Yamaha XJR 1200

When Yamaha decided to enter the retro-bike market with a big, unfaired four-cylinder roadster, the perfect powerplant was already close to hand. The FJ1200 sports-tourer had been hugely popular for years due largely to its superbly tractable air cooled, 16-valve engine. This faith brute of a motor was detuned, its cylinder fin-tips were polished, and it was put on display at the heart of twin-shock musclebike called the XJR1200.
Yamaha lacked the four-stroke tradition of Kawasaki and Honda, whose Zephyr and CB1000 models the XJR, was created to challenge. But the new bike’s lines contained a hint of the 1978-model XS1100 four, and its all-black color scheme echoed that of later XS1100S Midnight Special. Maybe the lack of an illustrious predecessor was an advantage, because the clean, simply styled XJR was an undeniably good-looking machine.
The 1188cc motor was placed in a new round-tube steel frame which, like the square-section FJ frame, incorporated a bolt-on lower rail to allow engine removal. Forks were conventional 43mm units, at the same time as at the back the XJR had a twosome of remote-reservoir shocks from Ohlins, the Swedish suspension professional firm owned by Yamaha. A pair of board 17-inch wheels, the front holding big 320mm front discs with four-piston calipers, completed a purposeful profile.
Japanese riders were the first to discover this first-hand, as the XJR was introduced as a home-market bike in 1994, before being released elsewhere a year later. Most of those who rode it were impressed. Inevitably, the XJR1200 shared the limitations of every big naked bike, in that the exposed riding position soon made using the engine’s top-end performance tiring.

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