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No Bike for You: Yamaha Reveals Hipster-Restyled XJR1300 for Euro Market

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Before you guys start whipping off posts in our comments section about how you want a powerful, good-looking standard and will totally buy one right now, maybe even one of each color, can we spend a brief moment or two in the way-back machine? Back in the early and mid-’90s, the Big Four Japanese manufacturers cashed in on nostalgia for big, powerful muscle-bike standards of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Remember Kawasaki’s ZR1100 Zephyr? Or Honda’s CB1000 “Big One?” Or Suzuki’s GSX 1100G? Yeah, I kind of forgot about those too (fine bikes that they were), as nobody really got too excited about them and they were discontinued for our market. That’s probably why Yamaha Motor USA didn’t offer us the XJR1200 (bumped up to 1300 in 1999) when it was introduced in overseas markets for 1995.

It may not have been the best-selling bike in Yamaha history, but it was good enough to carry over for 20 years with just a few changes. And why mess with success? A big, torquey, soulful air-cooled 1251cc motor in a simple tube-steel frame, comfy seat, modern-spec suspension and brakes (with flashy Öhlins shocks, a benefit of Yamaha’s part ownership of the Swedish company at the time), radial tires and butch, modern looks. Who wouldn’t at least consider owning one?

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In its third decade, there’s no sign of it fading away—and for 2015, Yamaha gave it another refresh. This time, the tuning-forkers looked to custom builders Deus ex Machina and Keino Cycles to inspire a restyling. Both shops participated in Yamaha’s “Yard Built” program, where the company provided stock Yamaha models to custom builders to see what they could do. The resulting builds clearly inspired the new XJR.

Mechanically, the 2015 XJR is pretty much the same bike as before, with the fuel-injected Four offering up just under 100 horsepower and about 80 ft.-lbs. of torque. A new black-finished 4-2-1 exhaust offers an updated look over the old chrome-finish system. Wet weight is 535 pounds, about what you’d expect from a bike like this. The fork tubes get a diamond-like coating to improve the action, and shocks are still Öhlins. You may recognize the brake calipers from such hits as the first-generation YZF-R1.

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The bodywork is what gets freshened for 2015. A slimmer fuel tank with cutouts and barely visible seam at least visually lightens the XJR, and a solo-look seat cowl adds that custom cafe touch, buttressed by the number-plate style aluminum sidecovers. A “racer” version (it’s not clear if this is a factory model or something a Yamaha dealer can build to order for customers) has clip-on bars, a small cafe fairing and carbon-fiber fender and solo cowl. Both versions sport a redesigned instrument cluster.

Of course, Yamaha Motor USA isn’t talking about this bike coming to its home market—or not. I’d wager it isn’t, as it never felt a compelling need to bring the previous model in. But who knows—Yamaha responds to consumer demand like any company, and it would round out what the European Yamaha subsidiaries call the “Sport Heritage” collection (including the Bolt, VMAX and SR400), so let the product planners there know you’re interested.

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81 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Something in this style, a standard, as a riff on the Bolt would make a nice low-cost entry to the market. I don’t feel any need for a 1300, or a 500+lb bike.

  2. robert mccauley says:

    Will anyone buy it if retails for 15 Large ?

  3. Tank says:

    Looks like a bike made out of spare parts.

    • Provologna says:

      I looked again from that point of view but have to disagree. Both colors look very good, maybe preferring the gray.

  4. Jim S says:

    I really like it as one of the ” old guys rule” club. I always wished Honda would have imported the CB1300F to the United States. I would have jumped at a chance to own one. I still would. I do ride and love my 1994 CB1000f. Everytime I think I want to sell it, I take it for a ride and I am reminded what an awesome bike it is. Don’t get me wrong I love modern technology I just want it look like a motorcycle not a cartoon.

  5. Randy says:

    Is that JDAWG, still wearing the SAME crappy brown jacket and jeans and workboots?!!Does he own any real two-wheel clothing? This really is getting embarrassing for you guys.

  6. Butch says:

    As a previous owner of a mid 80’s FJ1200, I can tell you that thing got hot, stuck in traffic during the summer.
    So hot in fact, I just stop riding it in the city during summer months.
    Can’t wait to get my hands and my arse on the new Ducati Scrambler.

    • mickey says:

      Did you not see the discussion about the Ducatis getting so hot it was melting the powder coating off the cylinders?

    • Butch says:

      Actually, no.

      Probably stick to my Cl450 Scrambler.

      Gaggin’ on the 10k + price of admission.

      • Colorider says:

        I must agree. I bought a new Suzuki GT750 in 1974 and it was about $1400. Adjusted for inflation that would be around $6750.00 today. Most bikes in the 750 or larger size are closer to 10 large at least. Not good. I really want this bike too.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          “Most bikes in the 750 or larger size are closer to 10 large at least.”

