2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

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bill lumberg
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2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by bill lumberg » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:05 pm

This post will likely be a waste of your time if you already have a current rev, 6 speed, ES bike. Heck, it'll probably be wasted reading for anybody else too. But here goes:

A few days ago, I traded my beloved 2014 FJR1300A, with just over 84,000 miles, for a new 2018ES. I didn't find the 2014A to be deficient in any way. Loved it. It was a big deal letting it go. More than I'd like to admit. Taking all the stuff off of it was an inconvenience, but the day of the trade, I had feels to shove deep, deep down about letting that bike go.

I had, as usual, researched the newer bikes to death. I was getting full NADA on my '14, despite the fact that it had 84,000 miles. Before I knew it, a bunch of armor and stuff was sitting in my garage, and the bike had been restored to stock configuration. Mother nature realized that the trade would involve two hours of riding with the stock joke windshield, no hand guards, and no lead for heated gear, and she thoughtfully lowered temps to around 40F, and turned on the wind machine. Thanks.

After some rather comical suppositions by the guy who was supposed to be prepping the bike while I went into the office with the devil (finance guy), I was ready to go. The prep guy had advised the salesperson and I that the entire tail section of the bike had to be disassembled in order to install the bags. I interpreted this as a possibility that they might actually start taking stuff apart, and told him no disassembly was required. I did not make a new friend. Had I not been tweaking a bit already, I would have realized that prep-boy was simply trying to buy time so he wouldn't have to hurry to get the-bike-that-was-supposed-to-have-been-ready-already, ready already.

It was time to get on the bike, side by side with the old bike. New bike too tall. I immediately got off and popped the seat off to put the seat in the lower position... It was already in the lowered position. Observation: New bike is taller than old bike, regardless of suspension setting. This may easily have been because the old one had more than 80,000 miles on it, and the stock seat had had plenty of miles on it (I use my Laam for distance, usually commuting on the stock seat). Not a big deal, but a notable difference.

The LED headlight is notably different. It fires a sharply defined rectangle of light on low beam. Brighter and whiter than the old bike's bulbs, as to be expected. The high beam is not as straight-edge sharply defined, but it is notably brighter, and lights further out than the conventional filament bulbs of the old bike. I am in no rush to reinstall the clearwaters, even though they offer an additional 9,000 lumens or so of light. Apples and oranges, I'm just saying the LED makes a difference. Tail/brake lights are much more noticeable too, but not so much that I'm leaving my Admore light bar off (Props to admore, who makes a plug and play harness for the '18 that will let me transfer my bar to the '14 for around $25.00 and five minutes work. Kudos to R&G Racing, UK, for sending replacement bolts pronto for my sliders, and to T-Rex racing for rushing replacement bolts for my bag guards. No dirty bolts going into the new bike.) The LED lights that come on when you're in a curve work well, better than I expected. They are bright, and they do a cool testing thing when the bike is turned on. Switch on the key and stand to the side of the bike and you immediately understand how bright they are.

I had a dash on my '14. Getting on the '18 without one, the bike and view looked cleaner, more open. This reinforced (so far) my intention to leave the dash in the garage closet. I can always put it back on if I want. I have a ram ball in the left bar, used a link from gixxerjasen to order one that now sits on the right bar, and the helibridge will house a third. Only my garage remote will need to find a new home. Spot tracker, GPS, and phone have spots. Speaking of helibridges-

I removed all the cool **** from the '14, except for two items- the tank back ring (lost two original gas cap bolts, which materialized within 24 hours of the trade), and the helibridge. Why, you ask, did I leave the helibridge on the old bike? 2 reasons, really. 1) The helibridge is a pain in the ass install or remove, and this is most expediently done with two people. It's not that hard, but I didn't have a lot of extra time. By the time I'd had the clearwaters removed, and personally removed about 8 other things, I didn't have time to fool with the helis.... and reason dos: Vanity. The old helibridge is silver, which matches, AFAIK, every FJR ever made. Except the '18 black. Black triple tree, black bars (and black swingarm, black pumpkin, and a lot of other black stuff). And heli makes it in black just for that reason. So, a new bridge will be in order.

I came to the FJR from a BMW RT. The ('14) FJR initially felt terrible, with a pronounced forward-leaning rider position. But after years on the FJR, albeit with helis, I looked forward to seeing how the stock position of the '18 would feel. I knew helis were in order, I just wanted to see how stock felt again.

