Yamaha Diversion Problems: 3 Known Issues (Explained)

Introduced in 1992, the Yamaha Diversion has gained a reputation as a cost-effective motorcycle that gives reliable performance.

However, the model has its own flaws, which we will discuss in this article.

Based on reports, here are the most common problems on the Yamaha Diversion models:

1. Condensation May Lead to Contaminated Oil

It’s fairly common knowledge among motor-heads that water in your engine oil is bad for their bike’s health.

Water and engine oil don’t mix, and that can lead to many problems.

One of these problems is rust: water ‘oxidizes’ engine oil, increasing its acidity and corrosive. Any engine part that meets the now-acidic oil will rust.

Your Engine and Water:

There are ways water can get in your oil, one of which is condensation. When a hot engine cools down, water vapor condenses inside the engine.

This vapor will burn off if you drive your bike long enough at operating temperature.

However, if you only make short trips, the condensed water will merely turn into water droplets and contaminate the oil.

This is because brief drives don’t allow the engine to get hot enough to burn off the condensed water.

This problem mostly occurs on Diversion models that do not see frequent use. A sitting bike never reaches operating temperatures, allowing condensation to build up in the engine. As explained earlier, this condensation will eventually liquefy and contaminate the engine oil.

Riding habits aren’t the only cause of this problem, though. Weather can also influence the rate of condensation in the engine.

For example, Diversion bikes are known to suffer from engine oil condensation in winter. Water collects in the engine during cold winter months and condenses, and once the engine starts running, the condensed water will mix with the oil.

Other than rust, water in the engine oil can lead to the following problems:

  1. Etching/pitting/fretting: When water mixes with oil, the result is the generation of hydrogen, which causes etching, pitting, and fretting on internal components.
  2. Reduction in film strength: Water isn’t a viscous (thick) liquid, but engine oil is. This viscosity, known as “film strength,” allows oil to lubricate engine parts without the heat burning off the oil.

When water contaminates engine oil, it reduces the film strength, thereby reducing its lubricant quality. This will cause the parts to grind against each other, leading to excessive engine heat and other problems.

How do you prevent condensation buildups on your Yamaha Diversion? The best thing you can do is to ensure you ride your bike for at least one hour every few days. This way, the engine will get hot enough to burn off condensed vapor in the engine.

2. Widespread Clutch Problems

The clutch is an important part of a bike’s transmission.

Problems with this component affect acceleration and the gear-shifting process. According to several customer complaints, the clutch on the Yahama Diversion model is prone to several problems.

Here are some of the clutch problems on the Yamaha Diversion:

Clutch Drag:

An oft-reported problem among Diversion owners is that the clutch drags. Clutch drag occurs when the clutch plates don’t fully release.

In such instances, switching gears becomes difficult. Worse, the bike may creep when in gear.

Clutch drag is often because of an improperly adjusted clutch, damaged clutch-cable, or a faulty clutch release system.

A worn clutch basket or clutch hub can also cause clutch drag.

Difficulty in Changing Gears:

If you hear clunking noises or feel some jerkiness when switching gears, or if shifting seems clunky,  something’s up. It could be a bad clutch or a damaged clutch cable.

The latter is a much cheaper fix, and if you’re fortunate, it might just be a lack of free play in the clutch cable that’s making things stiff, and all you need is a cable adjustment.

If it’s not the clutch-cable, it might result from a stiff/stuck clutch or that the plates themselves are worn out.

Sometimes it’s as simple as cold oil. Anytime something feels stiff, check your oil first. If it’s clean and the bike has the proper amount, run it for a few minutes to warm the oil and thin out its viscosity.

If you have the proper amount of the appropriate oil type and your bike is warmed up, it’s time to look into adjusting your cable or inspecting your plates.

Grinding Noise:

A clutch drag is signified by difficulty shifting gears. Sometimes this is accompanied by an abrasive grinding noise.

While a metallic grinding noise may accompany the difficult shifting gears and be a solid indicator of clutch drag, the sound’s not always there.

If the bike is lubed up properly and the oil is hot, check the cable and the plates whether or not you hear the grinding noise.

Clutch Slipping:

This is perhaps the most common clutch problem faced by owners of the Diversion motorcycles.

It’s normal for the clutch to “slip” when the clutch lever is pulled in; the clutch responds by slipping to prevent shocks to the motorcycle and transmission damage, but once the lever is released, the clutch should stop slipping.

A clutch slip happens when the friction plates don’t engage fully. This allows the flywheel to spin at a different rate than the friction plates. What happens afterward is described as the clutch slipping.

Signs of a slipping clutch include:

  1. Delayed engagement: This refers to a situation where the engine’s RPMs go up, but the motorcycle’s speed does not. When you twist the throttle, the motorcycle should accelerate. However, if you have a slipping clutch, the acceleration drags, sometimes severely.
  2. Stuck clutch lever: On some affected bikes, the clutch gets stuck either when fully released or pulled in. While this may signal a damaged clutch-cable, it could be a sign of a bad clutch.
  3. Burning oil: The oil on a bike with slipping clutch issues will give off a burned smell.

Possible Causes for a Clutch Problem:

I. Improperly Adjusted Clutch Controls:

If your clutch lever and clutch cable are not adjusted properly, it can cause it to slip.

