Buying a second-hand FJ
There is no really bad year for the FJ 1100 or 1200.
But as is usually the case, the newer and more expensive models are going to be
the best versions. FJ 1100 & 1200 to 87 are lighter and sportier, in part
Because that huge power plant has such good mid-range
torque, there is little temptation for owners to get rev happy. This bodies well
for longevity, a trait for which the FJ is well known. High mileage bikes are
not a problem as long as they have been properly maintained.
Don’t worry about a minor ticking noise on the left
side (even more, look for it, because it is a signal that the valve clearances
are ok), but beware of a starter chain that causes a growl that won’t go away
when the engine warms. It means ultra high mileage.
Don’t worry too about the distribution chain: it is a
super-strong triple item that will last for +
There are very few known problem areas for this bike.
The most common repair is a rounded-off second gear cog. This comes from lazy
shifting or always maximizing acceleration though the gears. This is a common
problem with FZR and FZ 750 models too. Because repairing the gear requires splitting the
cases, this can get an expensive trait.
Look for a properly maintained chain in good condition.
This is an expensive chain, and with the power of this engine, you won’t want
to replace it with a cheap unit. A freshly installed, high-quality chain is a
good item to have. The only chain recommended is the OE spec DID ZVM 530.
Rear wheel bearings can be burned out if improperly
lubricated. This was most severe in the FJ 1100s and FJ 1200 pre-88 models, and
was largely cured in later models. Anyway, my experience tell me that the
wheels, swing-arm bearings or linkages bushes are only a problem for those of
you that lived in rainy, dark places, with snow and salt in winter. For these of
us that sacrificed ourselves testing our bikes because we live in sunny, warm
places, where you can use your motorbike 300 days in a year ;-) it
doesn’t seem have problems in + 100.000 kms.
Suspension is going to be a little tired when you buy
your FJ, and FJs rear shock always has been at the soft side. Think that a good
shock is an expensive affair.
Anyway, think that your second-hand FJ is a lot of
years old, and you will need to check or change a lot of points. Make your own
budget and be aware of the hidden or possible breakdowns. (Like my overcharging
regulator, only apparent when the fluid boiled completely after a week, leaving
the battery cells dry and the bike stalled)
When I decided to look around for my “new” FJ 1200,
I did a forecast around 1.500 to 2.000 € to buy the bike PLUS around another
1.500 € to fix all the possible problems. Think that comparative with a car, a
bearing failure or a motor breakdown is more dangerous riding a motorbike, and
things like the brakes would be in needing of a total stripping and revamp.
Like a guidance, I
did the following list of
items to check
before to buy my FJ:
- Check for oil leaks, rust bolts (that are a pain to remove), and look for a stable idle. If you can, check the compression of the cylinders. Make offer to the seller to pay the compression test in a workshop. It is money well invested, and this test can inform you about the real motor shape
- Check if the bike spends a lot of gas and if it vibrates too much at a cruise speed (around 4-5000 rpm). It could be the carb diaphragms holed. Expensive to buy and cheap to repair
- Check for brake clutch fluid leaks and clutch engagement.
- Start the bike, engage 1st gear and with the clutch lever engaged, high the rpm to see if the bike want to jump forward (to test clutch discs wear).
- Drive the bike (if it is possible) and see if the motor rpm goes up without perceptible speed increase when you open the accelerator (the clutch slips)
- Take out the air filter to check it. It is a 10 min affair and it speaks about the correct maintenance of the bike: that black and cogged filter tells you that the “cared and recent revised” item is not true at all, and then thinks that the oil has not been changed in at fewer 5 years.
Check exhaust for holes or corrosion. And those metal bumps on the exhaust
surface are inner oxidation signals.
Check chassis alignment. Look
for damaged fairing fixing points. They talk to you about repaired crashes.
Brake and clutch levers, “curvy” foot pegs or rear brake pedal or shift
lever are indicatives about crashes too
Check fork tubes to look for
corrosion or little points where the external surface has been damaged for
debris or stones of the road. Fork tubes are expensive spares
Check suspension. Anyway, you will have to change shock and
fork oil and springs, so it is not too important. The newest FJ could you buy is
from 1998, so the suspension is at less 10 years old. If new FJ were at the soft
side, think about the suspension state, after all this time
Look for rear suspension
linkages fitting point’s cracks or damages.
