Optimization of the Yamaha XJR 1300

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Optimization of the Yamaha XJR 1300

Optimization of the Yamaha XJR 1300
Mass movement

The heavy Yamaha XJR 1300 is not only very popular, but also moves the minds of bikers willing to convert. MOTORRAD has tried out which accessories go best with the classic all-rounder.

Uli Holzwarth


In matters of the heart, the Yamaha engineers have had a lucky hand several times.

For example, when they transplanted the engine of the XT 500 into a road chassis and thus put one of the most successful bikes on its wheels: the SR 500. Or gave the five-valve two-cylinder of the unpopular XTZ Super-Tenere in the bridge frame of the TDM 850 a new chance. Not to forget the Fazer 600, whose motor heart – slightly modified – comes from the YZF 600 Thundercat.
The Japanese also landed a real hit with the transplantation of the air-cooled four-cylinder of the FJ 1200 into the frame of a classic big bike, the XJR 1200. Only here did the magnificent engine really come into its own, with its polished lids, the filigree cooling fins, the carburetor battery or the symmetrically shaped manifolds are a real feast for the eyes for aesthetes. There seems to be a lot of that, because the XJR fan base now includes almost 15,000 members.
The smooth-running propellant of the now, which has been drilled out to 1251 cubic centimeters since 1999 XJR 1300 The named bolide not only impresses with its visual appeal, but also with its power: the test machine’s test rig attested a solid 116 hp and 108 Newton meters, which clearly exceeded the factory specifications. Truly enough for an undisguised motorcycle. Not enough, however, for many XJR fans, especially since the carburetor kits offered on the accessory market promise a significant increase in performance with little effort.
Only Zweirad Krause and MTC are currently taking the legal path, and they are the only ones to offer their almost identical performance kits with a TuV certificate. However, the incorruptible test bench showed that a noticeable increase in performance can only be achieved in conjunction with modified silencers (see box on page 121), which make it easier for the big block, which has been modified on the inlet side, to exhale thanks to tailpipes with a larger diameter. With severe consequences: the four-valve engine tears forwards from 6000 rpm after the power injection, which is a real pleasure. It doesn’t matter whether you are traveling alone or enjoying the motorized fireworks for two, there is thrust always and everywhere, accompanied by the muffled and pithy sound of the modified dampers. The confident and always controllable type of power development makes the legal increase in performance a recommendable pleasure, which is also hardly more expensive than a four-in-one exhaust system from the accessories. According to several dealers, these are not particularly popular with the XJR clientele. The money is better invested for a reinforced clutch (418 marks at Wossner), which rounds off the engine tuning.
However, the strongest heart is of little use if the musculoskeletal system is weak. On this point, the XJR had to take severe criticism so far. Rightly so, because the driving behavior of the test machine was anything but satisfactory. The reason for all the evil is the fork, which is much too softly sprung and dampened, despite the adjustable spring base. It can only weigh in on its sensitive response behavior, but it already starts pumping when the load changes. On bumpy stretches the load gets so pumping that the pilot has all the effort to keep the front wheel, which is wriggling and repeatedly stamping outwards, in check. To make matters worse, the poorly responding struts have dedicated themselves to the hard line and therefore do not match the fork at all; the result is an extremely inharmonious suspension behavior. However, it speaks for the fat Yamaha that the set-up misery does not unduly impair driving stability at top speed.
The most urgent measure on the plan is therefore the revision of the fork. And that’s easier said than done. The springs from Wilbers or White Power are the best choice, but the damping does not yet work perfectly with the tens oil recommended by both providers. Depending on the body weight and the preferred application, the use of a higher viscosity oil is recommended. If the fork still bottomed out during the subsequent test drive when braking hard on bumps, the air chamber should be reduced slightly. The reason for the somewhat tricky and labor-intensive search for the best set-up lies in the standard too weak damping of the compression movement (compression stage). Wirth tries to achieve the puncture protection with long and taut springs, which however no longer guarantee sufficient negative spring travel and have a disadvantageous change in balance and steering behavior due to the raised front.
When it comes to shock absorbers, the models from Wilbers and White Power with a reservoir for the XJR 1300 are the best. The only thing that is decisive for comfort and stability is that the body weight is specified when ordering so that the shock absorbers are delivered with the right adjustment.
Incidentally, anyone who takes the trouble to convert the fork kills two birds with one stone: This is also the best way to tune the brakes; Only now can the XJR 1300 series stoppers, which are convincing in all respects, show their full potential. In the tests, some accessory brake pads were also recommended as a cheaper alternative in some cases. Owners of an XJR 1200 can use the sintered metal pads from Lucas, Brembo, AP Racing or EBC, which were right at the top in the MOTORRAD comparison test (issue 15/01).
The best tires were the sporty rubbers from Metzeler and Pirelli, which offer good all-round properties and help the naked bike with its excellent self-damping to achieve acceptable stability even at top speed. So when the fork, which is almost completely rebounded by buoyancy, can no longer parry hard hits properly. No assessment criteria for this tire recommendation were the grip in the border area, the wet grip and the wear.
With the right finishing touches? which can largely be transferred to the 1200 model – it can Yamaha XJR 1300 In terms of driving behavior and power delivery, you can now easily keep up with the bare competition. It’s a shame that Yamaha’s engineers leave this work to the buyers despite years of criticism. But maybe they’ll take this matter to heart too.

