Geoffrey told us about his Yamaha XJR1300 in the story he wrote about it. As he explained there, having decided to buy a late model XJR he went looking for a suitable one for sale. And he quickly found one; the only problem being that it was in another state! He lives in Sydney and the bike was in Queensland. But, undeterred, he decided to buy it and ride it home. Well that’s one way to get to know your new bike – ride it home from interstate; a distance of 1150km! Here’s Geoffrey’s story of the trip; and his discovery of what he’d bought. By the time I’d flown to Brisbane, spent a couple of hours on the train to where the owner, John, was located, sorted out all the business of buying the bike and hit the road it was near enough to midday. I took my camera because Elwyn had asked me to write this story and I know stories without photos are pretty boring. Here’s the bike after I’d filled it up with fuel ready to head south. I was near a RAAF base and, just before I headed off, a fighter jet took off and headed off into the distance. It sounded fantastic, and was an impressive way to signal the beginning of my ride. I had 700km to get to that day’s destination and had charted a route via Warwick, Glenn Innes and the Oxley Highway to give me a variety of conditions to try the bike out in. The weather was great and rolling along the southern Queensland main roads was wonderful. There was good scenery near Aratula which had me thinking of stopping for a photo, but I thought ‘buggered if I’m stopping for photos every 50km’ and kept riding. Sorry about that. I did stop to have a bite of lunch and I have a few photos from that stop, wherever it was – somewhere on the way to Warwick. You can see a bit of the countryside here. It was nice to just enjoy the ride rather than wait patiently for the next set of twisties, and the XJR lets you enjoy every minute you’re on it. The engine is air cooled. It was a pretty warm day and there was no rider comfort problem with engine heat as I rolled along the road at the speed limit. The big, old style donk contributes to the character of the bike – some may say it defines it. The XJR1300 badge is a bit of an exaggeration. The bike is 1,251cc. It produces lovely smooth power and is a really enjoyable bike to ride on the open road. No over the top vibes to grate with you over a long day in the saddle but still with lots of muscle bike character to make it enjoyable. The bike is fairly long and heavy, without being cumbersome, and therefore very well suited to the open road. It isn’t fazed by luggage or a pillion. There are plenty of tie down points (three on each side) but I found it difficult to attach my bag in a way where it didn’t want to pull forward towards the rider all the time. I eventually got it sorted, but more purpose designed luggage would have been better. I think I’ll get a Ventura rack, but a fit for purpose bag with some straps would also be just fine. Before my lunch stop the road included a mountain pass, which provided some opportunities to check out cornering behaviour. The springs felt pretty soft and I checked the owner’s manual for setup. My bike had standard preload settings. I decided to leave everything as it was and just get on with riding it as perhaps being so accustomed to sportsbike setup and firm 2-stroke dirtbike settings made me think everything was ‘soft’. Who knows, it might grow on me. The bike handled just fine through the mountain bends and I kept a smooth and sensible pace, not trying to stuff it into corners or get too sporty. Still, I wasn’t dawdling and the bike did it all with ease. I was pleased that I didn’t have to baby it in the corners. That made me feel good about the Oxley highway section which would come near the end of my day. You also don’t need to be doing warp factor speeds to enjoy riding the XJR. I recall spotting an old 4wd down in a ditch off on the other side of the road up ahead. It didn’t look like a police vehicle, but I know they’re pretty sneaky in QLD and there was no reason for a vehicle to be parked down in the ditch so I checked my speed. Sure enough, I was going at or near the speed limit (I can’t recall exactly). The slightest moderation of my wrist and I rolled past plod and his camera (sure enough it was a sneaky copper!) at about 10kph under the limit, no worries at all. To enjoy the same road on my sportsbike would have involved much higher speeds for the same level of entertainment. That was a good proof point of the value of this bike and I continued happily along on my journey. I pulled into Stanthorpe to do the right thing by the local economy and purchased some apples as well as some wine to take back to my wife. The apples were absolutely beautiful, so if you’re in the area make sure you stop. There was a steady stream of locals coming to this shop, so I may have gotten lucky with the one I chose to stop at. This is an important part of my review actually, because I was really happy to soak up the local sights and stop to check things out. On a sportsbike you just want to find the next corner. Well I do anyway. This bike helped me to smell the roses. This pic was taken at Walcha, just before heading east along the Oxley Highway. You can see the sun was starting to set so I was conscious of roo o’clock. You may also note the third different approach to strapping the bag down. By this point I think I had it sorted out. The Oxley Highway is another road which has had an increased police presence over the last 10 years. Every time I get fuel I get an update from the servo attendant on police activity and every time the report is of more and more police cars + bikes than the previous time. About 60km into it you hit the twisties and within the first few bends I had a wallaby standing by the side of the road watching me. Okay, roo presence noted! For the rest of the 50-odd km of twisties the bike performed really well. The suspension was fine, the tyres ok (not super confidence inspiring on the front end, but what do you expect from OEM Dunlop D252s!). The engine is sublime. It just pulled smoothly no matter what gear you were in. The road included 25 – 45kph marked bends and it handled them all easily at the speed I was riding at. When it got dark the headlight was perfectly adequate. I had a couple of vehicles to pass along the way and it did so with no fuss whatsoever. If I’d chosen a cruiser bike for this purpose I think I’d still be stuck behind those cars. As the road continued beyond Long Flat the bike was perfect for fast commuting along the moderately twisty road. Just spot on. It was easy to buzz past traffic, but not a sportsbike asking you to do go-to-gaol speeds just to stay awake. I was really enjoying the character of the bike. Slower? Yes, absolutely, but still very enjoyable. It will let you lean over and it will pull happily right through its rev range if you feel the need. To temper this assessment, I think the reason I was so totally satisfied with the XJR is because I knew I still had a sportsbike waiting at home. Horses for courses. Despite a big engine and Ohlins shocks, the XJR is no sportsbike. Anyone who relishes the precision handling and superb acceleration of a sports motorcycle will simply be disappointed if they seek the same from the XJR. There was some heavy overnight rain in Port Macquarie, but the sun took over and roasted the roads dry again. After completing some duties at Port in the morning I was ready to head home at midday. A quick photo stop for Elwyn by the beach (see the photo at the top. Elwyn) and I was on my way. I rode back to Sydney with a mix of roads including the freeway, Krambach to Stroud, Cessnock to Wollombi and the Old Pacific Highway. The suspension never got flustered with the poor road surface on Buckett’s. No need for a steering dampener or close attention from the rider. Also no need to do twice the speed limit to make it enjoyable. On the smoother surface corners I found later in the ride the bike felt great. It really likes those corners and you can tip her over and just revel in the torque. No need for hooning, but if you wanted to, it felt pretty nimble for a bike of its type. The bike pulled up the sweeping uphill corners on the Old Pacific Highway from Brooklyn to Berowra beautifully and I rode the whole lot in top gear quite happily. I rolled back into town quite happy with the bike and sorry the ride was over so fast. Thanks for the story, Geoff. Certainly a great way to get to know your bike! I’m glad it turned out to be exactly what you want.
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