The New Machine

The New Machine

I had a BMW K1300 GT motorcycle with an odometer approaching 80,000 miles. I was feeling less confident about its reliability, not because of any decay-related problem I had noticed, but because I like to make rides a long way from home and wouldn’t want to spoil a vacation with mechanical problems. In March I traded the BMW in on a new 2016 Yamaha FJR 1300.

I spent the end of March and the first weeks of April getting the new motorcycle equipped with the gadgetry and accessories I like to have aboard for sport-touring adventures. I also had a few modifications I wanted to make to the bike. It’s more efficient for the manufacturer to ship generic bikes and leave it to the customers to decide which options they want to install. It also creates a revenue stream for their dealerships who can then sell the accessories and offer professional installations. I opted to buy some of my accessories and customization items from Yamaha, order the remainder from various sources, and do the installations myself.

The first thing I did after buying the bike was to browse the Yamaha website and look at the OEM and other accessories Yamaha sells directly to customers. After shopping around, I decided to stick with Yamaha accessories as much as possible, because accessories from the manufacturer carry forward the look and styling that fit the bike. I ordered the Yamaha top case, luggage rack and frame sliders. From the Yamaha site I also ordered a Pyramid® front wheel fender extender and a Techmount® stem mount to mount my GPS unit.

On the old BMW, and on my current Kawasaki ZX-14, I’ve been using a Garmin Zumo 550 GPS that installs in a handlebar-mounted cradle. A GPS is an indispensable device to navigate complex routes over good motorcycle-friendly roads. With the new bike, I upgraded to a Zumo 595 GPS. It has some peculiarities I am still getting used to, but it is a much-improved unit overall. The operating system and processing speed are much better. The memory is larger. The screen is wider, and it’s easier to integrate with a mobile phone.

On the new bike, I am using the same Escort Passport radar detector I’ve been using previously. I have one unit and mount it on whichever bike I am riding. On a motorcycle, there’s a need to have an auxiliary method of alerting the rider to received radar signals. At highway speeds, one cannot hear, and probably wouldn’t notice, an alert from the detector so, for use on a motorcycle, one must have installed something that gets one’s attention above the road noise. I employ a Radar Screamer® along with a flashing LED light mounted on my instrument panel. The Radar Screamer® has a sort-of warbling loudspeaker that can be heard above the fray. With this unit plugged into the audio output jack of the radar detector, one can be sure to catch the alert, and be aware when one needs to mind one’s speed. The Screamer I had salvaged from my BMW before I sold it had the wires trimmed to fit the installation on that bike, so I bought a new Screamer and installed it on the FJR.

The coolest piece of tech I installed on the new FJR is a small PDM-60® power distribution module. It’s a programmable power supply that connects to the battery and has wired outputs providing power that are programmable for current draw, time delays, and switching. It’s a more elegant solution than the small 12-volt fuse block and relay I have installed on the Kawasaki.

With all these modifications installed, and having completed the 600-mile initial service and a subsequent 1,200-mile shake-down ride, the bike is ready for sport-touring.