Shafted? Maybe Not!

Picture yourself at Yamaha’s highly secure test track in April 1983…. Blindfolded with two brand new machines in front of you and, the first one you touch you can have. Nervously you step forward and reach for what feels like an impressive four-cylinder sportster. Pull the blindfold off and there sits the XJ900, good choice – except it was launched alongside the now iconic RD350LC!

Fear not, the XJ900 may not have the cult status of the LC but it does not attract the psycho prices either; in fact its currently somewhat of a bargain. The tech was pretty good for the 1980’s. Piggy back alternator to keep the 8 valve DOHC engine slim, ventilated disc brakes, De Carbon style rear shocks, oil and air assisted front forks and Porsche designed shaft drive plus a cute bikini cowling.

Handling from new was accomplished and the fuel economy of the 853cc engine (later increased to 891cc) impressive despite the power sapping shaft drive thanks to a peak power of 97 horsepower coupled with a 22l fuel capacity. Aside from the increase in capacity, later models also dispensed with the handlebar mounted cowl (which some reported caused high speed weaving) in favour of a frame mounted unit.

Still capable in modern traffic and not so attractive to “bike butchers”, it’s still possible to obtain a good, standard looking XJ900 and, currently, they are terrific value for money. Weak points are the brake calipers that are prone to seizing which can lead to warped disc rotors. Fuel tanks can rot at the base if water collects there and the meter panel “glass” easily scratches but this can be polished out. Perched between the XJ650 and XJ1100, the XJ900 betters the smaller bike’s torque and is lither than the portly XS11.

Brand new OEM XJ900 parts are widely available on our website. Winter hack or full resto, buy well and you will be riding a classic 80’s steed at about a third of the price of a tatty RD350LC – maybe you made the right choice after all!

issued: Thursday, January 05, 2023
updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2023

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