Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Yamaha Vision

Thu, February 18th, 2010

This photo is of the European model. The U.S. version had a shorter rear fender and taller handlebars.

1982–83 Yamaha XZ550 Vision
The Vision was a strong and innovative V-twin that could keep up with the midsize fours of its day, but it was dogged by horrible carburetion issues, despite a series of recalls and fixes.
The frame is acceptably stiff and shaft effect is fairly well controlled, but the strange trailing-axle forks are deficient in rigidity, geometry and suspension action.
By itself, a bare Vision engine is surprisingly attractive; that's the only reason this bike does not get a big fat zero. The horrid bodywork and chassis parts they chose to wrap around it is a truly clumsy collection of odd angles, none of which contribute to an illusion of forward motion. The bizarre, downward-pointing triangle on the side of the tank, which seems to be bending the curving lower edge under tension, is the most obvious and objectionable styling cue, but the diamond-shaped sidecover, the awkward, swastika-looking wheels, the I-beam handlebars and club-footed forks all add to the ugliness. The whole bike is covered with seemingly random, oddly misaligned edges, like a badly folded piece of origami. (The fairing added in '83 was not bad in and of itself, but the basic package was beyond help.)
The internal engine parts are robust and well designed. But the carb needs constant fiddling to run even semi-correctly, and the poorly designed charging system is prone to repeated, catastrophic failures. Most of the chassis parts are cheaply made and break or corrode easily.
Nice seat, comfortable ergonomics, fairly narrow and compact: this should have been a great around-town bike and short-haul sport tourer.
It gets a couple of points only because I dream of someday ripping the engine of one and building a hardtail bobber around it in an effort to redeem its ruined potential.
I hate this bike.