2016 FJR ES vs A Stock Suspension - Yamaha FJR Forum : Yamaha FJR Owners Forums
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post #1 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-24-2016, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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Question 2016 FJR ES vs A Stock Suspension

Yes, another one of "those" questions. I hesitate to even post this question since the topic has been covered in some way or another numerous time before. I've tried to do the research with forum and google searches but I just haven't seen much of a definitive answer to this question and maybe there isn't one so let opinions flow please.

I'm in my early 40's and currently ride a '13 Ninja 650 (hope I didn't just embarrase myself). I'm on the verge of purchasing an 2016 FJR and like most I'm having the great ES vs A debate with myself. I like the conveniance and ease of the ES but not the price. Mainly, this will be a daily commuter for work and around town with occasional weekend getaways with the wife. Let's say 70% single commute and 30% two up day trips. Unfortunately, the wife and I are no light weights (we are working on that) and together we are about 400lb, with gear, maybe a little over. My research thus far says the stock suspension isn't that great for heavier two up riding on the ES or A models.

So my question is this, between the stock '16 FJR ES and A models is there one that is better suited (out of the box) for heavier two up riding by default? A "lesser of two evils" if you will or are they basically the same in this regard? If I understanding things correctly the ES actually raises the rear end when two up is dialed in where as the A model does not and just compresses the spring. Is that correct? Does that mean ES is a little better suited for heavier two up riding?

Hopefully your feedback will help me make up my mind and help others in the future with a similar question.
Thank you for any advice you can provide.
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post #2 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-24-2016, 11:34 PM
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The ES rear spring is a 685 lb. spring, a bit on the light side, and IMHO, a tad inadequate for the weight.... Previous Gens had 706 lb spring and everybody thought they were undersprung.... I'm sure it will work, but.... The A has a 976 lb spring on the Soft setting but, as with previous Gens, a two piece spring that on the hard setting is compressing that top part of the spring. Likely going to be on the harsh side and you'll wish you had a proper aftermarket spring.

Just my opinion, but in your situation, I'd go with the A and someday upgrade to an aftermarket spring that has remote preload adjustment and it will be a single spring with more coils and better suited for one and two up. Individual damping adjustments are also a very desirable benefit. Not cheap either.
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post #3 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-24-2016, 11:57 PM
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I have a 2014 A model, and mostly ride 2 up with about the same weight as you 2. I find the the suspension is quite adequate, and I have no complaints with it.
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post #4 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-25-2016, 12:41 AM
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I have a 2014 A model, and mostly ride 2 up with about the same weight as you 2. I find the the suspension is quite adequate, and I have no complaints with it.
Same here. And two up definitely needs the hard setting.
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post #5 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-25-2016, 03:51 AM
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Go for the A = less to go wrong and the most you will need to do is maybe upgrade the rear shocker in a few thousand miles.

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post #6 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-25-2016, 11:11 AM
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I added an aftermarket shock to my 2014A. Still believe that is the way to go. IMO the only justification for the ES is if you switch between two up and solo a lot. You can get a better setup with adding suspenders yourself than the ES.
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post #7 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-25-2016, 01:45 PM
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After have riding the '16 ES for one season, my experience with the ES is very good. I ride both single and two up with my wife. Adjusting the spring pre-load by push on a button is great, but the best is that I can adjust the damping during riding. In this part of the world, we have a lot of twisted roads which require a harder damping, and there are also a lot of areas with poor roads and speed bumps in citys where the harder damping is a pain. Switching between Soft and a harder setting is just fantastic, very effective and takes less than a second to adjust. Using it several times at every trip. Regarding reliability, maybe at some point items will need to be maintained or replaced, but I can live with that.

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post #8 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-26-2016, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. Surprisingly the wife is leaning toward the more expensive option (ES).

Rayzerman, are the spring rates mentioned in your reply for the '16 model year or prior? I thought I read somewhere that Yamaha made some suspension tweaks for this year but I don't recall to what extent or which model(s).

It seems from the feedback thus far that the A model may be slightly better suited to heavier loads but the ES is a capable system as well. I've never owned a bike/car with adjustable suspension before. It seems like a bit of black magic to adjust all the components properly to get the desired result.

ES setup on the FJR seems pretty dummy proof but what's involved in adjusting the A model? Preload I get, two up or aggressive riding throw the lever to hard otherwise set it to normal. Not sure how or if that relates to the front end preload. How do you adjust ride quality on the A model? I know there's three adjtments that can be made to the front end, preload, compression, and damping. It seems at least one of those is a hand adjustment but are the others going to require that I get out the tools? Does the rear adjustment (dampening) require tools? I'm worried that the A model adjustments could get tiresome on those day long outings with the wife (or even some solo days). What are the steps involved on the A model to go from a softer ride to a firmer ride or vice versa? I'm envisioning a scenario where the wife tells me the ride is little harsh and we want to make adjustments so we pull over, dismount, get the tools out and start tweaking. Then put the tools away, remount and head down the road hoping it's correct or pull over again and repeat. Am I making too much of a big deal about this? Is it simpler than it seems in my head? Sorry for all the suspension adjustment questions, I'm still an idiot when it comes to this stuff dispite my research thus far.

Thanks again for the "real world" rider feedback.
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post #9 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-26-2016, 03:46 AM
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Am I making too much of a big deal about this? Is it simpler than it seems in my head?
Yes, this is indeed the case. Once you have set up the front suspension to your liking, I bet that you will never touch it again. Having a pillion on, or off, the bike, makes no difference to how the front performs. At the back, flicking the lever to hard or soft is all that is required. In fact, I don't even bother with that, I leave it on hard permanently because that gives the bike more ground clearance for cornering.

Now, I am going to stick my neck out here. There is a myth about suspension that not even Yamaha understands. And that is that adjusting the preload makes the suspension harder or softer. It does not. All preload does, is adjust the amount of sag in the suspension. Thus, if you screw the preload adjustment down by half an inch, the suspension will extend by half an inch, and that is all that happens. You now have an extra half an inch of suspension travel available for when you hit a bump, but all else remains the same.

The only way that preload adjustment could possibly make the suspension harder, is if the suspension reached the full extent of it's travel (tops out), and you continued to increase the preload, then the suspension would become harder. But, this is not possible because the preload adjuster does not have enough travel to do that.

As for damping adjustments, the Gen 3, A model, only has adjustment on the right hand front leg. Rebound adjustment is by a hand operated clicker at the top of the leg, and compression adjustment is by a screw driver operated clicker at the bottom of the leg. The rear shock has a hand operated clicker for rebound damping only, positioned at the bottom of the unit.

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post #10 of 60 (permalink) Old 09-26-2016, 06:51 AM
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If you are concerned about front end preload, there is no front preload adjustment on the ES.

And preload is more than just ride height....not the same as having just a shorter or longer spring. Results in more force needed to move the spring the next increment of compression.

Example. Lets say a spring has a constant spring rate of 100 pounds per inch. If you apply 100 lbs it will move one inch....another 100 you get 2 inches another,100 3 inches. Preload one inch and if you apply 100 lb nothing will happen. Preload 2 inches and spring will not move unless you apply more than 200 lb. If you don't want to call that harder, ok, but you will feel it and you have to call it something, it is not nothing.
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Last edited by Colonel Angus; 09-26-2016 at 07:22 AM.
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