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Original brake pads

MOTORRAD verdict: highly recommended

The original pads built into the one-piece brake calipers from the R1 super sports car are also convincing on the much heavier XJR: the responsiveness, controllability and effect of the sintered metal pads are great, manual force is low, fading is not an issue : 63.28 marks *

Model history

After the introduction of the XJR 1200 in early 1995 Yamaha the 1997 standard model was accompanied by a limited SP version called »King Replica«. With multiple adjustable Ohlins shock absorbers, an adjustable spring base on the fork and a better padded bench seat, the second, also limited edition SP version, for which the former long-distance world champion Christian Sarron was the godfather in 1998, was the inspiration. Otherwise there were no technical changes. Extensive facelift for the XJR 1300, which has been built since 1999: It received forged pistons, coated aluminum cylinders, mapped ignition with throttle valve sensor, a larger oil cooler, frame tubes made of higher quality steel, the brake system from the YZF-R1, a modified side and rear panel new taillight as well as 120/70 tires at the front and 180/55 at the rear.

Wilbers fork springs

MOTORRAD verdict: highly recommended

Apart from the somewhat poorer response behavior compared to the series, the springs from Wilbers improve the function of the XJR fork in every respect: The driving behavior becomes significantly more stable and precise, without being excessively at the expense of comfort. Like the examples from White Power, however, the Wilbers springs should also be combined with a more viscous oil. Then not only sporty soloists get their money’s worth, but also tourers with a full payload.

Wirth fork springs

MOTORRAD verdict: still recommendable

Wirth replaces the standard springs including spacer sleeves with long and heavy springs (159 marks). Thanks to the progressive winding, they offer a decent response with the highest breakdown security. However, because of the insufficient negative spring travel and the associated level difference between the now raised front and series rear, the handling is worsened. In addition, there is a risk of the handlebars slapping when accelerating on bumps.

Ohlins fork springs

MOTORRAD verdict: conditionally recommendable

The linear springs from Ohlins (219.05 Marks) give the fork an excellent response. Thanks to the supplied oil with a viscosity of SAE 15, the feedback is improved compared to the series, but with a sporty driving style or hard braking maneuvers the springs lock up too quickly due to a lack of progression. They match the comfortable struts from the same company, but are only suitable for very light pilots without sporting ambitions.

White Power fork springs

MOTORRAD verdict: highly recommended

Equipped with the White Power springs (179 Marks), the fork of the XJR is much more stable: Thanks to the good feedback, the driving behavior benefits immensely, both with a sporty driving style and when strolling for two. Even when it comes to comfort, no major losses have to be accepted, only the response behavior is not as sensitive as with the standard springs. For the right damping, however, we recommend a more viscous fork oil than the recommended 10 fork oil.

Wilbers 630 TS

MOTORRAD verdict: highly recommended

The Wilbers shock absorbers of the type 630 TS Competition (1199 Marks) can be adjusted in the rebound stage (25 clicks) as well as in the spring base (stepless). With the progressively coiled springs that are matched to the driver’s weight, they ensure a sporty, firm driving behavior that also does not neglect comfort. The response behavior is significantly more sensitive than with the standard parts, and the damping reserves of the rebound stage are easily sufficient for a full load.

Wilbers TS 633 Competition

MOTORRAD verdict: highly recommended

Good response, great damping, great feedback and full damping reserves ?? the 633 TS struts (1999 Mark) from Wilbers work great on the XJR. In addition to the infinitely adjustable spring base, the damping can be adjusted to any application in both rebound (25 clicks) and compression (22 clicks each for high-speed / low-speed range), regardless of whether you are planning a sporty cornering or enjoyable tours with pillion passenger and luggage.


As harmoniously as with the Metzeler rubbers, the XJR drives with the Pirelli MTR 21/22. Here, too, the impression of comfort and driving stability are outstanding under all circumstances. Compared to the ME Z3, the tendency to stand up when braking in an inclined position is somewhat less pronounced, but the Pirelli are a tad more manageable. Approval only through Alpha Technik. Price: front 233 marks, rear 308 marks


The Michelin Macadam 90 is part of the original equipment of the XJR 1300. With it, the Yamaha steers precisely and shows good handling. The driving stability at top speed and with a full load is also okay. Same for ?? thanks to good self-damping? for comfort. However, one has to chalk the Michelin negatively for the clear pitching tendency when braking in an inclined position. Price: front 224 marks, rear: 293 marks


