For years BMW and KTM were the only brands in the Adventure class. Admittedly, the Adventure class and, therefore, the Asphalt Adventure class, are not formal classes of motorcycles even though BMW claims to have invented the group. Let’s have a look at what an adventure bike is along with a little bit of history, then we will get to a short review of the Yamaha FJ-09.
What Is An Adventure Bike?
We struggled to come up with a well rounded definition of an adventure bike, so we borrowed a great one from bestscenicroutes.com:
”An adventure motorcycle is a motorcycle of varied engine displacement that is often used on long rides along paved and unpaved roads. These bikes are capable of carrying one or two passengers and their gear on overnight or multiple day trips miles from civilization. They have longer suspension of six or more inches, to absorb the imperfections of dirt roads, double track trails and perhaps single track trails. They often have increased fuel capacity of five to nine gallons. Typically, adventure bikes will also be fitted with side bags (panniers) and a top case behind the seat of the bike to carry the gear needed for motorcycle trips.”
BMW tries to lay claim to having developed the group independently, but if you look back to the 1970s, you will see that the Honda CL450 Scrambler and the Triumph Bonneville could easily have fit into the class. Both were ridden on road and abused off.
The Yamaha FJ-09
At one point BMW and KTM were the only manufacturers of note who bothered with bikes that would fit into this group, but now it seems as if every OEM manufacturer has an entry. Currently on the road are the Yamaha Super Tenere, Kawasaki KLR650 and Versys, Suzuki V-Strom, Ducati Multistrada, and the Triumph Tiger. Honda has unveiled a concept bike, the Africa Twin, that will most likely be in production for the 2017 model year, if not sooner.
With the Super Tenere already available, why would Yamaha bring another model into the group? One word: refinement. Despite being officially classified as a Supersport Touring bike, the Yamaha FJ-09 is most likely the most refined and affordable bike in the adventure group. The FJ-09 is a dual sport bike that is able to handle dirt, but never should; perhaps defining a new group: the asphalt adventurer.
To build the FJ-09, Yamaha began with its classic FZ-09 platform, a naked street bike that fans love. The differences start with the stance of the bike. The FJ-09 is taller, with wider handlebars for more comfortable rider position, perfect for long-distance riding. The FJ shares a solid performing liquid cooled, 847 cc three-cylinder engine with the FZ, paired to a six-speed tranny featuring taller gears to hit, and maintain, the easier rpms for highway riding.
Standard features include: anti-lock brakes; traction control; adjustable windscreen, riding position, and handguards; and a centerstand. The anti-lock braking and traction control can be turned off, when not needed. Optional features are heated grips and easy-on saddlebags.
The base model of the Yamaha FJ-09 is affordable, starting as just $10,490. Adding the saddlebags is another $900. Add the FJ-09’s 40 mpg and you have a very affordable open road bike that you can take off-road if you need to.