The Yamaha FJ series is 30 years old this year. The FJ1100
appeared in 1984 as a replacement for the XS1100. The FJ was
a big step forward. The engine was more powerful 125 bhp from the 1088cc air
cooled four cylinder dohc 16 valve motor. It was a slim engine because the
alternator had been moved from the end of the crank to behind the cylinders.
The chassis was also modern. A box section frame was much stiffer than its
predecessor and it had a monoshock rising rate rear end. At the front there was
anti dive forks and it had 16 inch wheels front and rear.
The bike was well received but there was a problem. The FJ
was intended to be a sports bike. Steve Parrish rode one in the 1984 production
race at the Isle of Man and finished in 4th place. But in 1st place was a
Kawasaki GPz900 and this was the future of sports bikes. Later the Suzuki
GSXR1100 race replica moved the sports bike forward again. This could have been
the end for the FJ but it found itself a new niche as a sports-tourer. A bike
with high performance but also the ability to carry two people and their
luggage over long distances in comfort.
The 1100 became the 1200 1TX in 1986. In 1988 the 1CV was
introduced with four piston brake cailpers and a 17" wheel on the front
(the FJ never got a 17" rear) the final version of the FJ appeared in 1991
as the 3XW that had a rubber mounted engine and the option of anti-lock brakes.
The bike was produced until 1993. They were on sale until 1995 in the UK but
this was old stock.
|FJ 1200 1TX|
|My FJ1200 3XW|
The FJ was replaced by the radical GTS1000. This used the
FZR1000 engine in a frame with hub centre steering. It was not a success and
eventually replaced with the FJR1300. This bike is generally well regarded but for me it's too big and too much "tour" and not enough "sport".
But the FJ didn’t die. Well, not its engine anyway. In 1995
Yamaha used it in its big retro roadster, the XRJ1200, this grew to 1300cc in
1999 and is still in production today. A Japanese engine design with a 30 year
production run is good going.
Its engine found other uses too. Bimota used it in their YB5
in 1986 and it powers the Legends & Aussie mini car racers.
I fully intend to ride my FJs for the foreseeable future.
The bikes are durable and parts are cheap and available new & used on eBay.
They are fairly easy to maintain & repair. It perfectly meets what I need
from a big bike. It's an effortless long distance machine with enough speed
& handling to make it fun. The engine is wonderful. Ok 125 bhp (in reality
110-105 at the rear wheel) isn't a lot by today's standards but the bike has a flat
torque curve that means that it pulls well throughout the rev range and
certainly goes as fast as I need to go.
How does it stack up again modern bikes? In truth I don't
know not having ridden very many. It seems that the big "sports
touring" class is divided into super powerful bikes like the Suzuki
Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZZR1400 (ZX14) with huge power & speed but lacking
all day comfort and bikes like the Honda VFR1200 and BMW K1300 that have lots
of equipment but are heavy, complex & expensive. For example the new
Triumph Trophy 1200 weighs in at 301kg (660 lb) with fuel.
|Triumph Trophy 1200 - wow! what a fatty|
The closest bike to the FJ is probably the Suzuki GSX1250FA
(ie the touring version of the Bandit) but it has a specification &
performance so close to the FJ that it's had to see 30 years of development.
There may be a new FJ on the way. Yamaha in the USA have
registered the name "FJ-09" as a trademark. This has fuelled
speculation of a sports tourer developed from new three cylinder 850cc MT-09 (FZ-09 in the States)
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