Zonko’s attack on the Yamaha XJR 1300

Zonko’s attack on the Yamaha XJR 1300

The last of the Mohicans

Content of

When I see a Yamaha XJR 1300, I have to think of the wild AMA Superbike racing of the 70s and 80s. When the air-cooled block runs through in the fifth from the very bottom, I hear the central sentence of the standardization criticism: "The pale faces have no mind."

W.it Cooley, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Dave Aldana and the like got it as part of the AMA Superbike series with the air-cooled thousands that it tore the audience from their seats. What incredibly wild races, what crazy powerful machines, what a thrilling spectacle! From the outside, the Honda Bol’Or, the Suzuki GS 1000 and the Kawasaki Z 1000 looked very similar to the series machines, but inside the manufacturers fought for prestigious supremacy and did not fill in too little power. At that time around 150 hp were necessary to be able to win. In addition, the mighty nakeds have been slimmed down to around 180 kilos and equipped with better chassis components. And of course the frame and swing arm have been stiffened and modified. The displacement limit was 1025 cubic meters. 

Zonko’s attack on the Yamaha XJR 1300

The last of the Mohicans

Yamaha lit up very late

Although Yamaha didn’t have a competitive machine back then – no matter how much coal had been puffed into the XS 850 and XS 1100, the irons would have been rolled over on the AMA Superbikes at the start – I was on fire when the first Yamaha XJR appeared in 1994 and flame. The sheer madness! Air-cooled row quad with 1200 cubic meters and a shape that led directly to the glory days of the wild AMA racing. It was as if the Almighty winked at me, “So that would be your thousands now. I let the Japanese fill in 200 cubic meters more so that the iron steps properly. So please, get the XJR now and then take it on your knee. ”Of course I didn’t resist.

But there was a problem. The wonderful woman he had kindly sent to me a few years earlier had never complained that my bank account always looked like a forest fire, but when I gave her the idea, “I’ll buy a 1200 Yamaha and put it until the cover of the alternator grinds", her otherwise radiant mind darkened and she said: " As long as we live in this hole and have no balcony, you don’t need a Yahama. "Yahama ?! Tschahama. Yammaha. I gave a fiery speech about the Japanese motorcycle brand Yamaha, whose correct emphasis is on the second syllable, whose logo is three crossed tuning forks in the sense of cosmic harmony, and raved about Jarno Saarinen, Kenny Roberts and Wayne Rainey. 

In 1994 the Yamaha XJR was not born to win. At that time it was already a retro machine that referred to a glorious, bygone era. I had to experience in 1996 how weak the extremely charismatic buck actually was. After two years of iron saving (we were still living in the "hole") I slammed 123,000 shillings, the equivalent of around 17,000 marks, on the counter of the Yamaha dealer and got a brand new XJR 1200 with jet kit and Remus exhaust. After a short break-in period, the moment of truth should strike: Pannonia ring! I hadn’t forgotten Dave Aldana, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, and Wes Cooley. Now my time had finally come! And she was terrible.

What an incredible mess!

Heavens, what a disenchantment with the Yamaha XJR, what a terrible humiliation, what an unbelievable mess! I could still accept the fact that the 900 and 600 super sports cars, which were widespread at the time, dismantled me, but after the young Bocki Brezn had murdered me with his Cagiva Mito 125 and drove in circles around me, I sat with a blank look Whimpering softly in the box, Black Krauser inhaled and flirted with suicide. Devastating, absolutely devastating. Boom What should I do? Brake later, keep shifting, accelerate earlier and harder?

