Re-Cycling: 1992-1998 Yamaha XJ600 Seca II

Yamaha XJ600 Seca II
Nothing fancy here, just a good, honest motorcycle in the classic UJM mold–in-line four, single disc brake, tube frame.

You probably wouldn’t think that new riders looking for a cheap and unintimidating starter bike would have much in common with budget-minded veterans who neither need nor want the expense and complexity of new models. But the requirements of both often seem to converge around middleweights from the mid-1990s. At the center of this particular Venn diagram is Yamaha’s Seca II, a bike whose modest specifications belie its versatility, and whose used price is such a bargain you almost can’t afford to not buy one.

The Seca’s 599cc engine has dual overhead cams, two valves per cylinder, four 28mm Mikuni carbs and a six-speed gearbox. There’s little in that list to make a sportbike rider’s heart beat faster, but that wasn’t what Yamaha was after. With 61 horsepower on tap, the 452-pound Seca is sufficient to introduce novice riders to the heady joys of acceleration while keeping the transportation-focused ones from becoming hood ornaments on the freeway.

Yamaha XJ600 Seca II
Basic scheduled maintenance is usually all it takes to push the understressed Seca past the 50,000-mile mark.

What the Seca lacks in sheer excitement it makes up for in practicality, usually as a backup for your hot-blooded sportbike or your elephantine tourer. The Seca won’t take up much of your weekends with maintenance or repair; the understressed engine routinely sends the odometer past the 50,000-mile mark with little more than regular oil changes and the occasional chain service. Some high-mile engines sound like they have a dollar’s worth of loose change in the crankcase, but synching the carbs and adjusting the valves usually clears it up.

One very large red flag is if the starter spins without turning over the engine. A stripped idler gear might be the cause, and it’s not an easy fix–the crankcases have to be split to get at it. Leaky valve-cover and clutch-cover gaskets are common but easily fixed.

Yamaha XJ600 Seca II
The Seca II was featured on the cover of the March 1992 issue of Rider.

The Seca’s chassis mimics the engine’s no-big-deal philosophy. The tubular-steel frame has a 38mm non-adjustable front fork, a single rear shock with preload adjustment, a 320mm single disc brake and a 245mm rear. Cast wheels are shod with a 110/80-17 front tire and 130/70-18 rear. The seat is 30.3 inches off the deck and, while not actually built for touring, is tolerable for one or two riders on day rides. Mileage is typically in the 45-55 mpg range, depending on how you load the bike and how hard you flog it.

The fairing does a decent job of blunting the wind. But like all plastic parts, and especially those on older bikes, it’s expensive to replace, so look closely for cracks around the mounting points and the windscreen, and be prepared to lower your offer substantially depending on what you find. Also inspect the fuel petcock for leaks. Faulty ones let gas drain into the engine, leading to the aforementioned starter idler gear losing its teeth as it strains against flooded cylinders.

The Seca’s reputation for reliability is sometimes its downfall, as owners neglect necessary chores in favor of more road time. Check used examples for leaks, loose steering-head bearings and crash damage. Shine a light in the tank and look for rust caused by water in the gas. The Seca is notoriously cold-blooded, but if it can’t be ridden cleanly off the choke after 10 minutes something’s up. Book prices range from just under a grand for a 1992 model to $1,300 for a ’98.

Yamaha XJ600 Seca II


A solid and reliable middleweight that won’t keep you up late at night in the garage. A learner bike worth keeping.

All the flair of vanilla ice cream. Gets you there with little fuss, and less excitement.

Displacement: 599cc
Final drive: Chain
Wet Weight: 452 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 4.6 gals.
Seat Height: 30.3 in.


  1. 1950s/60s exotic GP racing aesthetic in a 1990s JDM body. What is not to like. Where do I find a clean one for $1,300 these days? If it had FI it would be nicer though.

  2. Drill out and adjust air fuel 3 turns out. Undo top of carb and slip out diaphragm and piston. That long needle comes out with a screw driver turn and do that over a clear surface and remember a part or two can go running away down a drain hole. Anyway, pull the needle out and find some little washers or shims and slide one over the needle and slide needle back in. Now about 5% more gas flows through the main jet. That engine was horribly lean because it had to meet EPA requirements for water cooled engines of same size that could run much tighter tolerances. My Seca runs like a race horse now especially with two extra teeth on rear sprocket. Wheelies away.

    • So if I’m understanding this right, you’re putting little washers at the top, above where the needle goes down in, to basically hold it up from closing that much further? Just one washer for each or? I wish we had the internet back then and/or I had been wiser. I had a gorgeous black one that I loved everything about, except it was a little too anemic. I came from a Ninja 600 and left for a 750. I might just have to find a good used example and revisit my youth with added zoom.

  3. I bought a ’97 Seca II w/13k miles back in Jan 2014, now in Aug 2019 it’s pushing over 90,700 miles due to my 30 mile rural commute to work, Wednesday night dinner rides with the local BMW riding group, and occasional weekend rides. It’s only needed basic maintenance: oil & filter changes every 4k miles, valve clearance check/adjust along with new spark plugs every 16k miles, usually a new set of tires every year, and a new set of chain & sprockets occasionally. It’s been great, starts up every morning and takes me to work. I normally get low 40’s mpg but have gotten high 40’s and low 50’s a few times. It’s a nice bike overall. I wish Yamaha still made one like it.

  4. I’ve had a Seca II for about 12 years now, a 1997 that the PO crashed. I ditched what was left of the fairing, and fitted fork gaiters and a Bonneville headlight. Looks more like the XJ600N model we never received in the US now. It’s a surprisingly good handler, especially with heavier fork oil and aftermarket front springs. Overall, it’s been a great bike, with absolutely no major problems in the time I’ve owned it, a complete contrast with the Ducati Monster I owned before this. I highly recommend the Seca II to anyone looking for a fun, easy to own bike!

    • Hi getting a 98 division next week has some blemesges and scatched in the fairings would really like a second opinion before i buy

  5. I’m shaking my head a bit at the anti-carbs comments. I’ve owned something like a dozen bikes with carbs, and never really had any problems with them. If the bike is going to sit for more than a month just put some Seafoam in the tank, run it into the lines, turn off the fuel petcock and drain the float bowls. 10 mins tops and works great. I’ve never had to get carbs cleaned.

  6. I have always loved the look of this bike, a’93 green one. That being said I’m looking to buy one I found online. Looks like a nice bike from the description and pics. The guy was asking 2800, offered him 2200 cash and he said no can do. After a few days he said he’d take 2500 and no lower. Is this a good deal for a 1993 SECA 2?

  7. I have a 92 fzr 600 and a 600 seca ii. both over 6years have been totally reliable. put 30,000 on the fzr and about 15 on the seca. the 18 inch wheel on the back is the only drawback. not much of a selection now. I think a honda f3 rear rear wheel will adapt. anybody have the particulars

  8. There is a secret to this bike number one use octane boost in it changes a whole demeanor of the bike. Put a 150 70 radio Avon storms front and rear. Best put four into four k&n rejetting and advancing high in the exhaust. And you won’t believe how much fun this thing is. And most people figure you spend $10,000 on that to make that bike.


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