11,000 miles on FJR after Harley Road Glide
Hi everyone. I'm writing this for those that may be in a similar situation that I was in a year ago - those thinking of a switch from a big touring cruiser to a FJR.
For just over 10 years, I had been on a 2006 Harley Davidson Road Glide. Before that, a smaller 650 Yamaha Vstar cruiser. Prior to the vstar, my experience was all off road and many years ago. When I made the decision to shop for a new bike, I still loved my Harley but after 80,000 miles, riding was starting to feel a little stale. I swapped bikes with a friend for a short ride to try his FJR and was amazed. Obviously, there is no way to fairly compare these bikes but after less than an hour on the FJR, when I got back on my Harley, I thought something was broken! I guess I had grown so accustomed to the vibration of the rubber mounted v twin of the HD, the FJR felt like I was riding on glass. In addition to how smooth the FJR was, having what felt like unlimited power at my finger tips was a completely new experience.
After this short ride, I knew I wanted a change but feared the body position would exacerbate my lower back pain issues. The Harley, with back rest and my feet up on the highway pegs, was like riding a Barca Lounger. The FJR scared me - not the speed or power but the ergonomics. I was discouraged by other riders comments about pain in their wrists and lower arms. I knew that risers were an option and that would help with my wrists but what about my back?
With a reasonably good offer on my Harley, and a good deal on a new FJR-es (a crated 2016 - the color I wanted), I pulled the trigger and found myself on what was a rocket compared to my beloved Road Glide. 1 year and 11,000 miles later, I grin everytime I see her!
With risers, my arms and wrists are fine. The more upright position afforded by the risers also helped my back. Now, with a custom seat and a Backline back support, I can ride all day and my lower back issues are mostly resolved. I managed about 5,000 miles with the stock seat but am more comfortable in the Laam custom and Seth was a pleasure to work with. That said, if you weigh 160 lbs or less, you should be able to manage with the stock seat for a good while and there are other pieces of priority farkle you may want to consider.
I have read many comments and reviews about the FJR and from time to time, someone will say the bike is heavy. I would just say that everything is relative. Coming off of the Harley, which weighed about 100 pounds more, the FJR feels like I can fling it around effortlessly. Well... that may be a bit of an overstatement because I can't fling any motorcycle around - with or without some effort, but you get my point! When your carving turns in the twisties, the weight disappears entirely and when your slabbing at serious speed to get to those lovely roads, the bike is as stable as a rock. For me, the weight is just right. At 5'8" and 158 lbs, I am not a big guy but have no problem flat footing.
When I first got the bike, I experimented with the seat in the higher of it's two positions and liked the more relaxed positioning of my knees. But after getting accustomed to the geometry -so very different to the Harley Road Glide, and recognizing that I didn't love just having the balls of my feet on the ground, especially with gravel or other uneven road conditions, I switched back to the lower seat position. Now, after just over a year with the bike, I am perfectly comfortable. Hellio risers - I think I have them close to their middle position, keeps my back and shoulders in line. I also installed highway pegs for those 300 plus mile days when you need to just stretch from time to time. At first I thought that highway pegs on the FJR were silly. Who puts highway pegs on a sport touring bike? Well... lots of people! I don't use the pegs the way I did on my Harley. On the Harley, it was really about luxurious comfort. On the FJR, it's more about giving your foot a place to hang out while your stretching. On the Harley, I could ride on the highway pegs all day. I couldn't do this on the fjr and wouldn't even if I could. The bike is much too much fun to ride aggressively and feet up on the forward pegs is not where they should be when the fun starts!
Bottom line - if your on a big cruiser and looking to change it up, don't hesitate! I do not think there is a better value - a more impressive machine for your buck, then the FJR!
Full disclaimer - I mentioned my weight at 158 lbs. My buddies and I just came off a 2,200 mile, 6 day tear through Virginia and West Virginia - Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. I'm sure I burned plenty of calories but not more than I consumed. A week later and I am at 170 lbs - still comfy on the FJR even if not so comfy in my own skin! I hope this helps someone make the right decision. Don't order the fried mac and cheese - but get the FJR!
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