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1998 Yamaha XL1200 Specs and Review [Video]

1998 Yamaha XL1200 Specs and Review [Video]

The Yamaha XL1200 and XLT1200 were the most popular family-WaveRunners during the 2000s.

Just like the legendary GP1200 and GP1300 series, they were known for their great performance and reliability. But many wonder, are these vintage 2-stroke crafts still worth buying?

If you’re looking for a Yamaha XL1200 for sale, this article is for you.

We at JetDrift have done the research and compiled the key specs and details into this Yamaha XL1200 review!

To make an informed buying decision, don’t miss our post detailing the disadvantages of owning these vintage WaveRunners.

The Yamaha XL Family

The Yamaha XL WaveRunner series was revealed in the 1998 model year with the introduction of the XL 760 and the more advanced XL 1200.

Over the years, this family continued to expand with many new models, including:

Yamaha XL1200 Review

Yamaha XL1200 Hull

The Yamaha XL1200 was introduced in 1998. It debuted along with its smaller brother, the XL760.

The more powerful XL1200 was called “the flagship of the industry” and with good reason.

This WaveRunner was the high-end model in Yamaha’s fleet in the 3-seater PWC category. At that time, it was the most luxurious and complete personal watercraft available. That’s why it won the prize for the “Watercraft of the Year”!

Unlike the sporty GP series, the XL1200 was highly recommended for tow sports, as it was a 3-seater, had adjustable mirrors, and a reasonably sized swim platform.

It also had enough power to pull an adult wakeboarder or skier out of the water.

The hull of the Yamaha XL1200 measured 124 inches long and 49.2 inches wide. Thanks to the larger dimensions, the design offered excellent stability and comfort. The deep-V-shaped hull did a good job on rough waters and in landing during wave jumps.

The adjustable sponsons also improved its turning ability, while the “spray guard” protected the rider from the water spray. (Or at least a significant portion of it.) In general, the XLs were considered very “dry” crafts.

They also featured a 30-gallon storage compartment and a 13.2-gallon fuel tank. All of these features came in handy on longer PWC tours and recreational family rides.

Yamaha XL1200 Engine

The power source of the XL1200 was an 1131cc, 3-cylinder, 2-stroke power source with three BN44 Mikuni carbs. Powered by this open-loop cooled Yamaha marine engine, the ski offered an amazing 135HP and could hit a top speed of 54-55 mph.

In a nutshell, the key features of this engine were as follows:

  • Bore x stroke: 84 x 68 mm
  • Compression ratio: 6:1
  • Digital CDI ignition
  • Reed valve intake system
  • Electric start
  • 3 x Mikuni BN44 carburetors
  • Oil injection system
  • Open-loop cooling system
  • NGK BR8HS spark plugs
When it comes to power-to-weight ratios, it’s safe to say that the XL1200 was pretty close to the GP series. This is because its dry weight was only 611 pounds, which resulted in a power-to-weight ratio of 0.22.

Yamaha XL1200 Features

The XL 1200 shared most of its features with the XL 760, which were as follows:

  • Under-seat storage bucket
  • Front storage compartment
  • Glovebox
  • Fire extinguisher container
  • Manual reverse
  • Dual mirrors
  • Deck mats
  • Bow and stern eyes
  • Engine cut-off switch
  • Engine shut-off cord (safety lanyard)
  • Drain plugs
  • Rope holes
  • Rear grab handle
  • Two-piece saddle
  • Fuel cock knob
  • Ski tow eye
  • Sponsons
  • Finger throttle lever
  • Cooling water pilot outlet
  • Visibility spout
It also featured an innovative digital multifunction gauge, of which the features were as follows:
  • Digital speedometer
  • Tachometer
  • Oil warning indicator
  • Fuel level
  • Battery voltage
  • Engine temp.
  • Hour meter
  • Trim meter
  • Clock

Yamaha XL1200 Specs Charts

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the key specs of the 1998 Yamaha XL 1200 into these charts:

Yamaha XL 1200 Engine Specs

1998 Yamaha XL 1200Engine Specs
Number of cylinders3
Displacement1131 cm³ (69.0 cu in.)
Bore and Stroke84 × 68 mm (3.31 × 2.68 in)
Compression Ratio6:1
Carburetors3 x Mikuni BN44
Enrichment controlChoke valve
Scavenging systemLoop charge
Lubrication SystemOil injection
Cooling SystemWater-cooled
Starting SystemElectric starter
Ignition SystemDigital C.D.I.
Ignition timing15 BTDC ~ 20 BTDC
Spark Plugs TypeNGK BR8HS
Battery Capacity12 V 19 Ah
Lighting Coil6-8 / 6500

Yamaha XL 1200 Drive System

1998 Yamaha XL 1200Drive System
Propulsion SystemJet pump
Jet Pump TypeAxial flow, single stage
Impeller RotationCounterclockwise
TransmissionDirect drive from engine
Nozzle Angle (horizontal)24 +/- 1 degree
Trim Angle5 degree
Trim systemN/A
Reverse systemReverse gate

Yamaha XL 1200 Performance

1998 Yamaha XL 1200Performance
Maximum Output135 HP (99.3 kW) @ 6750 RPM
Maximum Fuel Consumption14 US gal/h (53 L/h)
Cruising Range (at full throttle)0.9 hr.

