Yamaha XV920

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by nedodjija, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. kentinstow

    kentinstow n00b

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    I've got two and "a half" 1981 XV920Rh's. One has the innards from the later shaftie XV1100 in it (XV1100RH?) and a Pichler fairing. The other has flatter handlebars and a "traditional" rear fender. It took me about 6 months to "learn" how to ride this bike -- it needs to be ridden in a completely different way than my 1982 GS1100G, which is why I got it.

    Anyway: The steering geometry is changed by the height of the rear tire: a short, fat 16" on the shaft-drive model, and a taller 18" on the chain-drive model.

    Joe Minton did a great article on "Vitalizing the Virago" ( http://viragotech.com/ ).

    Basically, the old-school method used to be: front and rear progressive springs, (choose your viscosity) front fork oil, swap the steering head ball-bearings (I know!) for tapered bearings, and add a fork brace. The enclosed chain drive is sheer brilliance. I love the giant headlight.

    I, too, am intrigued by the "Zero Cafe" Virago. If you look closely, you can see that he left the original spine frame (I'd love to replace mine with a light-as-air Ducati style trellis: sigh. His sense of proportion and balance is perfect. Replicating his work should be rather "easy," since the rear/seat portion just unbolts.

    Why do a Virago cafe? Good question. It's big: with that 58-inch wheelbase, it's no "flick" bike (convert a dirt bike to be a cafe racer, if that's the experience that you want. Another projecct that I want to do...). It's heavy: 500+ pounds. It's got a high center of gravity. Yada yada yada.

    The reason "why" is the engine. It's torquey. It has a relaxing cadence that took me 6 months to understand; I kept trying to crack the throttle like on my inline 4 GS1100, and kept feeling frustrated and disappointed. Then, I learned how to let the bike teach me how it wanted to be ridden. Aww, man... The engine is nice to look at, too. (I never liked the look of the Suzuki VX800 engine...)

    It's all personal preference: that's all that matters. Bike-hating is so irrelevant. What unites us is two -- sometimes three -- wheels. 20-30 years ago, the IIHS was making strong inroads to legislate motorcycles out of existence.

    Anyway. Our bikes are platforms for creative and artistic expression. If a Cafe Virago/Gold Wing/Voyager/Rokon does it for you, then fine.

    May the ties that bind us together be stronger than the forces that would tear us apart.

    kentinstow
    #21
  2. nanno

    nanno Been here awhile

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    I am a proud owner of the european version of the XV920, which is called TR1 and has 980ccm, instead of 920 in the US.

    On the early models (81-82) the rear headgasket tends to blow, because of some edges on the cylinderhead. There are some companies in Germany, which can sort that for you by welding it up and then flattening it again.
    Except from that, the starter is dreadful, but certain versions of the Virago 1100 starter will fit and these will also have a little more oomph.

    Progressive springs in the front and in the rear (the air-assisted shock is basically alright), plus some steel-braided-brake-hose plus a good set of tyres and you have a nice bike for everyday use. But be aware of the fact, it will never be a true sportbike in that way.

    Ah, and if you exchange the tail-unit with one from a SR500/XS400 it looks a lot nicer...

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Cheers,
    Greg
    #22
  3. BIG ED XT FAN

    BIG ED XT FAN Long timer

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    Great Looking 920! The rear fender looks good too. Enjoy!!:evil:evil:evil:evil
    #23
  4. G2mk3

    G2mk3 Been here awhile

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    well, I must have had enough good deeds saved up because a friend contacted me and said "I took on a 81 xv750 that needs a little work for my wife but I realized I'm just not about to get around to it..."

    2 weeks later I took this from his garage

    [​IMG]

    :freaky

    time to put my money where my mouth was, eh?
    #24
  5. RedRocket

    RedRocket Yeah! I want Cheesy Poofs

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    My XV920R is getting closer to road ready.
    #25
  6. spanky

    spanky Well, maybe...

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    What a phenominal first post! I'm late in responding but ever since I first saw this thread I've had it in my mind that the 920 could be the answer to my desire for a torquey V-twin. I miss my Ducati 907 but I don't miss the cost of maintenance.

    I find myself lusting over Suzuki SV1000's then I saw a cafe'd 920 and can't get it out of my mind. Having spent my formative years (1965 - 1968) in Europe I'm all too familiar with cafe bikes and I want to live that life at least once before I hang up my helmet.

    Thank for the great reply and insights!:thumb
    #26
  7. RedRocket

    RedRocket Yeah! I want Cheesy Poofs

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    Here. Have some more motivation:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Here's another take on the rear fender:

    [​IMG]
    #27
  8. spanky

    spanky Well, maybe...

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    Thanks for the moto-porn.:tb
    #28
  9. G2mk3

    G2mk3 Been here awhile

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    does that bike only have forward controls??? or is my eye missing the rear ones?
    #29
  10. Motoriley

    Motoriley Even my posing is virtual

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    A good friend of mine had an XV920 here in Montreal back in the early 90's. We went to a moto rally and he got it dynoed. It had a bad flat spot in the power curve. We removed the little intake snorkel that went from the air box to under the seat and the flat spot vanished. He also gained a noticeable increase in top speed. If I remember it put out something in the high 40's or low 50's in terms of HP. My GL1200 at the time cranked a mighty 77.......:puke1
    #30
  11. MIOB

    MIOB Long timer

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    I think you're right. Somehow it doesn't really look comfortable this way. Nice bike though!


