ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Bikes > Old's Cool
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 02-28-2008, 06:54 PM   #1
Inane Cathode OP
Cheated Anion
 
Inane Cathode's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Arvada, CO
Oddometer: 4,601
XZ550 The Bike That Never Was

This thread is everything about the bike you've never heard about, the Yamaha XZ550 Vision, the yamaha that almost doesnt exist. I'll start off with an excellent review by a mister Sev Pearman of the Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly:

Quote:
We've all had the chance to date someone years after we first met them. Would that person be like I remembered her to be? Would I still find her sexy and fun? These questions were in my brain as I picked up the 1982 Yamaha Vision. I was out of high school and into bikes when Yamaha offered this 550cc, liquid-cooled V-twin gem. Trouble was, I was broke. I shrugged off my desire as unobtainable.
Fast-forward to the present. Initially, looks didn't disappoint. The transverse-mounted motor (think Harley-Davidson) keeps the cycle slender. Its broad, flat, metal tank is friendly to a variety of tank bags. Equally inviting is the wide bench seat, which easily permits my 32" inseam legs to find the ground at stops. While current bike styling is rounder and more organic, the boxier Vision has aged very well.
The cockpit is kind of dated, with its chunky styling and 55 mph redlined speedo; a remnant of the "speed kills!" '70s. The tach redlines at 10K. A slow engine speed compared to today's zipper bikes, but plenty zesty enough to provide fun. A convenient choke/enrichener is mounted below the standard push-to-cancel turn signal switch. As a plus, the idiot lights are noticeable, even in direct sun. Coolant temp warrants its own gauge, and rubber-mounted blinkers on all corners are welcome for garage and parking lot blunders.
The riding stance is pure Universal Japanese Motorcycle. This is definitely a bike you sit on, not in. Cast risers on the top triple-clamp bring the grips to your hands. Coupled with a low, foot-peg placement, you sit in a neutral, comfortable position. The passenger isn't forgotten either. That bench seat is good for an entire tank full, with low, forward-mounted footpegs on cast hangers which incorporate a neat boot guard, so you don't melt your soles on the pipes.
This particular Vision came with an unusual factory-mounted full fairing. Unlike a lot of after-market jobs, this doesn't interfere with the controls or the handlebars at full lock. Convex rectangular mirrors are actually useful, until above eight thousand rpm, when the entire bike gets buzzy. While the windscreen provides an effective bubble at speed, the rest of the fairing generates an onslaught of clanks, rattles and buzzes. This may not be a problem around town, but could be annoying on extended runs.
So what is it like to ride? That friendly riding position coupled with the snorty motor and your typical period five-speed tranny make for a pleasant ride. The engine feels wheezy below four thousand rpm, but that may be simply a 17 year-old, low-mileage bike needing a carb cleaning. Things begin to stir at about six thousand, when the motor comes into its sweet spot of cam, valve train design and gas flow. It keeps pulling hard through the 10K redline, although at higher revs, an annoying lag would appear when the throttle is opened. This may be a function of hauling my 5' 10" 220 lbs frame around, or again, cruddy carbs. It is most fun if you keep it between six and nine thousand, to exploit that generous power band.
If you've never owned a bike with the simplicity of shaft drive, check out a Vision. No chain oiling. No chain adjustment. No cleaning of flung chain-lube spooge from wheels. Drawbacks? There is a small power loss versus a chain set-up and a slight weight penalty, but this is no track bike, and most riders will never feel it. Until I go racing, I can live with it.
At "Hello Officer!" speeds, the frame's limitations materialize. The skinny 90/90-18" front and 110/90-18" rear are easily overwhelmed. During rapid side-to-side transitions, the Vision shakes its head to remind you that you are aboard hard narrow tires. Unless you are very smooth with your throttle action, the shaft final drive pitches and bucks the tail. Ms. Vision definitely rewards the smooth operator.
Braking is handled by a single disc, with a single opposed-piston caliper in front and an easily locked drum in the rear. Not up to today's hardware, but more than adequate to stop the bike plus myself. This Vision wears one of two cast wheel options. In 1982, you could order this spoke pattern, a swooshy curved cast wheel or the traditional laced-spoke wheel.
All-in-all, the Vision is one competent street mount. Its narrow profile, courtesy of that skinny V-twin, makes it an excellent city bike. Its smaller size is easier to manipulate, yet the 550cc motor creates enough usable power to safely brave our Interstate Highway combat zones. Historically, the Vision fits between Honda's CX500/650 and their much-loved NT650 Hawk. A generation more refined than the former, yet not quite as powerful and sporty as the latter. Mid-sized twins have never been too popular here in the US, although Suzuki's new SV650 is sold out.
So how was the date? Yamaha's Vision turned out to be one charmer. It is an excellent street and city bike, with the potential for the occasional weekend road trip. The Vision is user-friendly enough to accommodate newer riders, but has enough steam in the boiler to please a rider who can safely scrape hardware. For less than $1,200.00, you could do a lot worse than this sport standard. I only wished I'd asked her out years ago...
This review just about sums it up. I've got three of these beasties. Two being of the 82 variety, one being of the rarer (and better in my opinion) 83 variety.

