Buying a second-hand FJ

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Two 1986 model FJs and one 1990 (center)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 due to 16 inch front wheel, and 1200 88 on are more tour-orientated.  

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.FJ1100 1984-1985  

Don’t worry too about the distribution chain: it is a super-strong triple item that will last for + 200.000 km .  

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 not greased regulary. 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.

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)  

Like a guidance, let see a list of items to check before to buy my FJ:  

Motor  

Handling  

Things to expect

Head bearings  

Replace of the head bearings is my worst nightmare in the FJs. 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.  

Usually,  I weld a piece of iron to have area to punch it out. In my FJ consultory there is another method, but anyway, it is not easy task.