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Cult bike Yamaha XJ 650

Foundation of a large family

Even 35 years ago, people hoped that one motorcycle would be able to do everything. The Yamaha XJ 650 tried to come closer to this ideal – and was the foundation for a large family.

Sports outing, vacation trip and rush hour traffic. Today’s Yamaha fans prefer R1, Lufthansa and trams. Or mountain bikes, FJR 1300 and scooters. In the past, all of this had to be done by motorcycle, with just one, and this requirement profile put the developers under considerable pressure. Although it could Yamaha show brave tourers with the XS three- and four-cylinder engines, but road rush or rush hour somehow overwhelmed the heavyweights.

Cult bike Yamaha XJ 650

Foundation of a large family

Waiting in vain for hidden defects

As a result, two valves above each of the four double-ball combustion chambers were sufficient for him, albeit with a fixed-speed activation via bucket tappets and two overhead camshafts. The Yamaha XJ 650, which was presented at the end of 1979 and immediately hotly debated, was supposed to be running, and both its low flywheel mass and the high rated power demanded above-average revs. Its engine spreads a kind of sophistication under 5000 tours, only then does it develop proper performance with a hoarse hiss and strive towards its high performance, which was remarkable for the time.

Around 110 hp per liter of displacement, that was a word. Thanks to a very effective shock absorber on the gearbox output shaft, even the cardan drive fitted into the sports program, and the frame, which was devotedly reinforced around the steering head, also rose well above all known standards. A real hit, the little one, very clever and also made of high quality: At that time the alternators of the Yamaha XJ 650 were usually thick and fat on a crankshaft stub.

All articles about the Yamaha XJ 650

Yamaha XJ 650 has almost 20 liters in the tank

Hasegawa cleared them behind the cylinders, had them driven by a toothed chain and gained a lot of freedom from banking. The skilful management of the exhaust system is dedicated to the same goal: All the manifolds lead into a collector under the engine, from where the two slim end silencers exit. On the foldable (touring riders put a lot of emphasis on!) You sit well in the front, but still well in the back. An electronic ignition reduces maintenance, the tank holds almost 20 liters, and even when it is full, the Yamaha XJ 650 can still load 202 kilos. When it also won comparison tests in series, the long wait for hidden defects began.

It lasts until today. Yamaha designed its jack-of-all-trades so robust that it soon embarked on a second career as a popular courier vehicle. Anyone wondering why the 650 was a real hit? And that it formed one of the most successful Yamaha model families with similarly designed small and large sisters from 400 to 900 cm³? Takehiko Hasegawa was also quite satisfied with her and thought she was, well, an important intermediate step. “The ideal motorcycle,” he said at the premiere of the Yamaha XJ 650, “has 80 hp, weighs 200 kilos and runs 200.”

Information about the Yamaha XJ 650

Every now and then one of the better Yamaha XJ 650s is sold for less than 1500 euros, less good ones only cost a few hundred.

Yamaha XJ 650

Data: Air-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke dohc in-line engine, two valves per cylinder, 653 cm³, 52 kW (71 PS) at 9400 / min, 57 Nm at 7200 / min, five-speed gearbox, cardan drive double loop frame made of tubular steel, weight with a full tank of 230 kg, front tires 3.25 x 19, rear 120/90 x 18, tank capacity 19.5 liters, top speed lying down 197 km / h, 0-100 km / h in 4.8 seconds.

Scene: The Yamaha XJ 650 found almost 14,000 buyers in Germany from 1980 to 1984, and there are still around 5,000 copies on the market. Every now and then one of the better ones is sold for less than 1500 euros, less good ones only cost a few hundred. With spare parts still relaxed, not many motorcycles offer such unadulterated 80s charm, and very few from that time match the qualities of this Yamaha. Even today, every Yamaha dealer knows his way around – basically similar air-cooled XJ models were in the range until 2004. If you want to start restoring, you can use the repair instructions from Bucheli Verlag (price: 39.90 euros).

Internet: The interests of the large and active fan base of the Yamaha XJ 650 bundles: There are lots of tips and dates here.

MOTORCYCLE Classic: Our sister magazine published a big story about the Yamaha XJ 650 in issue 4/2011. Re-ordering of the magazine at 07 11/32 06 88 99.

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