The Forgotten Yamaha Seca II

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by radare, Jul 15, 2015.

  1. radare

    radare Tryin' to get out of the box

    Joined:
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    I've owned many bikes over the past several years and many Yamaha Seca II's. I know, I know, I've heard it many times: it's an old, simple-technology, carbureted, aircooled four that most of the world left behind a decade ago. Some would call them anemic. Some would call them uninspired. There's something about them that keeps me coming back. I've had so many, amassed such a knowledge of how to work on them and enough parts to build a spare or two that I now run a Seca II specific community.

    I've been lurking in the shadows and it's time I step into the light. Here's my story . . . .

    The first Seca II to come across your screen is also my first Seca II. This one is a 1992 model year that I bought for $1300 from a couple in Longmont. When I went to look at this one, I was wearing a brace on my clutch-hand from putting a 1/4" drill through it the week before. Couldn't even get a test ride. But it looked good, ran fine and so I put it on a trailer and brought it home. Here it is the day I rolled it off the trailer:

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    Over the course of many years, many, many iterations and many slow modifications, this is what it looks like. Over those years, I've updated the body work, upgraded the brakes, upgraded the suspension, converted to 17" wheels, converted the headlight, installed a rare-as-snot Cobra exhaust, etc, etc. It's a fun bike to ride. It handles well, its' quick and people often mistake it for some-breed of Ducati. This one loves the Peak-to-Peak Highway:

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    This is the current condition of this Seca II and it lives a happy life in my garage. Regardless of what else is parked in there, this one will always have a home there.

    The second Seca II I bought came from a kid in Aurora. It was a 1997 model and I bought it, well, dismal condition. He had put a new engine in it and never got it running so out, next to a shed it went. I had a tree growing up between it's frame. I named it Phoenix as it would rise from the ashes. This is that Project Phoenix the day I rolled it off the trailer:

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    I spent six months on this one, working on some aspect of it most-everyday. Six month's later, it did indeed rise from the ashes. This is the same bike when I was done with it:

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    I loved the bike. It ran well, looked good and people noticed it. I put 3k miles on it the first season and about the same the second. But it spent so much time in the garage, sitting, beckoning, luring and not being ridden that I decided to sell it. I gave it to a kid on Craigslist for $1800 a few years back; a decision I have regretted many times. With Phoenix gone, I wad down to one bike again and things were fine. I bought a BMW F650 for a while, then sold it. Bought an SV650 for a while, then sold it.

    That leads me onto the third Seca II we'll visit today. In 2013, I bought one from a kid in the Airforce Acedemy. This kid had a grinder, he had ambition, he had hopes and dreams, but not much talent. He cut the Seca II up into pieces and called it a "streetfighter". Eventually, he gave up on his project and let me have it. I gave him $800 for it with title and a mass of parts. Too much. About $750 too much. But he needed the money and I wanted a project. I mentioned before that I'd amassed a mound of parts and the intent was to use those parts to build this bike up. I called it PBT, or Parts-bin Tourer. Here it is the day I brought it home:

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    That blue bin you see there, that may be THE parts-bin. Or it may be the rack along the wall in my garage where all the other Seca II parts are. My plan with PBT was to build a touring bike; something with fairings and hard bags and . . . .oh my. I worked on it for five months, hoping to ride it out to the annual Seca II rally in Harrison Arkansas that year. Five months of day-in-day out. I made it this far:

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    It had an FZ6 fairing, FZR600 front-end, FZ1 tail and Bandit 600 swingarm. It was well on its way to being something. Something. Something. But the rally came and my attention turned to getting my black one ready to ride. So this one was mothballed in the garage, far back, next to that CB350 I may some day get back to. Far back.

    I again found myself with one bike and a mess of new life commitments and I was content. That is , until in 2014, I found an add on CL for a 1992 Seca II that needed a starter gear. Knowing what it took to replace that, I used the knoweledge to set the seller's expectations and brought it home for $600. This one ran and I rode it the some-70 miles from Parker to Boulder. Here it is the day I brought it home. It's a 1992 Seca II with 20-some-odd K on the clock.

