The standard FJ can travel well over 100,000 miles without any major problems so long as it has been serviced regularly in accordance with the Yamaha servicing schedule i.e. 8,000 miles for a Major and at 16k for the linkages bearings.
All in all it is a very durable, versatile and strong motorcycle, especially the engine.
The FJ1100 standard exhaust down pipes had double-walls and the inner pipes may loosen due to engine vibration. This may sound like serious engine damage but simply replacing with second hand FJ1200 down pipes, that are S/S single skinned, will cure the problem.
The CV carbs have diaphragms on the slides that must be sealed to produce uniform uplift. These commonly wear and the resulting pin holes, make the engine run very uneven. The result is excessive vibration from 3,000 revs and the only answer is to replace the set of four. Yamaha want over £90 each but the club offers specially manufactured exchange diaphragms for £136 a set.
The engine may often have a “ticking” sound, mainly on the left hand side of the motor. It sounds like the valves should be adjusted and it may come and go in short intervals. The cause is probably the camshafts end float but please do check the valve clearances annually and if adjusted correctly, this sound will not cause any damage.
Starter chain rattle;
Commonly mistaken for cam chain rattle (cam chains last well over 100k) is a rattle from the engine as you pull away under low revs or when idling if the engine is cold or out of balance. The noise is the starter chain, it’s a massive chain with no tensioner, this will not cause any problems, it simply annoying and very difficult to replace.
Starter clutch slip;
Another problem is on pressing the starter button the motor doesn’t turn over and all you hear is a noise from within the engine. This is the starter clutch letting slip and not engaging the drive to the crank (made worse on very cold morning start ups due to the extra friction). The fault can occur if you have used fully synthetic engine oil (FJ is designed to run on base oil) or the rollers have worn within the starter clutch. The only answer is replacing the unit, not easy as it’s on top of the gearbox so requires the splitting of the crankcases.
Dropping out of gear;
One frequent fault years ago, on the FJ1100 and early 1TX FJ1200 , was the dropping out of second gear. Check this out on a test drive by loading the second gear a bit more than usual... It should remain in its position and not slip out. Normally this fault was found when the bikes were new so by now it’s very unlikely you will find an FJ with any gearbox problems. I did 180,000 miles on my 1TX from new and never had a problem.
Alternator/ Voltage Regulator Another annoying issue with the early FJ’s is that the stock voltage regulator puts out too much power. The result is shortened battery life accompanied by a tendency for the battery to boil dry. The best solution is simply replacing the alternator with a second hand item, remember an alternator from the XJR range will fit and be newer.
Recently a new solution is to fit a sealed battery in place of the early (84-90) lead acid battery. These MF batteries are now available. The 91-95 models came with MF type as standard.
Also the FJ1100 alternator is only held on with two bolts (FJ12 has three), the problem is made worse by the fact that the lower bolt falls out, so it’s worth checking.
Tail Light Failure;
The FJ has an annoying tendency to eat tail light bulbs. The cure is simply, to put a rubber o-ring in place between the socket and the light fixture.
Simple, cheap and seemingly affective.
Starter button failing;
You press the starter button only to find the two red light illuminates and the engine won’t turn over. Fault lies with the blue and white earth wire lead from the switch gear to the starter solenoid. Solution is splice in a new wire direct between the two.
Clutch slave seal and unit.
If you find difficulty in selecting gears or an excessive clunk when dropping into first, this is the result of the seal losing the hydraulic pressure. First sign of a problem is paint missing from the oil filter housing as the hydraulic fluid leaks onto it and strips the paint off.
First option is simply replace the seal. If the problem returns in a short time then the answer is to replace the whole unit
From 1988 the FJ1200 was fitted with a fuel pump which can fail. The first signs is when you flick the engine onto ’RUN’, you can hear the pump prime for pressure. If you flick it again there should be no priming, if it does then the pump can’t build up the pressure and may be U/S, this will cause a problem if you let the tank run low. If you become stranded you can simply join the fuel lines together which allows it to run on gravity feed (bypassing the pump) and offers a ‘get you home’ solution.
As with any modern motorcycle the rear shock and swinging arm linkages need greasing, normally every 12,000 miles. If this is not done then it will fail and seize.
The FJ1100 has plastic bearings so will easily seize, this results in poor movement of the suspension. If you continue to ride in this state they will collapse, not a good thing at 150 mph on the Autobahn.
The FJ1200 has needle roller bearing and the first sign of failure is normally picked up at the MOT when they find excessive movement from the swing arm. My FJ1200 did over 100k miles on the OE bearing so regular greasing is the answer.
Chain and Sprockets;
The FJ takes the highest grade of chain on the planet; this is because of the massive torque the engine produces. The pitch is the same size as an RD400 so be warned of poor grade chains because if they snap they go off like a ‘Catherine Wheel’ and explode into the crankcases.
Due to the age these units wear and the spring losses its strength. The result is the needle bouncing all over the place. Best use your trip meter and watch out for the low fuel warning light which is very accurate and comes on when 4 litres is left in reserve.
Yamaha designed the FJ to run on Crossply tyres, this means they have never been tested on Radials. Just because some manufactures produce radial tyres that are the same size as the FJ doesn’t’ make them good tyres. To but it in perspective, the rear rim is only 3 ½ inch in width, this is the size of a modern front rim designed for a 120 section tyre not the 150 that Yamaha list as correct.
Anti dive unit seize;
The FJ1100 and early 1TX model had Anti-Dive units fitted to the front forks. These seize and the result is a harsh front end at low speed. The units can be stripped and un-seized quite easily.
Oil filter housing cracking;
When replacing the oil filter the wire from the side stand gets trapped between the oil filter housing and the crankcases, if not noticed when tightening up it will result in the casing cracking.