’86 Yamaha FJ1200
It was a warm August afternoon, not to be confused with the ever popular cold and stormy night…I was working on my trusty CB750F getting ready for the 3 Flags Classic ride in a couple of weeks. As usual, turns out I needed to go back to the dealer because I forgot something, you know something small like uh, the rear wheel with a new tire on it. As I walked back into the service area my friend and dealership manager, Harlan, stops me just to BS for a few minutes. As we’re visiting I keep looking over his shoulder at this Yamaha up on a lift being serviced. It was a beautiful two tone blue and silver FJ1200. Being the consummate salesman that he is, Harlan catches me looking at the FJ and starts his job. ” We just got it in on trade, its in perfect condition, less than 10,000 miles…how many miles on that old Honda of yours?” Next thing I know, the tire hasn’t been mounted on my wheel yet (classic stall tactic) and the Yamaha is coming down off the lift. The service guy starts the bike up and walks around it looking for oil drips, parts falling off, you know, anything that shouldn’t be happening.
While I’m watching the mechanic going over the bike, my ‘friend’ Harlan is off getting a helmet, gloves and jacket. As the bike is being rolled outside , the riding gear is handed to me, “ride it and tell me what you think of it”. Harlan is such an ……….. While my mysteriously not ready yet tire and wheel were sitting by the tire changing machine I took the big FJ out for a ride, as Harlan expected I would, I can’t resist riding different motorcycles. To make a long story short, after two days of haggling with the dealership owner I was in my garage prepping an FJ1200 for a two week road trip.
It didn’t take long to fall in love with the big Yamaha, it did everything my Honda did and then some. Yeah, yeah I know, it’s newer and bigger, it should be better but I will say, I was surprised at how much better. The FJ 1200 is a sport tourer in every sense of the term. For a big bike it handles surprisingly well, and with a couple of easy suspension mods and the right tires the FJ becomes very sporty. The bike is very comfortable whether your hot rodding around on Sunday morning, commuting to work, riding solo fully loaded for traveling or two up, it doesn’t matter. I did put a Corbin seat on mine for a while but went back to the stocker because it was better for short rides than the custom seat. And then there is that wonderful motor. Plenty of horsepower to keep you entertained all day long, enough torque to pull an Airstream trailer, smooth and reliable. Twist the Happy Handle (throttle) and the FJ will pass anything on the road…except a gas station. All that great power comes at a price…per gallon. But you know what? It’s worth it.
I found this nice FJ1200 on ebay today. Not a lot of miles really,and even though the pictures aren’t that good, it looks to be in nice shape for its age, actually better than ‘for its age’. Hopefully the aftermarket pipe isn’t too loud. If you’re thinking about a good sport tourer and don’t want to spend $12-$15,000 on a new one, this would be an excellent choice. A couple of things I would recommend though; replace the fork springs with a set that are a bit beefier (progressive’s work well on the FJ), a new rear shock (if you’re not trying to make a pure sport bike out of this…and who would?…Progressive makes a very satisfactory rear set up), install an ignition advancer to help the motor run a bit cooler and if it hasn’t been treated to a new chain yet, get one. After that, which isn’t all that much, it will take you anywhere you want to go smoothly, reliably, and fast! By the way, that fairing works really good traveling. Click on the pics for more. And, you might want to send these guys some questions because there isn’t much detail in the description other than ‘it runs good’.