1982 Yamaha XJ650 Seca
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The Seca today
By the time the Eighties rolled around there were a surprising number of bulletproof engine designs out there, and the Seca’s mill was one of them. With regular maintenance, these engines live on longer than most people would expect. Though the lack of liquid-cooling will affect engine life in the end, it does add to the bike’s simplicity now (there’s no coolant to change!). And the shaft drive, with proper greasing, will last far longer than several chains and sets of sprockets, not to mention the lubing intervals are far longer.
With a small set of upgrades, these bikes are capable sport-tourers even today. Many people add braided-steel brake lines, Progressive fork springs, brake pads with more bite and tapered roller bearings in the steering head, and then they enjoy the heck out of them. The biggest struggle may be finding one for sale, because owners don’t seem to be quick to part with them, choosing instead to ride them.
Middleweight alternatives to the Yamaha XJ650 Seca
Suzuki GS650G Katana
- 65hp @ 9,400rpm (est.)/121mph
- Air-cooled, four-stroke, inline four-cylinder, double overhead cams
- Twin-disc front, single rear
- 480lbs (dry)
- 50 MPG
Suzuki first released the GS650G Katana in early 1981, which became the Mild Child of the Katana bunch when it’s bigger brother, the GS1000SZ Katana, came along in 1982. With its jet-fighter-esque bodywork and powerful air-cooled, inline four, the big Kat was a force to be reckoned with, and is remembered today as an important, direction-changing model for Suzuki. Still, its little brother may be the better motorcycle overall.
Offered for three years, the little Kat features a shaft drive, triple discs, real-world comfort and a bulletproof engine that makes it a very usable classic. The shaft drive means no chain to oil, and the Kat doesn’t exhibit the rise and fall effect common to many shaft-drive bikes. Many owners swear that if you ride the bike without looking, you wouldn’t realize it had a shaft at all.
The bike shown is a 1983 model, owned and phtographed by Richard Bruner. While the 1981 and 1982 models were similar, they lacked the small headlight fairing. While the appearance of the bike suggests a sporting riding position, a relatively low, 30.7in seat height means these bikes are surprisingly comfortable.