Diagnosis: MBS (Multiple Bike Syndrome)
by Chris B. for webBikeWorld.com
Comments on this article (below)
Chances are pretty slim youíll find any articles
about Multiple Bike Syndrome in the AMA magazine.
That's the Journal of the American
Medical Association, by the way!
But there's another AMA journal where you can read about MBS:
the one that's published by the American Motorcycle
Some of us are more susceptible to this potentially serious
disease than others. Many are able to avoid the
by suppressing the symptoms and sticking to just one bike at
Other sufferers have a lower resistance and are infected only
mildly and find that simply having a second ride can help to
infection. Of course, there are the terminally ill
types who have lost all resistance and who find
themselves with 2, 4,
6 or more bikes.
Like the guy we bought the '98 Triumph Tiger from,
who had 30+ motorcycles sitting in a purpose-built
Butler building. But that's another story...
Here are some of the MBS warning signs that you (or your
significant other) should be aware of: 1) You go to a motorcycle dealer you find yourself looking at
other bikes on display with keen interest, even though
youíve got a fully competent ride; 2) You find yourself taking motorcycles out on test
rides even though you have no plans to buy one;
3) You find yourself browsing through sites like
Cycle Trader during your lunch break, hoping to find that ďspecial dealĒ.
Note that this disease can strike anywhere and any time without warning. You
may even find yourself checking the balance in
your savings account balances to see if sufficient funds
exist. If this happens,
you may not be aware that you have already been infected with the MBS
I donít consider it so much an ailment as much as an
addiction. I have to confess, Iím an addict, but only
moderately so. Of course, there are far worse things to be
addicted to than owning and riding motorcycles...right?
Since my return to riding six years and 150,000 miles ago Iíve
had only 3 bikes, all BMWís. But the mainstay has been my
1999 K1200LT (aka the ďStarship EnterpriseĒ) which I bought
used in í01 with 5,000 miles.
It now has over 131,000 miles
and still pulls like a freight train, but throwing nearly
900 lbs around on a daily basis can get cumbersome, to say
the least. The
signs and symptoms of MBS started to rear its head again
this summer for something lighter and sportier. I suspect
taking the California Superbike School had a lot to do with
this recent outbreak (take a look at my review and perhaps
youíll understand why!).
I originally though I'd like to set up a track day bike, but
after considering how often I would really be able to use
it, I shifted towards the practical, for something I
could mostly use on a daily basis and thus have a higher
use/enjoyment factor. Thatís not to say I have thrown out
the idea of a track-day bike. Itíll just have to wait.
So, what style, make, model to buy? Do I want to go new or
used? I just canít envision myself on a cruiser.
Itís just not my style. Nor can I honestly see me doing any
off-roading, and I really do like the look of sport bikes.
Should I go with a full sport bike that would require me to
visit a chiropractor if I ride it for more than 90 minutes?
Or something with a more relaxed riding position for
this 50-something-year-old body? Something that I could perhaps take
to the track on an occasional club track-day? There was also
a need to carry a few things like my lunch bag and rain gear
and other assorted necessities of modern life, so some
type of detachable luggage would be convenient.
After much consideration and visiting the showrooms to sit on
the various models, I had it narrowed down to one of two
bikes, the 2006 Yamaha FJR1300 ABS and the 2006 Ducati ST3
Notice thereís no BMW in there. Iíd have to lay out
$20,000 (before tax, title & tags) to get what I was looking
for from the Germans. Iím also not impressed with their new braking system.
Besides, my wife suggested getting something different, and
you know how important that kind of support can be!
