The Turbo years were the wild west for technology mavens in the motorcycling world. For only a few short years did this persist, but while it did the space race was on! Every one of the Big Four came up with at least one turbocharged model, and each had its unique position in the market. Each had its own unique strength. And all had a common weakness. The 1982 Yamaha Seca Turbo was no different. Not the first of the factory turbo bikes – and definitely not the last – the Seca Turbo was the typical middle child. In many ways Yamaha jumped onto the turbo bandwagon with a #MeToo bike, but their interpretation of the breed did produce an interesting motorcycle. As far as factory turbos go, the Yamaha Seca 650 Turbo was a low-tech, low-buck affair. The whole Yamaha approach was a check-box effort, allowing them to play in this important space while presenting the least amount of risk. As such, the Yamaha Turbo is perhaps the least collected of the Big Four factory bikes. But that does not mean it is not worth a look.
While Honda flexed their technological muscles (and deep cash reserves) in the creation of the liquid-cooled, computer-controlled CX500 Turbo, Yamaha warmed over the existing Seca with relatively little fanfare. Air cooling was the order of the day, as was the brace of carburetors. The turbo itself – a teeny-tiny 39mm unit from Mitsubishi – produced a meager 7-ish pounds of boost and was arranged in a “blow through” scheme to avoid the cost and complexity of fuel injection. The heads were new to provide for better airflow, although the bottom end was a modified version of the existing 650. Internals were strengthened, additional oil galleys were added for lubrication and cooling, and forged pistons were utilized. All told, the Seca was rated for approximately 90 horsepower (good for a quarter mile in the mid to high 12s).
From the seller:
Hi I’m selling my 1982 XJ650LJ Seca Turbo. Its in great shape. Replaced left front linker Lens with New OEM. The windshield has a small crack but does not affect function. Rebuilt Turbo, been sitting to long. Low miles.
Complete Service done. Oil Change, Spark Plugs, Carbs Rebuilt ETC ETC.
The real effort on the Seca Turbo was expended on the styling aspect. This bike practically screamed “futuristic missle,” even if the performance didn’t quite back it up. It did look the part, at least in 1982. Today it appears a bit dated, much like a Seca with a funky fairing on it. The underlying chassis was straight from the normally aspirated 650 Seca, although the Turbo did benefit from air assist forks up front, and an air shock in the back. That was relatively high tech for the times. At over 500 pounds dry, nobody would mistake the Seca for a sport bike, but testers in the day indicated that the Yamaha had minimal turbo lag and managed the twisty bits as well as its contemporary peers.
If all this sounds like I’m panning the Seca Turbo, let me set you straight: While the bike did not live up to the performance of the latter factory turbos such as the XN85, the CX650T or the mighty GPz750 Turbo, the Seca is still a good motorcycle and a great example of the experimentation that took place during this phase of motorcycle development. These are unique and fun motorcycles to ride, and certainly something you won’t see very often at your local bike night. The Seca Turbo – like all turbos – are relatively rare due to the fact that they were not big sellers. Time passed them over quickly, and by 1984-85 that party was over. This particular Seca Turbo looks to be in extremely decent condition for a rider, sports relatively low miles, and has been under the care of a turbo fan. The price is downright C.H.E.A.P. for such a unique bike, with a Buy It Now price of only $3,750. Check it out here, and get your boost on. Good Luck!!