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Here she is at 23!

Some Words About My Yamaha XJ900R Seca

In my opinion, my XJ900 is attractive in its English-cafe style of Japanese technology. As a low-maintenance marvel, it has required only tires, brake pads and exhaust in 23+ years of ownership. The ill-reputed handling as mentioned in several road tests by popular magazines of the day shows itself only when pushed hard into corners and can be compensated for by firming up the suspension (increasing the air pressure in the front forks, and increasing the preload on the rear springs, both of which I tried). What I found was that I could resist the temptation (most of the time) to push the bike hard into corners and this did not spoil the overall riding experience. Not all of us have to tear down the road as if there is no time to live. Having said that, the bike is definitely fun to ride at all times, having enough ooomph (97 hp at the crankshaft) for even an amateur to turn in 12.4 sec - 111 mph quarter-mile performances with an almost-full tank of gas (this made the front end a little heavier under hard acceleration and made me feel a little more secure).

At The Dragstrip (Luskville Dragway at 45d 30' 43.69" N, 76d 1' 53.73" W)

Yes, I got talked into taking the bike to the nearest dragstrip for another big whoop shortly after I had the break-in miles accumulated. This was great fun and the Yammy never complained, although the rear tire seemed to wear a little too quickly (ha!). Over the two seasons that I spent on and off the dragstrip, I believe I had a total of about 50 runs. My greatest accomplishment was a tie for second-place prize in my class. The most significant effect on the motor was an increase in valve clearance a bit so as to make it a litle noisier. I think what happened was that the motor finally got completely warmed up (running the revs up to near red-line will do that) and everything settled in (gaskets, etc.). I believe I replaced the valve shims once although this was part of the run-in maintenance schedule for the motor, and I eventually replaced the rubber on the rear.

Touring With The XJ

Apart from local riding of a few hundred kilometres, I have taken two lengthy tours with the bike. Both of these tours are described elsewhere on this site and can be linked to here:

I found the XJ a willing companion, well-behaved and pretty smooth if one breaks the speed limits and travels at 120 kph (75 mph). This speed equates to an engine speed of 5000 rpm and the motor seems very happy at that rpm. Almost all traces of vibration disappear at this speed. One cannot, however, escape the burning feeling in the upper back and shoulders when on the road for many hours at a time with the right hand keeping that throttle open. Tingling in the hands was another effect that appeared after several hours in the saddle. I suppose I should have taken a few more breaks but back then the progress down the road was more important as vacation time was being used for the trips (not retired at that point).

Why Did I Buy This Bike?

The XJ900R particularly suited me because I was looking for a low-maintenance, strong performance, reliable, good-looking bike that had enough room that I could move around on without feeling cramped. Although I am not particularly tall (5'10"), I found that a lot of similar bikes of the day imposed their sporty design by making the rider conform too much to the style of riding for which they were designed.

Back in 1982 I had tested a "new" Yamaha Seca 750 and was very impressed with the performance although the new space-age design didn't particularly appeal to me. When I was interested in buying a bike the following year, I kept Yamaha in mind. Once I saw the 900, I was pretty much sold on the idea of moving to a Japanese machine for everyday use and traded one of my Triumphs along with a fistful of cash for my new XJ rocket.

The Yammy provides a seating position that fits a long-legged rider easily without having your kneecaps touching your chin (slight exaggeration). The XJ900 is also substantial enough that the rider feels relatively secure with little fear that he is going to fall off (even though this can be done). The fact that all this came with a shaft-drive and a compact, good-looking engine was a bonus. The engine is relatively straight forward, having only two valves per cylinder with double overhead cams. If I had anything negative to say about the bike, it would be that the handlebar-mounted mini-fairing detracts from the stability at speed. Although I haven't done so, I understand that this could be changed to a frame-mounted unit as fitted to the 1984 Yamaha XJ750. I do know that the 1984 750 was more stable at speed but the look of the bike was changed somewhat. Incidentally, the 750 ended up having a top speed of about 131 mph (about 210 kph) which is the same as the 900.

Later XJ Models in Europe

It is unfortunate that YAMAHA decided to stop exporting this motorcycle to North America after only 2 years of production. The company improved the bike's design after 1983 with a larger fairing attached to the frame instead of the bars, the removal of the anti-dive system and replacement of the gas rear shocks with more conventional oil-damped units. These were the major changes. Apparently, the 900 had been a best seller in Europe for 13 years. The new XJ900S 'Diversion' was introduced in 1985 (resembles an XJ600S SECA with shaft drive) but kept the old XJ900F in production for another year. Amazingly Yamaha managed to sell them too. (The essence of this last paragraph comes from an acquaintance in Holland who corrected my statement on the first version of this page in which I stated that Yamaha had discontinued production of the XJ900 in 1984. Thanks Joop.)

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