1982 was the last manufacturing year of the impressive Yamaha XJ 1100, also known as the Maxim 1100. While this large displacement bike was one of the early attempts for a Japanese manufacturer to mimic American cruiser Harley-Davidson, it packaged some big performance surprises along with reliability unseen in American motorcycles.
At first blush, the Maxim looks like a cruiser, and it is. But it’s adapted from sport bikes, not other cruisers. The Maxim actually displaces 1101 cubic centimeters with a bore or 75.5 cc, stroke of 68.6 cc and modest compression ratio (for a motorcycle) of 9.0:1. Breathing through four 34-mm Mikuni carburetors, the power-plant produced 95 horsepower and 65 ft-lbs. of torque at 6,500 rpm.
While the seat and the back-swept handle bars of the 1100 Maxim have more in common with a laid-back chopper, the seating position is actually neutral, like that of the sporty Yamaha Seca line which shares the XJ badge. The upright position gives the rider better control. The XJ had good stopping power with dual front disc brakes and a single disc in the rear. Front forks were a bit deceptive; while the handlebars and the forks were both a bit taller than the Seca, they didn’t have relaxed angle or “rake” of most cruisers, which gave them slow steering. They also used an air-assist system which provided a supple ride.
With a dry weight without fuel, lubricants or fluids of 560 lbs., the 1100 Maxim wasn’t a light bike. When compared with the 782-lb. 1982 Harley FLT which produced 70 horsepower, the XJ 1100 had a respectable power-to-weight ratio for a cruiser-style bike and impressive acceleration. Power was delivered to the rear wheel through a shaft drive, which gave the Maxima an odd suspension lift associated with shaft drive motorcycles. But it was more an idiosyncrasy of the bike than a drawback as it wasn’t designed for the racetrack.