CHAPTER 1 (Buying a New VISION)
Fall 1983. I was in this Yamaha dealer to
buy a minor part for a 1982 Yamaha Seca 400 (Above). I liked
the things Yamaha was doing styling wise. I thought the Seca
was simple, sharp and a good example of the things you were starting
to see in Yamaha bikes: "Modular" styling, the engine
"hung" on the frame, single cast wheels, etc...
BUT... there was this other odd wild ass
bike on the showroom floor! And ultimately I did the thing I
said I would never do. I bought a motor vehicle based completely
on the way it looked. Really, I knew NOTHING about this bike
(no internet back then!). Looking back, the dealer was surprisingly
candid. He admitted the 82' had some carburetor problems they
had fixed on the '83. Even then it was "a cold blooded"
bike that didn't start well warm. The Vision was being discontinued
and this was the last one in the showroom (he wanted to get rid
of it). His view was that Yamaha had used the VISION as sort
of a stepping stone" experiment" to try and market
some of the stuff they were doing in their racing bikes. Stuff
like the 4 valve engine, shaft-drive, and watercooling. In reality...
he almost talked me out of buying the thing.
Anyway, bottom line: I left the showroom
with a new black 1983 VISION with the custom factory full sport
fairing. The price? $3,000 !? I also bought the only "Vision"
accessory I could find for the thing: a Yamaha adjustable seat
back and luggage rack.
CHAPTER 2 (Owning a VISION)
Well, the dealer didn't lie about
one thing, it was definitely "cold-blooded". It starts
OK when its cold but not so great when its hot (and hot out).
This and some other things I learned fast about a VISION follow:
You Gotta "BUY THE BOOK"]
Yep.... you'll be reading this a-lot
Yeah, there's no way around it. You
need this book (unless you can find a factory manual). Spend
the money. And while your at it, you need one of these too (multimeter).
OK ... HERE WE GO.....
Evryone has some trick to starting these
things. Does that tell you something? Mine likes the cold. To
start a VISION (at least mine), full choke and DONT TOUCH
the throttle! It will start and idle high, but it doesnt
like to start at any other power setting. Do not "Blip"
the throttle. To give you an idea how finicky my carbs are: some
toad tried to steal my bike about 4 years ago. They used a screw
driver in the ignition but couldnt get the bike started
and wore the battery down. I found the thing halfway down the
parking lot. At least they didnt kick it over in frustration.
Mine vapor locks especially bad if it been
running a while and its hot outside. AND, then you turn it off
and let it sit for about 15-30 minutes (like going in to a store).
To get it started again I to use 1/3 choke and again
slightly OPEN throttle. If you try to start it pumping the throttle
it won't. Not moving the throttle during the start is good advice
at all times.
[OVERHEATING and RUNNING HOT]
This is a water cooled bike. COOL. Aaahh
Yeah, except when its really hot out and you're sitting at a
long light. Anytime my temp needle gets over EXACTLY straight
up (where it is normally) the bike starts to run bad. By "bad" I mean: starts to idle badly,
VERY hard to start if you stall or stop, and very likely TCI
will start to act wierd. There are a some reasons for this and
- When sitting still an electric fan turns on to cool the
radiator. The thermostat in my bike works but waits till it is
TOO hot (needle 2/3 way to RED). Rather than mess with an old
"thermostat" switch I simply put in a toggle switch
to turn on the fan when I need it (stop-go traffic). The thermostat
grounds a wire to a relay that turns on the fan. You need to
take the tank off the bike to get to that wire.Here is a picture
of that (switch is white light on upper left) .
- Its an old bike. Flush the radiator !
This is a HOT
topic for V owners 'cause alomost everyone has melted a stator
it seems. This could take a whole page on its own (Oh Yeah...
there is one HERE).
OK... once and for all the bike should produce
about 14 volts at idle (book says 20amps at 3000rpm). There's
the proof above.The "BL" is that the charging system
is marginal. You need to do what you can to help it live. In
truth, I've never had any problems. But that day is coming for
sure. When not using my bike for long periods (often) I keep
it on a trickle charger (Sears about $30).
My advice: Cut out the white plastic connector that connects
the rectifier to the 3-white stator wires on the left side of
bike. Just SOLDER the wires straight thru for a SURE connection.
