Superbike Upgrade: 1984 Yamaha FJ1400

A face-lift, a tummy tuck and some steroids result in a refreshing ride down Memory Lane for Pat Conlon’s Yamaha FJ1400.

| March/April 2017

1984 Yamaha FJ1400
1,350cc air-cooled DOHC inline four, 82mm x 63.8mm bore and stroke, 10.5:1 compression ratio (1,097cc, 74mm x 63.8mm bore and stroke, 9.5:1 compression ratio stock)
Top Speed:
146mph (period test)
Four Mikuni 36mm
5-speed, chain final drive
12v, electronic ignition
Dual downtube box-section perimeter steel frame/58.3in (1,481mm)
Upside-down cartridge fork w/adjustable preload, rebound and compression front (Kayaba fork w/adjustable preload and rebound stock)/Penske 8987 shock w/adjustable preload, rebound and compression rear (adjustable preload and rebound stock)
Dual Galfer 12.6in (320mm) discs w/Yamaha R1 calipers front (dual 11.1in/281mm discs stock)/Pyramid Plastics 8.6in (218mm) disc w/Yamaha R1 caliper rear (10.6in/270mm disc stock)
Michelin Pilot Road 3 120/70 x 17in front (120/80 x 16in stock), 180/55 x 17in rear (150/80 x 16in stock)
520lb (236 kg)/535lb (243kg) stock
Seat height:
29in (737mm)/30in (762mm) stock
Fuel capacity:
6.5gal (24.5ltr)
Price then/now:

Comedian Charles Fleischer is credited with the line, “If you remember the ’60s, then you really weren’t there.” It was the decade of mind-altering stimulants (read: drugs) that could erase people’s memories quicker than you could say “clean chalkboard.”

The same satirical commentary is valid about sport bike enthusiasts who claim to remember the ’80s, because that was a time when motorcycle manufacturers — in particular the Big Four consisting of Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki — began injecting mega doses of horsepower and handling into their flagship models. Technological changes to sport bikes happened quickly during those years. Welcome to the dawn of the sport bike era, and if you remember those times, then, to paraphrase Fleischer, you weren’t there.

Looking back

Here’s what’s known about that halcyon era: Hot on the heels of its success with the VF750F Interceptor, Honda upped the power dosage and engine displacement to create the VF1000F Interceptor. Across the sport bike community’s bleak, dark, back alley, Kawasaki began pushing its own blend, better known as the Ninja 900. Elsewhere, Hamamatsu’s gold consisted of the GSX-R750, the gateway drug for Suzuki GSX-R1100 users a short time later.

And from Iwata, Japan, came Yamaha’s first big-bore sporting model, the FJ1100, a bike that, upon first impression, was rather understated compared to the rest of the field. Even so, and as a 1984 model, the big FJ’s 1,097cc engine was clearly on par with what Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki were pushing on the streets. Here’s what the editors of Cycle Guide magazine, in its June 1984 issue, said about Yamaha’s new air-cooled engine: “… while the FJ’s somewhat dated specifications might pale when stacked up against the glittering credentials of its classmates, its sheer, mind-stretching power renders such comparisons null and void.”

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