Yamaha XZ550 (1982-1983) Background info

ER Classics Desktop 2022

If you are a trader, you are silent about your purchase prices. If you're not a trader, you can be a little more open-minded. So you may all know that the purchase of the extremely rare Yamaha XZ550 started with the comment from friend Kees van Rumpt that he had run into a motorcycle that could go for any serious offer above 150 euros. I offered 151 euros and an apple tart. Then there was the ride to Dirksland vv.

Yamaha always dared to think outside the box

And that sometimes goes wrong. The XZ was a nice bike with a very unique face. And he had a few traits that were quite contradictory. The extremely short-stroke DOHC four-valve engine was high-powered and liked to rev. With such a block you do not expect a cardan with 550 cc. The split between Ducati Pantah's dynamics and the comfort of a BMW did not come out well either. The Yamaha had week suspension.

Also quite new

At Yamaha, they had even said goodbye to the generally accepted suggestion of cooling fins on the cylinders and head with this liquid-cooled V-twin. In its place came a smooth block plus a pair of coolant hoses. They tended to sweat a bit and the coolant residue marked the block. That block was otherwise okay except for the fact that it was quite prone to stator and starter motor problems.

The double downdraft carburetors were of course also car-like

In quite a number of cases they remained problematic in terms of vacuum and adjustment. In addition, with the air filter, they took up most of the space under the tank. That air filter contained a balance valve that had to reduce the volume of the airbox so that there was sufficient airflow to properly ventilate the beast even with open throttle valves and a low speed. That valve was too light. And that was bad for breathing. Clever Willie Wortels thought that the problem could be solved by riveting an aluminum strip on the valve. The factory adopted that simple solution. The added weight meant that the system no longer only worked theoretically. Only the strip plus nails made the valve heavier. And the pivot points were not served by that.

In the meantime, it had already come to the point that Yamaha's 550 had a serious image problem

Add to that the fact that the placement of the front axle (in connection with the build length of the powertrain) had a surprising 'shopping cart approach', which meant that the steering behavior was sometimes rather skittish. Oh, yes. The Yamaha XZ 550, which was called 'Vision' in the United States, was also an expensive thing. In 1983 the naked twin got a nice full cockpit. That made the engine even more expensive.

Everyone just tried

In its day, the XZ was a victim of the unlimited Japanese compulsion to offer a unique, distinct motorcycle in every class and for everyone. The machine ended up in the pool of 'trials' in order to get maximum grip on the market.
In the meantime, such a Yamaha is as sought after as in its early days. Think 'NOT!' This is reflected in the range and prices. 'Our' XZ was not bought, but adopted. A buddy seat lock is still being sought (which was also used on the XJ650 1980 4K0 EUROPE 214K0-300E1, the XJ650R SECA 1982 (C) USA, the XS400 1982 12E EUROPE 2212E-310E1, the XS400R SECA 1982 (C) USA , and the XS400R SECA 1983 (D) USA.)

In the meantime, such an XZ is really a classic. If you look at the range of used parts, the entire production plus six pieces must have been scrapped. The parts are dirt cheap. And you can find most of them on eBay.

Our undocumented copy is one of those rare, walking survivors that meanwhile stands in the way mildly endearingly.



XZ 550 1
The Pantah killer… NOT!!!
XZ550 2
The BMW beater. NOT!!!
xz550 tank
A tank full of air
xz 550 block
Lots of cheap, used parts (especially in the States)


Give a reaction
  1. In 1985 I bought an almost new one for 5000 guilders for daily use. 4 years later with 50.000 km of experience I sold it for 4000 guilders. This engine had only 1 problem, it really had to be used regularly (daily) otherwise it started to show problems. He couldn't stand it. Otherwise I would have had it now! (Employer demanded a car)
    I recently saw him on the marketplace after 25 years. 25 years 3 owners and only 4000km further too little to run really nice and trouble-free.
    I'm still in love with the block and have seriously considered building this block in my Bond bug as a daily commuter vehicle

  2. Always thought it was a V4, in my youth… the double exhausts, the (much) higher power, such as a CX500, it couldn't be 2 pitter, it was a typvaut.
    Until I heard him walk and drive away, it was very bad for a 4-pitter

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