January 27, 2003

How did on Earth did I end up here?

Another biker dropped me (us) a line asking for a bit of decision support in whether to choose a Pan or and FJR-1300. (Hi, Brian.) Of course my response was predictable but it was interesting to look back at the decision from a distance. So, here's most of what I sent to him by way of reply:

----- Original Message -----

From: Brian
Subject: To buy or not to buy, that is the question

Can anyone help?

I returned to biking 2 years ago and I'm currently riding a 900 Diversion. I'm going to splash out on a new bike. Thing is what do I go for?

I've been reading up on both the Yamaha FJR 1300 and the new Pan. Both seem good bikes, but is the Pan worth the extra money? If the Pan, which model? With or without ABS? Is the extra weight a problem around town?

Any suggestions?


----- My reply -----
Hi Brian,

I'm about to go on a bit. Please don't mistake enthusiastic verbosity for a misplaced belief in the infallibility of my own opinions. Oh, no. I'm absolutely convinced they're infallible! ;-)

I'm also biased. After all, I bought a Pan and I set up a web site about it. Don't expect me to be impartial.

Well, I went through this process about 8 months ago and had, largely the same set of bikes to choose amongst. My list also included the ZZR-1200 and the BMW R 1150 RT and K 1200 LT.

The Beemers were the first to go. I didn't like the styling of either of them (the RT was too trailie and the LT too, well, Californian) and neither of them goes terribly quickly...

The ZZR clung on until the test rides. I started to lose feeling in my backside after only 50 miles. Not far enough. Even my ZZR-600 held out till 100 miles or so. Guess the seat design really isn't right for me. The lack of hard luggage, short range and the somewhat "committed" riding position also weighed heavily against it.

So the choice finally boils down to the FJR1300. The FJ and the Pan weren't in the same league on the test rides. The FJR is much less, er, everything as far as I could tell. With three exceptions.

Before I get to those, the good points were that it weighed less, felt quicker and cost less. Much less on first sight but as time went on, that gap shrank. More on this later. What the FJR had more of was more "R" (as in raciness), more braking flexibility (no DCBS) and more flaws. I'm sorry, but there you go.

The seat was too thin. There wasn't quite enough leg room. There wasn't quite the same build quality. There wasn't the same confidence inspired by the package as a whole. Ah, but the price. The price was a justification all on its own.

That is, until I added up all the extras I wanted. I knew I wanted ABS and that meant the more costly Pan. On both, I'd have to spring for a top box and heated grips. The ludicrous cost of the panniers and the electric screen (not quite as good as the Pan but still not shabby) for the FJR meant the total price difference was less than a grand on new iron.

Now at that point it became a matter of personal preference. The rest, as they say they say, is history.

Now, both bikes have had things come up since and it's interesting that Yamaha released a revised model and no refit whilst Honda did a factory recall. I've met two really bitter FJR owners who went on at length about it. Honestly. Mind you, I also met the Friend Of A Friend of a Pan owner who (pre-refit) had also had a terrible time. (I really must catch up with him, now.)

For me, I think the choice of a Pan was the right one for me. Now I know there's a lot of self-justification involved. After all, no one likes to think they've blown a large chunk of cash on a mistake. And I, for one, have definitely made mistakes in the past. I know it's only seven months on from purchasing but I'm very comfortable with the Pan and, thus far, no real regrets.

Reading back over this, I can't see how this'll help you but, hey, you asked!

Best of luck with your choice.

Ride safe,


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