Buyer's Guide for Yamaha's FJ1100 and FJ1200 Range
If you're thinking about purchasing an FJ1100 or 1200 you have come to the right place. Here you will find all the info you need.
Yamaha FJ1100 36Y 1984 to1985
Yamaha’s FJ1100 was first produced 1984. It was originally designed to be Yamaha’s flagship sports bike. It was the undisputed king of the road until Kawasaki’s GPZ900R hit the market. Although the GPZ900R was only slightly faster and boasted a water cooled engine, its capacity to travel big miles was completely over shadowed by Yamaha’s FJ1100, so the first real sports tourer was born with an emphasis on sports. Yamaha ensured the FJ1100, and in fact all the FJ models, would handle incredibly well, by taking inspiration from Bimota’s legendary frame design (its head stock was supported by a triangulated construction). This resulted in an ultra stable, predictable handling bike that was unheard of compared to most pre 1984 Japanese bikes. To help the handling Yamaha fitted 16” wheels, an idea taken from the Moto GP bikes from that era. This made the FJ turn very quickly matched up with the largest rear tyre of its day a whopping 150 mm. The 16” wheels weren’t the only thing Yamaha took from Moto GP. The FJ1110 and Yamaha’s first FJ1200, the 1TX, both had an anti dive braking system and vented twin disc’s up front and a single vented disc on the rear. To finish off the handling package, Yamaha fitted the FJ’s with the latest Mono shock suspension and adjustable front forks. Yamaha didn’t stop at fitting the FJ with the very best suspension and frame. The engine they chose was 1097cc, (eventually becoming 1188cc). An in-line four, 16 valve, double over head cam (DOHC) power house. Pushing out 125HP at 9,000RPM and a massive 86NM of torque at 8000RPM, even by todays standards, thats impressive, considering a 2010 Suzuki GSF1250 (bandit) is putting out 98HP at 7500RPM. The engine was made quite slim for its CC size by fitting the starter and the alternator behind the cylinders. Unlike most engines from that era, the FJ’s gearbox was gear driven from the crank whereas most engines use the weaker alternative of chain drive.
To finish off the FJ1100, a small nose fairing was fitted which eventually became a bigger and more touring inspired fairing.
Yamaha FJ1200 1TX 1986 to 1987
The next FJ Yamaha released was the FJ1200 1TX but this time it was presented as a true sports tourer. It sported a slightly bigger fairing with the mirrors mounted on it instead of the handle bars like the FJ1100. The FJ1200 1TX also had much nicer built in indicators. Another addition was a digital clock fitted in the dash. One update, that is hard to make sense of, was the fuel tank capacity, made smaller from 24.5 litres as fitted on the FJ1100 to 22 litres, but, just in case you forgot about your smaller tank capacity, Yamaha kindly fitted a fuel reserve switch. Not only was the capacity of the tank, changed the filler cap was also changed to sit flush in the tank allowing a tank bag to be used. Yamaha made this model for touring so this allowed easy fitment of a tank bag. By redesigning the passenger grab rails, you could now use the rear tail unit as space for luggage. The choke knob was re-positioned from the handle bars to the inner fairing
Yamaha FJ1200 3CV 1988 to 1990
In 1988 Yamaha redesigned the FJ and made the 3CV. The fairing was enlarged once again to improve the riders touring comfort and now fitted with an inner pocket.
The front wheel size increased from 16” to 17”. The anti dive braking system disappeared, and the front brake discs were changed to larger, improved, floating type. Also the 2 pot brake calipers where upgraded to 4 pots on the front, the rear brakes remain the same. The gravity fed carbs was changed to be feed by a fuel pump.
Yamaha FJ1200 3XW/ABS 1991 to 1995
In 1991 Yamaha related its finally incarnation of the FJ with 3XW. Once again a larger fairing was fitted but this time a new ‘V’ shaped head light was installed. The engine was now rubber mounted to help absorb some of the vibrations. Fitted into a larger (heavier) frame due to the engine not now being a stressed member. Fork lower yoke and swinging arm was manufactured in steel instead of the early models aluminium type, believed to be due to keeping the costs down. ABS became an option at first and was fitted as standard in 1993 onwards.
Common issues and things to look for
The standard FJ can travel well over 100,000 miles without any major problems providing, it has been serviced regularly in accordance with the Yamaha servicing schedule. The service schedule is as follows, 8,000 miles for a Major, 16,000 for the linkages bearings.
All things considered, it is a very durable, versatile and strong motorcycle, especially the engine.
The early FJ’s are known for some minor engine vibration. This vibration can cause the standard exhaust down pipes on the 1100 to break down. As they are double skinned the inner skin normally breaks down causing a rattle that will sound like a serious engine issue however, this is simply fixed by fitting FJ1200 down pipes, that are Stainless steel and single skinned.
