July 2, 2005, 12,800km
After my crash with the GT550 I had to have a replacement asap, because I didn't want to use the ZX-12R as commuter-bike.
First I was looking for another GT550 (they're still out there), but decided to buy a bigger bike. This because there are some, very early, plans to go to Spain by bike next year. I could do that with the ZX-12R, but a more comfortable bike would be better. So, it must be a bigger bike with shaft-drive and which would be almost as fuel efficient as the GT550. And it shouldn't cost too much. This lead me pretty soon to the Yamaha XJ900F: shaft-driven, reliable, low fuel consumption, comfortable. Only negative point I can think of is that it isn't a Kawasaki.
Searching the Internet I found lots of XJ900's that wanted to change owner. So I had enough choice and could make low offerings. A very interesting bike was one from 1989 with only 12,700km on the odometer. Could this be true?
Today I went to have a look at it and the mileage seems legit. The external has some wear and rust due to the weather, but the engine sounds and feels ok. I had a test drive and the bike felt ok too. Except for the steering head bearing that seems to be too tight (like on the GT).
Because the price was right (2,000 euro) I bought the bike, so now I'm the proud owner of a Yamaha XJ 900 F.
July 4, 2005, 12,950km
Been to work for the first time with the XJ. The bike feels good, stable. Suspension is ok, brakes are fine.
I still doubt more and more the odometer reading. There are some things that are strange for a bike that has done so little kilometers. E.g. the fuel tank has been painted over (maybe only on the bottom side) and it seems the carburetor tops have been removed (shouldn't have been necessary within this distance covered). One of these days I'm going to have a better look at the bike. I want to check e.g. the sparkplugs and brake pads. And one of the rearlight bulbs is broken so I've got to change that one too.
July 5, 2005, 13,050km
The steering head bearing that's too tight is a big nuisance and I have to fix it asap. Other -small- problem is the fact that the clutch lever has to be pulled all the way in order for the clutch to disengage. The seemingly faulty rearlight bulb worked again, so it must be a bad contact somewhere.
July 6, 2005, 13,169km
Emptied the fuel tank for the first time. I rode 352 km with 18.3 liters of fuel. This means an average of more than 19 kilometers on every liter. That's good, that's very good! Not as good as the GT550 (did 1:22), but for a 900cc bike very nice.
The auto-cancelling indicator light switch starts to annoy me. I seldom forget the indicator lights and this auto-cancelling happens most of the times too soon, or too late. I must find out if I can sabotage this stuff.
I'm pretty sure now the odometer reads wrong. I had a look at the rear disc brake and it's quite worn.
July 7, 2005, 13,169km
Cowards have attacked London. Idiots...
Unaware of this news I was working on the XJ in my garage. I've checked most of the vital points and a few things require some work.
July 7, 2005, 13,263km
Today I got the sad news that one of the French ZX-12R riders I've met at the ZX-12R meeting in Clairmont-Ferrand, Bernard, has died in a motorcycle accident. Bernard was a nice, fun guy who will be dearly missed.
While going to work with the XJ I could try the changes I've made to steering head bearing and tire pressures. The bike felt a lot better and steering was much easier. Still I'm not 100% content. Steering still isn't what I'd expect it to be, a bit vague maybe. It could be that I'm spoiled by the ZX-12R, and maybe the tires used and overall geometry of the bike resulted to this handling. Time will tell.
July 10, 2005, 13,274km
Because I'm thinking about taking the XJ on my vacation to Normandy (France) in two weeks, I thought it would be wise to submit the bike to a kind of shake down test. I want to be sure it won't brake down on my vacaction, so today I took the bike on a pretty long trip to Germany.
I went to the river Mosel because I know the way and because the Mosel valley is very beautiful.
First I drove a couple of 100km's on the Dutch highway and German Autobahn to Koblenz. In Germany I could test the high speed handling. Up until 180kmh the bike stayed stable, above that it starts to weave. Above 6,000rpm the XJ started to vibrate quite a bit too. Probably because of this the right rear indicator light bulb broke. Still it was nice to see that the bike can be used as Autobahn burner.
