Jump to content

Thoughts after 400 miles on the odo by root

Recommended Posts

The weather's been pretty off and on around here so I only have about 400 miles so far.  Anyway, I think that's enough to give some impressions.  First off, a little background on me.  I've been riding for just over 2 years.  I'm  6'1" and in my low 30s.  Certainly past the time of wanting to do too many stupid things on the road but still young enough to have a little fun.  I have a typical large american build at the moment. That's code for fat for those of you that weren't sure.  I learned to ride on a 1970 Honda CB450K3.  The 450 was way too small for me in both power and just general size.  I would pretty much sit on the back seat and my friends on light weight cruisers would have to take it very easy for me to keep up with them even though I was nearly full on throttle.  If we were accelerating up hill, forget about it.  I would catch up to them at the next stop.  2up with my wife was technically possible if I crammed myself up on the tank.  She felt very insecure as if she would fall off the back.  We didn't do anything more than a handful of 3 mile trips 2 up on that thing.  I still have the 450.  It is 45 years old now and just increasing in value.  It's almost cheaper to insure 2 bikes than to get rid of it.  It is in very good shape and runs great with about 10,000 miles on it.  It was my dad's for 20 years, and I know the original owner.  I view it as an investment and a family heirloom.  Other riding experience, I rented a (H)arley Ultra Limited and took my wife on a 1,000 mile trip over a long weekend to Northern Michigan.  Although I liked the HD, I didn't like the weight, and I didn't like the feet forward seating position.  I felt like I was sitting on my tailbone and my lower back hurt from riding.  I also didn't like the heel toe shifter.  It was then I decided I really didn't want a heavy bike.  We both enjoyed the trip enough that I wanted a bike that could handle a trip like that.  I was looking at the 2012+ v strom 650 or the Versys for well over a year.  The Versys was out because my wife wasn't comfortable on it but I really liked the way it rode better than the v strom.  It was more lively and grin inducing.  The v strom just kinda did it's job well, but not too much excitement but my wife was comfortable.  I liked the ergonomics of both really well.  I had no real ambitions of taking it off road either.  It doesn't make too much sense to make the compromises to the street performance for something I will never do. I did have some fears of out growing the 650 but didn't want to jump up to a 1000+ cc because of power, weight and cost.
Ok, enough about me.  Let's talk about the FJ!  I was a little nervous before I bought the bike about the sheer power it has, given my limited experience.  I am happy to report I quickly got used to it and I am extremely happy I have it.  I really haven't tapped into all of it's power yet either.  Traction control really helps to keep the front wheel on the ground and the different drive modes suit very well to different driving scenarios.  I keep it in Standard most of the time.  B mode, to keep it ultra smooth with my wife on the back and A mode for quick passing or just putting you in the back of the saddle for the few exhilarating seconds it takes to get up to speed.  I've not done a group ride with all my more experienced riding friends yet but I did ride with a friend who still just has his permit.  He's riding a '80's 750 Honda Shadow that is on loan from a friend.  He said it's a big difference riding with me now.  He used to have to let off the throttle quite a bit if he was following me during acceleration, now he says I take off like a rocket.  That's when I'm trying harder to ride smooth than fast.  If I try to ride fast, he quickly becomes a speck in my side mirrors.  I am really looking forward to being able to keep up on our next group ride.  The power is intoxicating.  I am used to driving a base model mini cooper that has 118 hp and weighs over 2,500 lbs.  This thing has 115 hp, and weighs under 500 lbs.  I don't pass too often in the mini cooper or the 450 because the power just isn't there.  Don't get me wrong, the mini cooper is a blast to drive, but it's more because of the go kart type handling than the power.  This thing is a breeze to pass with.  On my commute to work, I drive on a road that has long sweeping curves.  Just enough of a curve to make it unsafe to pass but not sharp enough to slow down from the 55 mph speed limit.  There are a few short straights you can pass on, but you have to be quick.  Boy, is this thing quick.  And handling is incredibly nimble.  Parking lot maneuvers are incredibly easy.  It is very confidence inspiring in the curves too.  I haven't been able to do too much riding in the twisties.  And they are Indiana twisties at that.  Basically a few roads with 4-5 curves each in my area through a state forest.  They still have gravel in the sharper curves at that.  I've been out only twice on joy rides through these roads and I must say, this is the easiest handling bike I've ever ridden. 
