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 improperly lubricatFJ 1200 1TX 1986-1987ed. 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:  

Motor  

Handling  

Things to expectFJ 1200 1990

Head bearings  

Replace 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.  

In 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.  

My 1st revision  

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!  

Motor

Handling  

Brakes  

Others