JON'S "PROTOTYPE" YAMAHA XJ900
Jon lives in Seattle, USA, and is a regular reader of the web-site. In the photo below you can see his bike. Doesn't look like any Yamaha XJ900 that you've seen? That's because it is a customised job that Jon came up with. It came from a quest to find "the perfect motorcycle." As Jon explains, "Through the 1990s, Honda and Yamaha came close to my 'perfect 10' but really the ideal sports-tourer just didn't exist. The closest thing I found was an artist's rendering of a Yamaha prototype but it never rolled off the production line. It did, however, put an idea in motion that took 13 years and hundreds of hours to realize." This is another story that points to the claims of the Yamaha XJ900 being one of the best all-round motorcycles ever produced. In "Oldies Can Be Goldies" I related the story of Motorcycle Trader magazine's Rob Smith who covered 18,000km around the UK and Europe on an old XJ900 he bought on eBay. Yes, it had it's faults, and lacked the power and handling finesse of a modern-day bike, but it handled everything Rob could throw at it, and carried both he and his partner comfortably and reliably for the whole trip. As I mentioned in that article, the old Yammie is often mentioned by those in the know as being one of the true great all-rounders. And Jon's experiences reinforce that view. Jon liked the old XJ900, but didn't like it's half-fairing. During 1995, while restoring an XJ650 turbo, he came across an article that claimed Yamaha were considering producing a version of the XJ900 with the fairing from the XJ650 turbo. That seemed like a perfect combination to Jon, but the model was never produced. Like most of us, Jon settled for compromises. First the XJ650 turbo, and then an FJ1200. Neither really provided what he wanted. Then, years later, he remembered the article, and decided to produce the bike that Yamaha never did. The result is the bike you see here. I've often thought that Yamaha dropped the ball a bit when it came to sports-touring. Now they'd answer that criticism by pointing to the FJR1300, but where is the Yamaha equivalent of the Triumph Sprint, or the Honda VFR? They don't have one. But they would've done if they'd produced this version of the XJ900 and continued down that track. So I think Jon has done a great job with his "Prototype" XJ900. Rather than reproduce the story here, it's best if you visit his web-site and read all about it there. And you can even see (and hear!) a video of the bike. So just click the link and enjoy!
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