I have not bought any luggage for the bike yet.  I am saving up to get a full hard luggage set, saddle bags and top box.  Personally, I think the factory bags are way over priced for what you get and am really keeping my eye open for alternatives that are both functional and look good both on and off the bike.  I may still break down and get the factory bags and get a set of FJR lids for longer trips.  I am using the soft bags I had on my old bike for now.  They look goofy and don't fit the best, but hey, they work in a pinch.  I was able to mount them at the very back of the seat and they don't hang low enough to interfere with the back wheel so I don't need a bracket for them.  My wife thought she would really want a sissy bar or top box to go very far on the bike.  She is not really used to riding on bikes yet.  I've taken her out a couple times and she has been very comfortable without it.  She says she has plenty of room and feels very secure.  She leans forward naturally but says its a comfortable lean.  Good for me ;)  I've not taken it out of B mode with her on the back and always take it very easy since she is not super comfortable yet on any motorcycle.  I plan to open up the throttle more with her on it once I have the top box.  We'll see how hard I get smacked when that happens.  It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of how hard.
I've been riding a lot in full leather gear since it's been a bit cool here and I still want to get the bike out.  The leather gear I have is a little snug on me as I have a few more lbs on me than I should at the moment.  It's that damn American build.  This makes things feel cramped in the legs.  I have some steel toed shoes I like to ride in, but the soles are thick which compounds this problem.  When I wear regular shoes, without the leather pants, the leg room is very comfortable.  I have the seat in the high position and can flat foot the bike.  Given how long the feelers are on the pegs, I'm not sure why they didn't put the pegs a little lower to start with and shorten the feelers.  I do like that the pegs are right underneath you.  It makes it easy to stand up while riding and puts your body in a pretty ergonomic position.  It arches your back instead of bowing it as a feet forward position does for me.  The verdict is still out on the seat right now.  I'm finding after about 45 minutes to an hour I'm starting to stand up on the pegs more and craving a quick break.  It could be just that it's so early in the season and I'm still getting used to the bike.
The windshield definitely offers more protection in the low position.  I find both the low and the high position hit about the same place on the helmet.  The windshield tends to tilt more in the high position, so even though the shield is higher, it doesn't throw the air any higher.  I know this from the incredibly scientific test of feeling the airflow with my free hand while driving down the road.  Stopping.  Changing the windshield position and repeating.  The main difference is, the narrow part at the bottom of the shield is opened up more in the high position, so you get more blast on your shoulders and chest when it is in the high position.  This was completely opposite to what I would have thought before I tried it.  I would like to try a clip on spoiler to see if I could get it to lift the airflow about 5-6 inches to keep the wind noise down in my helmet.  I haven't seen a full windshield I like the looks of quite as well as the stock one.
The mirrors as is are useless.  I either see my shoulders or grass.  I got the black anodized extenders I found on another thread.  They blend right in and look stock unless you look really close.  They are very effective too.  I can see pretty much everything behind me now.
I just put the soft bags on the bike yesterday.  Before that, when I have been showing my bike to people, I've had several people say to the effect, "Oh no! You got a crotchrocket?!"  While the bike shares a lot of guts with a crotchrocket, I don't think it's a fair comparison.  I'm not sure the soft bags I have on there now really help with look of it not being a crotchrocket but I feel the hard bags really change the look of the whole bike for the better.  Unfortunately, there is an unfair stigma of sport bikes in this area just as there is an unfair stigma of lane splitting.  People around here associate both of those things with wreckless driving.  Completely unfair, but not something I really want stereotyped on me when I pass a cop.  Somehow, a loud piped HD that violates noise ordinances with no helmet and no skill parked outside a bar a quarter mile from home on a beautiful 70 degree day is idolized.  But a highly skilled rider, in full protective gear on, gasp, a crotchrocket, is looked down on.
Overall, I am very happy with the bike.  There's a ton of power.  Handles better than any bike I've ridden (take that with a grain of salt given my limited experience).  For the most part it is comfortable for both the rider and the passenger.  It is a ton of fun as a daily rider and is still capable of taking a longer trip.  If you can only have one bike, this is the one.  Even though I've never ridden them, it stands to reason most sport bikes will handle better, and be faster than an FJ.  A full dressed touring bike will have more carrying capacity and features specific to long distance touring.  They are 2 worlds that are usually at odds with each other.  If you have the money to have both, there are compelling reasons to go that route.  There are also compelling reasons to only get one bike, the FJ-09.
Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.