Yamaha XL 1200 Dimensions

1998 Yamaha XL 1200Dimensions
Overall Length124.0 in (3,150 mm)
Overall Width49.2 in (1,250 mm)
Overall Height43.3 in (1,100 mm)
Dry Weight611 lb (277 kg)
Vehicle capacity3

Yamaha XL 1200 Fuel and Oil

1998 Yamaha XL 1200Fuel and Oil
FuelRegular Unleaded Gasoline
Minimum Octane Rating86 PON /90 RON
Recommended engine oil2-stroke outboard motor oil
Fuel-oil mixing ratio (WOT)45:1
Fuel tank capacity13.2 US gal (50 L)
Fuel tank reserve capacity3.17 US gal (12 L)
Oil tank capacity1.00 US gal (3.8 L)
These charts are for informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to the factory manual.

Yamaha XL Comparison Charts

When it comes to PWC specs, all the numbers can be confusing.

For your convenience, we’ve done the research and compiled all of the XLT1200, XL1200 Ltd., and XL1200 specs into one chart.

SpecsXL1200XL1200 ltdXLT1200
Displacement (cc)1,1311,1761,176
Dry weight (lbs)611780796
Power to weight ratio0,220,200,19
Seat capacity333
Length (in)124124.4124.4
Width (in)49,24848
Fuel Capacity (gal)13,218,518,5
Top speed (mph)565858
Max fuel cons. (gal/hr)141717
Cruising range (hr)0,91,11,1
For better comparison, we created an extended chart with the specs of the XLT800, XL760, and the XL700.

SpecsXL700XL760XLT800XL1200XL1200 ltdXLT1200
Displacement (cc)7017547841,1311,1761,176
Dry weight (lbs)540551709611780796
Power to weight ratio0,150,160,170,220,200,19
Seat capacity333333
Length (in)124124124.4124124.4124.4
Width (in)49,249,24849,24848
Fuel Capacity (gal)13,213,218,513,218,518,5
Top speed (mph)464852565858
Max fuel cons. (gal/hr)91013141717
Cruising range (hr)1,51,51,40,91,11,1

Common Problems With the Yamaha XL1200

To the delight of many Yamaha fans, these vintage WaveRunners are still available on the second-hand market.

If you’re considering buying one of them, you probably want to know their weak points and the typical problems.

Let’s take a closer look at the most common ones!

Carb Issues

Let’s face it, on vintage 2-stroke PWCs the carburetors are responsible for the majority of engine failures. Unfortunately, the XL WaveRunners are no exception either.

„Carb work” means that you have to adjust, clean or even rebuild the carbs over and over again. If you don’t have mechanical skills, this could be a pain! Also keep in mind that many repair shops refuse to work on crafts that are more than 10 years old.

Typically the 700, 760, and 800 series are easier and cheaper to fix, as these models feature only 2 carburetors.

Oil Line Issues

The oil lines on the XL WaveRunners are only secured with zip lines to the engine, which are prone to coming off.

If this happens, the oil flows to the bilge instead of the cylinders. Simply put, this issue leaves the engine without any lubrication, and can cause serious engine damage. This effect is known as „frying the engine,” which usually ends with a complete engine rebuild.

To prevent this issue, the oil lines should be secured to the engine with stainless steel clamps instead of the factory-installed plastic zips. Experts say that this change should be done on every Yamaha XL WaveRunner for safety reasons.

Another solution to keep the engine safe is completely blocking the oil line, and pre-mixing the gas and the fuel.

Although using premix is the safest way, it arguably has some drawbacks as well. Beyond the hassle with the mixing, it leads to heavy smoke at idle speed, as the engine gets the same quantity of oil, instead of the regulated flow.

But don’t forget that the oil line and the oil pump can be clogged or damaged in many other ways as well. All of these issues may end in major engine damage.

Because of these concerns, many owners have blocked the fuel lines on their 2-stroke WaveRunners, and just mix the fuel themselves.

Power Valves

The engines of the XL WaveRunners feature power valves to boost performance and reduce fuel consumption.

Another common problem is that these power valves are prone to becoming loose and falling into the cylinders. If this happens, it can destroy the engine.

Some aftermarket part manufacturers offers special clips that can prevent the valve’s keeper bolts from loosening. The installation can be done easily in about half an hour, and is highly recommended on all XL and XLT models.

Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converters on these models are also prone to failure and falling apart. These parts can destroy the exhaust sensor and can block or damage the whole exhaust system in many ways.

Installing a special part known as a “D-plate” can prevent these catalytic converter issues.

As you can see, there are some weak points of these WaveRunners. However, many of them are fortunately preventable with a little attention.