A phone call to my insurance agent revealed that, as a second
bike, the Ducati and FJR were within $30 of each other and
the overall cost wouldn't be too painful (I highly recommend
contacting your insurance agent before you buy anything. Youíll be amazed at how much one model can cost over another
as certain models have a reputation that drives up their
ratings and in turn their cost of insuring, as Rick found
out with the
Also, be sure
to shop around. Rates can vary from one carrier to the next
by the hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
Iíve been reading the reviews on the Yamaha FJR1300 since
the bike first appeared in the U.S.A. It had everything Iíd come to
favor on a bike, such as a power windscreen, ample cargo
storage, ABS brakes, shaft drive, beautiful lines, fully
adjustable suspension, not to mention plenty of power. I had
often thought this might be a bike that Iíd like to own.
But there was this ďheat issueĒ that so many riders and reviewers mentioned that
made me cautious. The LT is a hot enough ride in
warm weather due to its large windshield and faring and I didnít want another ďhotĒ ride.
Of course, should
I want to buy a new FJR1300, the fact that I would have to
put down $500 and then wait several months before itís
arrival was also a put off (are you listening Yamaha?).
Iím the type where if I have too much time to think
about it, I just might talk myself out of it. Thatís
not to say Iím an impulse buyer, either. Just
somewhere in between...
Then thereís the Ducati ST3 ABS. Just the name Ducati evokes
images of fast, superb handling, handcrafted motorcycles and
beautiful Italian women. Both have tremendous sex appeal,
but are also high maintenance. Still, they look so good even
I contacted a different dealer for each brand and was frank
about being able to pay for it, but unsure of which model to
buy. Now, you would think they would practice their best
sales tactics on me to try and sway me to their particular brand, but,
surprisingly, that was
not the case.
The dealers had neither model in stock, but they
took my name and number and promised to get back to me ASAP.
Guess what? Neither dealer ever called me back, even after 3
Needless to say they didnít, and wonít, get my business.
Since I was anticipating putting 10,000 to 15,000 miles
per year on
this bike I wanted something I would spend more time riding
than repairing or servicing. For the Ducati, the frequent valve
adjustment intervals (Editor's Note: They're now up to 7,500
miles, which isn't too bad), fixed windscreen and the limited number of
dealers (compared to Yamaha) throughout the
country tilted the scales towards the Yamaha.
reasoned, the FJR was the better choice for me.
So, having read all the latest reviews on the í06 FJR and
how the heat issues seem to have been resolved, I figured
this was the time to pull the trigger.
On a fluke I called a dealer I use for occasional parts for the
Battley Cycles in Gaithersburg, Maryland
(coincidentally the same dealer where Rick purchased the
Bernie, the sales
manager (who also coincidentally sold Rick a BMW K75 some
time ago) answered the phone and after explaining my quandary
he informed me that he just happened to have an ST3 ABS and
a Yamaha FJR1300 ABS sitting right there on the showroom
He even had one of the new electric shift FJRs
available. ďIíll be
there SaturdayĒ was my immediate response. While I had him
on the phone, I inquired about the chances of taking either
on a test ride, figuring the answer would be a quick NO.
I suspect the reason I ended up on BMWs awhile back was
because BMW dealers let you take ANY model out for a test
ride, convinced that if you ride one, youíre going to buy
one (which worked by the way).
But this is not the case with
most of the other dealers. This is a REAL bone of contention
with me. I understand their reasons, but at the same
time Iím not about to lay out that much money for
something Iíve only SAT ON!
Much to my surprise and delight Bernie said a test ride
would be possible. Things were looking up!
Now, the doubts started to appear in the back of my mind.
It's called "buyer's remorse", and this must be the bodyís natural defenses to the MBS virus.
Remember, I told you that if I had too much time that I
may change my mind?
The doubts started ringing in my head. Did I REALLY want or need
a second motorcycle? Is this a practical
thing to do? Thankfully, the three days passed quickly
and so did the doubts.
