1982 Yamaha Virago XV920 Touring Purchase

I’ve been spending a few hours every weekend on my XV750 project, but I haven’t been making much progress. I keep running into an issue with the front cylinder acting very strangely, and unable to hold an idle. It doesn’t even fire up at all unless choke is all the way on. It points to a clogged carb passage, but I’ve gone through the carb passages with some carb cleaner and compressed air, and as far as I can tell they’re all clear.

By process of deduction I’m assuming it must be an issue with the engine… Although it’s possible I missed something the carbs. Unfortunately, removing and re-installing the carbs is a pain and take 30-45 mins each time, and I’m starting to strip one of the threads on the engine holding the carb intake manifold with how often I’m removing the bolt/tightening it down.

I’ve been on the lookout for a 920 Virago for awhile now, for two main reasons:

  1. Being able to do a 920 engine swap for that extra bit of power
  2. For the CYCOM “digital” gauge

Ever since I first saw one on the Virago Nation Facebook group, I’ve been looking for one of those. As far as I can tell, they were included in some of the Virago 920 models, which were only made in 1982 and 1983.

Motorcycle speedometer/odometer gauge cluster, digital
The CYCOM display on a 1982 Yamaha Virago 920

There’s something retro-futuristic about the CYCOM display. It wasn’t very popular, a few google searches show that most mentions of it involve people trying to get rid of it or swapping for the more standard analog gauges. For the time, however it was pretty futuristic. Virago models with the CYCOM gauge were also the only ones to come with a fuel level indicator. Between 1981-1983, besides this model, there weren’t any fuel indicators of any kind. After 1983, 700cc+ models came with a “low fuel” indicator, which told you you were about to run out of fuel and needed to switch to reserve. However, it wasn’t a fuel level indicator.

Someone in one of the Yamaha Virago Facebook groups I’m a member of posted that they had two 920 Viragos they were looking to get rid of, that they had received from a family member. One of them was a “touring” model, with original hard saddlebags and a large Windjammer windshield mounted to the frame. These models are somewhat rare, but they also aren’t exactly a very desired model either.

The 920 he posted had been sitting for awhile (judging by registration, about 7 years) and had just collected dust. He said they did run well before being parked, but was basically selling them for parts at this point (which is exactly what I needed). Unfortunately, the seller was in Seattle, WA, 600 miles away. I considered renting a Uhaul and making the drive, but I’m not a fan of 20 hour road trips, and the cost to rent a Uhaul that far would cost more than the bike itself.

I found a shipping service called “Uship”, which works similar to Uber, but for vehicles. You enter the motorcycle model you want shipped, it’s location, and it’s destination. Shippers will give you quotes for the cost of shipping, and I was able get my original price of $300 down to $180! It took about two weeks of figuring out an ideal time with the seller and shipper to actually get it delivered, but considering the price I can’t really complain.

Photo of the XV920 a few minutes after having it dropped off.

I received it Thursday night, and after going over the bike, I made a few discoveries (these did not happen during shipping):

  • The right turn signal assembly had fallen out of the fairing, the right side of the fairing was warped. It looks like it was due to heat, since there were no scratches
  • The right saddlebag also was a bit warped (plastic), again looking like heat heat it for awhile.
  • The tires were flat, the rear appeared to have a hole. It was a major pain to move it around.
  • Both left and right side battery covers were missing (not an issue, I had spare covers)

I’m hoping to be able to repair the fairing and saddlebag, possibly by applying heat and unbending it. I’m not too worried about that damage.

On Saturday, I started work on disassembling it. My plan was to take it apart down to the engine, then I could pick and choose which parts I wanted to keep. I went to Harbor Freight and picked up a motorcycle jack.

The main reason I bought a motorcycle jack is because I wasn’t actually able to get the XV920 onto the centerstand, and it wouldn’t balance on the sidestand, due to having both wheels flat. I actually wasn’t even able to get the jack underneath the bike, I had to use a bottle jack under the very front of the engine, then sort of balance the bike while I slid the motorcycle jack underneath it.

I quickly found that the motorcycle jack was definitely made for motorcycles with a full frame. The Virago uses the engine as a stress member, rather than a frame, meaning the frame acts as a spine going over the engine, rather than a cradle going over and under it. This also meant that there was no flat surface that the jack could easily lift from. I ended up just using a tie down/ratchet strap to secure it to the jack, which actually balanced it really well as long as you didn’t push too hard (and I had several close calls).

Since the jack also had wheels, it was actually pretty easy to move the XV920 around. I quickly got to work taking down all the parts, working around the engine.

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