Well of course I tried everything again. Unfortunately, however, the matter was clear: When braking later and thus harder, I had a sponge-like, diffuse feeling on the front tire and ran the risk of losing the front; if I turned it further, not only the notches but also the exhaust were digging on the grippy, rough asphalt, and as I accelerated earlier and harder, the Yamaha XJR was suddenly and murderously crosswise. Wow! With more luck than brains, I was just able to catch the initiated highsider. It was close, very close. Ultra-hot ears, hearty pounding heart. It was the right time to shelve the AMA Superbike Racing project with three clear words: “It won’t work.” Then I drove home into the hole without a balcony, drew new hope and said to the flower: “Off today i wash up every day. Promised. Great Indian word of honor! Because unfortunately I have to powder the coal for the planned dishwasher into the chassis. "

The love for the XJR lasts forever

But since the patience of the wonderful was not endless and the understanding was not limitless, I left it with the standard chassis and used the XJR in a species-appropriate manner. So not as a racing machine, but as a pure roadster. And then it was world class. Every day I rioted into my work, divided the columns like Moses once did the sea, caused a sensation in the Vienna Woods with the open Remus and the corresponding full sound from the large-volume row of four, and moved to the sea with two people with panniers and tank bags. It was a great time of freedom that you will never forget. I still love the Yamaha XJR today. And if someone says that it is a “pork bucket” because it bites off terribly compared to today’s sports grenades, I win. The XJR is the last of the Mohicans. The large, air-cooled block, which runs through in fifth gear from 50 to 220, is incomparably sovereign and sweeping, and is the last of its kind. 

Suzuki has long since made the mighty GSX 1400 disappear into oblivion, Kawasaki’s impressive ZRX is history and Honda’s CB 1100 F simply plays in a "softer" league with slimmer tires. The fact that the Yamaha XJR won’t be around forever is because they were able to adapt the block for Euro 4 using injection, but they will probably no longer manage Euro 3. An unbelievable defeat that leads me directly to the central sentence of the criticism of standardization: "The pale faces have no mind."

What can the 2015 vintage?

I think the new Yamaha XJR 1300 looks very good. The old stern was too long and too bulging, the new one is crisper. Especially when you mount the mini license plate holder from the Yamaha original accessories. I don’t like the seat one hundred percent. I think the front part is very smart, but at the back it is a shade too clunky and too inharmonious for me. I would need to act and would seek a conversation with the saddler I trust. The new tank is world class. In my eyes it is beautifully shaped, slimmed down in the crucial places, the huge cylinder head comes into its own. I don’t mind that the range has suffered as a result, as I don’t drive any stages beyond 200 kilometers with the XJR anyway.

After all, people don’t live on air alone, they also need a whistle and a calm view of the country. I do not urgently need the mirrors installed on the handlebar ends of the Yamaha XJR 1300, as they make column milling unnecessarily difficult in the city, but the Rizoma handlebar is good for me. It results in an active upper body posture and a very good lever for the attack in the realm of radii. The doubter will now shout mockingly: “What attack? With this stone? ”And viewed quite soberly, one has to agree with him. But I myself am not a master of sober contemplation. On the contrary. Everything in my skull is always automatically linked to emotional fantasies, which can be so strong that the set of facts disappears in the quicksand of euphoria.

Wolf rattle and draft

The Ohlins struts and the adjustable telescopic fork are certainly not bad, but in conjunction with the double loop frame and the box swing arm, the XJR does not actually act like a modern sports motorcycle. The coordination on delivery is clearly on the comfortable side, but even if you turn the spring elements into the tight area, the Yamaha XJR 1300 is quite soft and imprecise compared to street athletes such as the Speed ​​Triple R or Tuono 1100 etc. The centimeter-accurate meeting of the apex, the crystal-clear feel of the front and rear tires and the inferior acceleration at the exit of a curve simply cannot be offered by the XJR. The last of the Mohicans is not a warrior who fights with the support of the latest technical achievements, but a calm all-rounder who competes his life with a tomahawk and a bow and arrow. 

And that makes him impressive and admirable. When the 1251 cubic, air-cooled row quad comes to life, it gasps out of the Akrapovic like a hungry wolf while idling. What a promising sound! Short bursts of gas then bring a hoarse, hissing roar that goes straight into the listener’s body, without conveying even the slightest hint of associations such as brutal aggressiveness or even hysteria. This mighty sound simply transports me to the wild days of AMA superbikes. With its 98 hp, the engine is 50 hp weaker than the factory engines back then and at 242 kilos the Yamaha XJR 1300 is around 60 kilos heavier than the Bol d’Or from the Spencer 1980, but I can make the wild Yamaha comfortable and comfortable Drive until the end of the day while the super-tuned engines have exploded frequently. 

