Written on: 13/03/2007 by 2lippy (21 reviews written)
Great value secondhand, super reliable.
Soft front end, frame will rust if not looked after.
The Yamaha XJ600N is the slightly cheaper version of the Suzuki Bandit in many ways, and thats what attracted me to the bike. After a quick look on eBay I found numerous bikes at 10 yrs old with 20,000 miles or less for under £700. Now thats a lot of bike for the money.
The reliable and well proven engine has a good heritage relating to the XJR of the 80's, so Yamaha have had a lot of time to 'get it right'. There are bikes out there with 150,000 miles on the same rings! Mine had 22,000 miles on it an was bright yellow, when you read any write-up on the 600N people always call it an ideal beginners bike, but I disagree. I'm a seasoned rider with 25 or so bikes behind me and I can tell you this bike will satisfy anyone as a rider. Its nippy, agile and mid range grunt is more than enough. OK, I used it as a winter bike but let me tell you it was more fun riding this than my Fireblade. Not a comment I make lightly, and probably related to the fact that it was £500 and I didn't really care if I thrashed it or trashed it.
The bike handles very well and feels neutral when tuning in for the corners. It will forgive mistakes and will avoid that slippery manhole cover on a wet day without the need for slapping your foot down (if you don't know what I mean then you are not riding hard enough, not always a bad thing on our roads) I found the front forks way too soft and upgraded the oil in them to little effect, the bike wants to dive every gear change which can teach you a new riding habit when changing gears.
I found the gearbox a little clunky when cold but pretty good when warm my bike had 22,000 miles on it and all original without one false neutral in the time I owned it.
But all is not rosy. The frames can rust if the wet stuff gets in behind the flaky paint work on the frames. I don't know if this improved after the revised bike in 1996 though. The other main issue with these bikes and one that everyone should know is that Yamaha UK have admitted that the UK is too cold for the bike. Condensation will sit inside the engine and if you only do a 10 mile trip to work and back the bike wont get warm enough to evaporate this water from the lump. The water then settles in the oil which emulsifies (turns the oil in to a mayonnaise type gunk) this will then travel up the breather pipe in to your airbox, gunking that up. Then the airbox has an outlet that will leave the gunk on the drive after leaving the bike overnight. Then you top up the oil again and the same thing keeps happening. Two ways to sort this issue out is to ask on a diversion forum for a part number for the fix, its well known about and costs £17 for a solution to stop the problem. The other fix is to ride the bike for 30 miles or so, the more the better, and after a few days the bike will stop emulsifying the oil and all is good. I should point out this isn't a problem if you keep the bike inside or it's summer.
All in all if you are considering buying one of these bikes then go for it. I would buy another one in a heart beat but as with all vehicles make sure you buy a good one in the first place.