II. Using the Incorrect Oil Type:

Using the following types of oil will affect clutch performance:

  1. Oil not recommended by the manufacturer (Yamaha)
  2. Non-motorcycle specific oil, e.g., automotive oils

Different motors require different oil types with specific ratings. There are many oil-types out there, so be sure you’re using the oils type that Yamaha recommends for the Diversion specifically.

Manufacturers put additives in automotive lubricants to increase friction-reduction capabilities.


III. Lack of lubrication:

The Yamaha Diversion uses a wet clutch, meaning it needs continuous lubrication.

If lubrication is inadequate, the clutch plates may become stiff.

Should this happen, you may experience hard gearshifts or noises when trying to switch gears.

IV. Over-Saturation:

Just like a lack of lubrication can cause the clutch to drag, the plates’ over-saturation can cause them to slip. Be sure you’re using exactly the right amount of oil.

If you’re changing your own oil, you sit on the bike to keep it upright for 10 minutes to drain out all the oil that’s stuck inside the engine and primary.

Worn clutch plates:

As with every other motorcycle, the clutch plates on the Yamaha Diversion cannot last forever.

At some point, they will wear out, and you will need to buy new ones.

Beyond that, the clutch plates may wear thin and cannot provide the friction needed to connect with the flywheel.   

Here are some ways to fix clutch problems on Diversion bikes:

  • Use only manufacturer-recommended oil.
  • Lubricate clutch plates.
  • Service and inspect the bike routinely, adhering to the schedule in the owner’s manual.
  • Replace worn clutch (or any worn clutch component).

3. Engine Makes Strange Noises

This is more of an issue for older, carburated Divisions, but since there are still quite a few of them on the road, we thought we’d shed some light on any noises you might hear.

On the affected models, the engine emits a ticking or rattling noise at idle or under acceleration.

We would advise you to keep your ears peeled for weird sounds while test riding; older bikes are noisy, and many owners can live with it. Some riders love it; be sure you’re honest about what level of moto-racket you’re comfortable with.

Possible causes of the engine noise of the Yamaha Diversion include:

  • 1. Unbalanced carbs/incorrect valve clearances
  • 2. Faulty thrust bearings
  • 3. Loose oil pump drive pin

The engine noise problem on the Diversion model isn’t major. There are slews of videos online that’ll teach you to make adjustments, and if you’re not comfortable or can’t find the time to wrench on your own bike, these are cheap and easy adjustments that any mechanic can make.

Like I said, some riders like noisy bikes. I even know a guy who used the noise as a bargaining chip while negotiating with a seller to get the price lowered.

General Pros and Cons of the Yamaha Diversion

Here are some of the positive and negative qualities of the Yamaha Diversion:

Pros of Yamaha Diversion

Here are some of the qualities of the Yamaha Diversion motorcycle:

1. Affordable Price:

If you are looking for a budget-price bike, the Yamaha Diversion is your best bet.

The Diversion prioritizes quality/dependability over things like performance and looks.

While this makes it a little less attractive than its other Yamaha siblings, it allows the company to sell it for cheap.

2. Impressive Reliability:

Besides being affordable, the Diversion is also reliable.

It does not come with flashy components like premium models. A simple design means simple maintenance and fewer components to keep up with.

Overall, the Diversion is a dependable bike, and it is not uncommon to see Diversions with high-mileage.

3. Easy to Work On:

Early Diversion models, particularly those released in the 1990s and 2000s, are quite easy to service.

While newer models are water-cooled, the early models used air-cooled engines.

This means you do not have to deal with water pumps, thermostats, or fans. Even the more extensive servicing, like checking the engine’s bucket and shim valves, do not require any special tools.

4. Comfortable Riding Position:

Upright handlebars and well-padded seats make the Diversion models very comfortable to ride.

It even features adjustable bars that can be pulled in by the rider to facilitate easy gripping. The optional fairing also keeps the wind out of the rider’s face.

Yamaha set the diversion up Diversion to be a relaxing ride.

Cons of Yamaha Diversion

Here are some shortcomings of the Yamaha Diversion:

  1. Condensation May Lead to Contaminated Oil
  2. Widespread Clutch Problems
  3. Noisy Motor

What Do the Reviews Say?

“Bikes don’t get more honest and straightforward than Yamaha’s Diversion. It’s an affordable, useful, and unintimidating four-cylinder middleweight that, while certainly no glamour machine, is handsome enough and does exactly what it says on the tin – so there are lots to like. So, whether you’re after a first big bike on a budget or want a no-frills workhorse that can eat up year-round miles economically, the Yamaha XJ6 Diversion still has plenty to offer and is worth a second look.”

[Source: Motorcyclenews.com]

“Everything from the clutch response to the gearbox feels smooth-as-butter to use. Nothing about the Yamaha XJ6 is intimidating in the slightest sense, apart from the aggressive looking headlight. This is essential for someone just getting into bikes or for the more subtle personalities out there.”

[Source: Ultimatemotorcyclingnews.com]

What’s The Resale Value On the Yamaha Diversion?

Year Mileage Price ($)
2001 17,500 1,567
2011 9,243 4,765
2010 5,739 3,950
2013 4,604 4,388
2015 18,482 3,635
2012 38,000 3,756


2009 Yamaha XJ6 & XJ6 Diversion | Euro Review


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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.