We’re reader supported. We may earn commissions through our links.

3 Most Common Problems With Yamaha XJR 1200

Introduced in 1994, the XJR 1200 was part of the high-powered, naked bike scene that grew in the early 90s. With its retro design, the XJR 1200 is a bike for turning heads.

It offers enough speed for performance freaks, yet it is more comfortable than most modern-day sportbikes. There’s no denying that the XJR 1200 is a valuable investment.

However, it’s best if you knew the problems associated with this model.

To help you, we’ve compiled a list of common issues experienced by owners of the XJR 1200.

Here are the most common problems with the XJR 1200:

1. Engine Cuts Out While Riding

One of the complaints we’ve encountered regarding the Yamaha XJR 1200 is that the engine tends to cut out while riding.

An engine cutting out is the same as engine stalling, which means your bike may lose power and stop running.

No one wants to have the engine on his bike cutting out while riding, as it can ruin the entire experience. Moreover, it can put the rider at risk of a collision or crash.

Possible Causes:

Several things can be responsible for this problem:

Typically, the first suspect will be the spark plugs. The spark plugs provide the spark for igniting the fuel-air mixture in the engine’s combustion chamber.

If the spark plugs are dirty or faulty, they may provide a weak spark or no spark at all. Should this happen, the fuel mixture won’t ignite, and the bike won’t get the power it needs to run.

Another potential cause of the problem is a faulty pickup coil. The pickup coils work in tandem with the bike’s ignition system to ensure the bike runs properly. If the pickup coil is faulty, the engine won’t receive any spark.

Also, a failed pickup coil (or one that’s about to fail) will definitely cause engine stalling. Before the stall, you may notice that the engine is idling roughly as it warms up. Shortly after you start riding, the bike will stall and won’t start until the engine is cooled.

Finally, some owners have reported the stalling problem to be a result of trapped vent hoses. The vent hoses help your bike’s engine breathe and reduce the gas vapors that escape into the tank during fueling.

You could easily trap/dislocate the vent hoses, especially if you disassemble the carbs or take the tank off.

If this is the case, the bike’s fuel supply will be affected, and the engine may cut out at speed.

Possible Solutions:

  1. Inspect the spark plugs: The color of the spark plugs should be light brown or gray. However, if they are white or completely black, there’s something wrong with them.
    • Spark plugs are cheap and easy to replace, so you shouldn’t have a hard time replacing them.
  2. Inspect the pickup coils: If they are faulty, we’d advise you to have a technician replace them for you.
  3. Check the vent hoses: This applies if you recently re-fitted your tank or carbs. It’s relatively easy to trap or shift the vent hoses during these repairs.
    • You should get pictures/videos that show the correct position of the vent hoses. Inspect the vent pipes and see if they are correctly placed. If they are not, try to adjust them or have your mechanic do it.

2. Engine Misfires And Backfires

Engine problems seem to be a common issue on the XJR 1200 models, especially those older, used bokes with upgraded exhaust systems.

Apart from the engine cutting out, riders have also reported cases of engine misfires and backfire. To clarify, a misfire and a backfire are not the same things.

An engine backfires when the engine is getting too much fuel at the expense of air, i.e., it is “running rich.” The excess (unburned) fuel then ignites in the intake manifold or exhaust manifold instead of a cylinder.

You’ll likely hear a mild popping noise or strong bang in the exhaust when the backfire occurs.

“Running Lean”

Conversely, the misfire results from an overabundance of air in the engine, i.e., it is “running lean.”

Once there’s an imbalance in the fuel-to-air ratio, one or more cylinders may refuse to fire. What happens afterward is misfiring; you may hear popping or chuffing noise from the engine when the misfire occurs.

Engine misfires and backfires are some of the most frustrating problems for riders, especially those unfamiliar with an engine’s inner workings.

Engine Misfire Symptoms:

  1. Rough idling
  2. Poor acceleration
  3. Excessive exhaust fumes
  4. Engine stalling
  5. Weird engine noises

Engine Backfires Symptoms:

  1. Loud popping noise from the exhaust
  2. Decrease in power
  3. Excessive exhaust smoke

Possible Solutions:

The first thing to look into on a bike that’s popping like crazy is the exhaust system, especially if you bought the bike used and it came equipped with an aftermarket system.


If it’s misfiring, the same could be true of the air intake.


