1982 Yamaha XJ650 Seca

Time has not been kind to many bikes of the late Seventies and early Eighties


| July/August 2007



newseca

Sturdy, reliable, comfortable and fun, the one-year-only XJ650RJ Seca makes a great rider.

Robert Smith

Yamaha XJ650 Seca
Years produced:
1982
Claimed power: 48hp @ 9,000rpm
Top speed: 127mphEngine type: 653cc double-overhead cam, air-cooled inline four
Transmission: Five-speed
Weight (wet): 502lb (228kg)
MPG: 47.5 (period test)
Price then: $3,099
Price now: $800-$2,000

Time has not been kind to many bikes of the late Seventies and early Eighties. For every well-known and appreciated classic, there’s a boatload of models with lousy suspensions, buckhorn bars, stepped seats and bad graphics. But there are a few less celebrated (or remembered) models out there that are still great bikes today, and the Yamaha XJ650 Seca is one of them.

The perfect mix
Like its mid-Eighties competitor, the Suzuki GS650G, the Yamaha XJ650 Seca combined a sport-tuned, air-cooled, 8-valve DOHC four-cylinder engine and shaft drive. These days, shafts are only for big bikes, and air-cooled fours have all but disappeared thanks to tightening emissions.

When these bikes were designed in the late Seventies, the motorcycle market had yet to splinter into the myriad niches we know today — though a sporting or touring stance was often achieved with styling changes. So it was with Yamaha’s 650 four. Announced in 1980, two versions of the 650 were produced: the sporting Seca for the European market and the “custom” (the term was just entering the motorcycle lexicon) Maxim for the U.S. The Maxim featured high bars, a stepped seat, a 17in rear wheel and breathing modifications including Yamaha’s swirl-inducing YICS — Yamaha Induction Control System — intakes designed to pacify the EPA. It sold well.

But moto-journalists are an inquisitive lot. Some of the U.S. motorcycling press managed to get their hands on a 650 Seca “Eurobike,” and quickly became enamored. “The Yamaha XJ650 isn’t just a great motorcycle,” wrote Michael Jordan in the November 1980 issue of Cycle Guide. “It’s the best American bike your Pounds, Francs, Lire or Deutschmarks can buy. Yamaha might not have any immediate plans to market it in the U.S., but the Euro-XJ’s performance profile perfectly suits the riding requirements of this country.”

What the journos liked was the all-day capable, ever-so-slightly sporting stance of the Yamaha XJ650 Seca compared with the sit-up-and-beg posture of the Maxim. They also appreciated the sportier suspension, sharper steering, greater power output, better brakes and increased fuel capacity.

Betsy
9/23/2010 1:56:25 PM

I owned a 1980 Seca650. Had it and rode it for thirty years. Had over 66,000 miles on it. One day it fell over on my husband's leg and shattered it completely. Compound fracture and everything. Could'nt go back to work for a year. Sold it along with a decent parts bike for $2000.00. Bought a w650 kawi-love it.


Kevin McClelland
5/17/2009 6:52:38 PM

I have a 82 650 that I bought used up in Eugene, Oregon in 1992. I have had it in Louisiana for about 9 years and I now have it in Winnemucca, Nv. It has roughly a little over 70,000 miles on it and it is still running good.


Kevin McClelland
5/17/2009 6:51:50 PM

I have a 82 650 that I bought used up in Eugene, Oregon in 1992. I have had it in Louisiana for about 9 years and I now have it in Winnemucca, Nv. It has roughly a little over 70,000 miles on it and it is still running good.


Max Broadway
8/27/2008 12:15:38 AM

I owned one of these bikes in Australia for over a year. It was great to ride, but the hardened and cracking composite rubber carb-to-engine mounts were deteriorating and the throttle shaft was wearing. These combined faults made air leaks into the intakes a chronic problem and the bike was nearly impossible to tune or get to idle reliably. In the end it was going to cost far too much to solve these two problems, parts were extremely difficult to source, and so I sadly sold the bike off.


Max Broadway
8/27/2008 12:14:55 AM

I owned one of these bikes in Australia for over a year. It was great to ride, but the hardened and cracking composite rubber carb-to-engine mounts were deteriorating and the throttle shaft was wearing. These combined faults made air leaks into the intakes a chronic problem and the bike was nearly impossible to tune or get to idle reliably. In the end it was going to cost far too much to solve these two problems, parts were extremely difficult to source, and so I sadly sold the bike off.


nhmaf
8/21/2008 11:46:26 PM

I think that your "48 HP (period test)" figure is in error and this figure was erroneously reported by one or two motorcycle magazines of the period, when they had confused the claimed HP figures fromthe Yamaha XS650 (parallel twin, 48 BHP which is quite believable) and the Yamaha XJ650 (64 BHP claimed by Yamaha and in numerous other period literature). I owned a Yamaha XJ650J, and am pretty sure that it produced more than 48 BHP at the crank. My 1982 BMW R65 (a 650cc parallel twin) produces a claimed 50 BHP at the crank, which is inline with the figure quoted for the parallel twin XS650 Yamaha.






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