Has Yamaha ever built a V-twin sportbike? Pretty sure the answer is “no.” Which may or may not be a shame. When the first Virago got here in 1982 it was also the first Japanese V-twin, a standard like all bikes were then, and the Harley crowd was incensed. Blasphemers! Atrociteurs! But they got over it, and the poor Virago descended into the gold-chain excesses of the disco cruiser era. But you have to admit this 750 Virago, stripped of all its cruiser accouterments and with its early Mono-cross inspired rear suspension and shaft drive on display, is an interesting proposition for a cheap urban runabout. I stumbled upon this one, built by Tomas Vom Hinterhof in Deutschland, here. Somebody tell me why this is a bad idea before I start looking for a cheap Virago?

Cool vid here.

  • Jaime Cruz

    I guess the author isn’t aware of the 1982 Yamaha Vision (yes, there was a Vision BEFORE the luxo-tourer from Victory). An oversquare, water-cooled mid-size V-Twin sportbike. It eventually evolved into a sport tourer before the engine was mated to another one and became the basis of the Venture/V-Max V-Four.

    • Goose

      Or the 1981-82 XV920R. The “Yama-cati” that balanced the “Yama-Davidson” Virago.

      • Jaime Cruz

        Sadly, that version was never imported into the States. Instead of a shaft-drive, it had an enclosed chain final drive. Pretty cool bike too.

        • Goose

          Then how could I have purchased one from a shop in Campbell, California? The XV920R had an enclosed chain and was most definitely imported to the US.

          • Jaime Cruz

            Interesting. I only read about it… I NEVER saw one in the flesh. And during that period I haunted every Yamaha dealership in the area regularly before I bought my XJ550RJ SECA. And you’re lucky… your bike was imported for TWO years. That’s TWICE as long as they imported my 1982 XJ650RJ SECA. 😉

          • Goose

            If it helps at all I was torn between the 920 and the 650 Seca. If I knew what I knew after owning the 920 I would have gotten the 650. The 920 engine was a POS, great idea, terrible execution.

            Three major engine problems in 18K miles. At the time Yamaha had a (very stupid) policy of not replacing an engine. For the second blow up they paid the dealer to replace everything but the castings and crankshaft. That motor lasted 12K miles and, in spite of the bike’s history, Yamaha said “FU” when I asked for help on the sized rear cam at 18K miles.

            I had been a loyal Yamaha customer, my next bike was a BMW. When my third BMW had a similar problem, BMW sent a new engine air freight from Germany. Problem truly fixed, I put a total of 52K miles on that bike with zero additional problems and bought 9 more BMWs (zero major problems). I hope Yamaha was happy with $100 or $200 they saved by not at least selling me parts at cost, I haven’t owned a Yamaha since.

        • DickRuble

          Was imported for 1981 and 1982 after then discontinued, according to Wikipedia.

      • Martin Buck

        I had one of those bikes for a couple years. It was my favorite bike, ever. Nice, smooth, plentiful torque, perfect comfort for distance riding, excellent twin front disc brakes, slim and lightweight for the grunt available, and it was just so relaxing to ride. The ride didn’t deteriorate until over 140kph on a bumpy road, but 180kph cruising was very doable. What I liked best was that it wasn’t a frenetic four cylinder, but that the power curve was exactly the way I liked it. I like big torque coming out of a tight bend. And it was very agile and biddable in tight conditions. Yamaha should still make it, with an improved rear end. The Sakuro looked like its grandson. The 750 V Twin was a little weaker by comparison, but fine for urban conditions. Only long term illness made me sell it.

    • Kenneth

      Yes, I remember the 1982 XZ550 Vision V-twin. Yamaha only produced it in ’82 – as a naked standard – and ’83, with a half-fairing. They sold very poorly (some said it looked weird because of the missing cooling fins, too strange at the time), and around 1985, maybe, had a big, blowout sale on lots of leftover new units. I think a lot of us, now, would have a positive opinion of these liquid-cooled, shaft-driven, V-twin standard bikes.

    • Donnie

      My Brother-in-Law had a Vision. The one thing that I remember about it is that it had no brakes. It had a single front disk that obviously was there only to keep the pads from falling out of the calipers.
      Other than that it seemed like a pretty nice motorcycle.

  • Old MOron

    Hmmm, Octane or custom Virago? I’ll have the Virago, thank you!

  • Starmag

    I watched the video as suggested. He named it Cbass cause ti’s his wife’s nickname so he thinks about her every time he gets on it. I’m thinking you probably won’t be doing that if you get one.

    I like the red one better because they got rid of the leading axle fork, but that “seat” is pretty funny. 920’s with mojave tanks have been around for quite some time, but are pretty cool.

  • DickRuble

    “cheap urban runabout” — dunno about cheap. If you do it yourself, you’ll probably end up in the $6K for a fit and finish as depicted. If someone else does it for you, count $12K. That’s a bit more than an fz-09 with 1000 miles on it ($6500 in my neighborhood).

  • Starmag

    Mannish woman???

    • Ser Samsquamsh

      Doubly lost in translation. Virago used to mean “heroic woman” but not means a loud over bearing shrew. Probably Yamaha meant the former but that was the 80s before global focus testing.

  • Luc Leblanc

    Yamha did produce a naked Liquid Cooled V-Twin in the 80’s: Yamaha Vison XZ 550

  • azi

    “Has Yamaha ever built a V-twin sportbike? Pretty sure the answer is “no.””

    MT-01

    *facepalm*

  • gunny 2shoes

    http://www.bikeexif.com/yamaha-xv920 best one i seen not including the rubber

  • Mark Lindemann

    “When the first Virago got here in 1982 it was also the first Japanese V-twin . . . ”
    The (1978) Honda CX500 (and later 650) series comes to mind. Undeniably V-twins (cylinders splayed at 80 degrees), just with the crankshaft and the “V” angle turned 90 degrees from the more familiar Harleys and Ducatis. A respectable five-year production run, including the memorable 500 and 650 Turbocharged models.

  • Sean Bice

    John, this time, you really forgot to do your homework. As others have mentioned, there’s the MT-01 of the modern era, the XV920R from 1981 and 1982 (as well as the similar TR1, which sold in Europe for much of the 1980s), and the XZ550R Vision from 1981, 1982, and 1983. BUT, if there’s any argument that that plethora of bikes is more accurately described as power cruisers or sport-tourers, then I submit to you THE quintessential Yamaha V-twin sportbike, which Yamaha produced from 1991 through the 1995 model year and is arguably the best-handling sportbike that’s ever existed: the TZR250R, TZR250RS, TZR250RSP, and the TZR250SPR. Pure 2-Stroke Spirit!