Autumn 2.010: FJ 1989 1TX vs. FJ 1200 3CV
On September 2.010 my friend JC come visiting to me in Tenerife, so we ride on both my 2 bikes on a week, and we met my friend Mingo with his fabulous FJ in order to ride together. In the 3 years that have passed away since I wrote the last face to face test between the 2 FJ, there some differences. My bike looks another bike but it is near the same, only with 3 more years of refinement. Mingo's FJ looks exactly the same, but keeps some secrets inside. Will there be more differences than before between the 2 bikes?, and , how does the Honda compare with the 2 refined FJ in thigh roads?. Read on
Engine: around 130.000 kms. and counting. In perfect shape. Since 2.004 the differences are larger mains, cooler plugs and open exhaust pan. It sounds like a tractor and runs like a missile.
Chassis and brakes: at the front the things continue the same: Hagon fork springs, R1 blue pots and pads and Fazer 600/1000 master cylinder. SAE 10 w fork oil. Minimum settings both damping & spring.
The brake hoses are now like the OE ones, one line from the pump to the OE distributor and 2 lines to the calipers. The system feels a little spongy with abusive use, not like the 2 direct lines from the pump to the calipers.
Forks legs upped 1 cm over the steering stem.
OE shock with the spring mod done, situated in spring position 1 (it will be OE 3) and damping on 3rd position. Shorter shock rods that lift up the bike.
Tyres: superb Bridgestone BT020 in 120 front & 170 rear sizes.
Look: special seat, Randy Mamola's Yamaha team paint scheme, Zero Gravity screen, Vicma mirrors, Yamaha rack with Givi plate adapted, fork protectors, stainless steel chain cover, front light with a relay installed, leds on tail light, aluminium front clutch and brake levers, stainless steel nuts and bolts all around, special gearchange lever, right engine cover... and more
Riding on: powerful, raw, round kicks on low rpm. with bloody-mindedness power and run with fierceness. Perfect stability and superb handling with the new advanced geometry. Yeah, a missile, but with the feeling that always you ride slow.
Mingo's FJ 1200 1TX 1.986
Engine:with around 70.000 kms. and in perfect shape. Dynojet needles with OE main jets, K&N air filters and complete exhaust system by Motad with the collectors and pan connexion welded to avoid air leaks. Sweet and refined feeling, go fast thought the rev counter and it doesn’t vibrate anything at all
Tyres: Dunlop D205. Yes, the same pair that 3 years ago. Mingo doesn't ride his bike properly, it's clear.
Look: perfect paint, chrome grilles, painted and perfect engine, clean outside and inside ... Still do not do justice to the photos. And with emergency lights and pilot alarm box. Let's see when I install it, Mingo!.
Riding on: fine, comfortable, soft, eager to rev up and really fast. No vibrates and perfect handling and flickable with the 16 wheel on curves and with the fork perfectly calibrated and an antidive that I'm in love with. In fast corners It is noticeable the high wall rear tire flexing and a rear tire 17 would be perfect. It feels much smaller than the 3CV by the lower fairing.
All the details by clicking on the menu, the bike is very good, fast, secure and manageable with an entrance in curve that 2 FJs makes 2 trucks look, but lacking of power compared with the super engines of the FJ. It is also bad compression, 8 kg/m2 when it should give 12 to 14. That is, roughly, 30% less power .. Really deserves to wait for the complete engine restoration planned for this winter to have any chance in benefits. With this and a opened pair of cans at least pretend to have those 90 hp, but real, to the wheel. Keep you informed.
Comparing details or finish in reference to the FJ, there are better and worse ones. At the 80´s the Honda quality was legendary in relation to the other Japanese builders, both in engineering and fiability. The time is the definitive judgment. The general design of the bike, engine, easy access, electric wiring integrated... the Honda is really that superior: the complete fairing takes 10 min. to dismount, every wire has its place, all is very easy working access, the bike doesn´t vibrate and it doesn't break the body panels. Everyone know the nightmare to dismount the FJ fairing or the shock top screw access. At the Honda everything is clean and easy and a really a pleasure to work in. And that the shock keeps all the oil inside after 25 years is to give a big applauses to Mr Honda.
