March 2004: FJ 1200 TEST: FJ 1986 vs. FJ 1200 3CV.
Riding my friends´ bikes, with different upgrade levels, on a different roads, both alone and with passenger, and when riding the excellent Mingo´s FJ, I asked myself if the effort and money spend upgrading my FJ were worth of it, when the bike that I was riding at this moment was a terrific superbike. The following test tryes to answer that question, and try to evaluate that mods are the essential ones.
Edu´s FJ 1200 1986 1TX
Chassis & brakes: the only mod done is a set of front and rear metallic brake hoses. With the OE front brake master cilinder, hard-rock and cheap brake pads and brake discs resprayed with oil to avoid the oxidation due to the sea wind (yes, yes, it´s true!) my recommendation was to sell on eBay the brakes to get money, because in that shape those brakes are only to add lard at the bike. After testing my bike, Edu convenced himself that life is nice and the pad change and the carefully cleaned calipers have transformed the brakes... even althought these mods have not done miracles. OE suspensions, so rear shock near collapsed.
Tyres: new Dunlop D205 front and old & past-date Macadam 50 rear. That´s that you musn´t ever do: mix a radial tyre with a bias-ply tyre. The rear Macadam is so hard and so old that it will never wear. Edu can save to pay a good funeral.
Looking: OE painted. Wonderful GIVI cases and top case. Flip-up windscreen and complete fairing, that looks nice.
Riding on: even with the nightmare brakes and horror rear tyre (well, it is black and round, that is the best that I can say about it, and it is around the rear rim, so it must be a rear tyre) the bike was a incredibly good performer on the road that I rode it: slow, curvy and tight road, with very old, but hot pavement. You have to ride it with engine retention (it doesn´t brake anything at all !), in 3rd gear and using its incredible torque, due to the near-free hand made silencers. When I tested Edu´s FJ, my bike had fitted the OE silencers. And with the Edu´s FJ you feeled much more power low and middle rpm, with a impressive strong engine that accelerate from 0 rpm. With the bumpy road the collapsed suspensions didn´t affect the handling too much, even the soft feeling was welcome, absorbing the horrible pavement holes. And the bike was very entertained, because you feel like Randy Mamola with the big rear tyre slides that you get with that monster torque and hard tyre combo. Other thing is thinking about test the bike in fast A or B roads, with long radious, at fast speeds. If there is any suicide around that want to try with that rear tyre, please mail me.
Now that even the brake problem is solved, I´m anxious to ride it with a new rear tyre. I´m convinced that the bike is a fantastic superbike even with the old age suspensions. And what a terrific engine!!!!!
Mingo´s FJ 1200 1986 1TX
Tyres: front and rear Dunlop D205s.
Looking: the photos don´t do justicie: the bike looks like new, cared to the detail, with all the grills chromed, polished steering crown, seat restored with a special leather to avoid passenger slide... Mingo is all the day with the polish and the cloth. And he dismount so many times the bike to adjust it that it near dismounts alone. With alarm system that it has been installed by himself, with warning lights. Very nice bike. Good work, Mingo!.
Riding on: this bike is an intermediate point between Edu´s FJ and mine: only the necessary mods, good suspensions instead the dated OE equipement, discret exhausts similar to those OE and carefully. First impression is the agility: it feels like is 50 kgs less weighted than my FJ. I´m sure that it is due to the 16" front rim size. Much more sport feeling, the D205s triangulated shape take part of the marvellous flickability. In slow, curvy roads the bike is the most easy of the 3, changing side to side only with your mind. Its engine is less strong than the Edu´s, and althought stetically is very nice because of there is no hard luggage fittings, these are very useful. The OE screen gives a sporty look and increases the light sensation, but it doesn´t protect anything, even less than my old FJ 1100, I think. On fast roads you must have a buffalo neck to support speed over 160 km/h or keep it to legal levels.
