Yamaha XJ900S Diversion - A Good Secret


This blog post is courtesy of Steve Toast (AKA Toast in the forums) and is an interesting read on the XJ900S. Kind of makes me want to get one as a bike for the winter commuting!


In 1994 Yamaha updates the old XJ900F and gave it a new lease of life with uprated everything and called it the XJ900S Diversion. This handsome beast really was a gem, but its still-bland styling left it as an also-ran in the face of its sportier brother the FZR1000 EXUP and other manufacturers bikes like Honda’s Fireblade, the mighty Pan and Suzuki’s beefy GSX1000’s and 1100’s.  Markets at the time and a do-anything tourer, long before the modern need for ‘adventure bikes’ took hold, the Diversion, or, Divvie to it’s loyal following, became synonymous with long journeys and daily commutes as well as being the courier bike of choice. Plus, they made it with rims that accepted the new radial tyres. Handling just got better than ever.

Yamaha Diversion XJ900S

It was exactly for that reason I purchased one; having run CX500’s, NTV600’s, I felt the need for something with more power and comfort, with the same flawless reliability as my previous Honda’s. A colleague, Peter, had one and sung its praises; I knew he was not a particularly slow rider, and judging by the amount of distance work he gobbled up in a week, the bike was covering impressive mileages without drama. The need was identified, advice as was taken from this fountain of Divvie folklore.

There’s not a lot to look out for when buying a Divvie; Just the usual checks, make sure everything works, brakes don’t drag, no rust pits on the fork legs, all suspension bearings (the rear shock will be shot if its done more than 20K miles but ignore it) no obvious oil leaks from the engine or drive train; check for any engine fasteners that have been chewed, a sure sign that someone has been poking around in the engine )and why? is the obvious question) and finally the Divvie’s Achilles heel, the collector box under the bike; they rot to pieces, a well-known problem, but easy to fix (if a trifle expensive).

Pete covered over 200,000 miles one of his bikes; he had several, all the same colour, and fixed the numberplate and tax disc to whichever one was working at the time. He’d be servicing or rebuilding one of them so he’s use the other; Today, these bikes are cheap. Really cheap. from £500 upwards, and don’t pay more than £900 for a low mileage (anything up to 60K miles) good condition FSH model with luggage; It is rare that you’ll see a Divvie not sporting the full Givi Wing Rack three boxes system.


Yamaha Diversion XJ900S with luggage

Servicing could not be easier; Genuine Yamaha oil filter and Oil & good-quality semi-synthetic oil. That’s it. Oh, sure, do the valve clearances at about 30K and then ignore them forever unless it starts making a lot of tapping noises or the tick-over and low speed running goes rough. Throw a set of plugs at it every 50K miles or so; Sure, you’ll need to take care of the brake calipers, like all Yams they’re quick-rot deviced but work well; EBC  DoubleH sintered pads only please! Air filter? Sure check it every 20K and replace if dirty. Check final drive oil (EP80 gear oil) every oil change. Use Bridgestone rubber for handling nirvana (anything from 023’s onwards or Avon Storm 3D XM which are good on mileage).

Comfort? all-day riding? No problem, it’s a mile-munching, A & B road swallower. Even two-up with fully-loaded luggage, it’s competent. Only thing is, like many other bikes, don’t take your hands off the handle bars with a top box attached. Keep your hands on the bars and it’s all good. One up, it’s a foot-peg scraping ball of fun. The 900 engine, even with only five gears, has nice long legs in every gear. Whilst other are frantically changing gear, you just wind the throttle back and wait for the red line.

So, I’ve had eleven of these bikes over the years. My latest is being customised, the fairing has been removed, extra lights and triple horns and heated grips (all operated through two 40-amp relays under the seat) mounted to make for a stark-looking beefcake bike, and the rest is going matt black. I’ve fitted after-market slash-cut pipes sourced from the classic bike shop (01527 454158) and it sounds… lovely. Guttural. As a bike should be.
What happened to the previous bikes? The first eight were written off despatching over 20 years; number nine was sold to Pete who wrote it off on the M1 one night when he was rear-ended by some phone-using car-monkey; Number ten was sold whilst teaching people to ride bikes to a very nice chap who was going touring; fate unknown. You can understand my wife’s reticence when I announced my intention to purchase another…

Bad points? It’s a heavy old beast to lug around and park; It’s mostly flat out at 125 and isn’t brilliant on petrol. Brakes are quick rot, especially if used all winter in the salt. It’ll never win a beauty contest. Resale value? Bugger all.

Good point? Cheap as chips to buy & insure; It’s last as long as a 740 Volvo. Reliable, comfortable, spares plentiful 2nd hand except exhausts and, surprisingly, main stands (Another quick rot item). Pattern exhausts available from Sandy Bike Spares 01234 871009 and others.  Pillions will not be complaining about the seat. A lot of stuff still available from Yamaha too. Buy with confidence – if you find a good, loved one, you’ll be made for life. Enjoy.

Yamaha Diversion XJ900S seat

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Comments (4)

  • 1. Hellforleather | 08/03/2018
Recently bought xj900s Trike, brilliant bike but as a trike good fun.

Question my Bike has Pannier rails fitted but I can't determine what ones fit. Has anyone got any comment?
  • 2. Vituperant | 13/05/2017
I'd agree with all of the above, I've owned three XJ900S and one XJ900F...except my engine went today, probably piston rings. Can I find a gasket kit in the UK? No. Plenty for the 900F, not one for the 900S. Spares are getting very hard to find for the Divvy, either somebody has stored them all or Yamaha didn't bother stockpiling and don't care about your bike. I suspect it's not the former.

The exhaust is lucky to make it to 20K, the collector box is the first to go if you ride in all weathers. A replacement from Black Widow is lighter and sounds great.

Upside, mine was the longest serving bike I've ever owned and did for me for seven years - but they're too old now. If I could find a 2002 model at sensible money I'd consider it, but it's time to close the XJ book in my garage I suspect.
  • 3. Robski | 15/04/2016
Ive had a few of these as well and agree with what you say , currently getting parts together to café racer one this year and I use a 600 version with a lot of mods on it to do the long distance stuff [ 1000 miles in 17 hrs last year ]
  • bikershub (link) | 17/04/2016
Like the sound of your cafe racer project! Fancy documenting it in the project section of the forums?
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