Also, make sure the Rectifier has got a GOOD GROUND to frame
of bike. Keep a good battery in the bike so it not loading down
the stators. Keep the oil level in the bike high.
When the stator does die it will need to be replaced under the
flywheel cover. This is not that hard. BUT, I hear getting the
cover back on over the wires and sealed correctly is a challenge.
I hear a lot of gripes by guys having to do this job several
times before its correct. One word "Yamabond #4".
New stators can be bought from Electrex. They are THE experts.
[FRONT FORK WOBBLE]
When I first drove the bike there was a very
subtle front wheel wobble at about 30MPH. Still now, if you take
your hands off the front handle bars the VISION front fork goes
into what engineers call "Harmonic Dynamic Instability".
For the unimpressed that means... the front wheel wobbles increasingly
violently and a in couple seconds you'd be completely out of
control if you didn't grab the handlebars again. At first I thought
this was just "my" VISION. But after many years of
trying to correct this problem (see below) and talks with mechanics
and other riders.... its obvious this is a small design problem.
I say small because ( I'd always heard you should be able to
ride hands-free on a good bike) I really didn't have any plans
to ride hands free. So much for the circus act.
I installed a front fork brace and "competition
stiff" springs into the struts. It didn't solve the total
hands-off wobble but it did get rid of the vibration I had at
30mph and increased it to about 50-60. That was better because
you tend to drive around 30-40mph a lot which can be really annoying
if the wheels wobbling. And at 50-60 the front wheel is much
more gyroscopically stable so you don't feel the vibration hardly
at all. I've also heard of guys putting different bearings into
the steering joint. But that's a lot of work if you don't need
[CAFE STYLE SEATING]
The VISION is not a "Cafe racer"
per se (like the Ninja as example). But it was definitely a step
in that direction by Yamaha in 1982. Still, if you not used to
having your upper body weight on your elbows the VISION can be
an uncomfortable ride after about 1/2 hour. You get used to it
after a while. The handle bars are adjustable (somewhat) and
its worth doing. Still to this day my wrists get pretty numb
after a long ride on this bike. Its probably the same on other
cafe style bikes but not so bad on ones where you can rest your
upper body weight (chest) on the gas tank.
The gas tank is prone to rust! The gas tank
has 4 points (2 in each saddle side front and back) that is lower
than the petcock. Why do they do this? Maybe all gas tanks are
like this (keeps the debris away from the petcock?!). Anyway,
the upshot is that water collect at those points and rusts the
tank out primarily in those 4 places. Also, the petcockh as a
basic screen on it BUT I would recommend a inline fuel filter
to anybody with a Vision. I did suck some dirt into one of the
carbs. I ran out of gas and tilted the bike to get gas over into
the other saddle. This worked but I instantly sucked something
into the carb and clogged the low speed port. It wouldn't idle
after that. Carb rebuild... Ugh. I've got a filter on my gas
lines now! Yamaha has one at the dealer shop that is a cool little
inline plastic thing designed for motorcycles. Easy to put on
on not that expensive.
If your gas tank is still in good shape,
get the gas tank sealer by POR-15. IT WORKS and is well worth
Gas Tank With Top Seam Cut
Rust on lower rear low point
Bottom. Notice 4 rust spots in lower corner low points
Notice top is unrusted and clean
Rust near low point and petcock
Side view of rust points
[PAINTING THE RUST]
Since we're talking about POR-15 products.
They make the BEST RUST PAINT BAR NONE on the market.
This stuff is incredible and used by all car restoration shops.
It sticks to rust like a ceramic coating. Do not get on your
cloths or hands (it does not come off). It is thinned by acetate
and is acually an alchol based paint that is cured by moisture!?!!
. This paint is NOT UV protected. So, any place that gets sun
must be color coated with another layer of paint (or it peels
off after about 6 months)
There are 2 stock fairings.In late '82 Yamaha
offer a front only bolt-on. Then in '83 they offered a whole
integrated wrap around. The '83 sport fairing is pretty cool.
Even with todays really awesome looking bikes I still get comments
about this one.
vents on the side let you direct engine heat towards you (or
away) in the cold which is great! BUT, the little plastic tabs
that flex and lock the vent in place is a bad design and ultimately
break off. I'd be amazed if anyone today still had them intact.