Handy, stable and neutral? with the ME Z3, the Yamaha drives very harmoniously. Outstanding is the high level of driving comfort thanks to excellent self-damping, which also ensures calming driving stability at top speed. The cornering behavior with a passenger is also good. There is only criticism for the noticeable righting moment when braking. Approval only through Alpha Technik. Price: front 230 marks, rear 321 marks


With the Dunlop D 207, the Yamaha drives comparatively stable, both at top speed and with a full load in an inclined position. The handiness and the neutrality in curves with an acceptable pitching tendency when braking can also be pleasing. However, the level of comfort is less good, because the D 207 rolls hard because of the low internal damping. Price: front 229 marks, rear 311 marks


The BT 57 proves to be a very handy and neutral tire with the lowest pitching moment when braking in bends. However, the agile steering behavior takes some getting used to, as is the noticeable nervousness at high speeds. Because of the low self-damping, the XJR reacts to bumps and steps with handlebar pendulums much earlier than with the other rubbers. Prices: front 227 marks, rear 302 marks

performance increase

The air-cooled four-cylinder of the XJR 1300 cannot be blamed for a lack of performance in view of the 116 HP measured by the test machine. However, anyone who has ever had the opportunity to drive an open-top FJ 1200 from the 80s knows: there is still a lot to do. Classic engine tuning is not necessary with the fat Yamaha to gain strength? it is sufficient to allow the big block to inhale and exhale freely. Therefore, both Zweirad Krause and the Motorcorner Technik Center (MTC) rely on open intake ports of the FJ 1200, modified main nozzles, special nozzle needles, an aluminum air filter cover with a larger opening and a modified ignition base plate for their TuV-compliant performance kits. Krause also uses tailpipes with a larger cross-section in the standard silencers. The complete conversion, including assembly, test bench run and TuV approval, costs 1440 marks. MTC only charges 1,090 marks for the legally compliant power increase. But you have to do without the reworked silencers, which found no favor in the ears of southern German TuV inspectors. It’s a shame, because this prevents seven horses from running freely.


MOTORRAD verdict: highly recommended

The Premier pads are not only similar to EBC’s outwardly: the almost poisonous response behavior is also accompanied by a biting braking effect that is noticeably progressive with increasing manual force, which makes it difficult for average drivers to dose accurately, but makes sporty pilots rejoice. Sintered metal price: 49.90 marks *

Yamaha XJR 1300: Optimization and model history

MOTORRAD verdict: highly recommended

The Double-H pads from EBC respond very spontaneously to low hand force and show a great effect, but with a progressive tendency when braking from high speeds. For the less experienced, the EBC are almost too snappy, but for sporty drivers they are the first choice.Type: FA 252A HHMaterial: sintered metalPrice: 55 Marks *


MOTORRAD verdict: highly recommended

The Lucas SV rubbers on the Yamaha XJR impress with their spontaneous response behavior, very good dosage, great effect and stability with similarly low hand strength as the series. All in all a big recommendation for beginners as well as for self-confessed late brakes.Type: MCB 611 SVMaterial: sintered metalPrice: 60.78 Marks *

White power

MOTORRAD verdict: highly recommended

The design of the White Power struts with a molded expansion tank (1549 marks) is sporty and tight. The response behavior is not particularly sensitive, especially when driving slowly. With a brisk driving style, however, everything fits, even the matter of comfort: rich damping that can be set separately in tension (eleven clicks) and compression (nine clicks), great feedback and sufficient damping reserves that do not surrender even when fully loaded.

Carbone Lorraine

MOTORRAD verdict: recommendable

Compared to the series, the A3 rubbers from Carbone Lorraine do not respond as spontaneously and require more hand strength. In terms of dosage and braking effect, they are also minimally inferior to the original pads and are therefore primarily suitable for bikers without sporting ambitions. No fading noticeable.Type: 2361 A3Material: sintered metalPrice: 67.90 Mark *


MOTORRAD verdict: highly recommended

With their spontaneous but non-toxic response behavior, linear metering and low manual force, the Brembo pads are on par with the series; the braking effect is even a tad better. Fading is also not an issue for the sintered metal brembos.Type: 07.YA 23.SAMaterial: sintered metal Price: 68.90 Marks *


MOTORRAD verdict: conditionally recommendable

A wonderfully sensitive response and high comfort characterize the Ohlins type APB shock absorbers for 2239.43 marks, which come up with separately adjustable rebound (40-fold) and compression damping (three-fold), hydraulic adjustment of the spring base and height adjustment. Unfortunately, the adjustment range of the damping and the spring base is completely unsuitable. Far too few reserves remain for a sporty driving style or even pillion rides.


MOTORRAD verdict: still recommendable

The inexpensive Bitubo shock absorbers (929 Marks) are somewhat inferior to the competition when it comes to workmanship, but they work quite well in solo operation, unless high demands are placed on comfort. Because of the hard spring, the separately adjustable rebound and compression damping must be turned down a long way in solo mode. With a full load, however, the damping reaches its limits, and there are not enough reserves left for pothole-strewn roads.

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