Went for a little "social distancing" ride yesterday. Left London, ON shortly after 1:00 PM, gassed up, and rode out to see my buddy Rob who lives just outside St. Thomas. Rob and I have been riding buddies for years - ever since he got his first FJ1100 back in 2003. He recently upgraded to a very mint '07 Triumph Sprint ST. I took it for a test ride a couple weeks ago and it is brilliant - an ideal solo sport-touring machine. Lots of power on tap and good ergonomics. From his place we rode east on a few of the back-roads as well as Hwy 3 and met up with our buddy John (FJ Johnny) who lives in Ridgeville. Johnny has also been a long-time FJ owner (among many other bikes) and now has a couple Yamaha GTS1000s. His buddy Rob (another Rob) was also there on his 2014 FJR. We did a 20-minute jaunt through some of John's favourite back-roads while John and Rob (Sprint ST) swapped bikes. Stopped for a minute and then John and I swapped rides.
I had never ridden a "forkless wonder" before. I must preface my riding impression with a reminder that it's an almost 30 year old machine and that includes the front suspension. He had the rear suspension re-done last year but admitted that the rebound damping needed to be adjusted - too much rebound. First impression: The GTS engine is buttery smooth! Not as much grunt as the FJR or even my old FJ but back in the day Yamaha limited the GTS to 100 hp for the European market. The power delivery seemed pretty linear and if you really want to have some fun you need to keep it above 6K RPM. Braking was good and although it dives under braking, it is noticeably less than any other bike. The front end wallowed a bit in the corners but again, that could be due to the sacked-out front shock. It also had a bit of a wallow in the straights but John said he had to replace the tires in the middle of a trip last year and the only ones the local dealer (somewhere in the US) had was a set of Shinkos which haven't worn well at all. He has PR4s on his other GTS and says they handle and wear much, much better. I'll have to take his word on that. Wind protection / air flow was very good. Of course we're spoiled by having an adjustable windscreen on the FJR but I was thoroughly impressed with the GTS's handling of air flow. No buffeting at all. One thing I wasn't too impressed with was the riding ergos, especially the distance between the seat and the pegs. I'm only 5'8" with a 30" inseam and felt like my knees were bent too far. Could be age related. Again, he does have a Corbin saddle so the seating position is likely lower than stock. I've been mildly obsessed with the GTS since it first came out in '93. It's definitely a novelty and even a few years ago I was seriously considering buying one as an upgrade from my FJ1200. After yesterday's test ride I'm glad I went with the FJR. I would love to ride Johnny's GTS one more time after he gets the front shock redone (and new tires) and dials in that rear suspension.
After our little test ride session, Rob and I bid farewell to Johnny and headed back home. It was a balmy 9C when I left London in the early afternoon and the temperature continued to drop. Riding close to Lake Erie it got down as low as 4C - thank goodness for heated grips, seat, and vest! Rob and I parted ways just before Aylmer and I tacked my way back to Hwy 73, then the 401 and burned home.
The sunset was brilliant so I stopped for a minute on Hwy 73 just outside Harrietsville for a quick photo shoot.
I rolled into my garage at 8:30, having ridden just under 450 km. It was a good ride.
Today it's snowing with a predicted high temp of 2C. Timing is everything.