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    To get at the starter gear on these bikes, you have to split the cases, which means the engine comes out. The easiest way to get the engine out is to lay the bike on its side and lift the frame up off of it. So that meant, time to disassemble. I would go through this one and completely restore it. In the span of three-months, I completely restored the bike. I replaced seals, reconditioned parts, sourced replacements when needed. In those three-months, the bike took a 23-year step backward. Here it is as it sits today:

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    I've put a few thousand miles on this one since the restoration. It runs well, it rides well. I've been all over the Colorado front range and even down Phantom Canyon Road last fall:

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    This bike really is TOO nice to be chugging down gravel roads with and I'd kick myself if I dropped it and screwed up that near flawless, rare-as-crap fairing. So I began to daydream. Daydream of a Seca II with some off-road capability. One that didn't have plastic up every-which-way. One that wasn't so nice a guy couldn't strap on a set a saddlebags and head out toward Canyonlands with.

    Now, you remember PBT, the poor mothballed bike hidden in the depths of my garage? It sat for nearly 2 years, untouched, to the point I was beginning to get tired of seeing it. Given the recent restoration of the faired '92, I decided a faired touring bike just wasn't for me anymore and that I would do something different. I wanted a Scrambler. Something a bit more Colorado oriented.

    I pulled PBT out from the depths of the garage, took some photos and thought a bunch and then I started cutting. I cut off the mounts for the FZ6 fairing. I cut off the FZ1 tail I spent month's fabricating. I removed the FZR600 front-end and took the bike back to the beginning.

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    I thought long-and hard about how this one would look. I wanted something simple, something classic. I went to work. I rebuilt the frame with a more traditional tail, something to support a rear fender. I reshaped the seat and built an undertail. I converted the front end to a round headlight and classic-style gauges.

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    I went through the engine. I overhauled the carbs. I painted parts, I reconditioned electrics, I made things work. And over the course of those three months, I took it from a pile of parts to this. Introducing, hopefully, ADVrider's first Seca II scrambler:

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    I've only put a few hundred miles on it and only about a half-dozen or so on dirt, but it's a fun ride and feels much older than it is.

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    It's what I wanted it to be and what I hoped it would become. I will continue to refine and change it over the next several months, as I ride it and use it. I hope to share some good explorations in the not-to-distant future.

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    There it is. A very long-winded, er, well, long-worded reintroduction and what I hope will be a kickoff for a Seca II thread. Thanks for reading!
    #1
    vsvn, xrmattaz, mikeysduck and 41 others like this.
  2. OilLeak

    OilLeak n00b

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    Holy smokes, those are some of the nicest restoration/custom bikes I've ever seen. I'll keep an eye out on my SSVC -> Peak-to-peak rides. Seriously, fantastic!
    #2
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  3. k-moe

    k-moe Long timer

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    You had me at Seca II. :clap
    #3
  4. davidji

    davidji bike curious

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    Those bikes look nice with a round headlight.
    #4
  5. YZEtc

    YZEtc Feel lucky?

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    Nice bikes.
    These bikes are unique, being a 4-cylindered, air-cooled, 2-valve-per-cylinder design.

    I owned a 1993 XJ600SE from brand-new, myself, a nice red one that looked like the one in your first pic.
    It was my first street-only bike, and for the time (I was 27 years old at that point), it suited me very well.
    I had mucho fun riding that bike.
    I installed an Ohlins shock and Michelin sport radial tires, and it felt even better.
    Good memories.
    #5
  6. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Long timer

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    Hello Radare and welcome to the advrider site! Your Seca IIs look great.
    #6
  7. Scoobynut