It still, for me, sucks. MYRP, yada yada, that's not a sport touring position, for me. So, it's not a burden, it's just not comfortable. No change from the old to the new bike there.

The first day I rode the bike, besides the trip home from the purchase, was in torrential rain, in the dark. New bike minus bag guards/sliders plus rain minus helis= strong gravity. To say I rode gingerly would be an understatement.

6th gear is nice. Not really much of a learning curve, no forgetting to shift to sixth. Gearbox is like butter. Highlighted how not-butterlike the old one was, particularly getting it into first. '14 turned 4500 rpms at 85mph. '18 turns 4000 at 85. Theoretically, you can hover around 91mph without exceeding the don't-go-above-4500rpms until after 600 mile break-in is complete, though I would never do that speed.......... Lower rpms means less vibration. Ah- but there was another, unexpected observation. I arrived at my exit for work with numb hands. I blamed it on the bent over postiion sans heli. That wasn't it. Between 55mph and 65mph, with these (crappy) new tires, in this weather, in 6th gear, a barely perceptible harmonic vibration puts my hands to sleep. Easily moved, if not fixed, to a different range, by the HVMP's I have in the garage. Zero vibes in the bars below 55, zero above 65. More curious than problematic.

Electronic suspension is nice. It's easy to understand, easy to adjust on the fly. You tell the bike what load it will be carrying before you get on it. How many people, with or without bags. It sets up accordingly. After that, it's shift on the fly, as easy as raising or lowering your screen, using the same button. Hit the interstate on a feather pillow, switch to standard setting on the secondary roads, and rock it to full "hard" in the twisties. Very convenient, and allows me to run harder settings in the curvies than I'd want to put up with for the whole trip to the twisties and back. I didn't feel underserved by my A model, but I very much like the ES. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. They did this right.

And I know you're thinking it- what about that matte blue paint? And what's up with the gloss black stuff and how does that look, in person, with the matte blue. It looks awesome. It attracts gawkers. Yes, it has a hard clearcoat just like any other OEM finished vehicle. No, I don't think it's possible for a matte finish to wear as well, or hide scratches and paint damage, as well as a gloss, reflective finish. That's just not how light and the eye work. And there's no waxing to fix a mar. But there's no waxing period. I'm very pleased with the appearance, very happy I bought it. Red is a polarizing color. That aside, the 2014 red couldn't be appreciated from internet pictures. It looked much better in person, as the blood/depth/metallic aspect didn't translate in photos. The blue is similar, in its' own way. I really like, it, and it's already garnered more compliments and comments (oddly) than the red did in the first year, and I've had it less than a week.

Stuff many already knew, and others didn't want to. Happy almost Thanksgiving.
Last edited by bill lumberg on Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by wheatonFJR » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:19 pm

Yeah, I was surprised how well the matte blue looked in person.

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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by jwilly » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:51 pm

Pictures or it didn't happen! Congrats on the new Feejer, You only need to buy 3 more to catch up to me...
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by wheatonFJR » Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:06 pm

jwilly wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:51 pm
Pictures or it didn't happen! Congrats on the new Feejer, You only need to buy 3 more to catch up to me...
Oh, I'm sure he can catch up to you right now.
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by gixxerjasen » Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:11 pm

Good stuff, now get everything on it and go do an iron butt ride and report back how you feel after all of that. :D
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by Viper_Dad » Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:22 pm

Great write up! I love my '13 but have always been curious about the features of the latest FJR. Thanks for putting it in simple terms we can all understand!
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by danh600 » Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:52 pm

Viper_Dad wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:22 pm
Great write up! I love my '13 but have always been curious about the features of the latest FJR. Thanks for putting it in simple terms we can all understand!
Same here.

Excellent write up Bill. Nice to hear it from someone who has put hours and hours on a 14 before comparing it to the new ones. Professional moto writers for the mags don't have the insight you have earned.
Not really in the market just yet, but it's nice to know they are getting better and better.

