Cycle Torque Test – Yamaha XJR1300

Cycle Torque Test – Yamaha XJR1300







YAMAHA’S XJR1300 has been around in the same basic format for quitea long time now. In fact the engine is really only a slightlymodernised version of the FJ1200 from the mid ’80s. Is that a badthing? No, it’s still a great engine, it is a fun bike to ride, ithas plenty of stomp, and it’s bloody comfy to boot. Plus the longmodel run is why it’s cheap for a big bore.


Back in the 1970s the phrase ‘Universal Japanese Motorcycle’ wascoined and it wasn’t really an attack on 750cc plus Japanesemotorcycle, rather it described the lack of character which manypeople thought these bikes had, the same people who would happilyput up with dodgy Italian electrics, vibrating parallel twinengines from England, and bad build quality from the Americans.Japanese bikes had become so good they were apparently ‘boring’. Ican tell you that as a 20 year old riding a Suzuki GSX1100 wascertainly not ‘boring’. Big naked Jap bikes, love them, alwayshave.

Humble beginnings

Introduced in 1995, the 1200cc version of the XJR went until 1998when the 1300cc version came online. That’s right it’s been goingfor over a decade with minimal changes, mainly the fuel injectionwhich was introduced in 2007. Wheel sizes and the like have changedover the years too. The XJR1300 sports 17 inch wheels front andrear, taking a 120 front and 180 rear tyre. The adjustable forksare 43mm in diameter, and Ohlins twin shocks are fitted down theback, which are basic Ohlins units, not race spec quality.

When you check the bike out it’s almost like it’s modified like asuperbike might have been back in the day. There’s twin 298mm discrotors, and mono bloc four-piston callipers, a chunky alloyswingarm, and nice wide handlebars to keep it all under control.Check out a modern Period 5 Historic racer and you’ll see what Imean. Town or trip Around town this bike is so easy to ride.

With over 100Nm of torque available you can be as lazy as FatAlbert with your gear changes. Riding in heavy traffic is no chorewhatsoever, you sit nice and upright, with just a hint of leantowards the ’bars, there’s lots of legroom, and the seat is plush.Barely revving the bike to 4000rpm between gear changes has youlaunching towards the next set of lights, and the XJR isn’t so bigyou can’t slip between the cars at the lights. No cramped neck orstrained wrists here.

Our test consisted of a nearly 2000 kilometre trip from Newcastleto the Gold Coast and back, loaded up with throw over saddlebags.There’s a couple of occy strap hooks which make the bags easy tostrap on, plus the single muffler sits low enough you don’t burnthe hell out of your spare jocks and socks if the bags slide toofar the wrong way. as our trip wasn’t straight up the PacificHighway I thought it would be a great test of what the bike wascapable of.

On the bumpy Thunderbolts Way the bike’s suspension soaked up thetar lumps and bump, and the big rear tyre even coped well with dirtroad works. It was only when playing road racer did the suspensionshow up its limitations, and only getting wallow when the roadsurface was decidedly second rate. If it’s smooth the bike behavesvery well.

Pushing hard also shows up a couple of other inadequacies, like thefront brakes which could have more initial bite, and the slowsteering which on fast sweepers is great, but in 35km/h cornerscould be a bit sharper. You have to put in in perspective though, Iwas riding the bike like a sports bike, and in that context thebike handled what was thrown at it without much complaint eventhough I was taking it out of its design parameters.

Of course the elephant in the room is the lack of a screen if youwant to use this as a touring bike. If you are cruising at 120km/hand less it was never much of an issue for me. Above this and thebike becomes hard work to cruise at that pace for extendeddistances.

On the highway this bikes is a pure delight to ride, it’s got sucha comfy riding position, and gassing past cars with out a caredoesn’t even require a downshift. If you want to explore the bike’stop end you’ll find it will crank up to around 230km/h with outmuch trouble, and get there surprisingly quick.


I really liked this bike, but then I’m a sucker for old schoolstuff. The only things I’d do would be to fit a small clip onscreen for touring, and possibly do some work on the damping of theshocks and forks. Other than that, maybe a slip on muffler. It’snot light, sitting around the 245 kilo mark with a full tank of 21litres, but any thought of it being heavy is quickly gone when youride off, plus the relatively low seat height (795mm) makes it easyto handle, even for those with shorter than average inside legmeasurements. For ??,??? it represents top value for a machinewhich is capable of so much.