          And are worlds better than a 1974 GT750. Look to the Yamaha FZ-07 and similar machines to make competitive power at a more similar price point. And still be worlds better.

          • mickey says:

            Now Jeremy, I know you probably weren’t even born yet in 1974, but the GT 750 Suzuki was pretty advanced for that time.. Triple cyl motor ( the same thing everybody is screaming for now) electronic ign, dual disc front brakes, digital gear indicator, liquid cooling, big comfortable, 550 lb wet weight,..It was a heck of a motorcycle for it’s time.

  7. Jdilpkle says:

    My ’02 Eddie Lawson green ZRX trumped this. I miss that ‘Ole gal.

  8. Neville McNaughton says:

    Why only 100 HP, 80 ft lbs torque. First Generation bandits with slight modification were at 80 ft lbs at 4,000 rpm, 118 HP, 55″ wheel base, thats a fun bike?

    • rapier says:

      100hp is more than enough for a naked with a decidedly average chassis and suspension. I think a better question might be why a 1300? Cost and marketing I think. No development cost and displacement sells. Damn few people go into the market thinking I want a bike that makes 100Hp/liter. They think a 1300 is better than a 1000. On a practical level in this sort of bike 1300 is surely as good as a 1000. In theory a low stress engine might be more dependable but in practice it probably isn’t.

    • Dave says:

      Those numbers don’t mean much outside of the spec sheet. We can’t see how broad the torque spread is of what kind of mileage it gets.

  9. Al Pinaweiss says:

    where do I start…
    a stunning proposition from Yamaha, with three minor but crucial flaws,
    styling wise:

    1. three-spoke wheels DEFINITELY DON’T go with this kind of ‘street/hipster/decaf-racer’
    styling – clean five- or six-spoke wheels are what’s needed here.

    2. chrome bezels on headlight & gauges just scream ‘PAINT ME MATT-BLACK ON DAY 1.’ (no comment!).

    3. the ‘diamond-like’ coating on the forks makes them appear visually ‘thinner’, therefore
    ruining a crucial ‘beefiness’-inducing detail, vital on a 500+ lb.heavy thing like the XJR.

    Other than that – a true stunner, the seat, tank and exhaust being amazingly well integrated
    (the new fuel tank’s narrowness does wonders in underlining the sheer size of that uber-detailed
    gem of an engine).

    A bold, original and very clever move on Yamaha’s behalf (if somewhat flawed in certain details
    as pointed out above) – and this comes from a purist that considers the original
    XJR a legend, a design icon of sorts!

    Europe, eh?

  10. david says:

    HP, torque, and weight are almost the same as Suzuki Bandit 1250. Nice looking bike, just wonder how hot it feels from the engine in hot weather. The bandit does not feel heavy at all, in fact, quite nimble riding in the twisties. I think I like the Yamaha better than Honda CB1100 style wise.

  11. Geoff says:

    Had a Gsx1100G. Great bike, would get this if it was sold in U.S.

  12. Clint750 says:

    Sidecovers are best feature, just ahead of tank. Black exhaust should be banned. Is there a stainless-steel shortage? Hard to beat my ZRX.

  13. Pete says:

    Looks cool but who would buy it when an FZ09 exists. This type of bodywrok on an FZ09 would be the ticket. 90hp is ok if it weighed 450lb

  14. TF says:

    Very cool. Just think how light the front end will be with that big long exhaust!

    Wouldn’t it look great with a yellow/black color combo as an option?

  15. mechanicuss says:

    I like it! 2 nice looking rides in 1 week (Ducati Scrambler)?!?! Whats going on here? I thought swoopy angular space tongue pods were the rage?

  16. SmokinRZ says:

    I like it except for the childish number plates, I’m 52. I really like that it is simple air cooled motor.

  17. Norm G. says:

    re: “No Bike for You”

    bravo, good use of the lingo.

  18. Jeremy in TX says:

    I like it a lot, particularly the blue, but I think Yamaha is wise to keep this one on foreign shores. I don’t think there is a strong market that would come off the dime a for 535 lb, 85 hp UJM with Ohlins shocks.

    • Bill Wolk says:

      Not sure I agree. I think the bike looks great and the retro-bike craze is still strong. Of course, I am the target market! I still have an 02 ZRX1200 in the garage as my daily ride and I’m wrenching an 83 VF750 Interceptor.

  19. Bo knows says:

    Last year’s XJR just got a whole lot more desirable. The new headlight, tank, and seat are barely tolerable and the side panels are downright laughable! Number plates on this thing? Seriously?!? As if you were racing WHAT??? Wish they had taken what IMHO was one of the prettiest 70-80’s retros and simply upgraded the power and handling slightly and dropped the weight a tad, then I would be psyched. Not sure who is in charge of styling at Yamaha lately, but please put down the sake and step away from the drafting table, you are straining yourself and holding the engineering boys back….

