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Yamaha Europe has given a new lease of life to the last remaining air-cooled model in its big bike line-up by revamping

the XJR1300 with the help of the Italian branch of Australian custom bike builder Deus Ex Machina.

The changes include a much smaller reshaped 14.5-litre plastic fuel tank (previously 21 litres) that’s shorter and lower than the last model’s metal version. Despite Yamaha’s claim that the tank and fuel system will tolerate petrol containing up to 10-percent ethanol, this apparently disqualifies the new model from being sold in Australia.

The revised model features a reshaped one-piece taper-section aluminium handlebar that’s higher and more pulled back than before. The seat is flatter but positioned quite a bit higher (830mm compared to previous version’s 795mm). The rear mudguard and mirror stalks are shorter, the headlight is smaller and there’s a race-style aluminium numberplate on the right-hand side.

A great trip down memory lane, but now with added cool
Most of the previous version’s chrome details have been given the black treatment. There’s a new LED rear light and revamped numberplate hanger, as well as new graphics for the twin analogue dials. The previous model’s 4-1-2 silencers have been replaced by a much harder-looking 4-1 café racer-style black-wrap single canister.

The 1251cc four-cylinder engine remains unchanged. It pulls cleanly away with just a little more than the 1100rpm idle speed – with a lovely linear build of power from just over 2000rpm.

revamped img1

Its relentless acceleration is accompanied by a deep whine from the primary drive as the engine heads towards the 9500rpm rev-limiter. You don’t need to rev it that far: just surf those waves of torque and rely on the five-speed gearbox’s well-chosen ratios to keep you driving effortlessly forward.

Weighing 240kg wet, the XJR1300 is slightly cumbersome at slow speeds, but once on the move it feels wieldy. The leverage delivered by the upright ’bar helps you tackle fast corners, secure in knowing that the big Yamaha will go exactly where you want it to. The front brakes felt a little wooden, but the powerful rear brake more than makes up for it.

The retro-looking fork and fully adjustable piggyback twin Öhlins shocks did a good job of damping out bumps on a variety of surfaces, with ample compliance at both ends.

At £8,599 ($16,600) in the UK, which is significantly less than the BMW R nineT, the XJR1300 makes a really good case for itself. It’s the two-wheeled equivalent of an American V8 musclecar – a great trip down memory lane, but now with added cool. Just a shame it’s not available in Oz.


Configuration In-line four cylinder
Cylinder head DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Capacity 1,251cc
Bore/stroke 79 x 63.8mm
Compression ratio 9.7:1
Cooling Air
Fueling EFI
Power 71.9 kW @ 8000rpm
Torque 108.4 Nm @ 6000rpm


Type Five speed
Clutch Wet
Final drive Chain


Frame material Steel
Frame layout Double cradle
Rake 24.7°
Trail 92mm


Front: 43mm fork, adjustable preload, 130mm travel
Rear: Twin Öhlins shocks, fully adjustable, 120mm travel s/t


Wheels Three-spoke alloy
Front: 17 x 3.5 Rear: 17 x 5.5
Tyres Dunlop Sportmax D252
Front: 120/70/ZR17 (58W)
Rear: 180/55/ZR17 (73W)


Front: Twin 298mm discs, four-piston calipers
Rear: Single 267mm disc, two-piston caliper


Weight 240kg (wet, claimed)
Seat height 829mm
Max width 820mm
Max height 1120mm
Wheelbase 1500mm
Fuel capacity 14.5L

Fuel consumption Not given
Top speed 260km/h

Testbike Yamaha Europe
Colour options Blue, black, matt grey
Warranty Not applicable
Price £8,599 ($16,600) in UK
Aus availability Not available

This article appears in AMCN Vol64 No21