The outstanding thing about the engine of the Yamaha XJR 1300 is, besides the uniqueness and the sound, the fantastic draft. Driving 50 km / h in fifth gear is not a problem at all, it is really smooth. And then when you open the gas, there isn’t a single moment of choking or hesitation. The four-in-line simply pulls through to 220 km / h as if nothing in the world could stop it. What a great boost, what a superbly strong acceleration! 

For a great life this side of the last groove

The Yamaha XJR 1300 reaches its limits in the realm of radii. The lean angle is certainly sufficient in the open country, but in order to be able to keep up with the current sports grenades, you have to have great faith in the cosmic script and “drive hard over the door”, as they say. Compared to the modern power naked, the XJR feels as spongy as a dishcloth in "Knocking on heavens door "mode. That doesn’t suit everyone. On the other hand, there is the central sentence of motorsport:" Control is always slow. "The only thing behind this glimmer of hope for all proud XJR drivers is that the loss of control on the beautiful retro buck comes earlier than on modern rockets. And does that bother me now? But no. The XJR is in my soul like the sun in blue. I love it when the big motor pulls the machine out of the radius fully and smoothly. It’s just divine. Just like the appearance. I could watch the XJR for hours. 

Would I invest in a better chassis today, since the account has been reforested to some extent and the flower already has a dishwasher? No. Of course you could convert the Yamaha XJR 1300 for racing – I remember the uncompromising Hafner XJR with 180 kilos and 180 hp from 1400 over cubic – but in my eyes the last Mohican in its sovereign suppleness is a real asset to the World. There is also a great life this side of the last groove.

Conclusion and technical data


Zonko’s attack – Yamaha XJR 1300.

Yamaha XJR 1300

Four-cylinder in-line engine, four valves / cylinder, 72 kW (98 PS) at 8000 / min *, 108 Nm at 6000 / min *, 1251 cm³, bore / stroke: 79.0 / 63.8 mm, compression ratio: 9.7: 1, ignition / injection system, 34 mm throttle valves, hydraulically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch, five-speed gearbox, G-Kat, chain

landing gear
Double loop frame made of steel, steering head angle: 65.0 degrees, caster: 92 mm, wheelbase: 1500 mm, upside-down fork, Ø fork inner tube: 43 mm, adjustable in spring base, rebound and compression level. Double spring struts, adjustable in spring base, rebound and compression stage. Spring travel front / rear: 130/120 mm, cast light alloy wheels, 3.50 x 17 / 5.50 x 17, front tires: 120/70 ZR 17, rear: 180/55 ZR 17, initial tires: Dunlop D252 "L", 298 mm -Double disc brake with four-piston fixed calipers at the front, 267 mm single disc with two-piston fixed calipers at the rear

Max. Rear wheel power: 
70.5 kW (96 PS) at 201 km / h 

0-100 km / h: 3.5 s; 0–150 km / h: 6.9 s
0-200 km / h: 15 s

50-100 km / h: 4.8 s; 100–150 km / h: 4.8 s

Top speed:
213 km / h

242 kg with a full tank, v./h .: 50.4 / 49.6%, 

Tank capacity: 14.5 liters

Setup fork
Pre-tensioning: 2 rings visible,
Pressure level: 4K open,
Rebound stage: 2 K open,
Level: standard

Setup shock absorber
Preload: standard,
Pressure level: 8 K open,
Rebound stage: 5 K open,
Level: plus 4 mm

Base price
10,295 euros plus utilities

Zonko’s thoughts


Zonko: "When I think about the Yamaha XJR 1300, I just go into raptures."

When I think about the Yamaha XJR 1300, I just go into raptures. The sports driver will perhaps grab his head and doubt my sanity, because the XJR with 242 kilos and 98 hp is not a rocket and with a double loop frame made of steel and box swing arm has no chassis that can keep up with modern sports equipment despite the Ohlins components.

But I really enjoy riding the machine, which for me is the last of the Mohicans, and I really enjoy looking at it. This side of the last groove, the Yamaha XJR 1300 with the large, air-cooled block is simply wonderful to drive, and I confidently shout: XJR forever!   

Related articles

Related articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *