71.00 HP (51.8 kW)) @ 9400 RPM
197.0 km/h (122.4 mph)
In-line four, four-stroke
653.00 ccm (39.85 cubic inches)
Bore x stroke:
63.0 x 52.4 mm (2.5 x 2.1 inches)
Valves per cylinder:
Front tyre dimensions:
Rear tyre dimensions:
20.50 litres (5.42 gallons)
Weight including oil, gas, etc:
231.0 kg (509.3 pounds)
The successor of the XJ Specials from the 1970s, there were two flavours of the XJ650 – the USA, USA, USA! Maxim cruiser and the athletic European RJ Seca, the latter incidentally having a turbo version which appeared in the much-maligned Bond film Never Say Never Again, with a time-ravaged Sean Connery having hung up his tuxedo and PPK twelve years previously. Oddly, the sportier bike was named from the Laguna Seca (‘dry lake’ like for non-Latinos) in California, then subsequently not sold there. Complaints ensued, and a year later the XJ650 Seca was stateside. For a year. Until a new model arrived. By which time the US had 400, 550, 650 and 750 versions of the Seca. Good grief, Yamaha!
The early 80’s though was a boom-time for Japanese motorcycles, finally making in-roads to both European and American markets, so Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki were all-in. An air-cooled four-cylinder, the XJ650 had great styling that looked very much the midrange cruiser but with some proper guts in the engine, thrilling a rider to almost 200 kph. Although the much-heralded 1980 release was good, the 82-version included adjustable air-forks, better handlebar positioning and a comfortable marsh-mellow seat to ease the stress of broken butt-cheeks after a long ride. Considering the bike weighed in at 230kg, about the same as a modern-day BMW 1200 GS, the seat must have weighed about half of that, like sitting on a five-speed Chesterfield sofa.
For a sprightly cruiser, it had great handling thanks to the narrow engine with a repositioned alternator, and excellent brakes too, with dual-discs on the front and a drum brake in the rear. Most notable for those with a styling fetish are the nautilus spiral wheels, a tiny detail that push a pretty good-looking bike into the ‘want one’ category. The jet-black versions of the XJ650 are usually found in magazines located on the top-shelf and wrapped in cellophane.
The XJ650 remains an enduring motorcycle as shaft-drives rarely adorn mid-range bikes, despite the improved torque, maintenance and longevity. They are a little hefty, and when they do go wrong, your week is done and dusted. But for a motorcycle approaching forty, it still has an avid following, and with its steel tubular frame the XJ650 was clearly built for longevity. There are still plenty of them knocking about and amazingly only cost a few thousand dollars, which is what they sold for originally. If you can get your hands on one it’ll probably outlive you, especially if you wrap it in cellophane.