Not only have these bikes aged VERY well (the full fairinged version oft being confused with a bmw, no offense to bmw riders of course ) theres an absolutely massive information base on the workings of these things. Everything from tire sizes to electronic grafting and modifications. They're very rideable and competent on the highway and in the twisties right out of the box, so to speak. Not quite geared for superslab mega-touring, the vision is however adapted perfectly to numbered us highway, canyon gobbling type performance.

Of course they suffer from what all old bikes suffer from, storage! XZ550s are fitted with an extremely sensitive and one-off type of downdraft (automotive style, including butterfly throttle valves) dual mikuni carburators. The best way to fix most vision carburator problems is to ride the shit out of it for a week or so. That being said the only real way to fix running issues is to dip the carbs and clean them out very thoroughly. There doesnt seem to be a work around to this.

So next time you see an xz550 on craigslist or in your local paper. Dont hesitate! Snap up a piece of motorcycle history that almost dissapeared.
__________________
_______
Pokey The Wunderbus
The VEEP Project



Inane Cathode is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2008, 07:06 PM   #2
Bloodweiser
honestly
 
Bloodweiser's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: way over yonder in the minor key
Oddometer: 2,468
i did a google image search for 'xz550 cafe' for a good laugh, and on the second page what did I find but stagehands avatar
Bloodweiser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2008, 07:57 PM   #3
Stagehand
+/- V TDSPP
 
Stagehand's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2004
Location: Shawangunks
Oddometer: 23,466
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloodweiser
i did a google image search for 'xz550 cafe' for a good laugh, and on the second page what did I find but stagehands avatar

getthefuckout. really?

savoir faire... is EVERYWHERE





how many years did they make the Vision, and why is '83 better? That transverse thing - Yamaha didnt really take off with that, but Honda did with the VFR stuff? I know little...
__________________
It aint a fit night out for man nor beast.

Stagehand screwed with this post 02-28-2008 at 08:04 PM
Stagehand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2008, 08:59 PM   #4
Inane Cathode OP
Cheated Anion
 
Inane Cathode's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Arvada, CO
Oddometer: 4,601
They made it for two years, 1982 and 1983.
The 83 was almost a finished version of the 82. The carbs were altered quite a bit and the fuel delivery was modified to have a circulating system with a supply and a return back into the tank. Heres what i can remember about the 83 versus the 82:

Adjustable rear shock dampening
Front air forks
Dual front disc brake
Shorter risers
Rear set pegs
Factory full fairing (with nifty radiator air diversion flaps, heat!)
Fuel guage (space age for 1983)
Lots more black, forks, exhaust, tail piece, FD and swingarm
Improved charging system (seems to be a bit contentious, noones sure if the 83 insulation is any better than the 82, 82 eats stators for breakfast)
Styling differences, 83's had 'Way cool!' pin striping, very 80s
Gold wheels instead of 'chrome'

I can't for the life of me remember how many units they actually made. Its reasonable to assume that compared to other popular models theres not very many visions around. You'll find em for sure, but not nearly as many, say, cbs you'd find.

