We can't get out of it. We get older and classics get younger. Of course it is 100% understandable for 60 +ers to have a Triumph Bonneville or Honda CB 750 OHC can be found at the top. But for the later born, that machine doesn't have the spell it did for us. In the meantime, the Yamaha FJ 1200 has been made from 1986 to 1993. And that was quite a few weeks ago.
The Yamaha FJ 1200 was the successor in the line of the rude, but good-natured XS 1100 and the FJ 1100. The four-cylinder was intended as a fast, two-person touring motorcycle in the times when the world was not yet strewn with roadside cash registers and residential areas. As with its predecessors, the 1200 had a ton of tractor-like pulling power from low revs. And in 1991, the modern age struck with a – then still endearingly coarse pulsing – ABS. In that year the engine also came to hang in rubbers. For its size, the big Yamaha was and is very manoeuvrable. The suspension and damping are – if not worn – good. The fairing protects considerably less than that of a BMW RT, but since 1991, a higher fairing has been optional.
In its past lives, the Yamaha power unit had already proven to be very reliable
The first 100.000 km should actually be problem-free. What comes next depends on driving style and maintenance. But an acquaintance has a neat example with 210.000 on the clock. And only the clutch has been provided with fresh plates once. High gas mileage can often be solved with a set of new jets and washer needles. High oil consumption is often less scary than it seems. Often – but not always guaranteed – this oil consumption is due to piston rings caked in carbon after too many short trips. At any auto parts store you can buy cans or flasks with stuff that you simply mix with the gasoline, which frees the piston rings again. Then you have sufficient compression again and a responsible oil consumption. But it can also be that an engine is really 'on'.
Rust in the tank can also cause a poorly running engine. And that tank can rust through at the lowest point. The actually good steering behavior can be seriously spoiled by worn steering head bearings, play on the rear suspension and broken rear wheel bearings. With a now not very impressive 130 hp, the Yamaha FJ 1200 still has plenty of power today. Because in the current traffic picture, 130 horsepower makes just as much sense as the 200+ horsepower or so of modern heavy marathoners.
The Yamaha FJ 1200 was quite popular
And they are tough. Apparently, what were once 'the best air-cooled four-cylinder in the world' is still very much in the shadows. Such a Yamaha FJ 1200 is old enough in terms of calendar age to be classic. He is also dated enough as a whole. But in practice it's still so impressive and - without all that crazy electronics - just honest and uncluttered mechanical that you could even use it for commuting. In addition, you now buy a neat Yamaha FJ 1200 for the money that a BMW six-cylinder rider puts down for a major overhaul. During a weekend driving in the Ardennes or Vosges you can also enjoy erasing with it. But pay attention to the details and see if the exhausts are not corroded.