    • Joe Bogusheimer says:

      Have to agree, the previous edition looked better. This looks like some sort of odd mish-mash of 70s/80s styling combined with a modern naked/street fighterish tribute to a retro cafe racer. It’s just a mess of styling elements. Definitely not as good looking as my old ZRX.

  20. jeece says:

    This looks pretty good to me. Just a little dab of bodywork behind the seat would probably make the pipe look not so long. I like the blue with a stripe. I would love for it to be a slightly smaller bike, in weight and displacement. I ride a ZRX, and would like my next bike to be more nimble and light. This is nice, though.

  21. brakeman says:

    Hey, it has a beak – at the rear. Just call me an old fart but I like the original XJR best. None of the styling changes look good in my eyes. Zero interest in this bike.

  22. Kevin P says:

    Gorgeous bike. Great paint schemes, beautiful tank cut outs, nice shocks and EFI. I want one!!

    If the ZRX1200R returned with EFI it would also rock.

    This Yamaha looks sportier than the CB1100 and has more grunt. Yamaha has been on a roll in the US lately so hopefully they will surprise us by importing this great bike.

    • jim says:

      The ZRX1200 exist with fuel injection… it just isn’t available to you. Google ZRX1200DAEG

  23. david miller says:

    I love it!

  24. mickey says:

    Always room for another big road burner. Don’t care for the side cover/number plates much, but other than that, I like it.

  25. Cyclemotorist says:

    Now that is one good looking motorcycle!

    Compare this Yamaha with the embarrassing Suzuki B-King. The King was perfectly fine motorcycle but a complete failure as a styling exercise.

    And this XJR isn’t quite as thoroughly neutered as the Honda variant. Yes, baby boomers are getting old but we aren’t clear dead yet.

  26. GT08 says:

    This Yamaha look good. But please Kawasaki, bring back the ZRX !!!

  27. pete Rasmussen says:

    The Japanese bike manufacturers have lost the plot. Same old shit.

  28. Tim says:

    I’m not sure why everyone raves about the new Ducati Scrambler but this gets very little love in comparison.They seem very similar in looks, at least. What’s the issue?

    • KenHoward says:

      I’d say it’s about the comparison between the relative simplicity of design and much lighter weight of the Ducati, with its soulful V-twin (or “L-twin”), vs the less-desireable weight and complexity of a big inline-4 bike.

    • Gutterslob says:

      Maybe it’s just here. On some other sites (eg; Asphalt&Rubber), everyone was dissing the Scrambler and loving this. I suppose different sites appeal to different demographics.

  29. wayne says:

    the racer versions looks nice , do a search on the net , it would be more fun to buy these parts and put them on a cheaper 2nd hand one though

  30. John says:

    Cool bike, but why would i buy one of these when I can just find a used ZRX?

    • xlayn says:

      because of the looks and the fact it’s new, used ZRX it’s not, some people don’t want to mess with the sexy grease

    • JBozZRX says:

      My thought exactly – while I’d like the EFI, the 10+ yr old ZRX has it in HP, liquid cooling, swingarm, and, while Im admittedly biased, looks.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Why would you buy anything new when you could just find a used equivalent?

  31. skybullet says:

    I love the retro/modern look without excessive plastic parts and “bold Graphics”. Would I buy one, probably not due to the weight.
    I’m waiting for the FJR09 too. With Ohlins, where do I sign? Yamaha, please just make them optional.

  32. Terry M. says:

    not bad until you get to the back of the fuel tank……from there.. woof!!! damn ugly.

    The Honda CB1300 or Suzuki are much better, as is the Kawi ZRX

  33. Bobby says:

    The only things I don’t like are the oval number plate and the blacked out engine and exhaust.

    • Tom K. says:

      I always thought that the Suzuki GSX 1400 had the best execution, styling-wise at least, of this genre – but this Yam is very nicely done.
      I gave up on Yamaha when they updated the V-Max, taking all the bad things about the original Max and making them worse, and adding a 30% price premium for doing so. That, and teasing us with the MT01 concept, then leaving the production bike in Europe.

      Wouldn’t it make sense to design “World” bikes that they could sell everywhere, instead of having to bring out models that will only sell in one region or another? Sergio Marchionne did the Chrysler/Fiat deal to give both companies their best chance for survival in an industry that he believes will undergo increasing consolidation in the coming years. Will the same dynamic occur in the motorcycle world? Are there too many players?

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “I gave up on Yamaha when they updated the V-Max, taking all the bad things about the original Max and making them worse”

        it’s only the B-king of V-fours.

      • Blackcayman says:

        The V-Max acceleration is startling, even on the old model

        I used to take a used demo bike out for lunch just to do 5 or 10, 0-100 MPH blasts, no matter what, I was laughing out loud in my helmet – worked every time.

