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"SECA" Etymology

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by MrOpenRoad, Jan 12, 2023.

  1. MrOpenRoad

    MrOpenRoad XS400 New Member

    Hello everyone, I'm brand new to this forum and (somewhat) new to motorcycle riding. Last summer I got my license and purchased my first motorcycle, a 1983 XS400 SECA, and got in as much riding as I could before winter rolled in and I had to stow it away. Right now it is sitting silently in a storage shed, partially-disassembled as I (with the careful oversight of my mechanically-gifted father) service the shims.

    The previous owner took care of the bike - for the most part. But it had it's fair share of issues, namely a dirty carb, a leaking front fork, and some other more minor maintenance needs. It's a fantastic little bike, responsive, predictable, and incredibly easy to ride.

    But it has its mysteries too. I've searched high and low for the etymology behind the name - "SECA". What does it mean? Is it an acronym? I can assume that "XS" stands for "extra-small" - but perhaps there is an alternative meaning that I am unaware of.

    I'm also a little confused about how to tell each model apart, considering the similarities the SECA has to the other Yamaha bikes of its period. What made the 1983 SECA different from its predecessors? It's "cousins", like the Maxim? Other than the obvious cosmetic differences?

    I've also seen the term "XS400RJ" floating around. Is that a different version? Or is mine the RJ? I'm terribly confused when it comes to these naming conventions.

    I'm sorry if I come across as ignorant in this post. Frankly speaking, I am. I'm a layman when it comes to mechanics and I'm brand new to this world.

    If anyone's interested, I'll link a picture of my bike. The photo was taken last August. The mirrors were removed to avoid damage during transport.

    Attached Files:

  2. I have an '82 Seca, been somewhat curious about the name also. I <think> its XS400RJ is the right designation, in my tank search on ebay etc they do seem correlated. Take care of that tank! they are nearly unobtanium, probably fairing pieces also. OTOH the usual sorts of parts are easy to get. I have a Maxim tank on mine right now, which fits well enough. I found the RJ manuals available thru this site do work for the bike.
  3. MrOpenRoad

    MrOpenRoad XS400 New Member

    I noticed that some of the parts unique to my bike seemed rare! I couldn't find any other plastic fairing pieces (although, given my confusion about the naming conventions perhaps I didn't cast a wide enough net). The previous owner of the bike gave me a photocopy of the 1982 XS400 manual. So far, everything seems identical.
  4. CaptChrome

    CaptChrome XS400 Addict

    Welcome to the forum! Nice looking bike (I will admit I am a bit partial to the white). It is great you are using it and having some fun.

    To help with some of your questions, there is a lot of information on this site on model codes like "XS400RJ" and others which are related mostly to the model years of the bikes. For example the 1983 year models were the XS400K Maxim and the XS400RK Seca. The XS400RJ is a 1982 Seca model. There are also VIN codes that correspond to the models as well. I will let you go down the internet rabbit hole to search for those posts here - enjoy.

    As far as what some of the names mean, I am no expert, but I think they are either meaningless or words thought up by some marketing folks to help sell bikes. I have read that the "XS" is supposed to mean four-stroke (the "X" has four points) street models (the "S" is supposed to stand for street). Because I read it on the internet, it must be right? So, if there is something to this then the XV models are four-stroke, v-twin models right? Okay, then what the heck is an XZ or an XJ? So, I think they are just bike types like Honda's CB/CM, Suzuki's GS, and Kawasaki's KZ. I can tell you that XS does not mean extra small because there were 1100cc in-line four XS11's, which were one of the muscle bikes of the day.

    Regarding the Seca and Maxim meaning, I think they are probably pure marketing BS. Everyone who was interested in bikes or sports cars in those days followed a bunch of motorcycle or car magazines and those had pretty wide-ranging coverage including club and professional racing. Because of that exposure, even guys who weren't into racing knew who Mike the Bike, Ago, Sheene, King Kenny and others were, and if you said the word "Seca" they would think "Laguna Seca Raceway." The marketing folks understood this and probably added Seca to give the image of a sporty bike. "Maxim" just gives the image of the best - so who wouldn't want the Yamaha Maxim over the plain old GS450.

    Disclaimer: the above is my opinion only, so don't bet any money on it.
    gpounce32768 likes this.
  5. JPaganel

    JPaganel XS400 Addict

    There was once a coding system that Yamaha used. The thing is, they were never very consistent about it.

    X was for standard naked
    F was for faired sport

    S was upright twin
    V was V-twin
    J was inline-four

    So, you got XS, which was a standard with a parallel twin, XJ that was a standard with an inline-four, XV that was a standard with a V-twin (those were Viragos). Then you got FJ, which was a faired sportbike with an inline four.

    The thing is, this went right out the window when you got to XS1100. It should have really been an XJ (and was for a couple of years) because of the inline four, but was branded as XS because... Because. I don't know why. And things got more confusing from there.

    As far as the explanation of Seca, Captain here is spot-on. It's Laguna Seca Raceway, and it's to make the bike names sound sporty.
    franticvike likes this.

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