The matte blue and all the shiny black is still not pushing buttons for me personally. I even saw one in person. However, I think it will grow on me.
I like the red more and more after actually seeing them on the road. But hey, color is only a personal preference and not a real factor in actual performance. Except the 13 gray paint, it has a lower drag coefficient of friction! ;)
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by gixxerjasen » Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:48 pm

Man, I can't wait till I wear out my 07 and jump to something modern. The flat blue isn't for everybody but I'm happy there are those who like it, I'm not one of them. Seen it in person when picking up my GSX-S and wasn't really a fan. I did like the red though. Should be fun to pick one out though when the time comes.
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by raYzerman » Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:15 pm

Congrats again and good to hear your impressions, Bill. Now go buy a small keychain sized remote for your garage door and velcro it to the inside of the glove box lid.
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by jwilly » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:58 pm

wheatonFJR wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:06 pm
jwilly wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:51 pm
Pictures or it didn't happen! Congrats on the new Feejer, You only need to buy 3 more to catch up to me...
Oh, I'm sure he can catch up to you right now.
I thought we agreed last weekend you wouldn't tell people how slow I ride? Not cool..
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by dcumpian » Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:52 am

Put this stuff on your tank and use a microfiber cloth to buff it off. You'll be glad you did. It keeps bug guts, bird droppings and sweat beads from marring the matte finish.

https://www.chemicalguys.com/JetSeal_Ma ... 203_04.htm

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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by Tommy848 » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:08 am

Bill your ride home on the new one sounds exactly like mine back in April. No touring windscreen nor plug for heated equipment on a cold rainy and yes some snow in Marion NC day. Also I had to install a couple items and adjust the handlebars myself at the dealership, at least they admitted they know nothing about the motorycle.
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by bill lumberg » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:37 am

Handling has been a little imprecise, I just haven’t felt settled. I wrote it off to not having helis, new tires, and rain. Everything being greasy with wet leaves and pine needles hasn’t helped. Then, this morning, I rocked the shitty OEM front tire to 42psi, and voila, it’s a goddamned street fighter. I almost didn’t go to the office, just wanted to keep going. Searching temps in a Tellico Plains, Robbinsville, and Suches. Midday tomorrow looks favorable.
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by wheatonFJR » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:51 am

Yeah...if it's dry and warm (enough) on Black Friday I will be doin the Dragon. Absolutely the only time I will ever ride that stretch of road. When there are a total of two bikes on that whole stretch of road it can be fun.

I enjoy the Cherohala more...but I've seen too much sketchy pavement this time of year. I don't want to come around into a shaded corner at speed and find myself scrapin, slidin, and launched into the air.

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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by Hppants » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:32 am

This reads like a seasoned FJR rider and sport touring rider. He's got more than enough experience to know what he wants. He recognizes the differences between the '14 and '18, and further recognizes what he needs to do to go from 85% to 100% in love with the bike. This is exactly how I felt going from the Gen 1 to the Gen 3. Moreover, this is a testament to the overall knowledge of our group. I keep coming back to this time and time again, because I believe it to be absolutely true:

We know what we know about the FJR because we actually RIDE our motorcycles. A Poser that rides 3,000 miles a year and never goes more than a 1/2 day away from the house is fully satisfied with 75% good because he/she doesn't know any better. And you will never get THAT kind of experience reading motorcycle forums or online shopping or standing in the parking lot kicking tires with other Posers.

Hang in the Bill. Ride on, man!!!
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by bill lumberg » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:29 am

This is the third bike in a row I’ve purchased in November. I always do a dragon run or two with the new bike in late November or early December. Not necessarily hammering it, just spending the day riding. I like the cherohala better, but as noted above, very easy to find yourself in a patch of leaves where it’s too late to recover.

Often, but not always, the dragon is a little greasy and wet in winter, so my winter sojourns are more measured. I could get behind a dragon run.
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by Uncle Hud » Fri Nov 16, 2018 2:44 pm

I've put off reading this because I find the 2018 paint scheme very attractive. Even with 72,000 miles on my 2015, I do not want a new FJR or a new FJR payment.

Sorry to hear that you think the 2018 is also a better motorcycle. That just makes it all the harder to resist.
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by bill lumberg » Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:05 pm

I wandered hard in my research. I pulled against the surly bonds of FJR. I love a floorboard v-twin bike. I really considered a new Vulcan voyager. But it would have been a continual series of small disappointments. I’d love a gold wing. I flirted with a leftover gold wing audio comfort near me. A 2017. But it didn’t have abs. Wtf. Hud- I don’t think you can go wrong with an FJR or with a wing.

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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by Uncle Hud » Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:00 pm

You’re not helping.
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Re: 2014A to 2018ES Rambling Drivel

Post by bill lumberg » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:50 pm

Well, photos from the dragon when they come out tomorrow are probably a bad idea then...
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