This morning’s workload included an insurance valuation for a rare 1982 Yamaha XJ650RJ – a 650 Seca. Made for one year only, the 650 Seca is a good example of the sort of bike that many former classic car collectors who have recently come to the two-wheeled arena are looking for.

The 650 is in top condition. The model was built in comparatively low volume and enjoys what might be termed a cult following: “if you know, you know”. Unrestored examples are thin on the ground – this one was imported from America – and bikes still in their original paint are few and far between.

Classic Bike Values: Patina versus Restoration

Collectables are only original once: restoration destroys the patina of age. Patina cannot be recreated and it is really where the true value of antiques and collectables lies. Patina usually comes at the cost of condition, except where an item has been used sparingly and lovingly cared for by previous owners, resulting in the gentle patina of true appreciation. The rarified glow of almost-new condition is why low mileage, low owner cars and bikes achieve the highest selling prices.

This particular 1982 Yamaha XJ 650 RJ Seca was a fine example of a very rare motorcycle. Presented in immaculate condition with very low mileage for the year of 27,262 miles warranted by a full service history, the majority of the paint is original. While the XJ 650 RJ was originally sold only in Europe, America is the best place to buy these machines as the specification is close to our own and the dry climate has kept them in good condition.

The XJ 650 is one of those classics which has aged well. Enthusiasts appreciate the four-cylinder air-cooled engine (rather than the more common twin cylinder used on the XS650), the comfortable riding position and the evergreen classic styling. When presented in spotless condition, it is easy to see why they are desirable and tend to stay in collections for a very long time.

As surviving examples remain tied up in collections, market activity is low and data is hard to come by. Yamaha XJ650 Seca Turbo models do come up for sale, but they tend to carry optimistic dealer prices. That said, their sales at auction are indicative of general trends for bikes of this era.

Considering the rising market for affordable, rideable classics of this era, the huge interest in classic Japanese machines in original, unrestored condition, the low supply of bikes of this calibre and specification and the superb condition of this bike and the difficulty one would have in replacing it like for like, recent market data suggests that insurance valuations for bikes like this are certainly around the £3k mark, and perhaps 50% or more on top for seriously low mileage machines.

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