I had to fabricate my own metal tab "system". Its actually
easy to do and linked
on this page.
In the Cold the sport fairing is great. But is doesn't protect
your hands which will be completely numb after a ride in the
winter. I still want to add a small "extension" to
the fairing for that. But, actually... I NEVER ride in the real
cold anymore (... weenie).
The '83 fairing can be mounted to the '82
bike. BUT... you need the mounting frame attachments pictured
I've always wondered where the top edge of
the clear plastic windscreen is going to end up if I hit anything
head on really hard. It looks pretty much like its lined up with
my throat!? And if you know anything about Lexicon ("plexiglass")
you know it breaks into really sharp jagged edges. Actually....
what I REALLY wonder is: what will I do when the thing cracks.
You know its a matter of time and you cannot get a new one from
There is a company that will make a replacement
windscreen. Look on Vision forum for name.
Also, it can be made at most plastic fabrication
shops. Just look under plastic in the yellow pages. They'll be
a small company that sells plastic supplies (Plexiglass / Teflon
/ PVC sheets, glues , etc...). A good shop can bend Plexiglass
sheet however you like. And since the VISION screen isn't a "compound"
curve (like most cafe style bullet nose bikes) it would be easy
for them to make and probably not that expensive.
[STREET "Crash" BARS]
To my knowledge there were never any aftermarket
street bars made that will fit '83 with sport fairing
on. The one above is the stock bars for the
'82 (or NO fairing). This means of course that if you lay it
down it will be you against the pavement. BUT, more (or less)
importantly.... it means if the bike goes over on its side you
will crack the fairing. In 16 years I've found this out several
times when someone has pushed mine over at night while parked
(.... f*ckers). I've often thought about how to make my own but
never came up with a good design.
The Vision has dual pipes from the front
cyclinder (remember 2 exhaust valves) that connect to a "common
manifold" under the bike. The rear cylinders are connected
to this manifold via a "Y" pipe. From the manifold
extend the dual rear exhaust pipes. The muffler will rust from
inside out after MANY years., as will that "Y" pipe.
I don't know about the "Y" pipe... but the muffler
is no longer sold by the dealer. It was $600 when is was anyway.
Used is a good alternative if you can find one in good shape.
Spec II from Europe fabricates an exhaust
for the bike. I don't know much about this but others have raved
about it (pictured below courtesy of Ron Ghetti).
A lot of bike makers got away from shaft
drive. This has to do with couple reasons. Shaft is heavier than
belt drives. And shaft has some weird handling tendencies (I've
been told) if you race bikes. They tend to drive the rear end
up in turns rather than lowering the bike in a turn while accelerating.
And it has some quirky gyroscopic effects on the bike. Its probably
mostly the weight thing. But, I've never heard a bad story about
the VISION Shaft. Its real solid and mx free.
There are some common problems with the VISIONs
electronic ignition. They typically result in intermittent engine
cutout, running on one cylinder, misfiring, etc
I say common
but they are the typical problems engines with older electronic
ignitions have. I do not feel it is just a VISION thing. Its
just an old electronic ignition thing. Unfortunately, a new ignition
module from Yamaha costs ~$500+. You can find used ones from
salvage yards for under $100 but then
. maybe same problem
next week. I went 16 years before the ignition module went south.
Recently, a buddy with a newer BMW had the same problem and same
cost to fix. The difference of course is that his bike is worth
a lot more than his ignition module!? For those thinking of buying
a used VISION (or any older bike)
this is a chance you
will take. GET A SPARE TCI if you can!!
In short, ignition problems are most likely
caused by these things IN ORDER of their likelihood:
- Bad Fuse box and/or other wire poor connections
- Bad side stand relay circuit
- Bad Tach Rev Limiter
- Bad TCI ignition module
- Bad flywheel sensor pickups (2 on a single assembly)
- Bad coils (2)
[FUSE BOX AND CONNECTORS]
Replace the 4 fuses in the fuse box
with rubber capped "ATC Blade Mini" blde fuses now
used in cars. The fuse box will rot and cause you all kinds of
grief otherwise. Likewise pull apart, clean, and reseat all the
connectors/relays in the bike might save you other headaches
when things stop working and you can't figure out why. Lastly
(AND AGAIN) cut out the stator connector and solder the wires
[Tach and Rev Limiter]
The tach shows a redline of 10,000. The guys
who raced this have said they routinely got above this. On the
stock bike experience is that the power zone stops around 9,500.
