1986 – 1996 Yamaha FJ1100 and Yamaha FJ1200
In 1984, Yamaha reentered the super-bike fray after years of neutrality by releasing the predecessor of the FJ1200, the FJ1100, in the model years 1984 and 1985.The long-awaited bike was big and refined so it rapidly became very popular, and competed well against others in the “sport-touring” class of motorcycles. This class is not orientated on pure performance but on the balance of utility and sport with friendly ride characteristics such as greater maneuverability and upright seating configuration designed to reduce back strain on long trips.
Basing on the success of the FJ1100, Yamaha decided, in 1986, to boost performance and add upgraded suspension and other components. The result was the FJ1200. Produced virtually the same from 1986 through 1989, a slight update of the bodywork kept the model line current through 1993, when Yamaha discontinued the FJ.
Other liter-class motorcycles produce more peak horsepower and handle better than the FJ but the Yamaha’s beauty becomes apparent as sure as its odometer racks up miles.
The bike’s main competitors during its production years were mainly the BMW’s K100RS, Suzuki’s 1100 Katana and Kawasaki’s ZX-10.
Weight and sheer size are the major chinks in the FJ’s armor when it comes to the road battle with newer, liter bikes. Weighing 588 pounds wet, it’s considerably heavier than the modern racers; the FZR 1000 weighs 522 pounds and the GSXR 1000 weighs 532. The FJ’s wheelbase stretches to 58.7 inches, while the biggest FZR’s wheelbase is 57 inches, and the GSXR’s 56.7 inches.
With the FJ, Yamaha created the modern idea of “sport-touring”: a big motorcycle, build around a powerful engine which will give all the satisfaction required. The bike also has smooth lines which give a modern design, well ahead of its time.
In fact, the FJ can still bang fairings with the youngsters, up to a point beyond the limits of most riders, but experience has taught it certain things that come with middle age. It has learned to, well, prolong the act of riding. Rather than going at a full throttle, toe-curling sweat to completion of an outing in the shortest possible time, the FJ wants to satisfy its rider over a period of hours, over hundreds of miles.
Most riders buy motorcycles because of the way they look and the FJ lasted a decade barely changed. The bike has a sporty look with a low, forward-leaning appearance. The pipes have an upsweep to continue the sporty theme, yet they are low enough for sizable throw-over saddlebags.
The bike has virtually no chrome, which is very unusual for the period and the lines of the FJ stood clean.
The fairing and windscreen-50mm taller and 60mm wider on the 1200, with bulges to keep windblast off the rider’s hands-encapsulate an average height so that the rider’s torso in still air.
The seat is thick, wide, and feels lower than its 30.1-inch height. Wide and high clip-ons can set the rider slightly forward. while rubber-mounted footpegs place his feet slightly to the rear. Backseat riders have been granted rubber-mounted foot-pegs and a less pronounced slope to their portion of the saddle.
Overall, the FJ(both 1100 and 1200) offer splendid accommodation.
The dashboard further reinforces the FJ’s image as a Euro-cruiser. There are three large instruments: a speedometer which surrounds the tachometer together with the fuel gauge. They all light-up in orange, and can be easy light to read at night. There’s also an easily accessible fuel-reserve switch in the left-side fairing inner.
There’s also a digital clock attached, which is very helpful.
The FJ1100 and FJ1200 are both replica of today’s technological standards in terms of handling and comfort. The most lasting impression of the FJ’s was the wonderful power delivered by the engine. The simple, air cooled, overhead cam, four valve per cylinder engine was a torque monster, allowing it to pull from 3000rpm on up.
The FJ has proven his longevity again and again and many bikes are still going strong. Not too many changes were made to the FJ’s over the years. There was the obvious jump from 1100 to 1200 in 1986 and the addition of the ABS in 1992.
There were a few complaints about the front brake being fairly weak and the 2nd gear jumping out of gear when worn.
Displacement increased to 1188cc with 3mm-large bores in 1986, and the 1989 FJ improves the engine with a more precise, digitally controlled spark-advance unit. A new electric fuel pump satisfies the 36mm Mikuni constant vacuum-carburetors, which have one-size-leaner main jets for fewer emissions.
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