        Styling, and handling…..Not so much in my book.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        “Wouldn’t it make sense to design “World” bikes that they could sell everywhere”

        Honda does that, and you see how exciting their latest bikes are.

        What we buy here is so different from the rest of the world that we just don’t get as much love.

      • Peter says:

        MT-01 production bike was available in Canada. I own one and will never sell.

  34. Johnny says:

    Attractive bike.
    Except for the ugly side covers and exhaust pipe. Totally ruins it. But, should be an easy fix.

    What’s up with the recent Hipster thing? They are no longer fashionable.
    Haven’t seem ’em in quite a while. Why now?

    • Dave says:

      Re: “What’s up with the recent Hipster thing? They are no longer fashionable.
      Haven’t seem ‘em in quite a while. Why now?”

      I didn’t get the hipster reference either. This is a brawny, manly motorcycle. Far too much bike for the average effiminate hipster. Maybe “we just don’t know about it..”.

      • xlayn says:

        and for the hipster references…. they are the target market group for the bike, marketing department has spoken

        • Dave says:

          They missed.. Too much bike for hipsters. Most of them seek vintage cb350/450’s and Vespas.

        • Alan says:

          Re: “marketing department has spoken”

          The hipster fad had already run its course and the scene is pretty much a barren wasteland now.
          This marketing department must be operating in a different space-time-continuum than the one I’m in.
          Totally weird. Is someone trying to ressurect them hipsters?
          If so tough luck. Hipsters ain’t cool anymore.

          Anyway shouldn’t a hipster accessory be some flashy bling that can be carried around by a scrawny dude who can barely carry a six pack of PBR?
          XJR1300 is way too much bike for them. I don’t think they can walk one like a brakeless fixie with dick width bars.

          • Blackcayman says:

            I would bet the real demo of actual buyers will be dudes in their 50’s and early 60’s – reliving their glory days on a Modern Version of the bike they always wanted.

    • Gutterslob says:

      This isn’t a hipster-bike. It’s a UJM. Hipster-bikes are usually little weedy things with narrow tanks to accommodate skinny jeans.

  35. Gene says:

    Love it. Wish Kawasaki would bring back the ZRX except with the 14R or better yet H2 motor.

  36. geoelectric says:

    It’s like if Yamaha built the ZRX1200.

  37. VLJ says:

    That is one wildly oversized, unbelievably unattractive exhaust canister. Wow.

  38. Matric says:

    Unavailable bikes often seem desirable. But again, as said in this article, big air cooled naked bike didn’t sell over here. Some models are big succes in European markets but not in North America. I had a Yamaha Seca 750 1981. It would be a big surprise that i would buy a bike with a big air cooled engine.

  39. ABQ says:

    I like the seat. I like the rear shocks. I like the head light. I don’t like the large displacement and the weight that comes with a bike that big. I like that Europe will be happy with it. I will get something else.

  40. Blackcayman says:

    “Honda’s CB1000 “Big One?…..(fine bikes that they were)”. A bike like this is for “Dress-up” – cruising to the bar, dragging State St. etc. I’m sure there are plenty of the “Old Guys Rule” club who will want one, like the bikes they rode 30+ years ago only better in every way. Its just not for me.

    Back in ’99 I had the Honda CB1000…aka “the big one”. I ruined me for this genre…

    It was a great looking bike -(IMHO, at the time, for a guy who rode many standards in the 80’s and early 90’s). I got a great deal on a low miles garage kept puff. It was 550 or so lbs and had just under 100 HP. The handling was slow and deliberate and the power to weight ratio was embarassing. The acceleration was underwhelming. I had it less than a year and promtly bought a 6 month old SV650.

    It was so bad, it killed my desire to even look at bikes like the ZRX1200 or the new CB1100 for that matter.

    I would even say its responsible for shaping my desires for a true light-weight SPORT-touring bike – Come on Yamaha! Make the FJR09 not the FJ-09 with tall forks. I can’t stomach the though of a bike over 500 lbs.

    There, I feel better getting that off my plate

  41. The Spaceman says:

    I’m wondering if I’d have bought this bike over the 2013 CB1100 I purchased about a year and a half ago. Unless there was a huge price differential, I would have. The Yamaha has a more aggressive and modern style vs. the CB, while still satisfying my “retro” craving. It doesn’t hurt that my first bike was an R350C, so my nostalgia colors blue.

    It seems Honda is doing pretty well with the CB here; good enough to offer two variations of it for 2014. There’s a very busy CB website as well at cb1100forum.com. Surely there’s enough of us old farts looking to relive our yoots by buying retro bikes to make a market case for this gorgeous Yamaha.

    Yamaha, send over a blue one and I promise I’ll trade in the CB.

  42. TDM850 says:

    Hey look! It’s motor (pause) cycle. Yes, please.