The bike is technically an 81 (650), because that's what the frame's VIN number and battery position say it is. It's a 700 now with the YICS. After multiple down times of not being able to wrench on this thing, I got it running (well I didn't, but the nice professional I paid did). Anyways it runs and I did it all myself (minus some professional help).
This bike. This bike is AMAZING, buy one, even if in a million pieces, put it together, pay someone if you have to, and the second you hit that throttle, you'll understand. I liked my Intruder, it was a solid bike and I thought this bike would be much less fun. So, I twisted that throttle on a puny 700cc engine and... well... my bike almost went on a joy ride by itself. Luckily (for the bike) I had just painted that thing and somehow did an impression of the T-1000 from Terminator and chased it down before a touch down.
The second attempt I figured I'd try while it's rolling, turned out to be a smart idea, gripped the bars a little tighter... almost closed my eyes... and went wide open throttle. Now I'm thinking to myself, it's a 700... a 700... it's a... very nice engine, and through Japanese wizardy they crammed a liter engine into 30% less space. Which was then crammed onto a medium chassis, which is supporting a light rider. Between hitting the throttle and the smile forming on my face, I broke the speedo. Somehow I think not switching out the 81 speedo was a bad idea (it's verified, definitely a bad idea).
Anyways, onward with the text wall. The handling is SO easy. With the Intruder it felt a bit stiff. It would respond if you really wanted it to, but it was more leisurely in its approach to lane changing, and the v-twin seemed to catch side drafts like a touring size bike while weighing much less. The Maxim still lets you know it's a medium bike, but it does it more "happy." A side draft hits, back off the throttle, lean in, slam it again and the rear view gives mother nature a one finger salute. As far as course correction on this thing, it's just easy, relax the throttle, clench a little and the bike responds like a well trained horse (oh you want to go that way, done).
Braking though, I'm definitely what people would call a NOOB (erm I mean novice), which translates to SUPER NOOB. I've had 3 bikes before and 2 of them were dirt bikes. So, it's probably me messing up the braking, but I do apply the rear and then apply the front (sometimes the front first, then the rear for stability on a hard stop) But, braking with the clutch in seems a bit sub par for a medium bike (the one thing I feel the Intruder did much better). It was also much newer and had ABS. It still stops in a reasonable amount of time, and if you downshift it, it's pretty quick, but it definitely doesn't have that (bite) that I'm used to. Though that being the negative, it's also the positive as this doesn't have ABS, and a locking wheel would be a bad thing, you really HAVE to stand on the brake to get it to lock on the rear, and you have to picture someone you hate being choked within an inch of their life to get the front to lock (wanted to see what the extremes were as to where the wheels would lock). Personally, I'm going to put a bigger disc on the front or maybe find an XS with dual rotors to swap out. I'm sure the bike is fine and it's just me, but that's my only gripe.
Well actually it's one of two. The second gripe is the 700cc is extremely difficult to locate parts for, and after some post purchase research I found this bike only to be made for two years. Luckily the amount of parts that are 700cc specific are pretty limited, and many 650 and 750 parts will interchange with it. The electronics were only used 2 years though, but were used more often on Viragos and XS than they were on the XJ700, so there's a good 7-8 more years of bikes with useful parts to scavenge.
All in all, this has quickly become the most smile inducing machine I've ever owned (this includes something I'm better at which is building fast cars). I also have a 450 HP 300ZX turbo (a daily driver, didn't want to switch the tranny out). Anywho, I tried a Shadow 1100, tried a Gold Wing, tried a KZ 1100, and quite honestly I was fixing this bike up to flip it and get a Yamaha Bolt. Then I went and tried the Bolt; the smile to weight ratio beat out the Bolt (even though the Bolt is in every other way a better bike). Also, on a Bolt, I feel like I'm having to "play nice" or "conform to a riding style". I just could not get into it like I could with the Maxim. For the slight speed increase on the Bolt, having to manhandle it everywhere just gets old. It's a large bike thing and just not awesome for commuting in my opinion.