February 2007: while visiting my family in Madrid I got the oportunity to test 2 FJS a whole day, riding on the roads I rode in my bike youth and where I could resolve without doubt which bike is the best: motorway, fast double way road with parabolic curves, tight road with degradated grind and finishing on a road that we have used to road like a private TT cicuit. All of them empty of cars, in a very sunshine and cold day, but without ice on the road and perfect to make a brainless ride test..
A Yamaha XJ 900 Diversion was included like a reference in the test, to compare both FJs with a more modern althought similar price bike at the 2nd hand market, a robust, strong, useful and cheap bike to ride and maintain, a bit like the FJ.
The fight is open. What is the best?
FJ 1200 1989 3CV
Engine: around 30.000 kms. Pristine example that you buy at once when you see if looking a 2nd-hand FJ, but, and it is a great BUT, It spend oil like a 2 stroke by the valve-guides, Iīm sure. This is the main problem to buy a bike with a lot of years an no use: the oil seals deteriorate and the bike oozes oil. It is better to buy a regular ridden bike. The owner of this particular example is always changing oil seals and fixing oil splits. Anyway, a valve stem oil seals is nox expensive.
I deduct that the problem are the valve guide oil seals because the engine was plenty of power, without difference side to side with the another FJ. KN air filter and hand-made exhausts like mine or Eduīs FJ, with a deep bass sound that is not intrusive.
Brakes & chassis: R1 calipers, Fazer master cilinder, R1 OE pads and metallic hoses give the superb & marvellous feeling that any + 250 km/h FJ needs. In combination with Hagon fork springs, brake power, control and optimun front dive are top notch.
OE shock and in good working order. Dialing the spring & damping to the 4th position, it was perfectly settled to my wieght and ridding style, keeping the bike perfectly and surefooted. Like a guide, my own new OE shock is dialed 4th position spring and 3rd on damping, so this FJ shock is in a very good shape instead of the years. A top 10 to Yamaha built quality!
Tyres: Dunlop D205s: good grip even with cold tarmac, donīt flex like non-radials tyres and the feel is excellent with good confidence even in very serious leans and fast rides. There is no more to fit on the 16" rim, but even with another choice, I will recommend them.
Look: OE paint in a like a new shape, chrom everywhere, perfectly cleaned... are indications about that his owner is more time cleaning and polishing the bike than riding the thing. Krauser panniers with Givi monorack adapted and MRA high screen, fantastic for a cold february day. Metallic chainguard, fork protectors... very nice, yes.
Riding on:: perfect planted, an engine that you feel more powerfull and raw than the 3XW, with the usual vibes around 4-5000 rpm and excellent windscreen comfort. Fantastic brakes and with surefooted handlig, more prone to be ridden with the rear wheel, with a like-boat sensation amplified by the enormeous screen, even althought is only a sensation because the bike handles perfectly and it is perfect planted inside the curve..
FJ 1200 1992 3XW
Engine: around 20.000 kms and revised and cared and in perfect shape too, KN air filter and plumber-made IXIL slip ons, with good feel and power. And so sweet that it is near electric. It doesnīt spend any drop of oil
Chassis & brakes: R1 calipers, GSXR 1100 master cilinder, EBC pads and metallic hoses. OE fork springs and Hagon rear shock.
Tyres: Dunlop D205s
Look: everything OE with a Givi monorack. Paint in perfect shape. Like a courios detail, the previous owner had fitted a couple of speakes and amplifier where to connect a MP3, with a lot of half-connected and semi-isulated wires that anticipated a lot of future electrical gimmicks, and that we quickly extirpated. The optional Batman screen makes wonderful things cutting the air, but it is so horrible that even his owner dislikes and keeps it dismantled in his garage darkest hole. Non OE mirrors butexcellent ones. Fork protectors and metallic chain guard too
Riding on: the hard Hagon spring and the soft OE fork springs combo gives too front wheel feeling, with the bike pogoing when brakes are applied, giving no too much confidence and feeling like the front tyre is going to slide. Not good. Electric engine, smooth, with vibes... when riding a lot of kms this is the FJ model to be proud of . It feels less powerful than the 3 CV but it is only a feeling: due to the lack of vibes; side to side is equally powerful. Like Jose Carlos and me checked 3 months after, his bike grunts even a little more than my own FJ at the middle rpms., showing one more time that, in the most pure 80īs bikes tradition, the FJ power is hidden in the exhausts: more sound equals more power.