Novice riders have a bad habit of upgrading to slip-on pipes that sound tough without considering the part’s utility.

Because each motor has an ideal air: fuel ratio that must be maintained to keep performance consistent, changing the bike’s exhaust or the air intake requires an adjustment, and routine readjustments are required to keep the ration in its sweet spot.

If the bike is misfiring or backfiring, take the bike to a Yamaha-literate mechanic and have them tune the air intake and exhaust to specifications.

3. Excessive Vibration Under Acceleration

It is quite normal for a motorcycle to vibrate while riding. The up-and-down movement of the pistons in the engine produces shaking forces, which cause vibration. This type of vibration is hardly noticeable and won’t be a source of discomfort.

However, if vibrations become pronounced and cause discomfort, something is wrong. This engine vibration affects most bikes over time, shaking things up in the motor and requiring routine inspection, and the Yamaha XJR models, including the XJR 1200 and its spin-off, the XJR 1300, are no different.

According to reports, engine vibration on these bikes mostly occurs between 3000-5000 RPM.

Several things can cause this problem. We have loose engine mounts; engine mounts separate the engine and the bike’s frame. This prevents the engine’s vibrations from reaching the frame, which will cause the bike to vibrate.

If the engine mount is loose, it won’t absorb shaking forces from the engine. Consequently, the vibration from the machine will be transferred to the motorcycle’s frame.

Also, a bad crankshaft may be responsible for engine vibration. The crankshaft uses a system of journal rods, bearing journals, and weights to counterbalance the rotating pistons’ vibration. If any of these parts are bad, the counterbalance isn’t happening effectively.

Another possible culprit for abnormal and aggressive vibration is a stuck piston. If a piston in the engine cylinder meets resistance, its inertia will shake it loose and keep it moving, resulting in energetic vibration.


Possible Solutions:

  1. Inspect the engine mounts: Check if the engine mounts are secured in place. If the screws are loose, try using a torque screwdriver to tighten them.
  2. Examine the crankshaft/crankshaft bearings: You can either do this or have your technician do it. Whichever way, if a faulty crankshaft is responsible for the problem, you will have to replace the old part with a new one.
  3. Inspect the Piston: This can be a detailed job. There are some great DIY techniques for doing this online, but if you doubt your experience, we recommend getting an experienced motorcycle technician to take a look.

General Pros and Cons of the Yamaha XJR 1200:

Here are the selling points and shortcomings of the XJR 1200:

Pros of Yamaha XJR 1200

1. Great Performance:

As we said earlier in the article, the XJR 1200 was part of the naked muscle bikes popular in the 90s.

This meant the XJR 1200 came with a powerful 1188cc, four-cylinder engine that produced around 67 lbs-ft of torque at just 6000 RPM.

If you’re looking for an affordable performance bike, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Yamaha XJR 1200.

2. Good Ride Quality:

Unlike modern-day sport bikes, the Yamaha XJR 1200 combines comfort with performance.

The riding position is fairly upright and comfortable for long rides.

In addition, the handling is incredibly responsive and gives the rider a sense of control.

However, the high weight of the bike may affect handling on occasions.

3. Classic Design:

The Yamaha XJR 1200 features shiny black paint and chrome polish on specific components, all of which accentuate its retro look.

If you find classic bikes appealing and are willing to fork over the cash, the XJR 1200 is an excellent option.

Cons of Yamaha XJR 1200

Here are some of the drawbacks of the Yamaha XJR 1200:

  1. Engine Cuts Out While Riding
  2. Engine Misfires And Backfires
  3. Excessive Vibration Under Acceleration

What Do the Reviews Say?

“If you do hanker after that authentic 1970s experience, then consider the Yamaha XJR 1200 retro motorbike. With a meaty four-cylinder, air-cooled engine, derived from the XS 1100, the Yamaha XJR 1200 has the right look, feel and comfort levels for a trip down memory lane.”

[Source: carolenash.com]

What’s The Resale Value On the Yamaha XJR 1200?

Year Mileage Price($)
1997 3,982 23,308
1999 3,931 24,125
1996 3,694 22,000
1997 3,255 45,893

Note: You may have to import these bikes into the U.S.A. Besides, these prices may vary based on factors such as mileage, location, etc.


YAMAHA XJR1200 – Review

Was this article helpful? Like Dislike

Click to share...

Did you find wrong information or was something missing?
We would love to hear your thoughts! (PS: We read ALL feedback)