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Yamaha XJR1300 (1999 - 2014) review

The grandfather of the retro scene is back (with a new hip replacement). It's sharper and stronger than before without losing any character
Details
Manufacturer:
Yamaha
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 8699
Overall
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)
With a claimed 80lb.ft spread through the whole rev range the XJR is effectively one massive twist-and-go motor
Looks, style and torquey engine.
Handling is a bit soft.

Yamaha has been fairly quiet over the updates to its XJR1300. No fanfare, no big announcement, just a quiet re-introduction of one of Yamaha's old faithful.

Now, the observant among you may well spot the major differences between the new and old XJR. Yep, the rear light is now twin LEDs rather than the old stacked lights. Oh, and one of the exhaust pipes appears to be missing.

The truth of the matter is that the old XJR has been EU-ed in order for its engine to pass new emissions laws. Fuel injection replaces carbs, and more catalysers have been squeezed into the now single muffler.

But dig a bit deeper and you'll find that Yamaha has also beefed up the XJR's frame and uprated the suspension, so it's now fully adjustable both front and rear. Which is good news because the old XJR was a bit of a wobbler in the corners.

Now, a big part of the XJR's character has always been its motor. The air-cooled engine is known for being big, powerful and smooth - something that snatchy fuel injection could easily destroy. Happily, this time Yamaha has got it spot-on.

Fuel injection has actually improved the XJR's motor, something I didn't think I would ever say. This 1251cc lump pulls harder than Pavarotti on a bungee jump chord. Top gear (it still has the old five-speed box) will pull smoothly from as low as 1000rpm and 25mph, which is, quite frankly, amazing. It'll even pull away in top without an excess of clutch slip. Try that on an R6!

The secret is the torque. With a claimed 80lb.ft spread through the whole rev range the XJR is effectively one massive twist-and-go motor. Which is the kind of riding that suits this bike perfectly.

Although the new suspension has far more adjustability and makes for a considerably improved ride the XJR still doesn't like being rushed. Much of the old wobble has been eliminated but push on a bit and the pegs touch fairly easily. And there is a still a hint of the rocking back and forth like the old one. With a bit of fiddling the suspension can be tweaked to sort much of this, but the XJR remains a hefty beast so is never going to be brilliant.

But that's not its point. Stick it in top gear, keep the speedo below 80mph (for comfort's sake), and the XJR makes total sense. The only real disappointment I have with the bike is the muted 2007 paint schemes. Whatever happened to the 'speed block' design of early XJRs? Come on Yamaha, if you have the coolest retro paint scheme around why not use it? If it's good enough for Rossi...

VERDICT 4/5
Sharper and stronger than before without losing any character

WORDS: JON URRY
PICS: OLI TENNENT

Yamaha has been fairly quiet over the updates to its XJR1300. No fanfare, no big announcement, just a quiet re-introduction of one of Yamaha's old faithful.

Now, the observant among you may well spot the major differences between the new and old XJR. Yep, the rear light is now twin LEDs rather than the old stacked lights. Oh, and one of the exhaust pipes appears to be missing.

The truth of the matter is that the old XJR has been EU-ed in order for its engine to pass new emissions laws. Fuel injection replaces carbs, and more catalysers have been squeezed into the now single muffler.

But dig a bit deeper and you'll find that Yamaha has also beefed up the XJR's frame and uprated the suspension, so it's now fully adjustable both front and rear. Which is good news because the old XJR was a bit of a wobbler in the corners.

Now, a big part of the XJR's character has always been its motor. The air-cooled engine is known for being big, powerful and smooth - something that snatchy fuel injection could easily destroy. Happily, this time Yamaha has got it spot-on.

Fuel injection has actually improved the XJR's motor, something I didn't think I would ever say. This 1251cc lump pulls harder than Pavarotti on a bungee jump chord. Top gear (it still has the old five-speed box) will pull smoothly from as low as 1000rpm and 25mph, which is, quite frankly, amazing. It'll even pull away in top without an excess of clutch slip. Try that on an R6!

The secret is the torque. With a claimed 80lb.ft spread through the whole rev range the XJR is effectively one massive twist-and-go motor. Which is the kind of riding that suits this bike perfectly.

Although the new suspension has far more adjustability and makes for a considerably improved ride the XJR still doesn't like being rushed. Much of the old wobble has been eliminated but push on a bit and the pegs touch fairly easily. And there is a still a hint of the rocking back and forth like the old one. With a bit of fiddling the suspension can be tweaked to sort much of this, but the XJR remains a hefty beast so is never going to be brilliant.

But that's not its point. Stick it in top gear, keep the speedo below 80mph (for comfort's sake), and the XJR makes total sense. The only real disappointment I have with the bike is the muted 2007 paint schemes. Whatever happened to the 'speed block' design of early XJRs? Come on Yamaha, if you have the coolest retro paint scheme around why not use it? If it's good enough for Rossi...

VERDICT 4/5
Sharper and stronger than before without losing any character

WORDS: JON URRY
PICS: OLI TENNENT

Looks, style and torquey engine.
Handling is a bit soft.