The CV carbs have diaphragms on the slides that must be sealed to produce uniform uplift. These commonly wear and the resulting pin holes, makes the engine run very uneven causing excessive vibration above 3,000 RPM. The only answer is to replace the set of four. Yamaha want £130 each but the club offers a set for half that.
The engines quite often have a “ticking” sound, mainly on the left hand side of the motor. It sounds like the valves should be adjusted and it may come and go in short intervals. The cause is probably the camshafts end float but please do check the valve clearances annually and if adjusted correctly, this sound will not cause any damage.
Commonly mistaken for cam chain rattle (cam chains last well over 100k) is a rattle from the engine as you pull away under low revs or when idling if the engine is cold or the carbs are out of balance. The noise is the starter chain. It’s a massive chain with no tensioner, this will not cause any problems, it’s simply annoying and very difficult to replace.
Another problem is, on pressing the starter button, the motor doesn’t turn over and all you hear is a noise from within the engine. This is the starter clutch letting slip and not engaging the drive to the crank (made worse on very cold morning start ups due to the extra friction). The fault can occur if you have used fully synthetic engine oil (FJ is designed to run on base oil) or the rollers have worn within the starter clutch. The only answer is replacing the unit, not easy as it’s on top of the gearbox so requires the splitting of the crankcases.
One frequent fault, years ago, on the FJ1100 and early 1TX FJ1200, was the dropping out of second gear. Check this out on a test drive by loading the second gear a bit more than usual. It should remain in its position and not slip out. Normally this fault was found when the bikes were new so, by now, it’s very unlikely you will find a FJ with any gearbox problems. I did 180,000 miles on my 1TX, from new, and never had a problem.
Another annoying issue with the early FJ’s is that the stock voltage regulator puts out too much power. The result is shortened battery life accompanied by a tendency for the battery to boil dry. The best solution is to replace the alternator with a second hand item. Remember an alternator from the XJR1300 will fit and be newer.
Recently, a new solution, is to fit a sealed battery in place of the early (84-90) lead acid battery. These MF batteries are now available. The 91-95 models came with MF type as standard.
Also the FJ1100 alternator is only held on with two bolts (FJ12 has three). The problem is made worse by the fact that the lower bolt falls out, so it’s worth checking.
The FJ has an annoying tendency to eat tail light bulbs. The cure is simply, to put a rubber o-ring in place between the socket and the light fixture.
If you press the starter button only to find the two red light illuminates and the engine won’t turn over, the fault usually lies with the blue and white earth wire from the switch gear to the starter solenoid. Solution is splice in a new wire direct between the two.
If you find difficulty in selecting gears or have an excessive clunk when selecting first, this is the result of the clutch slave seal leaking, allowing the hydraulic fluid to lose its pressure. First sign of this problem is paint missing from the oil filter housing as the hydraulic fluid leaks onto it and strips the paint off. First option is replace the seal. If the problem returns in a short time then the answer is to replace the whole unit.
From 1988 the FJ1200 3CV was fitted with a fuel pump which can fail. The first signs is when you flick the kill switch to run, and you hear the fuel pump prime for a long time. The only way to fix this is replace the pump. You can temporarily join the two hose’s on the pump together as a “get you home job”.
As with any modern motorcycle, the rear shock and swinging arm linkages need greasing, normally every 12,000 miles. If this is not done then it will fail and seize.
The FJ1100 has plastic bearings so will easily seize, this results in poor movement of the suspension. If you continue to ride in this state they will collapse.
The FJ1200 has needle roller bearing and the first sign of failure is normally picked up at the MOT when they find excessive movement from the swing arm.
The FJ takes the highest grade of chain on the market, this is because of the massive torque the engine produces. The pitch is the same size as an RD400 so be warned of poor grade chains, a lower grade chain will snap .
Fuel gauge units wear and the spring loses its strength. The result is the needle bouncing all over the place. Best use your trip meter and watch out for the low fuel warning light which is very accurate, The fuel light will come on with 4 Litres left
Yamaha designed the FJ to run on Cross-ply tyres, this means they have never been tested on Radials. Just because some manufacturers produce radial tyres that are the same size as the FJ doesn’t make them good tyres. To but it in perspective, the rear rim is only 3 ½ inch in width, this is the size of a modern front rim designed for a 120 section tyre not the 150 that Yamaha list as correct.
The FJ1100 and early 1TX model had Anti-Dive units fitted to the front forks. These seize and the result is a harsh front end at low speed. The units can be stripped and un-seized quite easily.
When replacing the oil filter the wire from the side stand gets trapped between the oil filter housing and the crankcases, if not noticed when tightening up it will crack the oil filter case.