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XJ6s and FZ6Rs – separated by an ocean?

As the Diversion is now sitting in the garage for winter (I must remember to attach the battery tender!), I’ve been looking for a few bits and pieces to sort out some of the niggles I have with it.

The Hornet took a while to grow on me, but in nudging 80,000 miles I haven’t felt the need to change a single thing, apart from bits that wore out of course.

Riding the Yamaha XJ6 Diversion has, on the other hand, thrown up a bunch of things I actually feel the need to change. The bike’s 20kgs / 50lbs too heavy. The footpegs are too far forward. The bars are too wide. The gearing is far too low. A tank cover would also be good, to protect the paintwork.

The XJ is noticably heavier than my CB600F Hornet. Given that the dimensions are the same, the motor is out of an R6 and they both use a steel frame, it’s hard to see exactly where the weight is. The fairing is skinny, the seat weights nothing, and there’s not a lot of bodywork. The catalyser in the exhaust weighs a few kilos extra, but it’s not 20kgs heavy. Nor are the wheels heavier than the Hornet’s.

My guess is that the steel in the frame and swing arm is low quality. It’s the old bicycle frame trick – high quality steel equals thin walls, light weight. Gas pipe frames weigh a ton. Nothing much I can do about that. I also suspect some of the small bolt-on parts like the footrests are very heavy, so I guess I could change those, but it’s small beer really in terms of grams saved for a fairly hefty hit on the wallet.

The gearing is probably the easiest to sort out. A one tooth over front sprocket is simple and should, if my calculations are correct, raise the gearing around 6%.

Not a huge amount, but it should mean that the bike runs out of power before it runs out of revs at the top end (on an Autobahn, obviously, Officer). It should also drop the inaccurate speedo more or less on the money. Any bigger changes would either mean the speedo underreading (bad!) or the requirement for a ‘speedo healer’ to recalibrate it.

The riding position could be better. To be fair, when I rode the Yam to the Dordogne and back earlier this summer, a cross-country trip of about 500 miles and ten hours each way from the Channel coast, I wasn’t particularly achy.

The one piece seat we get in the UK is better on than the one on the Hornet, that’s for sure, but lower, narrower bars would have reduced wind pressure on the chest, and I was struggling with the pegs which didn’t allow me to put as much weight on my toes as I would have liked.

Unless someone brings out a rearset mounting kit, there’s nothing I can do about the footrest position. The bars I can and will tackle. I’ve already tried rotating the reversible mounts on the top yoke but they just push the bars further away and slightly higher still; not what I was looking for. Some American riders have fitted clip-on style bars attached to the fork legs which look much tidier than the old-school bars, as well as giving a lower, narrower riding position, but again it’s at a cost. I’ll probably look for some lower risers and narrower bars.

Whilst investigating these mods, I also noticed that the Americans get a rather funky split seat that’s adjustable for height at the front, rather than the very dull one piece dual seat we get. It looks as if, with a couple of extra parts, and by repositioning the seat lock mechanism, the US seat can be made to fit, but I’ll need to investigate that in detail.

But the big question is why did Yamaha see the need to produce the same model with a different seat? Why do the Yanks get the adjustable seat and the Europeans don’t? It makes no sense when this is the kind of non-threatening machine that’s pitched at women? Do they think that the only female riders of bikes in Europe are 6ft Valkyries or something?

It makes little sense on a financial level either. With Yamaha sales as dire as they are in the UK at the moment (they put their prices up around 20% across the board at the beginning of 09 and sales have taken a corresponding nosedive), it beggars belief that they can actually have two totally different seat configurations on what is supposed to be a budget bike.

After all, it doesn’t matter which side of the Atlantic we are, we both have to sit on the bike to ride it!

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