Oh, bloodweiser here:


I would have probably done the exhaust and the gauges different. Trouble is with the xz550 powerplant is its a dohc so one would have to fab a Y pipe on both ends, and the exhaust is a funky wedge/clamp fit.
__________________
_______
Pokey The Wunderbus
The VEEP Project



Inane Cathode is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2008, 09:04 PM   #5
Inane Cathode OP
Cheated Anion
 
Inane Cathode's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Arvada, CO
Oddometer: 4,601
They made it for two years, 1982 and 1983.
The 83 was almost a finished version of the 82. The carbs were altered quite a bit and the fuel delivery was modified to have a circulating system with a supply and a return back into the tank. Heres what i can remember about the 83 versus the 82:

Adjustable rear shock dampening
Front air forks
Dual front disc brake
Shorter risers
Rear set pegs
Factory full fairing (with nifty radiator air diversion flaps, heat!)
Fuel guage (space age for 1983)
Lots more black, forks, exhaust, tail piece, FD and swingarm
Improved charging system (seems to be a bit contentious, noones sure if the 83 insulation is any better than the 82, 82 eats stators for breakfast)
Styling differences, 83's had 'Way cool!' pin striping, very 80s
Gold wheels instead of 'chrome'

I can't for the life of me remember how many units they actually made. Its reasonable to assume that compared to other popular models theres not very many visions around. You'll find em for sure, but not nearly as many, say, cbs you'd find.

Oh, bloodweiser here:


I would have probably done the exhaust and the gauges different. Trouble is with the xz550 powerplant is its a dohc so one would have to fab a Y pipe on both ends, and the exhaust is a funky wedge/clamp fit.
__________________
_______
Pokey The Wunderbus
The VEEP Project



Inane Cathode is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2008, 12:41 AM   #6
Tarka
Doesn't wave back.
 
Tarka's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2007
Location: Across the pond.
Oddometer: 1,794
I remember them...and have always wondered about them.

Pity the original reviewer in the quoted bike test didn`t understand the difference between tranverse mounting and in-line mounting though..................
__________________
.

I'd only waste my money if I didn`t spend it on all my bikes......
Tarka is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2008, 05:23 AM   #7
JWhitmore44
pistolero
 
JWhitmore44's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2006
Location: NW Kansas
Oddometer: 1,477
Those are some sweet looking bikes




reminds me a lot of the Radian, another bike i always liked
__________________
84 Honda Goldwing (GL1200)
03 XR650L
JWhitmore44 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2008, 05:45 AM   #8
Nessman
Cluttered Minimalist
 
Nessman's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2004
Location: Everett, WA
Oddometer: 1,476
Summer of '87.

__________________
Matt
Moto Guzzi T-3
'05 DR650
Nessman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2008, 06:29 AM   #9
Bigger Al
Still a stupid tire guy
 
Bigger Al's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2004
Location: Auburn, CA
Oddometer: 7,647
The only motorcycle I've ever purchased brand new was a left-over 1982 Vision. Man, whatta great little bike that was! They had their problems, to be sure, but a little fiddling made for a really nice all-rounder. I've owned a few since that one, and I regret ever selling any of them. Every couple of years I get the urge to go out and find one, just for kicks.
__________________
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." -

Abraham Lincoln




Bigger Al is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2008, 09:34 AM   #10
SlipChip
Adventure Commuter
 
SlipChip's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2006
Location: East of CleveOh
Oddometer: 2,845
550 vision

I always wanted one. I love that white and red one above.
Same colors as my first streetbike, a `75 RD 250.
__________________
Chip
`92 Yamaha TDM 850

“Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried.” - Frank Tyger

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch
SlipChip is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2008, 11:19 PM   #11
Inane Cathode OP
Cheated Anion
 
Inane Cathode's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Arvada, CO
Oddometer: 4,601
Theres still quite a few around if you put in a bit of effort to look for them. They really are quite nice. Having a basically completely 1 off bike is quite unique. Its not a subtle difference between xs or xj, its totally different all the way around.
__________________
_______
Pokey The Wunderbus
The VEEP Project



Inane Cathode is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2008, 01:19 AM   #12
davorallyfan
Commonist
 
davorallyfan's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2005
Location: Capitalist
Oddometer: 15,063
__________________
7th Day Adventourist.
Terrafied
Catching the bus?
davorallyfan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2008, 06:16 AM   #13
jehu
∩HƏſ
 
jehu's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Vail,AZ
Oddometer: 3,517
Somebody needs to cafe that puppy!
jehu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2008, 10:03 AM   #14
SlipChip
Adventure Commuter
 
SlipChip's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2006
Location: East of CleveOh
Oddometer: 2,845
Quote:
Originally Posted by davorallyfan

Where was this? Recent?
__________________
Chip
`92 Yamaha TDM 850

“Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried.” - Frank Tyger

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch
SlipChip is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2008, 04:55 PM   #15
jehu
∩HƏſ
 
jehu's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Vail,AZ
Oddometer: 3,517
AMA flat track Tucson last year.
Attached Images
 
jehu is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 02:46 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014