Common Tread

The V-four past behind the V-twin Yamaha Star Venture and Eluder

Jan 15, 2018

I've got good news and bad news.

I always pick bad first. Get it over with, you know? The bad news is you’re going to have to wait a bit to read today’s feature article. Yamaha’s got a little embargo on press coverage of the new Star Eluder, but that doesn’t help you. It’s Monday morning, you go to Common Tread, and you want something to read. The good news? I’ve got a quick article to hold you over and you get a second story later from Lance.

Since the big Yam is the highlight of the day, let’s set the stage with a look back at the Star Eluder’s lineage. Yamaha’s been building land yachts for decades, starting with the XZV12TK Venture in 1983 (though there was a “Venturer package” for the 1981 XS1100H — consider it the proto-Venture). Base price on that first 1983 Yamaha Venture was $5,599, or about $100 more than a Honda Gold Wing. The top-of-the-line Venture Royale was an additional $2,000.

Gotta love those front disc covers. 1984 Yamaha Venture Royale. Mike McManus photo, via WikiMedia Commons.

The crown jewel of the XZV was its V-four engine, which boasted four valves per cylinder, dual overhead cams, liquid cooling, and smooth power. Aside from a bump in displacement for the Mk. II (1986), the Venture stayed largely the same for its 10-year run.

1990 Yamaha Venture Royale Mk. II. Brian Mannon photo, via WikiMedia Commons.

However, the V-four powerplant spawned two other Yamaha cruisers. First, it spit fire in the legendary 1985 V-Max, which used a tuned version of the Venture engine to cause mayhem at diners everywhere (at least according to Yamaha's ad).

Then came the V-four’s other second life in the Royal Star, the first bike launched under Yamaha’s stand-alone Star brand of cruisers. Unlike the V-Max, the Royal Star was docile and traditionally styled. Ads for the Royal Star couldn't be more different from those for the bad-boy V-Max.

The Venture name returned in 1999 for the Royal Star Venture, still using a variation of the V-four mill. To further confuse the family tree, Yamaha re-absorbed the Star brand in 2016. Last year, the Yamaha Star Venture emerged, powered by a reworked version of the V-twin in the XV1900. If that lineage is hard to follow, just do what I do and keep saying combinations of the words ”Star,” “Royal” and “Venture” until someone knows what you’re talking about.

We'll have the first ride report on the Eluder later today.

What? That’s not enough to hold you over? Alright, here’s Richard Hammond finding himself strangely attracted to a Royal Star, or Jay Gleason drag racing a V-Max. That’s it. You’re on your own until noon.