Now the worst thing: I we remember other 80s Honda bikes (VFs with its problem with camchains and temperature, CBX 550 camchains nightmares, CBR 600 & 1000 and the camchain tensioners, CB 750/900 regulators....) the Honda fiability was a myth: both FJs with more than 100.000 kms don't have any expensive mechanical problem like the generator chain in my Honda with 30.000 kms. And after in seven months in Tenerife the lacquered parts (steering, forks...) start to show premature fading. With the FJs there is not that problems.
Highway: the 3CV fairing protect better, but the Mingo bike does not vibrate absolutely anything and is just as comfortable. A legal or quasi-legal speeds up to 160 km / h, the CBX fairing is the best, and the engine is sweet and softer even than Mingo bike, but the stability is not the same as that of the FJ at this speed, mainly due to it is very sensitive to the wind: the enormous fairing actuate like a wing and the bike is even dangerous with strong wind from 120 km/h on. On Mingo bike is more natural because of the less protective cowl, but in my FJ you feel that you go 50 km/h slower than in the other 2 at the same speed. From here, the 3CV motor, tyres and fairing chews kms on the motorway at ultra-fast speeds: the 205 tyres are not as sure footed compared to the comfort and support of the BT020.
The BT045s fitted by the CBX are at the same grip and comfort level of the BT020 radials
Tourism, with 2 suitcases FJs go to the end of
the world. The CBX is to travel sedate, especially with 2 people.
The fairing is better on the 3CV but the 1TX is softer. Watch at
the pic the superior fairing on the Honda
Sport riding: my FJ, feels hard, with evil intentions, powerful and you feel exhausted after a stretch of slow corners ... because it´s ultra powerful! You need to be careful with the gas, which catapults you to the next corner where you arrive very fast, brake hard and turn the gas again ... physically it is a beaten up in this environment, but it is able to maintain against predators such as the latest R. The 1TX is softer, very precise and with a perfect fork and balanced perfectly with the rear shock adjustment. But in areas where you have to stretch up to 8,000 rpm, with mine did not go to 6,000 rpm. and going even stronger. I estimate that my FJ should give about 20 hp. In areas of the open curves 1TX can not follow the 3 CV, simply because of power in addition to the poise of the BT020.
The only opportunities for the Honda is just on this areas of thigh roads ... which is just the usual terrain in Tenerife. On weekends I ride 1 day with the FJ and another with the CBX. And the day I go to the Honda is most enjoyable when traps on the roads around here, making two hundred and something miles without get off the bike. Riding the FJ I need a rest and a coffee for the same distance because it is much more tired and stressful.
In a well known 11 kms. long, tight curves road near my home, the FJ is always around 30 sgs. faster than the Honda, with no dependence of the way. It is more a chassis-brake-suspension road, so even with the rebuilt engine, I don't think you could go faster on the CBX.
The 2 FJS are 2 amazing bikes. You do not need anything else, whatever your riding style. If I were buying an FJ today I buy a 1TX like Mingo, then I would enhance like mine and change the swingarm by one of 3CV to avoid the heavy, old-fashioned train rods back of the 1TX, adapting a 5.5-rim GSXR 1100.
And the CBX?. If I only had this bike and try any of the 2 FJ I will be amazing with the FJ engine power, and living in Mainland Spain, with open roads, there is no possible comparison. You can go on tour with full luggage , because the bike is doing very well, as I did in the summer with Jose Carlos and his FJ, but you miss the FJ unflappable poise in every situation, and that rocket engine that's under your seat. Now, living in Tenerife, think that after amazed at either of 2 FJs I would be happy with my Honda, which makes everything, it is small, handy and fast.
Perhaps the comparison of this bike would be more appropriate with a Diversion 900: for half the price as a Yamaha, the Honda is as economical and convenient for everyday use and abysmally superior to anything that is more than just going for a walk. A 90 hp motor and 230 km / h with good suspension and brakes is still a good bike, it does not mind being 25 years eager.