(The article about this ride appeared in the August 2005 issue of Cycle World Magazine)
$1000 Motorcycles on a 1000 Mile Ride.
A Pashnit Tour for the staff of Cycle World Magazine
The phone rang. Much like it does any day, at any one time.
On the other end, the voice came, "Tim, this is David Edwards." As in the editor of Cycle World Magazine?
You have my full attention.
It's not everyday you're asked to plan a ride for a group of seasoned moto-journalists. Is there any one place where I could show them, any one area we could ride unlike anywhere else in the world they’ve ridden?
The answer was simple. Northern California. Imagine a land of endless twists and turns, spectacular scenery and very few people. Just the right formula for a crew of rabid motorcyclists who’ve been there, done that. So I set upon the task of writing out a 32 page document the detailed our upcoming ride together & sent it off.
One of the traits that Northern California extols is variety from the motorcyclist’s perspective.
Our ride paced along the wilds of the Pacific Ocean, known for its tranquil scenery, and endless twists. On through the Avenue of the Giants, a prehistoric forest of the tallest trees in the world. And while one of the highlights was a stretch of road called by some the best motorcycle road in the state- our journey along Highway 36 was tempered by a dose of rain & snow that kept the frivolity at bay.
The Yamaha Venture
For this ride, I'd leave the Hayabusa at home, and ride my rickety old Venture instead.
Ya see, it’s not everyday when you get to relive the past, but that’s exactly what happened when I came across an old Yamaha Venture for a mere $1000 awhile back. I couldn’t pass it up and bought it on the spot as is. I had owned this motorcycle a decade earlier churning up 50,000 miles in three years traipsing all over the continent. Best described as “rickety”, this one comes rather weathered with 60K on the clock, a bad 2nd gear, and one or two zip ties holding the fairings together.
It has several mismatched parts from other bikes, and the previous owner even created his own hot rod touring machine with a V-Boost system & a V-Max rear end bolted on. But now it’s all stock, dead set reliable thus far and I haven’t put a dime into it. Used mostly for commuting (my Hayabusa holds down the sport-touring duties), I think I’m going to just ride it until it’s just zip ties holding the entire bike together.
Like my counterparts, I’d only paid $1000 for this bike. It’s not perfect you can image. These bikes often had a plethora of options, CB’s, radios, computer leveling, but this one is just the raw model. In terms of luxury, it has a radio.
But the old Venture is great for commuting to work soaking up the miles with an eagerness of a 16 year old on their first date. The 1200cc motor was known for making the bike a bit of a hot rod, and she pulls well when the hammer falls.
Parts are plentiful, and so are the bikes themselves. Prices on average run about $1000-3000 depending on the condition.
The right parts are adjustable- the bars mainly to put them right in front of you, and the footpegs can be moved fore and aft. This bike has one of the most comfortable stock seats I’ve ever had – throughout our ride,
It does have a downside, this bike is extremely top heavy. The bike weighs nearly 800 pounds and takes a bit of finesse to maneuver at low speed. During our ride together, a downshift was necessary to get up the hills with the tall gearing. And riding in the twisties, the gaggle in tow, was a bit of work with no second gear.
The 80’s Yamaha’s were known for developing a bad second gear, and this is my third Yamaha where 2nd gear went at 50,000 miles. Bit of technique involved, accelerate in 1st, shift to 2nd careful not to torque the motor as it will slip, shift to 3rd and continue accelerating off into the sunset. Speed is kept in check by the cornering clearance. And other than the spongy feel of the suspension which makes you feel like you’re riding a rubber band at times, the Venture simply plods along.