I would say 7-9grand puts you in the best torque band.
YES !! The rumor is true.... The Vision
has a "Rev Limiter" that kills the front cylinder at
10,000 rpm. Don't be so surprised. Even my old porsche has one
built into the distributor cap (a spring switch !?). The Vision
does iyt electronically internal to the ignition module. If the
tach reads over 10,000 it grounds a wire to the TCI and kills
the front spark. Of course this circuit can fail (and usually
does) so you start having ignition problems. Its easy to disconnect.
Just cut the Yellow and Black striped wire going into side of
While talking about the tach... see the mileage
reset knob left of speedometer? Well, it tends to break off (rubbing
by left clutch cable). It is held on by a VERY small phillips
screw down the center of it. You can get a new knob from the
dealer. Need a real small screw driver to get the screw out.
Lastly, I know a rider who has mounted a
Daytona tach to his bike. It looks cool and works fine.
The carbs are great but old age will
crack the plastic "tubes" at both the top and (worse)
bottom mounts of carbs. When this happens air leaks into carb
changing the whole vacuum fuel-air mixture setup. This has all
kinds of symptoms: no idle, no accell, hesitation, rpm lag, etc...
If your engine s running rough, this is a good place to start
looking. Not too hard and cheap to replace.
[WHEELS and CLEANING]
The painted cast aluminum wheels are great.
But they are hard to keep clean. I recommend an INCREDIBLE cleaner
sold by most high end auto mail-order places (I get mine from
a Porsche parts house). It is P-21 from Germany. Its a greenish
goo. I'm not sure what's in this stuff is but it will sting if
you get it on your hands. It is specially made for PAINTED wheels
or wheels that have the CLEAR COAT finish. So this is safe for
the Vision wheels. It totally dissolves brake dust. IT REALLY
I'm too lazy to try to keep the engine covers
and aluminum parts clean. I painted everything with a hi temp
gloss black (matched my bike) paint. Looks good, lasts a long
time. The best paint for this is Hi-Temp Plastikote.
[BRAKES & SHAFT GEARING]
The US '83 has dual front disk brakes. The
'82 and some Euro versions of this bike did not .... but a single
disk. I have also heard Euro Versions had a different gearing
set for the transmission.
This is a topic that could be debated for
a few beers. Dealers and many absolutely swear by Yamaha Lube
4. Maybe its not all dealer hype as many friends won't use anything
else in their outboards or watercraft either. If you willing
to go off the beaten path (AND I AM) here are some sugestions:
- Synthetic: I personally am a BIG believer in synthetics.
Just look at what most race teams use all over the world. That
ought to tell you something.
- Torco T4 20w50, a blend of synthitic and mineral oil has
been highly recomended by race teams
- AMSOIL also makes a synthetic for motrcycles. What I use
in my bike now.
AMV-QT SAE 20W-50 Synthetic High Performance Motorcycle Engine
- Mobile 1 : Ok, cringe , but used this MANY years in my
bike with NO problems whatsoever.
- Castrol 20/w50
- Duckhams 20/50w mineral oil
This bike (like many) use a "WET CLUTCH".
So DO NOT use any "hype" additives like SLICK 50 or
TELFLON, etc... You could coat the clutch and render it worthless.
CHAPTER 3 Stupid VISION tricks
"El-Stupido" story #1
In 1986 I ran out of gas in sight of a gas
station. So I got inventive and laid the bike over on its side
to get the last drops of fuel over to the fuel cock side of the
tank. Well, the engine fired up, I drove in and gassed up. AND,
the bike never idled after that!? I had sucked something (rust?)
into one of the carbs. What to do. I dismantled the offending
carb for a cleanout and rebuild. 3 years and 1 major move later
(Yep) I still had the carb (and bike) in pieces. Finally, I got
some time and pulled out the boxes, took one look at the whole
mess and decided ....take it to a real mechanic to sort out (
Im not a total idiot)! I wasn't too confident I even HAD
all the parts much less what to do with them. BUT luckily I DID
have all the parts. AND, more amazingly I found a guy at a local
shop who was a VISION GURU. This guy really knew this thing.
