Yamaha XL1200 Specs and Review [Video]

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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.

Yamaha XLT1200 and XL1200 Review

Yamaha XL1200 Review

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 easily 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.

Regarding the Yamaha XL1200 engine, it was a 1.131cc, 3-cylinder, 2-stroke power source with 3 BN44 Mikuni carbs. Powered by this open-loop cooled Yamaha marine engine, the XL1200 offered an amazing 135HP.

In contrast, the XL760 featured a less powerful, 754cc, 2-cylinder, 90HP engine.

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.

One year later, in 1999, besides the SUV1200 Yamaha released the completely redesigned XL1200 Ltd. The all-new model was built on a slimmer hull, measuring only 48 inches wide and 124.4 inches long.

The XL1200 Ltd. offered an outstanding performance of 155HP, since it was powered with the industry’s most powerful 1.176cc, 3-cylinder Yamaha marine engine. With this amazing power plant, the XL1200 Ltd.’s top speed was around 58 mph.

As you can assume, this new engine was thirstier, burning around 17 gallons of gas every hour at full speed. But thanks to its bigger 18.5-gallon fuel tank, the cruising range remained over one hour.

Yamaha XLT1200 Review

The new Yamaha XLT1200 hit the market in 2001, replacing the XL1200 Ltd.

The new flagship family-WaveRunner was a re-designed version of its predecessor with a brand-new look in front. Although the top deck got a completely new, fresh-looking design, the hull and the engine remained unchanged.

Many say that this was the model that sparked the interest of many performance-minded buyers to 3-seater PWCs.

This means that the engine on the Yamaha XLT1200 was the same 1.176cc, 3-cylinder, 2-stroke power source, which offered 155HP and 58 mph top speed just like its predecessor.

The unchanged performance and the 16 pounds of extra weight resulted in a slightly lower power-to-weight ratio of 0.19.

Beyond its amazing performance, the XLT owed its popularity to its accessories. It featured Yamaha’s programmable security system, tilt steering, manual reverse, and stainless-steel 3-blade impeller.

The XLT1200 shared its hull with its smaller brother, the XLT800. The engine on the Yamaha XLT800 was a 784cc, 2-cylinder, 2-stoke power plant, which offered 120HP.

This model was also significantly lighter at only 709 pounds. Finally, it had nearly the same power-to-weight ratio as the 1200 (0.17 vs. 0.19).

The XLT800 was also very popular because it had a more affordable purchase price with lower running costs.

Yamaha XLT1200 and XL1200 Specs

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 and XLT1200 PWCs

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 and XLT 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 and XTL 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 and XLT 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 and XLT WaveRunners feature power valves to boost the engine’s efficiency.

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!

Conclusion – Are Yamaha XL1200s Still Worth Buying?

Are the Yamaha XL1200s and XLT1200s 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.

This is our short Yamaha XLT1200 and XL1200 review. We hope you like it!

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