Readers' Rides: Ric McKinsey's 1981 Yamaha XS Eleven Venturer
1981 was just slightly before my time, when I was still in the “lusting in my heart” but “unable to obtain” stage of motorcycling. I do remember the XS Eleven being the fastest thing at the dragstrip there for a while, in spite of its shaft drive, but I don’t know if I ever knew of the Venturer version of the bike, lovingly semi-restored by Ric McKinsey, of Crescent City, California. The saddlebags are genius. Take it away, Ric.
In 1981 Yamaha had nothing to compete with the Honda GoldWing. Their V-four touring bike (the Venture) was still two years away, so as a stopgap they took their biggest bike, the XS Eleven, and tricked it out for touring. It was called the Venturer. It came with a special version of the famous Windjammer fairing (by Vetter), a braced frame, oil cooler, 6.3 gallon tank, rear rack and hard saddlebags.
When I found mine in 2015 it didn’t look like this one, but with a lot of work on my part I got it to where it is today. This bike might be 40 years old, but for a lot less than anything new I was able to paint it, replace the windshield, rebuild the forks with Progressive springs, rebuild the brakes front and rear, put on a fork brace, and Progressive shocks, LED lights all around with driving lights, new master cylinder, new handlebars, old-school fork boots and knee pads and on and on… It was great fun to do and I never see anyone on any thing like it these days.
The bike is fast, very smooth, and very comfortable – and having taken it on quite a few trips now, I’ve got to say I’m really happy with it.
The original saddlebags were missing from my bike, so in looking for a solution I came up with what I call my Adventure luggage. I modified tool boxes from Home Depot (Husky brand). The two saddlebags and top box cost $65 originally. I used the original yamaha bag mounts and added LED lights to the rear. This turns out to be the easiest-to-use bag set I have ever had.
Very nice. Thanks for sharing, Ric.
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