XJ 900 DIVERSION 1998
Around 30.000 kms, perfectly revised and everything OE. A pristine and cared example, and with good tyres.
ON THE ROAD
Highway: with fantastic fairng with that aftermarket screen, like a train feel and perfectly planted, the 3CV is fantastic to destroy kms at average very on the legal speed limit, but for that smooth engine feeling and total lack of vibes, the more actual 3XW is the best. And the fairing is very good too. Less aplomb due to the suspension mismatch. The Diversion is very smooth too, but its fairing is the less protective and something more than 140 km/h is a receipt for serious stability problems.
Touring: the 3XW would be the less apropiated due to not fitting hard luggage, but again, its lack of vibes makes the best to ride miles and miles without pain. The Diversion is good if the rider only wants to watch at the countryside, it is so smooth, strong, reliable and cheap to refuel, and with a maintenance free trasmision. But dont try go any fast or you will finish ON that countryside. And donīt try to destroy cars with a single twist wrist in 5 gear: there is no power
City: with the high screen fitted to the 3CV you feel that you are driving an BIG BIKE, not good surfing in between cars, and with that oil and fuel smell that traps the screen. Better the 3XW, and with better engine feeling at the continous stop & go of the city traffic. Its shock is too hard in that enviroment. The Diversion is the best without doubt because is like to ride a big trail bike
Sport riding: with the same and very good tyres fitted and similar power engines, the ridding quality are directly focoused to suspension and brakes. Here the 3 CV is the King with a better dialed suspenders and awesome brakes. The 3XW have good brakes too, but it is not the suprem OE R1 pads, and it is clearly less confident inspiring when braking and inside tight curves with a the soft front/hard rear combo. In the same special 15 kms with a sume of all situations (fast straights, slow tight curves, fast sweepers...) I rode faster and with less effort with the 3CV
The 3CV engine gives more brute power, with a raw grunt feeling that makes the 3XW feeling pale ta the sensation stake, but it is only a feeling: the 3XW accelerate with fierce power too, with a more turbine feeling (we speak 9.000 rpm here in 2nd and in 3rd gear, very hard ridding). The power difference only could be determined in a dyno.
To follow any FJ the Diversion simply it doesnīt work: it grounded, pitched and waved all around. It is not a lack of power. You canīt use anyway. It is simply that if the rider tryes to use any power he could finish his ride at the ditch.... o even worst. And it is only when the FJs are ridden 5/10 more or less. With only using a little more, the Diversion pilot will look the FJ ridders disappear at the distance. The best is not to try to play races with the Diversion and watch the countryside very slow and quiet. It was a big deception form me. Ah!. It doesnīt brake too
CONCLUSION: minimum differences between both FJs, resumed in 2 things: engine and suspension. If I have to choose I would choose the 3XW, simply for the vibes free engine, even althought its bulbous look and colour combination that I donīt like. The black painted 3CV is superb!. In fact, in 2008 I bought it from Jose Carlos to use it on my travels in mainland Spain
And the Divy?. Its a good buy if you want a workhorse, like Jose Carlos uses it. Everything else, that to me is the real meanning and pleasure of ridding a motorbike, is getting problems that can hurt you. When ridding very calm and alone is not a bad bike. But try to follow to a bike that won Superbike races (the FJ) and your life is at risk. For around the same price any FJ is inmensly superior & twice faster.