In Koblenz I started to follow the river Mosel westwards. While riding easy and slowly the bike is very fuel economic (see below). At a certain point I had enough of this easy riding and I decided to head home asap. The secondary roads are great to ride too in Germany. In The Netherlands you have every 100 mtr a speed bump or speed camera, in Germany they have none of this. Or at least a lot less than in The Netherlands.
After 853km and 11 hours I was home again. The Yamaha passed the test very well. Comfort was good (I started to feel my behind only after 8 hours in the saddle), stability was good, brakes were fine, fuel consumption was very low. On the downside were the vibrations and (related) the fact that the bike is unwilling to quickly rev high. It could be that the carb setup isn't perfect, or maybe this is something that's typical for this type of bike, or a bit of both.
July 16, 2005, 14,313km
Bought new brake pads for the rear brake (37.50 euro).
July 18, 2005, 14,313km
Replaced the brake pads.
July 25 - July 29 2005, Vacation in Normandy, France, 16,547km
Because I've read a lot about D-Day, have seen some movies that depict it, and played some games that are set in wartime Normandy, I always wanted to have a look myself at this interesting region. This week it was finally happening.
I went to France on the Yamaha, and not on the ZX-12R because the XJ is more fuel efficient, more comfortable, can more easily carry luggage and tires don't cost an arm and a leg. Looking back I don't regret this decision, the Yamaha was exactly I hoped it would be. Except maybe for the very soft suspension. This really needs an upgrade before any other long trip.
Normandy is very beautiful with hills, forests, beaches, nice villages, etc. On wednesday I went to see the D-Day sights and sites. I saw Arromanches with the remnants of the Mulberry harbour, the very impressive American cemetery and memorial at Colleville, the Pegasus bridge at Ranville, the invasion beaches, the paratrooper at the church and museum at St. Mere - Eglise, the clifs at Pointe du Hoc that Rangers had to climb.
All in all I was very impressed with the effort taken in those days by all these young men and the sacrifices made. It was good to see that the French and other Allies are taking good care of the monuments and sites.
August 8 2005, 16,640km
Added some oil. The XJ doesn't use much oil, but the quick return from France (doing 160kmh where possible) took its toll.
Took the bike to work and a heavy steering was noticeable. Could be the tire pressure? Have to check this asap.
When returning home the oil light came on for a short while and went out again. Some glitch somewhere?
August 22 2005, 17,240km
Tire pressure is ok. There are two other possibilities for the heavy steering: 1. shape/brand of the tires or 2. steering head bearing (no, not again...). I'm planning to take the bike to the dealer within a few weeks for some maintenance and have them sort things out. I want them to replace the front springs and rear shocks too.
September 7 2005, 17,670km
Replaced broken bulb of right rear indicator light.
September 14 2005, 17,952km
Measured the fuel consumption once again. This time the bike used 18.3 liters of (expensive) fuel on 414km. That means an average of 22 kilometers on every liter. That's very good. Just as good as the GT550. But I must confess these were mainly slow kilometers through traffic jams. Still not bad.
September 22 2005, 17,952km
Made an appointment for a service job with my dealer. The 12th of October will be the big day. I've had them order new front springs (H.K.'s, previous White Power W.P.) and new rear shocks (Ikon, previous Koni). This together with an adjusted ballhead bearing must turn the XJ into a perfectly handling bike.
September 27 2005, 18,282km
When I wanted to start the bike this evening the battery died on me. When I pressed the starterbutton all the electricity was gone. I called the autoclub and within half an hour they came on a Pan European. The guy hooked his battery pack onto my battery and I could start the engine. Without problems I got home. There I tried to start the engine again with the same result as before: all the power gone at a press of the button. Very strange. A short circuit somewhere? The bike has been standing all day in the rain. I decided to remove the battery from the bike to charge it at home. While doing this I accidentaly broke off one of the bolts of the battery. Now I for sure must buy a new battery. Until I've done that I've got to use the ZX-12R to get met to and fro work. Pity in this lousy weather.
September 30 2005, 18,282km
Bought a new battery (€ 50) and will replace the old one next Sunday. I'm very curious if this will fix the problem.
October 2 2005, 18,282km
Hurrah! Replaced the battery and everything is ok now. I noticed that the old battery wasn't meant for the XJ, the connections were on the wrong side. Amateurs!