Upon entering the showroom I had to take one last long look
at the Ducati (Geez, that bike is beautiful!) before moving
across the showroom floor to the FJR. After looking the bike
over I again broached the subject of a road test. In
the time it took me to get all my gear on (which is kind
of funny since Battley Cycles deals primarily in Harley
Davidson and many of those riders ride up in shorts and
tee shirts while I never ride without full protective gear)
he rolled it off the showroom floor and out to the parking
We went over the usual instructions, controls, etc. and he
suggested a route that would take about 10-15 minutes. Yeah,
right! I had to get it up to a little bit of speed to
evaluate the wind protection, noise level, handling and what
not, right? Well, I didnít think I was out that long, but it
was 35 minutes later when I rolled back onto the lot.
Bernie was not happy with me. He looked that bike over VERY
closely and even noted that the tires were scuffed farther
up the sidewalls than before. OOPS. I knew the tires were
new so I had refrained from pushing it in the turns.
In the end, I signed for the bike, left a deposit and made
arrangements to take delivery of it the following week with
my appointed sales representative, Andy Ratner (again
coincidentally the same sales person who sold Rick the
GT1000!). Andy did a fine job of keeping
me notified of any changes and any insurance papers I would
need to bring along at delivery.
The week passed pretty
quickly, despite the wait, and then it was finally Saturday.
My wife drove me there and then nearly drove off with my
gear in the car.
After going through the usual settlement procedures it was
out to the lot for a go over of the bike itself.
Chris (left) and Andy. Andy, it's time to give me
There it was, all shined up, absolutely beautiful and
looking ready to take me anywhere I pointed it. I appeared
to be listening to Andyís instructions, but I donít think I
really was. Mentally it was: ďCome on! Letís get this done
so I can ride this baby out of here! I can read the ownerís
manual at night, dude.Ē
Finally we were finished and after they topped off the tank
he handed me the keys. With my gear on, I thumbed the
starter button and that 1300cc motor sprang to life with
that low throaty sound which spoke to me, come on, letís GO!
The ride home was both fun and frustrating. After 131,000
miles on the LT it seems my hands had been programmed for
the clutch and throttle action on the LT and the FJR was
totally different, so I wasnít very smooth with the
Having ridden nothing but BMWs I also had to get used to the
single turn signal switch most of the rest of the world
uses. The right thumb felt left out. No big thing, just some
Iíve now put over 1,000 miles on the FJR in under 2 weeks,
and even though Iím not finished with the engine break-in, I
have some observations.
This baby has all of the power I
need for the street and itís not fully broken in yet. Itíll
get you to triple digit speeds in no time if youíre not
paying attention and it doesnít feel like youíre going that
fast at all.
And when itís time to haul that thing to a stop, just
two fingers on the front brake lever will do the trick. Use all
four and youíll feel the ABS kick in too! The rear brake seems
to have just the right amount of stopping power. Iím getting
40+ mpg combined highway and back roads on regular fuel, which
beats using premium.
The wind protection is adequate yet thereís still enough air
flow over the body to keep comfortable on a hot day,
although a windscreen at least 3Ē taller may be on the list
of add-ons since Iím 6í3Ē tall.
You only need to look at a turn and the bikeís there. The
finish is flawless and that blue is stunning in the
sunlight. Iíve gotten nothing but praise for the looks. The
headlights are great! BMW could take a lesson in how to make
headlights that actually illuminate the whole roadway from
Yamaha. Adding more lighting is not a priority on the FJR
like it has been on every BMW Iíve ever owned.
So here's the conclusion:
Iím tickled pink (or in this case, cobalt blue) with this
new ride. Leave the bags on and it looks like a touring
machine, take them off and it looks ready for the track. Itís not an out and out sportbike and canít hang with some
of them, but itís no slouch and I bet I can ride this baby
I hope to prove that next month with a run up to
Vermont (via the scenic route) for a mini family reunion.
Oddly enough, Iím not looking at other bikes with keen
interest as before (yet). I guess the FJR has sent the virus into
remission. Other than being a bit costly (like healthcare
isnít?) this disease may prove to be worth ďcatchingĒ.
