Julie Gets a New Motorcycle for Her Birthday! - July 10th, 2009

After more than a month of test rides, negotiations and figuring out how we could make it work, on July 10th, 2009 Julie and I officially became the oweners of the FJR! We're looking forward to taking it on our future rides for years to come. 

Stay tuned for more updates!

Our 'new' bike, a 2007 Yamaha FJR 1300 Sport Tourer.

This was the mileage when we became the legal owners of the bike.  At this point we'd already put close to a thousand miles on it!

The sad thing though is we had to trade the Nomad.  We had it for so long and rode it so much that it really felt like part of the family, and it was difficult to let it go.  But we didn't have any choice really and we both knew that even if we could have worked it out so that we could have kept it, we probably wouldn't ride it very much. 

However, it all worked out because when word got out that we had traded the bike a customer and friend decided that he and his wife just had to have it.  These folks are first class people that love motorcycles and riding as much as Julie and I do so I knew the Nomad was going to a good home.  I was as tickled they got the bike as they were to get it!

The last photos taken of the Nomad before we traded it.

37,247 enjoyable and trouble free miles during the five years we owned it.


Day Trip to Blowing Rock - July 4th, 2009

We had ridden the FJR several times, worked out a deal with the shop and made the final decision to get it.  The paperwork was started, but not yet finalized, even so it was a done deal.  So much so that if you'll notice in a few of the photo's our tag is mounted on the bike as opposed to the dealer tag we had been using. 

It was a beautiful Independence Day, one just right for riding.  Bryan had come home for the week-end with his bike so that we could all go for a ride together.  There was no real plan or destination, just a direction.  The mountains, Julie and I were both hunting  twisties on the FJR! 

We rode out on US 64, then took 901 toward Wilksboro.  As we approached US 421 I thought it might be fun to ride "The Snake" and headed north on 421.  We got to Boone and some how or another got really misplaced.  421 and 321 run together but there was some construction detours that had us confused, we had lost all signs referring to 421 and found ourselves at the intersection of NC 105 and 321.  So we pulled over and stopped in the parking lot of an upscale Lodge to check the maps and ended up taking a few photos.

The Eseeola Lodge outside of Boone, North Carolina.

Julie and Bryan posing in front of the pretty flowers.

No, I don't have a clue what they are, except pretty.

Once again, clueless...

Ahhhh... Well, it's red and has a bug in it...

It's ahhh... Well let's see... ummmm...


Ooo! Ooo!  I've got this one!
It's a fence!

Bryan told us that he had ridden 105 before and that it was a pretty ride that would take us by Grandfather Mountain.  Once past there he told us, we could pick up a really fun section of US 221 that would ultimately take us into Blowing Rock.  Sounded like a plan, so off we went.

105 was gorgeous.  Breath taking in fact in some spots.  Traffic became an issue almost immediately though because of the tourists and visitors to Grandfather Mountain, but we really didn't mind, it just gave us more time to sight see.  Just outside of the town of Linville we got to the intersection of 105 and "The Blowing Rock Hwy", US 221.   We rode for a few miles on good road with more beautiful scenery then came up to the BRP.  Bryan told us on the CB radio that now things would get interesting and boy he was right!  Not only was the road so twisty and curvy that 2nd gear was all that was required, but the views and sights were spectacular.  At one point there was this giant boulder directly on the side of the road jutting out from the mountain so close to the road that I felt like I needed to watch my head as we went by!  All in all Bryan was right, it was a hoot!  All too soon it ended and we rolled into the outskirts of Blowing Rock.

Nearing town traffic began to slow dramatically, then stopped entirely.  We noticed that a some cars up ahead of us were turning around and going back the other way suggesting a complete closing or blocking of the road.  With each vehicle that turned around we moved forward until we were finally close enough to see what was going on.  A parade!

We had arrived just in time to see Blowing Rock's fourth of July parade, now granted we didn't have the best seats in the house, but we could see well enough and didn't have to leave the bikes.  We just sat right there in the middle of the road on our bikes and watched the floats, bands and fire trucks roll past just down the hill from us. 

When the last of the parade went by the road was opened up and traffic started to move again so we fired up the bikes and inched our way forward.  People were walking past us on the shoulder of the road going back to their vehicles, laughing, smiling and talking.  The reason I bring this up is because, well, I could actually hear and understand them, even with the bike running.  The Nomad wasn't exactly what I would describe as obnoxiously loud, to me the Vance & Hines pipes just sounded good.  But even at an idle I couldn't hear people beside me very well unless they leaned in toward me and spoke up.  Yet here I was, helmet on, bike running and I could understand everything that everyone who was walking by was saying.  Even that nice lady pushing the baby stroller who said to her husband, "See, motorcycles don't have to be loud.".  Up until that very moment I had been toying with the idea of a set of slip on exhausts for the FJR, not any more.  The stock pipes are just fine.