Yamaha XL1200 For Sale

If you are still considering buying one, you probably want to know where you can find a Yamaha XL1200 for sale.

Since 2-stoke sit-down WaveRunners have not been in production for a long time, you can only choose among some pretty old models.

You can start your research on online forums and in Facebook fan groups. Beyond some good deals, you can find a lot of useful information on these models, which can come in handy in making an informed decision.

Beyond the fan groups, you can find many Yamaha XL1200s for sale on Craigslist and other online ad sites.

Yamaha XL1200 Prices

Yamaha XL1200 prices start from $2,000 and go up to $5,000, but be prepared to pay around $2,500-$6,000 for a Yamaha XLT1200. The price strongly depends on the condition and engine hours. It’s surprising that these aged models can cost the same as a new entry-level WaveRunner!

Are Yamaha XL1200s Still Worth Buying?

Are the Yamaha XL1200s still worth buying? It’s a common question of many buyers, and the answer is that it depends.

On one hand, these 2-stroke WaveRunners offer a unique and amazing riding experience. They are quick, nimble, and much more lively compared to the new 4-stoke PWCs, which already look like boats.

But don’t forget that these vintage WaveRunners are very aged, and many of them are worn out.

As a rule of thumb, a 2-stroke PWC requires more work and attention compared to a 4-stroke.

Because of this, if you are a beginner, it’s not recommended that you buy one of these vintage crafts. Instead, you may want to buy a newer, 4-stroke, non-supercharged PWC. This is because you probably want to ride your WaveRunner rather than having to work on it before each ride. After you have some experience in riding and maintenance, you can still switch to a 2-stroke craft anytime.

However, keep in mind that working on these vintage PWCs is part of the ownership. If you lack mechanical skills and experience, this can be a real pain for you.

If you’ve already decided to purchase one of this old 2-stroke crafts, here are some things to look out for:

  • always choose one that is water-ready
  • check the compression in the cylinders
  • don’t skip the water test
  • ask for a complete service history
Additionally, you may also find our used jet ski buying guide useful.


As a takeaway, we’ve answered the most common questions about the Yamaha XL 1200:

What is a Yamaha XL 1200?

The XL 1200 was a 2-stroke 3-seater Yamaha PWC built into the original XL platform.

When did the Yamaha XL 1200 Come Out?

The Yamaha XL 1200 was revealed in 1998.

What Years Did Yamaha Make the XL 1200?

Yamaha marketed the XL 1200 from 1998 through 2000.

What Size was a Yamaha XL 1200?

The Yamaha XL 1200 measured 124.0 inches in length, 49.2 inches in width, and 43.3 inches in height.

How Much Did a Yamaha XL 1200 Weigh?

The dry weight of the Yamaha XL 1200 was 611 pounds.

How Many People Could Ride on a Yamaha XL 1200?

The Yamaha XL 1200 was rated for three riders.

What Kind of Engine was in the Yamaha XL 1200?

The Yamaha XL 1200 was powered by a 2-stroke, 1131cc, reed valve, triple-cylinder Yamaha marine engine.

Was the Yamaha XL 1200 Supercharged?

The Yamaha XL 1200 utilized a naturally aspirated engine configuration.

Was the Yamaha XL 1200 a 2-stroke?

The Yamaha XL 1200 was powered by a 2-stroke engine.

Was the Yamaha XL 1200 Fuel Injected?

The Yamaha XL 1200 featured three Mikuni BN44 carburetors.

How Much Horsepower Did a Yamaha XL 1200 Have?

The Yamaha XL 1200 produced 135hp at 6750 RPM.

How Much Oil Did a Yamaha XL 1200 Hold?

The Yamaha XL 1200 had an oil injection system featuring a 1.0-gallon oil reservoir.

How Much Fuel Did a Yamaha XL 1200 Hold?

The Yamaha XL 1200 was equipped with a 13.2-gallon fuel tank.

How Much Fuel Did a Yamaha XL 1200 Use?

The fuel consumption of the Yamaha XL 1200 was 14 gph at WOT.

What was the Fuel Range of the Yamaha XL 1200?

The cruising range of the Yamaha XL 1200 was 0.9 hours at full throttle.

How Fast Did a Yamaha XL 1200 Go?

The top speed of a Yamaha XL 1200 was about 55 mph depending on the external conditions.

Could the Yamaha XL 1200 Tow a Skier or a Wakeboarder?

Thanks to its three-seater saddle, the XL 1200 could legally tow a wakeboarder or skier.

Did the Yamaha XL 1200 Have a Reverse?           

The XL 1200 came standard with a manual reverse system.

Did the Yamaha XL 1200 Have a Brake?               

The Yamaha XL 1200 was manufactured without a brake system.

How Much Does a Yamaha XL 1200 Cost?

The asking price of a used Yamaha XL 1200 varies between $2,000 and $3,000 depending on the year and its condition.

This is our short Yamaha XL1200 review. We hope you like it!