knock against long range riding. After an hour my butt was aching bad. This area seems to be up in the air though. Some seem okay with it, others are still searching for a comfy seat. There are countless posts you can read on this. I have a corbin (with included back rest which the ladies love). I was lucky enough to find one on Ebay for a decent price and even then it cost and arm+leg. 
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Hows your experience with the bike two up? Comfortable for distance? any new front end issues with the additional weight out back?
Ground clearance becomes a concern on roads with potholes, when riding two up, since the back starts to sag a lot and the oil pan is pretty close to the ground to begin with. I busted open my oil pan about halfway into my 9k mile cross country trip, but I wasn't even riding two up. I had a lot of gear, but not enough to be as heavy as a passenger
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Hows your experience with the bike two up? Comfortable for distance? any new front end issues with the additional weight out back?
Longest I've ridden two up without stopping was approx 1.5 hours - Not bad with the Corbin seat. My lady did say her butt was starting to ache towards the end. Ultimately I'll say that two up is not as comfortable as riding solo for various reason but the bike handles it pretty well, no noticeable front end issues. One bonus to riding two up is the passenger's leg does make for a nice arm rest.
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Hows your experience with the bike two up? Comfortable for distance? any new front end issues with the additional weight out back?
Ground clearance becomes a concern on roads with potholes, when riding two up, since the back starts to sag a lot and the oil pan is pretty close to the ground to begin with. I busted open my oil pan about halfway into my 9k mile cross country trip, but I wasn't even riding two up. I had a lot of gear, but not enough to be as heavy as a passenger
This is something I noticed just looking at the bike in the dealership...there is a lot of unprotected important stuff very close to the ground and it seems strange since the bike feels relatively tall. 
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My girlfriend and I took a short weekend trip (~4 hours each way) through windy roads around Lake Tahoe. The bike performed very admirably for two up riding. Power was not an issue; overtaking harleys on two lane roads was a breeze. The extra weight in the rear nearly caused me some issues on fast take offs - unexpected power wheelies are not that fun. Otherwise, the suspension was adequate. My girlfriend loves leaning over and is a rider herself, so we were able to hustle through curves nearly as fast I would have ridden them solo.
 
The only negative feedback was about the seat. Towards the end of the day, she was complaining about how the upright position put all her weight on her sit-bones. Before taking another long trip I'll either upgrade the seats or get an airhawk that would fit her CBR250 and the pillion seat of the FJ-09.
 
The higdonion cage/skid plate is a great option for protecting everything down low. I've smacked it on some speedbumps and things without a mark to show for it. This also changes the cost equation as it is $450 without a discount.
 
In the end, the question comes down to the fun factor! FJ will put a grin on your face every ride, but is rougher around the edges. Versys has the touring chops, but seems more gentlemanly with less hooligan factor.
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The higdonion cage/skid plate is a great option for protecting everything down low. I've smacked it on some speedbumps and things without a mark to show for it. This also changes the cost equation as it is $450 without a discount.
 
 

This concerns me greatly. Engine parts should not be in danger of damage going over a speed bump....unless its a huge speed bump or hit it at absurd speeds.
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My center stand bottoms out on speed bumps if they are short in length and taller than average. I know that's not very descriptive, but I can always tell when it's going to scrape by looking. I am looking to get a frame-mounted skid plate and I also want to see if I can upgrade my rear suspension for a price within my budget.
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This concerns me greatly. Engine parts should not be in danger of damage going over a speed bump....unless its a huge speed bump or hit it at absurd speeds.
 