We made it through downtown Blowing Rock and went to an outlet mall on what was the far side of town for us.  There was a restaurant Bryan knew about there and he was ready to eat.  The crowd was amazing, I've been in and through Blowing Rock on many occasions, but I've never seen that many people there.  As we finished our lunch I noticed, actually the crowd parted enough so that I could see, an ice cream store right across from us and it was doing a heck of a business.  Normally I'm all about some ice cream, but it would have taken forever to get in and out of there so we all decided to pass. 

Back out in the parking lot we looked over the maps trying to decide where to go next.  It was still early and an amazingly beautiful day so no one was ready to head back.  It was decided that we would go back the way we came on 221 so that we could have another run at those great curves, then check out a road we saw on the map that looked interesting just before the BRP.   Bryan still checked out on us but not as bad as before.  I still had to learn how to ride the FJR more smoothly and efficiently.  I seemed to be wasting effort and time trying to roll deep into the turns, brake late and then power out.  The same way I would have been riding the Nomad.  It wasn't really working to well  though because I didn't feel smooth and controlled.

When we got to the BRP Bryan was sitting there waiting for us.  The road we were looking for appeared to be a dirt road.  We rode down it just a bit and saw that it was indeed a dirt road for as far as we could see, nope, not today, not on these bikes.  As luck would have it though we could see a smooth path from the dirt road leading to a pull off/parking area on the BRP.  It was no trouble at all to navigate our way into the parking area and then onto the Parkway.  We decided to go south and see where we ended up.

The BRP was spectacular as always.  As usual, Julie was less than thrilled with it, especially on her new hot rod.   But she made the best of it by looking for rhododendrons and pointing them out to Bryan and I.  We stayed on it for a good while, exiting off at the Hwy 181 intersection.  There was a good looking group of rhododendrons we could take pictures of and then take 181 south to start heading home.

The intersection of the BRP and Hwy 181 north of Morganton, North Carolina.

We found a country store to park at while we took some pictures.

Julie coming to supervise me while I take pictures of the flowers.

Hey Trollipop you need a new hat!  You're not a Kawi-girl anymore! 

Bryan found something other than flowers to look at...

"Let's check out the engineering that went into this..."

"Do you know how much damage I could do with one of these?"


After getting the photos we headed south on 181.  I was looking forward to it because while curvy, the turns on 181 are more sweeping and flowing, I was hoping that this would give me a chance at getting a better feel for the FJR.  Traffic was light so we kept a spirited pace down the mountain, not flying, just flowing.  Bryan was following me when we got into the turns and since he was staying behind me and pretty much in the same line as me I figured that I must be doing OK.  *sigh*  181 is a four lane road non-divided highway, I was staying in the right lane and not using all the road.  About half way down the mountain with the FJR leaned over pretty good I checked my mirrors real quick and didn't see Bryan.  Still focused on the turn I felt the presence of something beside me, a quick glance to my left and there was Bryan in the left lane, peg dragging and moving on.

Show off...

We rode 181 to the off the mountain and to where it intersects I-40 at Morganton.  It was getting a little late in the afternoon so we jumped on the Interstate and headed for home. 

We had ridden another 300 mile day and couldn't help but notice that we weren't really tired, wore out or felt beat up.  In fact, we both commented that if it hadn't been as late as it was we would have enjoyed riding some more.  A 300 mile day on the Nomad usually left us pretty tired.  Is the FJR that much better a bike?  In a way, yes.  The riding position does allow the rider to spend more time in the saddle due to the way the riders weight is more evenly distributed.  The suspension is sooo much more supple that it still amazes me.  The in-line 4 engine design is much smoother and has much, much less vibration than the v-twin design and produces not only more power, but more usable power.  Then there is the noise issue.  I'm thoroughly convinced that excessive noise fatigues the rider.  I can tell such a huge difference not only in my physical fatigue level, but mentally as well.  Having told many people over the years that the Nomad sounded great at the beginning of the day, but was a little loud toward the end I feel certain the noise factor is the reason for my lack of mental fatigue on the FJR.

Yeah, I think we'll keep it.