Road test by Adrian Percival

Go down to the gym and you will always find one,massively muscled and toned, likes to pose in front of the mirror,and they know that everyone is looking at them. If Yamaha's XJR wasa human, I'd hazard a guess that it would be just that type.

Compare the XJR1300 to a modern race rep and it's a bit of abouncer, it would look more at home on the door of the localnightclub than poncing around down the local lanes! It really is ahuge bike, it's squat and looks brutal, has an enormousin-your-face engine, twin Ohlins rear shocks for pure show, andweighs in at a massive 230kg dry.


The current XJR1300 is based loosely around the old FJ1100engine which started life in 1984. The current XJR13 has an extra100cc over the previous 1200cc version and now puts out arespectable 105bhp and a seriously impressive 76ft-lbs of allimportant torque. The advantage of having such a well-establishedengine like this is the wealth of tuning knowledge accumulated overthe years through various people. I hear through the grape vinethat it's really easy to get the power output up to a healthy120bhp. All one needs to do is get a decent set of pipes anddynojet the bike and there you go, 120bhp on tap, that will makeyou have to hang on even more that you do now! Of course there areendless modifications and add-ons you can get for the XJR, justlook in some of the accessory catalogues.

The XJR1300 is a pure retro musclebike, it'sbased around the old air-cooled, upright riding style that requiressome serious manhandling through the corners. On a modern sportsbike you just have to think corner and it’s done, but the XJRrequires a certain amount of forward planning to do that! Learningto ride and master this bike (yes you do need to) can be immenselymore satisfying than riding the perfect line on a precisionsteering race-rep, that’s because the limits are so much moreattainable on the XJR, it's you that's in control of the bike andnot the other way round.

The XJR is much like stepping back in time to days when thelatest special was built by Harris and based on a Z1000 orGSXR1100, it has the looks and the brutish build of the EddieLawson style of racer, but has a lot of today's modern handlingexpertise built in. The Rear Ohlins work exceptionally well, theynot only look great but do the job of keeping this giant on track,and they also have a lot of pose value, which is not a bad thingreally! The front end is up rated but still a little on the softside in reality, but with a bit of tweaking you can get it tocompliment the back end – nearly.

When it comes to stopping Yamaha have justabout got the best brakes in the business, straight from the R1.These brakes with their one-piece calipers are used to stopping a170mph superbike, ok so the R1 is much lighter but to stop thispiece of heavy metal from it's top speed of 141mph is no problem atall. The braking power is just excellent from the R1 set-up and isdelivered with a superb progressive feel.

The overall handling of the XJR is very good for a bike that hasa somewhat old-fashioned steel double cradle frame. It is a far cryfrom the frames of old which seemed to be made from a flexiblematerial closely resembling black painted pasta! On most corners itwill find its own line with a bit of movement here and there, butit's not unpredictable, and certainly not frightening. It is a veryrespectable handler indeed, with a little bit of a tustle and somecountersteering and you get round the corners with ease, it onlygets better the more you ride it. Soon you will tame the beast andthen the fun starts!

The engine is the heart of the bike, it hasenough torque to pull a truck, it feels like your arms just keepgetting longer when you accelerate on this bike, that is until youlook at the speedo and realise your licence is now seriously atrisk, so you back off. The best way to ride this bike is up toabout 80mph, after that you really need to hang on, that's if youhaven't got a mini-screen on it!

All this said, and even though its raining the XJR1300 is stillsitting there looking menacing and raring to go. With massive gruntand an incredible street presence it should be the hooligan bike ofthe decade, but it's not. The Fazer 1000 or the Hornet 900 willwheelie and corner better than the XJR, no the big Yam's no wheeliemachine and does lack a bit of ground clearance, but for sheerlooks it has it every time.


But as I said before here's a littlewarning -Bikes like this can get you in to serious trouble with theconservationists amongst us. If you really want to decimate theinsect population to nil in your surrounding area, then get an XJR,a pressure washer and a large supply of visor tear-offs. Bikes likethis are best enjoyed by 'real men' (or women!), devotees of theold school where fairings are sissy and windblast is king! Justmake sure you don't wear an open face helmet, and carry lots ofkitchen towel (reason coming up) with you when you go out on summerevenings. Oh and one more thing, make sure you take your jacket offbefore you go into the pub, dead flies attract more flies, and thetell-tale pile of dead insect parts you leave on the floor will putoff any prospective pull, and believe you me you will on anXJR1300!!

 CanI insure this bike?