It did have a certain following years ago when it was being raced.
Anyway, in 1990 he rebuilt the thing. Disconnected a lot of stuff
and it runs GREAT!!
I mean really great!! In fact, after leaving
the bike was warmed up and I was at the traffic light in front
of the shop. Why not let her rip and see how good this tune-up
was? GREEN LIGHT! About 75' into my 9,000rpm excursion in 1st
and 2nd gear the bike went bullshit. I was lucky to stay on and
ended up in some store parking lot.
I HAD RIPPED THE TUBELESS TIRE OFF THE BACK
WHEEL RIM !?!? Man, now that's torque! And this is only a 550!?
Needless to say, I walked the bike back the 2 blocks and asked
them to put the BEST new tires they had on it.
"El-Stupido" story #2
In 1991 I completely restored the whole bike.
A lot of minor cosmetic things and paint. I've since painted
most everything on the bike Black. PLASTIKOTE Hi-Temp Gloss Black
enamal is the best. It saves time trying to keep things shiny.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND POR-15 !!
Shortly after I am out riding one day with my brother. My girlfriend
(now wife) is on the back. An older gentleman in front of me
("near dead"..who is lost and his wife nagging his
) makes a U-turn out of the clear blue at a fairly
busy intersection. No way out and we hit him broadside doing
(luckily) only about 30mph. We both bounce off the car (I didn't
get the windscreen in my throat !?!) and we were OK. But the
front was crumpled and ultimately the insurance company totaled
my bike. They offered a $1000 and I said
$3000 so I can fix this .... Ok, we have a deal. I think they
were just happy that my neck wasn't in a brace and I wasn't suing
anybody for easy money. Once in awhile I look at weekly bills
I think I feel a twinge there... .
Being a VISION diehard (synonymous with "El-Stupido")
I had the same mechanic put the front back together and again
restored all the cosmetic damage. Except for the dented tank
(I'm too lazy to do real body-work) it still looks pretty good.
CHAPTER 4 To Sum It All Up
Down Side To Owning A Vision
Parts availability from Yamaha and prices
Ignition module problems likely
Finicky carbs vapor lock when hot
Vent tabs break off
Gas tank prone to rust
No hand protection from wind on sport fairing
Front fork wobble
Stator problems likely
No street bars
Muffler no longer available
Upside To Owning A Vision
Very affordable to buy a good used
Dual Front Disk brake
Low center weight of bike (with engine
hung on frame)
10,000+ rpm (4 valve engine)
Adjustable mono strut shock
Shaftdrive .. ..just the word
SHAFT ! !
... no wimpy belts
Its light enough to pick up when
you drop it
(I swear I never did this.... yet)
Cast aluminum wheels
Sport fairing gives you cool "Battlestar
Galactica" look.. or something cool anyway.
Keep'in the engine around 9,000 rpm
and racing it thru the first 3 gears. That acceleration still
gives me a boner.
Did I mention the 10,000+ rpm redline.
68Hp (stock), but seems like more in 1st couple gears
'82 vs '83 (What the RJ '82 doesn't have the RK '83
- Modified carbs with accelerator
pump, front carb fuel return line, some airbox things.
- Dual disk front brakes ('82' is single)
- Fuel gauge (different fuel tank - no sender)
- Adjustable steering bars
- Wrap around custom sport fairing with mirrors, matching gold
decals and gold wheel color
(late '82 a partial fairing was offered. More
rounded nose, no mirrors, no sides)
This is affordable fun (key ... "affordable")
on a bike that still looks contemporary today. A lot of people
are astounded when I tell them its an '83. Most of the time I
just don't tell them
Owning a VISION requires time
and money. If you do the math its probably NOT worth owning one.
My wife always seems to be able to do THAT MATH ?! I'll probably
own mine forever. I CAN'T explain why. But, if you've owned a
VISION then you probably know what I'm talking about. The bottom
line is: some folks are fanatical about their Yamaha's.
EXAMPLE: Check this guy out ?!
Maybe Harley was the way to go afterall?!