October 13 2005, 18,630km
Yesterday the XJ got serviced. As a loaner I got a Honda CB500. Probably ex-driving school bike. Such a small, light bike can still be a lot of fun. Full throttle and doing barely 140kmh it felt like a moped.
This morning I picked up the XJ again. They replaced all the oil (engine, brake and shaft), replaced oil and air filters, adjusted 5 valves and replaced the front and rear springs. It took them 6 hours, but now I've got a whole new Yamaha XJ900 back. Suspension is very fine now, a bit harsh, like I like it, brakes are no longer spongy, the engine is willing to do some revs, no more increase in vibrations around 6.000rpm. I'm a happy man. Only the steering isn't as neutral as I'm used to. Could be the geometry of the bike and/or the tires. Some new tires in due time will learn more. The servicing cost 867 euro (incl new springs and labour). A lot of money (again) but worth it.
October 18 2005, 18,950km
Accelerated up to 220kmh. The bike got a little bit instable, but not much.
October 21 2005, 19,260km
After initially being harsh, the rear suspension now started to feel a bit soft due to a lack of damping. Seems new shocks have to be run in too. I decided to turn the damping adjusters to level 3, recommended for a sporty ride or riding with a passenger. I guess the damping regulates compression and rebound damping at the same time. I haven't tried the new setup yet, but it must be an improvement.
October 21 2005, 19,350km
Suspension is fine now.
November 9 2005, 20,000km
Bike is still running fine. Fuel consumption on average a low 1 liter on every 20 kilometers. Steering still isn't as good as it should be (bearing or tires). Right rear indicator light refuses duty now and then, must be a loose contact somewhere. The switch for the horn is too far away from the handlebar grip. A few times I needed to warn a cager and everytime I missed the button. Something to get used to I guess.
November 14 2005, 20,300km
Last night we had the first frost of this season. Happily I put the wiring for the heated gloves in my jacket this weekend, so I could enjoy them on this cold morning.
I've checked the ball head bearing. I think turning was a bit heavier than it should, but it wasn't too bad. So I'm still not sure what's causing the non-neutral steering behaviour.
The bike needs a "real-men's" horn, the squeek of the standard horn is pathetic.
November 17 2005, 20,550km
Ordered a Fiamm HF-90 horn from RideSafer (17 euro). Let's see if this one can wake up cagers.
November 25 2005, 21,000km
Weather-alert. Today we had lots of rain, snow, thunderstorms, etc., and people were adviced to stay at home if it wasn't really necessary to go out. Most of the time when there's a weather-alert things aren't so bad, so I went on the XJ to my work. I got my share of wind and rain, but thanks to my perfect clothing (Dianese and Gerbing) I stayed dry and warm. On my way home I got some wet snow, but still no big problem. At home I heard that half the country had big troubles and people stood for hours in traffic jams. I guess I was lucky this time.
November 30 2005, 21,310km
Today the package with my new horn arrived from the States. I'm going to pick it up on Friday.
It's quite cold the last days and you've got to be carefull on two wheels. Today and yesterday I saw bicyclists falling down due to the frozen roads. This is for me always a good indicator of the road conditions: how well bicyclists manage to stay upright. ;)
December 2 2005, 21,510km
Picked up the horn. Looks like it will do the job. I even got som complementary earplugs with the horn. Just to warn me about the loudness of it?
This afternoon I replaced the old horn with the new one. What a difference! The new one is really loud!
December 27 2005, 23,030km
Nothing much happened the last two weeks. The XJ does its job quite well.
Temps dropped to around zero celcius. Pretty cold. The Gerbing heated gloves are perfect.
I always hear a lot about freezing carbs, but, happily, neither the GT550, nor the XJ suffer from this problem.
December 30 2005, 23,230km
Took the day off today. They forecast all kinds of nasty weather phenomena, like snow, ice rain, etc. Our meteorological institute has issued a weather alarm. Our railway company NS advices against taking the train after 16.00 hour.
Don't wanna be on my bike when the shit hits the fan.
January 1 2006, 23,230km
Happy New Year!
The story continues on a new page.