    Our Virago has made some progress to. We had it running with that Opel Carb (and it sounds fantastic!):

    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/m3-q7GnIN2Y&hl=nl_NL&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/m3-q7GnIN2Y&hl=nl_NL&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

    [​IMG]

    We've ordered a low pressure fuel pump. Turned out they're readily available and reasonably inexpensive.
    #31
  12. IHWillys

    IHWillys Been here awhile

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    On the infamous Virago starter, there are multiple problems and thus multiple fixes. Here are two I dealt with.

    First fix, get the planetery ring gear welded to the part that holds it originally in a press fit. This v-shaped press fit did not hold long term and thus the ring gear would spin. The sun gear spins, the planet gears spin(attached to the "bendix") but the ring gear should not spin.

    Second, the starter body is made up of two-ends with a middle cylinder all clamped together with two long bolts. The rear end cap bolts to the engine while the front cap just rides in an o-ring sealed port into the case. The whole starter will twist due to the torque being applied through the starter body all the way from the gear end to the other end where it's bolted to the case. The plate where the brushes are located has tabs that engage the body/end cap and keep them from rotating with respect to one another. These tabs will not necessarily hold against the torque and thus the starter body rotates resulting in binding, reducing the power available to actually spin the engine. Inspect these tabs and make them as prominent as possible by bending and filing good edges into them and the engagement points.

    I also was never able to get the starter back on with the spring clamp on the end without taking off the side cover. I tried many times to get it back in through the starter hole but wasn't able to.

    Those are some starter issues I remember from my ownership of an '82 XV750 back in the early '90s. I was never able to get the starter to function in top shape for more than a few thousand miles of small city commuting. Other than the starter, that bike was extremely reliable and because a push start makes the starter not entirely necessary, it never left me stranded. Something about the weight distribution/CG made it feel very stable even on soft ground or packed snow. One of these days, I'd like to get another for "good old days" reasons I suppose. Then I will likely realize how bad it really was...

    Ken
    #32
  13. DaFoole

    DaFoole Erudite inchoate...

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    :tb


    :raabia
    #33
  14. G2mk3

    G2mk3 Been here awhile

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    what about maybe using a cable to actuate the rear brake? it looks good bringing that tank so far down. more pics?
    #34
  15. thumpism

    thumpism Been here awhile

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    I have a silver/black '82 XV920RJ (the red '81 was the RH) that I've owned since '89. Third owner. I've put about 30,000 miles on it and would have done more but it has sat for a few different spells for different reasons (job, home renovation, injury, procrastination). It's going to come out from under wraps again this year for rehab and more riding. Shoulder surgery yesterday is my excuse this time, but it's a damn good one.

    When I first saw the magazine cover of the red '81 I knew it was the bike for me, but I took my time getting one. As late as '88 I found a new '82 in a North Carolina dealership but had just bought a house and had to pass on that one. Women just don't understand some things.

    The horror stories you may have heard about the starter (same setup as the shaft-drive Virago) are not exaggerated, embellished or fabricated. Yamaha blew it on this one and the original setup takes a lot of TLC (sounds better than "screaming and tool throwing") to get right. One fellow in PA suggests retrofitting the later '86-and-up sidecover and other parts and this might be worth pursuing.

    When the stock pipes finally rust out you'll have a tough time finding OEM or other replacements. MAC makes a great 2-into-1 for a reasonable price, and it would be worth getting it ceramic coated for longevity. Gazbike in Wales makes a gorgeous stainless 2-into-2 that is probably not overpriced for what you get. Pipes for the Virago from Jardine and others might fit but shorty dumps don't look right on the R bike.

    I have digital pix of mine but have not been able to post, despite repeated attempts and readings of the instructions. Any input would be welcome if you're interested in seeing them. When I do get back to working on it I will document the process. Cheers!
    #35
  16. Highside>Lowside

    Highside>Lowside Hairier Than Thou

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    Send me the pix to popsicle16 AT gmail D0T com, and I will host them for ya.
    #36
  17. Yarddog

    Yarddog Been here awhile

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    Going back to the original question on this thread...I bought a 1982 XV920 Virago off the showroom floor on April 22, 1982...when new, it was creamy smooth, however, I noticed that every 400-500 miles, I had to adjust the valves...it got buzzy on me...and I noticed that the valve clearances weren't increasing, they were decreasing! All I could figure is that the valve seats were sinking into the heads... What a hassle when I took the thing on a 3000 mile trip to Washington state and back...sold it after owning it a year and a half...

    Nice bike other than that...easy to do the valves, only hassle was taking the tank off, and that wasn't too bad...but why should anybody have to do that so often?
    #37
  18. thumpism

    thumpism Been here awhile

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    Highside>Lowside, thanks for the offer but I'd like to learn to post them here. I have other pix for other threads if I can ever get it together. Must the pix go to someplace like Picasa or Smugmug? I'd like to upload directly to the post since I'd probably just be doing singles.
    #38
  19. RedRocket

    RedRocket Yeah! I want Cheesy Poofs

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    Yes, you need to have a photo hosting site. Smugmug and ADVRider have the same owner so I'd suggest you sign up with them.


    I have one like you, I'm struggling right now with the starter upgrade on mine.

    [​IMG]
    #39
  20. Inane Cathode

    Inane Cathode Cheated Anion

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    I like this thread. It's like a tasteful customization verus tasteless, all in the same page :D
    #40