Vision Review

 by Chris Caruso

Remember 1982/1983... The world changed back then with the introduction of the Honda Interceptor and the Kawasaki GPZ! The Motorcycle world got turned on its ear and suddenly, the CAFE racer as we know it today was born!

In 1982, Yamaha introduced a V-Twin, 550cc general purpose bike called the VISION. The bike met critical acclaim, but with the Honda and Kawasaki Cafe racers out in force, it went virtually unnoticed! Yamaha needed to do something to spice up this offering!

I first saw the bike at a dealer in Flint, Michigan in 1983! Brand spanking new, on the showroom floor! I had never even ridden a motorcycle before, but was just at the showroom with a friend who needed parts for his 1992 Seca 400. I was hooked! I knew at that moment, I would be driving a motorcycle before the year was over! Signed up immediately for the MSF learn to ride course.


The VISION was updated in 1983 to include one of the most extensive fairings ever offered on a bike. It had the Cafe styling, but came with a comfortable seating position. The Upper fairing gave great wind protection except for the head from around the nose and up. The mirrors were integrated into the fairing. There was a plateau just below the windshield which was easily converted to a mount for my old, heavy ESCORT radar detector! The lower fairing was unique! Since the bike was liquid cooled, and had a radiator, the engineers came up with an ingenious flapper VENT system. The 3 position flappers on both sides, just in front of the legs and thighs, allowed the option of having cool outside air blow across your lower body; or, warmed air, after passing through the radiator and across the hot engine; or a combination of both! It really works (ask LT Snyder about our trip to Yosemite!).

The Vision had a shaft drive for long, uninterrupted rides, liquid cooling for tighter tolerances, longer life ( I have almost 55,000 miles on mine so far), dual front discs, rear drum, 4.5 gallon tank (about 40-45mpg), a 140mph speedo, fuel gage, temperature gage and tach! I added a Vista Cruise and some soft luggage, and my very first trip on the brand new bike was a 6000 mile marathon from New Jersey to Seattle to Portland to Chicago to New Jersey with a college buddy! We cruised 2 lanes almost exclusively, following the tracks learned for the ZEN bible: 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'!


The Vision is agile (not up to todays standards, but ahead of its time in 1983), the seating position comfortable (I have two occasions to prove it: Once from Albuquerque, NM to Kokomo, IN about 1170 miles in one day! About 21-22 hours of saddle time with no ill effects; and once from Springfield, MO to Phoenix, Az about 1250 miles also in one day); the "HVAC" lower fairing is just awesome; the liquid cooling/shaft drive are wonderful; and even now in 1996, whenever I am on the bike, I still get comments like " Is this the new Yamaha?" or " Where can I buy a bike like this?". The styling is timeless!

Unfortunately, 13 years is finally taking its toll. I have serious exhaust system rot this year. There are no stock style aftermarket systems, and the Factory system is over $600 (the bikes book value is probably $750). Over the years, I have had mostly good luck with the exception of batteries and stators. I have replaced the stator 3 times (although at least once was because I jump started it from a car battery after it sat idle all winter... I live up north in INDIANA) and the batteries (usually YUASA) seem to go dead every 1-2 years.

I have dreamed of owning a new HONDA ST1100 and had actually traded my bike in for a 1994 Yamaha GTS1000, but later canceled the deal. I have just not been able to part with this bike! The sentimental value far outweighs the trade in value. We have been together in the Hottest most arduous trip of my life through Death Valley in August (125 degrees in the shade!) and the coldest most harrowing trip of my life (with LT Snyder) into Yosemite in May, when it got to about 20degrees F and was snowing/hailing and the driving was absolutely treacherous! It has taken me to the Northwest(Seattle), the Southwest(Los Angeles), the Northeast (Maine) and the Southeast (Georgia). It has taken me to National Parks (Glacier, Olympic, Mount Hood, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Mount Rushmore, Grand Tetons, etc). It has taken me to Oceans (Atlantic, Pacific), Lakes, Mountains, Valleys, Plains, etc.

The VISION got critical acclaim again in 1983, for all the reasons I stated above, but it was a bike before its time, and it was like having a new, great primetime TV show, but they put you in a time slot to compete with "Friends" and "Seinfeld". You haven't got a chance. Sales were slow and the bike was discontinued in 1984.


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