    Scoobynut Been here awhile

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    Wow! Very, very nice bikes. I almost bought one of these in the late 90s when I was looking for a (used) first bike, but ended up with a Hawk GT instead. Love your black one with the red frame -- who knew a Seca II could look sexy as a naked bike? Well played and well done.
    #7
  8. k-moe

    k-moe Long timer

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    Not at all unlike the other aircooled, I-4, 2 valve machines that Yamaha (and Honda, and Suzuki, and Kawasaki) had made since the early 1970's.
    The xj600 was preceded by the Radian, which was preceded by XJ550, which was preceded by the XJ400, which is the original design of the chain-driven XJ series of engine (the shaft driven XJs have significant internal differences to the engine design). While the bikes are wonderful in their way, they are far from unique (which makes getting parts for them much easier than if they were unique).
    #8
    FJ Fun likes this.
  9. PAULIBIKER

    PAULIBIKER Long timer

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    My 1st "brand new" bike was a red 92 Seca II. Love how simple they are, not one piece of emissions. But man, were they cold-blooded. The needles had almost no taper, so shimming them did close to nothing, had to pull carbs and change the pilots.
    Would buy another one in a heartbeat. Love the last one the most.
    #9
  10. PAULIBIKER

    PAULIBIKER Long timer

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    Pretty sure that all the bikes you mentioned were 4 valve per head.........
    #10
  11. radare

    radare Tryin' to get out of the box

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    Stock jetting for these is a #102.5 main and #17.5 pilot. Here in Denver, increasing the pilot to a #20 and decreasing the main to a #100. I tune all of mine using a wideband O2 sensor which seems to be the trick to good performance and fuel economy.

    #11
  12. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze I keep blowing down the road Supporter

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    Awesome post! You are a very talented individual! Those are some nice looking bikes!

    Back in the day I always admired the looks of the Seca II, but I was holding out for the 900 Diversion, which never came. :(

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    #12
  13. Volfy

    Volfy Fava beans & a nice Chianti

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    Wonderful story. One of *the* best I have read in a long while. Rare to see a rider as dedicated to a bike as unpretentious as the Seca Deuce.

    Had a '92 for a couple of yrs back in the late 90's. I was still a big fan of Yamaha air-cooled inline 4 back then. The Deuce, however, was indeed anemic and uninspiring compared to the Maxim XJ650 and 700 I had before it. Plus it liked to headshake if I took my hands off at hwy speed. Not dangerously so, and nothing a simple stabilizer couldn't fix, but I thought it odd Yami could've let it slip into production like that. And it was cold blooded, which just meant I had to stay on the driveway for a few minutes before riding off.

    Even so, it retained most of the characteristics I liked about the Yami I4s: simple, clean lines, easy to work on, cheap to own, and darn near bullet-proof. Had Yami saw fit to import the Diversion 1000, I might have traded the SecaII for that. As it was, I sold it and went on a 15yr hiatus.
    #13
  14. PAULIBIKER

    PAULIBIKER Long timer

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    I was waiting for that also...........just about the perfect size/displacement and shaft drive!
    #14
  15. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Souped-Up Weasel

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    I bought one a few years ago to fix up and sell. fun little bike. Squishy rear end.
    #15
  16. radare

    radare Tryin' to get out of the box

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    I've used two off the shelf shocks to fix the worn rear suspension. The softer more comfortable shock is a VStar 650 shock. It's identical to the stock Seca II shock but much newer and a bit stiffer. For a much firmer rear shock, for sport or two up riding, an FZ6R shock is used. That's what I have on my red & black one. Again, it's a bolt-in affair.
    #16
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  17. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Souped-Up Weasel

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    Thanks. I'll keep that in mind if I ever come across another one.
    #17
  18. k-moe

    k-moe Long timer

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    Nope. They all have 2 valves per cylinder.
    Here is a view of the xj550 with the valve cover off. [​IMG]

    The cold bloodedness and anemic response of the 600 comes from the lean jetting to meet emissions requirements. Rejet and it becomes a much more lively powerplant.
    #18
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  19. GuyLR

    GuyLR Been here awhile

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    The US models were really lean. If I remember correctly the Canadian carbs were much better. Anyway, great thread and nice work on the bikes!
    #19
  20. YZEtc

    YZEtc Feel lucky?

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    We're not saying the XJ550H (Maxim) and XJ550RH (Seca) are the same engine as the XJ600SD (Seca ll), are we?
    #20