Check swigarm movement and
look for cracks. You could weld a steel FJ 91-on swig arm, but not the previous
FJs aluminium one.
Check for too much balance
weight glued to the rims to balance the tyres. It could be a damaged rim, very
difficult to balance properly.
Check tyres for mismatches
between front and rear and look for little cracks at their walls. When the
motorbike has been improperly stored for long time, the tyres will be badly
damaged and can be dangerous. And
if the tyres are not radial ones, add at your forecast a pair of them
And if the tyres are not radial ones, add at your forecast a pair of them
Check the brake discs:
thickness and cracks. To see if those are warped, manually turn the wheel and
check for free movement along its complete turn and look for any resistance to
the movement. For the rear wheel, simply lift the bike in the centre stand and
for the front wheel, with the bike in the centre stand; tell to anybody to push
on the rear to lift the front.
Things to expect
Strip all the system, clean the calipers with WD 40 (or MR Proper and water) and check for leaks
Check master cylinder for leaks and clean it with break fluid
Grease the calipers pistons with Vaseline or brake fluid and get rid
of all the excess of it before to refitting
Fit new hoses, rigid ones. Not too expensive and great improvement
in performance and security over your 10 years old hoses.
Little fairings or cosmetics
cracks due to vibration and age
Damaged bearings, not apparent
checked at 1st inspection, but with their races marked and in needing
of the head bearings is my worst nightmare in the FJs. I changed them 10 years
ago in my FJ 1100 and again in my new FJ when I bought it. It is near impossible to
follow the workshop manual procedure: punch the inner bearing races with a
screwdriver and a hammer: there is no area to base the screwdriver to push the
down bearing race.
my 1100, I got take out the down head race welding a piece of iron to have area
to punch it out, and in my 1200 with a little radial-saw, mm to mm grinding for
10 hours the race surface until it collapse, being horrified for the possibility
of damage the chassis inner head . In my FJ
consultory there is another method, but anyway, it is not easy task.
To help you to calculate you own budget, this is all the things I revised and I changed in June 2003, when I bought my motorbike. Think that I did it the entire job in a workshop (my dad’s car one), with good tools, and that I am a competent mechanic (and when I’m not, my Dad is always around, jeje). So think that or you take your bike to a good service shop, (and the labour hour is expensive), or you must invest in good tools and in a Haynes or Yamaha workshop manual… or change your dad ;-)
Anyway, the Yamaha valve clearance tool is essential,
and a good vacuum gauge to sync the carbs. And estimate that I did the job in
about 16 hours of labour, that it could be similar to a professional service,
because I know very well FJs.
I spent around 800 €, between parts and fluids. The
most expensive item I have bought is the rear shock, and I had the fancy of the
hydraulic preload, but even without that, a good Hagon is around 350 €. Think
that, like you will see below, I have had not to change rear linkages bearings
or wheels bearings, brake pads, clutch plates, master cylinders seals, corroded
fork tubes, worn tyres, worn chain & sprockets or damaged exhausts because I
found an exceptional maintained FJ. So my initial budget of 1.500 € in spares
is not too far away if any of those things are in needing of a replacement.
Think too that if you spend more money in a good 2nd hand FJ, you will spend
less in spare parts.
Anyway, earth to earth missiles like FJs for around a
grand total of 3.000 to 4.000 € to leave them like new is a bargain!
Oil and oil filter
New spark plugs. Wires checked
K&N air filter.
Clean carbs and balance them,
checking the intake tubes for little cracks or holes
New clutch hose. Master
cylinder stripped and cleaned
Fuel filter. Fuel lines
New clutch fluid (DOT 4)
Front fork oil seals and
bushes. My FJ leaked by the right leg fork, but I would have change the bushes
anyway, because if those are worn the fork hydraulic is shot. And if you change
the bushes, you must change the oil seal
New fork oil
Rear linkages stripped and
Swing arm stripped and
New rear shock
Wheel bearings greased and
Suspension adjusted to my
weight and my tastes. See
Stripped, cleaned and hoses
changed front & rear
New brake fluid (DOT 4)
Chain revised and greased
Accelerator cables oiled
Retighten all the chassis and
Repair various fairing little
cracks (3 CV owners know this problem too good)
(3 CV owners know this problem too good)
See too my 1TX restauration report in 2.017