Alf´s FJ 1200 1989-1990 3CV
If you have read the previous pages, you know the extense mods list. Here it is a little resume:
Chassis & brakes: metallic hoses, GSXR1100 rear brake caliper and disc, Fazer 600 brake master cilinder and calipers, R1 pads, Hagon rear shock and fork springs, 3,5" front rim, 17" and 5,5"rear rim, 170/60/17 rear tyre.
Tyres: Michelín Pilot Roads front and rear.
Looking: OE paintwork. Krauser cases and top case. Flip-up screen. Chromed chain protector. Control Cruise.
Riding on: what can I say about my motorbike?... er... it is fantastic! . With the modern size rims feels like a contemporary sport-touring bike. It is a little more hard work in curvy roads than the 16" rims bikes, but it feels rigid, stable and perfectly secure when turning on. With the F1 silencers or with my new exhausts the power is awesome, and with the carb tunning, this bike engine is the fastest of the 3 by a long way. And my FJ is the only that realyyy brakes perfectly, with spot on suspensions ans perfect brake feeling.
SIDE TO SIDE RIDING
Motorway: rigid, surefooted and with the best fairing, my FJ, with no doubt. The only downside is that the other 2 vibrate less than mine. (Due to the krauser fittings?). Edu´s FJ is a lot more comfortable than Mingo´s with the OE screen that can´t cope the speed of the other two unless the rider wants suffer a big cervical problem.
Touring: Mingo´s FJ is the less adequate because there is no luggage capacity and again due to the minimun screen, even althought the seat vinyl is the best. Edu´s FJ is soft, comfortable, with that fantastic GIVI cases that odn´t vibrate, and a big and soft backrest wher the passenger can be slept. My FJ feels rigid due to the firmer suspenders, you can feel the road potholes, vibrate more and the cases vibrate, unless you use a net to hold these.The rear topcase doesn´t vibrate... jumps!, looks like has it´s alive. SH**!. The best fairing and the control cruise in big trips to relax your right hand compensate a little. The 17" rear rim transform the bike in fast curves with the bike loaded, feeling surefooted, stable and confidence. The OE rear is much better than the GSXR unit fitted to my bike, with more power.
City: Mingo´s FJ, with no doubt. The short screen, the best clutch of the three and with no hard luggage and 16" front conspire to make easy the daily traffic nighmare. Edu´s feels more ponderous due to that details, even althought is sweet and soft, with a very strong engine with a perfect low down power progression. My FJ has a too hard clutch (I´ve changed it) and the 17" front rim feels less flickable than the others. Anyway, all of them have low and big seats, ergonomic positions and a big steering radious.
Sport riding: to follow the other two, Edu´s FJ needs a new rear tyre and better suspensions. In tight roads could try with its fabulous engine, but in no situation could to follow Mingo´s FJ, the best on this enviroment: the 16" rim, triangulated Dunlop tyres and short screen conspire to make a terrific bike, with super-light handling feel. The suspensions are spot on dialed, very effective, and brake power is suficient, better than any post 88 FJ with shit-gold calipers.
If the road opens a little, the order at the head changes: with more power, stability, rigidity and brakes, my FJ wins clearly... Even althought no by too much difference like you could suppose.
CONCLUSION: what a good performer is the FJ!... yes, we know all of us, but even the Edu´s FJ with only a new rear tyre is a fantastic bike for everydat use, with a super powered motor, easy to ride on, sweet and ready to go to the corner´s pub to have a coffe... or to go to Pernambuco, that it is more far away.
For a normal user I think that the Mingo´s FJ is the reference: good suspensions and tyres and carefully cared. And it is a secure bike that it is capable of ride side to side with more modern and expensive hardware. When testing Mingo´s bike, and with the passanger weight added, teached a pair of lessons to young Playstation youngsters with Fazers and CBRs. Mingo´s bike only need a better front master cilinder brake, but Mingo says that then it doesn´t couple wit6h the clutch master (???)
And my bike is the proof that Yamaha, with no too effort, could have a modern FJ in catalogue, facing a fierce opposition to its own FJR 1300, and much more cheaper: only needs more rims and brakes and voila!. Ready!