 
 
I have speed bumps all throughout my apartment complex and even with a passenger I've never scraped.
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Hows your experience with the bike two up? Comfortable for distance? any new front end issues with the additional weight out back?
I've toured fully loaded plus passenger (Tankbag, FJR saddlebags, & Givi 52L topbox) for about  9000 miles (out of @31000 miles total mileage).  Stock suspension.  Rear shock preload was set to full.  Front shock was already set pretty high (two lines showing) so I don't change it when adding a passenger.  I weigh @215 lbs plus gear and my passenger about 118 lbs plus gear.  I have a Corbin seat w/ backrest, which makes a huge comfort difference.  My wife is usually good for about 250-300 miles a day (has done almost 400 miles when necessary) and finds the seat comfortable.   
The bike did very well power-wise (I had it in A mode most of the time) making it easy to pass other vehicles even at altitude.  Handling was good (I don't push hard with a passenger on-board), just make sure you pack your weight as low as possible (heaviest in the saddlebags and lightest in the topbox).  I haven't had any issues with "lightness" in the front end and, when possible on the highway, usually cruise at around 80.  I have had a couple of occasions where I felt pushed by a car from the rear, and I would roll hard on the throttle to leave it behind, and get out of its way.  No problems with handling up to at least 105 (wasn't trying for a two-up top-end test)
 
I did scrape the bottom a couple of times on tall speed bumps (much taller than usual).  I was going slow and scraped on the catalytic converter not the oil pan.  Scary but fortunately no damage.  I've recently cut off the "fin of death" (I have the 2015 model, the oil pan was redesigned on later models) and installed the Mazda low profile drain plug.  Gave me an extra 1/4" or so of clearance.  So far I haven't ridden into any deep potholes or over frost-heaves, rocks, etc that would put me in danger, and I've avoided jumping onto curbs (jumping off - no problem :^) or riding on anything more severe than dirt or gravel roads.  It's a road bike not an off-road bike (at least as it comes stock). 
 
While most of my riding is solo, I have no problems using it as a two-up sport-tourer.  Hope this helps.
 
 
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@drgonzo615  The Versys is smooth, heavy, slower and extremely DULL to ride. 
Out of all of the bikes I test rode before buying the FJ, the Versys 1000 was the one I kept coming back to, I test rode it several times.  It is incredibly smooth, as in lack of engine vibrations (it has rubberized engine mounts) as well as smooth shifting.  The Assist/slipper clutch was magic and shifting between gears was butter smooth.  The bike is a bit bigger than the FJ in every dimension and feels like it.  Considering the engine is 200cc larger, it lacks the "character" of the FJ's triple.  That being said, it was incredibly comfortable, a few miles into the test ride I said to myself "I want to jump on the highway and head to California, right now". 
For Sport-Tourer, the FJ is focused more Sport, the Versys more Tourer, at least to me. 
I take longer multi-day rides, but it is always through the mountain or canyon twisties of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California, for me the sport always comes before tourer, which is why I chose the FJ.
 

***2015 Candy Red FJ-09***

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Those who yearn to keep a three-cylinder motor under them, yet be able to tour a little more comfortably and effortlessly than with an FJ-09/ MT-09 and/ or regularly carry a pillion, could do worse than take a good hard look at Triumph’s Tiger Sport 1050cc machine. Visually it’s similar to the Kawasaki Versys 1000 and very much in that style and intended use, but personally I prefer the open, engine-revealing Tracer-style looks of the Tiger Sport compared to the more enclosed Versys.
 
I don’t know about values in other countries, but here in Oz there’s very little difference in new price, the Tiger Sport retailing (before haggling starts!) at $16,500 to $17,000, while the Versys 1000 asks $15,500 to $16,000, both for 2016 models.
 
I had an earlier model Triumph Tiger Sport 1050 SE, the SE designation meaning that it came complete with good-looking and useful colour-coded panniers. It had plenty of get-up-and-go, and was only let down by – wait for it – a dismally uncomfortable seat! Otherwise, a very satisfying all-rounder I thought. FWIW and all that.
 
 
 
P1030952.jpg
 
 

 
P1030953.jpg
 

Riding a fully-farkled 2019 MT-09 Tracer 900 GT from my bayside home in South East Queensland, Australia.   

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