First Ride - Complete Review

wjreece's picture

After a long cold spell I have finally had the opportunity to take my new 1300 Tourer out for a test ride. I can't complain too much about the cold weather... I definitely think it was a factor in the low price I paid for the bike ($9700).

First off I'd like to talk about the general appearance of the bike. Since the 1300 is water cooled, I was concerned about an ugly radiator and/or hoses. All of these items are placed well and don't affect the general appearance of the bike in my opinion. The engine has the heat sinks on the cylinder head which gives a traditional air-cooled look. I was also happy to see a more modern look to the hard saddlebags that Yamaha has leather wrapped. Definitely a plus for me since I am not a big "Fringe" or "Western look" fan.

The lines on the bike are clean... the seamless tank is nice except for the flange on the front of the tank which is really unnoticeable unless you are looking for it. The tank is a nice size yet still holds a good quantity of fuel ~4.5 gallons (200-250 mile range based on 45-50 mpg ratings). The exhaust is a 2 into 1 pipe which has a nice clean look to it. All in all, the looks were very appealing to me.

Since the 1300 Tourer is fuel injected, cold weather starts are no problem. Turn the key, hit the button, and the bike comes to life. Granted... I have heard the arguments regarding more parts means more opportunities for problems, but after trying to start my v-star 650 in 20 degree weather, mixture concerns at altitudes, and overheating worries on hot summer days in traffic, I'll take my chances!

The first ride was impressive to say the least. After stepping up to the 1300 from a 650 custom... actually it was more of a leap... I am very happy. The bike pulls hard 1st through 4th gear. I found that cruising down the highway at 65mph the bike was happier in 4th gear. Above 70, 5th. I imagine one could cruise all day at 90mph in 5th gear and engine would be smooth as silk. I was impressed with the gearing... getting on the throttle 1st-2nd I found myself shifting into 3rd at 60-65mph. Normal riding would probably be more along the lines of a 40mph shift to 3rd.

I am 5'11" tall, and I was very comfortable on the bike. The seat feels firm and comfortable, but a longer ride is definitely in order before saying the seat is good. I am very suspicious of stock seats for long distance riding. The windshield seems a bit high however, but offers decent wind protection. The floorboards are a nice addition as well. Shorter trips = very comfortable / longer trips = don't know yet!

Braking was very smooth as is the clutch action. Throttle response is lively! :)

I was extremely impressed with the suspension on the 1300 Tourer. After riding the 650 Custom for a couple years, this little baby felt like a two-wheeled Cadillac. The bike is well balanced and does well at slow speeds. Larger bumps that used to rattle me are noticeable on the 1300,... but that is it, just noticeable.

I don't know if I like the instrument panel yet. Yamaha has gotten away from the classic cruiser style instrument panel on the 1300 Tourer and it sits forward of the gas tank. The speedo has two trip meters, odometer, as well as a clock. Oh yes... you can adjust the dimmer on the instrument panel as well. This I found was always a necessity in all of my vehicles. Seriously... who could live without that?! It is a nice touch,... but maybe the addition of hazard flashers would have been more of a useful feature.

I found the hard lockable saddlebags to be an important feature for myself. With a little over 2200 cubic inches of lockable storage, these are a long distance campers dream! I can fit a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad in these babies and still have 40% free space for other equipment. Yamaha includes some mink oil for treating the leather wrapped saddlebags. The only thing I miss is the little waterproof compartment under the seat on my 650.

Conclusion: I am extremely happy with my purchase... if I could do it over again, I would in a heartbeat. I think Yamaha has a winner here with the 1300 and the 1300 Tourer. I imagine we will see a flood of after market parts on this bike which I think is here to stay! I honestly can't wait to load it with miles!