An Open Letter to Yamaha

I originally wrote this as an email to Yamaha. It was sent off to Yamaha over a week ago, and I haven’t heard a single peep in reply. So, on behalf of myself, and anyone else who’s experienced this issue with their FZ/MT/FJ09 motorcycle who also agrees with me…here’s an open letter to Yamaha:


I’m pretty disappointed with Yamaha right now. This is only the second motorcycle I’ve EVER purchased brand new, the first was also a Yamaha.

Long story short, I was riding a fun little section of twisties with my girlfriend, Kinsy, on the back of my new FJ09. I was plodding along around 35-40mph as I crossed a small bridge over a creek. There was a build up of slurry/tar on the transition from road to bridge. Definitely a bump, but nothing so bad to cause for much concern. Until I hit it. And the bike completely bottomed out on the drain plug, shearing off the bottom of my oil pan spraying oil all over my rear tire, saddle bags, undertail, and even all over the backpack Kinsy was wearing.

I didn’t crash. I have lots of experience on two wheels, dirt, track, and street. It was certainly a 500ft death slide afterwards, but I managed to keep it upright in the end.

I’m disappointed because after this happened, I go to research a new oil pan for the bike, I see that I’m not the first person to have this experience. In fact, SO many people have had this happen to them (some in the most trivial of ways), that Yamaha has redesigned the pan and updated their part number to supersede the original design. The originally FLAWED design.

They say recalls are for safety reasons. Like the new 2015 R1, for example. The transmission locks up and causes the rider to crash, as has happened with one of my friends already. Or the o ring on the oil filter assembly does seat correctly, causing oil to spray from the engine, possibly causing someone to crash, as has also happened to another friend of mine.

Well, having the lowest point of contact be the drain plug on a motorcycle isn’t very safe. Decking it out on the ground at 40mph with your loved one on the back, instantly saturating your rear tire with synthetic oil, IS NOT SAFE.

I’m upset because Yamaha has acknowledged that there is an issue without even saying “there is an issue with our original design.” They simply redesigned it and quietly updated their part number to patch over an issue that many of us with the FZ/FJ/MT09 line of motorbikes is having. AND MAKING US PAY FOR IT.

The fortunate ones, such as myself, who don’t actually crash because talent, scenario, or pure dumb luck was on their side are simply left with a:

– $202 bill for an oil pan
– $18 for a new gasket
– shop labor of 2 hours @ $95 per hour
– roughly $400 for a new set of tires (oil was all over both of my tires)
– plus mount and balance fees of $80
– $35 for a new set of rear brake pads
– and 5 hours of their time cleaning up the mess out of the back of their truck they had to tow the bike home with as well as the bike itself.

And sadly, my newly updated how-it-should-have-been-in-the-first-place design of an oil pan DIDN’T EVEN COME WITH A NOTE SAYING “SORRY THAT HAPPENED. HERE’S YOUR FREE OIL PAN CAUSE WE GOT IT WRONG THE FIRST TIME”

I should have waited to buy the Africa Twin.


Joe Salas

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  1. Mommie Yammie has a rep for avoiding recalls by fixing the problem at the dealer level with the proviso that if the problem wasn’t related to the “problem” you will pay for the fix, not them…research “ticker” on any FJR forum…thousands of the Feejers had flawed valve guides, which wore unevenly and made a ‘ticking’ sound, fix was about $2G’s per bike and no recall was ever issued.

  2. I think Joe’s story is fitting for the situation. It is emotional and should be as that makes it personal as that is how his communication with Yamaha is being made. The need to feel it.

    I have over 31K on these bikes and I have known of the problem for over a year now. I ride with caution around bumps and also fitted a Mazda style drain plug to the pan. Recently installed a skid plate too. I’m not so concerned about the price, more about the problem 3,000 miles from home, where the cost to repair would be much more. Joe should write a more leagle letter that others could use to send to Cypress.

  3. One more comment, if I may? I can tell you that filing a complaint with the US’s NHTSA can and does result in restitution being made to owners of faulty vehicles.

    I recently received a letter from Mazda (after I joined in on such a complaint about the Mazda 3’s “sticky dash” syndrome) that they were going to replace my entire dash for free. This costs, at least, over $1,000 worth of parts and labor. And we’re not talking about something nearly as serious as having your bike and tires covered in oil while at speed….

    I suggest that ALL owners of the defective FJ-09s post such a complaint to the NHTSA. Who knows, maybe Yamaha will be a little more charitable once Uncle Sam gets on their case?!

    NHTSA Link:

  4. I *totally* concur with Joey and those who defended his post. At the very least, Yamaha should give all owners of an FJ-09 that has the defective part a new, free oil pan and let us install it. That sounds like a fair compromise to me. However, Yamaha’s lawyers will fight that solution tooth and nail. The mantra of most big corporations is to never admit fault and hope that the problem “goes away”.

    How about just doing the right thing right up front without our having to resort to employing threats, lawyers, et al? I know that I would accept such a deal and think a whole lot better of Yamaha for doing the right thing….

  5. Joe Salas was crystal clear in his communique to Yamaha. It is also crystal clear, that someone (namely Mr. Harry Leitner) needs to read Joe’s email again, and again. The response, such as it is, didn’t even acknowledge anything Joe wrote.

  6. And that’s why this country is screwed. Someone has a mishap, exaggerates the story, says “I was just riding along when all of the sudden…”, googles it (because there are so many “experts” on the Internet), then calls a lawyer cause they think they won the lottery…

    And you wonder why everything has a warning label fit for an idiot.

    Buy an oil pan, put it on yourself, clean the tires off with some degreaser and sandpaper, and call it a day.

    By the way, your letter read more emotional than factual… Just callin it like I see it Joe. And I know you’ve done the same *cough*Joey-Siglin-AFM *cough*

    Just sayin

    1. Author

      Just fyi, bud, I defended Joey whole-heartedly on that one. :) anyhow, feel free to arm-chair quarterback all you’d like. And yes, I opened the email with my feelings (disappointment)…I’m not sure what your point is exactly. Carry on. :) I just want everyone to be safe.

    2. So statistically, when someone is injured by faulty/poor design/failure of a product, and they go to the manufacturer and say “hey, your product, when used as intended, failed, and damaged me!”, and the company either ignores the customer, or tells them “not our problem”, fully FIFTY PERCENT will just walk away.
      THAT is why people end up hiring attorneys.
      If the company were to do the morally correct thing and replace the redesigned parts and take care of their customers, people wouldn’t NEED to hire attorneys.
      Frankly, your reply was poorly thought out (much like the design on the original oil pan), and not even particularly relevant, as Joe HASN’T hired an attorney.
      Personally, I think he should. A lawsuit is about the only recourse the “little guy” (David) has against the corporate giant (Goliath).
      And a class action lawsuit is what teaches Goliath about setting boundaries on their corporate greed.

      Joe, fight the good fight.

    3. How do you know these stories were exaggerated? Oh wait, you weren’t there for 99.999999999999% of these exaggerated stories so basically, you don’t know shit.

      If everything has a warning label fit for an idiot on it, where’s the warning label on the JF warning people not to hit any small bumps while riding because bump in question may take advantage of a serious design flaw and at the very least, cost the owner some money?

      This country is screwed for many more and much bigger reasons that frivolous lawsuits. And Harry, your response to Joe’s letter read much more emotional than factual. Just calling it like I see it.

  7. Had an issue like this before myself. A letter written by a lawyer proved helpful in avoiding paying $1500 in parts and labor in my case.

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