Be sure to check in here at webBikeWorld as I report
back on the
improvements that will make this my ďUltimate Sport TourerĒ!
Got a comment or story related to the FJR1300?
Send it to
"The story I have to tell is backwards of
yours. I have successfully put 11,400 miles on
my 2005 FJR 1300 ABS in eleven months. I then
decided to purchase a 2006 K1200LT as most of my
miles ended up touring. The FJR is now in the
BMW dealership in Tulsa OK on consignment. I
miss playing on the commute to work and riding the
twisties as I live in Arkansas on the FJR.
I donít miss the sore
butt after an eight hour ride. I own (me and
the bank) four motorcycles: the 05 FJR, 04 Honda
Shadow Sabre 1100, Yamaha 250 Virago (trainer) and
the KLT. I am a MSF Rider Coach and Master
Scuba Instructor which tend to take up my leisure
weekends. When I ride I ride a lot.
History lesson over Iíll
tell you the road you are now traveling will be
wonderful. Two up riding on the FJR is no
problem I have the Yamaha trunk on mine. The
Yamaha windshield option (larger) is one I purchased
also but in the summer its way too hot to use.
I am 5í8Ē tall so I need all the cooling I can get.
The 06 is much cooler in the heat as well due to air
flow updates and a new radiator. My friend has
one and we rode to Sturgis and Wyoming to the rally
in August he stayed much cooler in slow stop and
stop some more Sturgis traffic.
I was unfortunate to get
caught at red traffic light at the intersection
leading to the interstate from Gillette Wyoming to
Sturgis and had to press the speed a little to catch
the group of other motorcyclists riding with me.
Needless to say in no time I caught up with them and
looked down and was traveling between 150 and 160 on
the speedometer. I applied some brake and took
my place at the tail of the group. The bike
had more in it and the speed wasnít even felt until
the vision of the speedometer registered in my head.
Bottom line you did real good."
"In addition to MBS, Harley riders have OCD
- Obsessive Chrome Disorder. One disease just
multiplies the effects of the other!"
"Congrats on the new FJR1300. I own a
'03.....THE best bike I've ever owned or rode.
Nice article; thanks for the good press. If
you have not joined already, please check out
the FJR forum.... . There, you will find out
more information regarding the FJR than you could
possibly ever imagine existed. Ride safe."
"It was interesting to put a name behind the
sickness that afflicts guys who need or want more
toys. However I think you found the cure with
the FJR if it fits, feels and rides the way you have
been searching for in the other bikes. Its
true that we always want a bike that's faster, more
comfortable, looks better, more MPG, or what ever
your criteria may be.
I've found after putting
more than 18,000 miles on my 05 FJR in 8 months,
that each time I ride it I just have more fun.
More power? Still can't tap this baby out, it
has way too much for me to handle yet, and as you
noted it turns like a race horse. Once you get
over the shock of how you obtained the bike in the
first place, sleepless nights planning your next
destinations, you'll be into the next level of "farkling"
your bike. Meaning, how do I become a "motorhome
god" by stuffing every conceivable electronic
device, option and after market accessory on this
thing? Welcome to my world!"
"I agree that my 06 is one of the best bikes I have
ever owned. I just got back from a trip to New
York and back from San Diego, and have a couple of
There is a large
community of owners on the web. Check out the
FJR Forum and
FJR1300 Info for lots of information on
modifications and improvements to the bike.
The throttle return
spring is way too strong. It is painful to
hold it open for more than a couple of hours.
A Throttle Rocker or similar device helps a lot.
Some owners have modified the return spring to
lessen the resistance.
Most bikes come from the
dealer with too much free play in the throttle.
Adjusting this helps a lot with low speed throttle
control. Also, there are a couple of
modifications to help off-idle response which tends
to be a little abrupt on many bikes. Details
can be found on the above web sites.
Other than these small
items, the bike is pretty much perfect out of the
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