1986 Yamaha Venture Royale
Excellent reliability at an affordable price
Problems with dash gauges, broken center stand, normal maintenance items, weak plastic trim, minor electrical issues.
This is my second 1986 Venture Royale. I had one in the mid 90s, which was almost a twin to this one. I will include comments that are equally applicable to both bikes, which I think will establish a trend for this particular model.
The bike is among the most comfortable available for cross country touring, either single or two up. At first sitting on the bike, the size may appear daunting and slightly intimidating. However, get the bike rolling, and its size quickly diminishes, and handling is quite good considering the overall heft of the machine.
The suspension is handled by a relatively sophisticated and fairly reliable air suspension system. In order to check and adjust the system, the bike MUST be on the center stand and the key MUST be in the "accessory" position. Then you push the button on the air suspension control (right fairing) and give the system time to "think", 2-5 seconds, and the display will show either the front or rear suspension level in PSI, and also either "low", "high", or "medium". You have the choice of "manual" or "auto" air adjustment, and after pushing the appropriate buttons, will hear the compressor operating to fill or lessen the air in the front or rear to your desired level. It does take a bit of fiddling with the buttons, but generally works pretty well. While on tour with the bike, it is best to set the suspension, or at least check it every morning and it should stay pretty much all day. Neither bike I owned had any issues with this system.
The bike also has electronic cruise control. These have both been inconsistent on the bikes I've had. They will only set at speeds under 85 mph. The "set" generally works pretty well, but is not real diligent about holding that speed. It will usually work well for a while, then shut off, requiring either a reset, or, more often only a tap on the "resume" function. This has been the case with both of the machines I've owned and has become nothing more than a minor annoyance. Not a big deal, in my book, especially on a bike nearly 30 years old.
The fairing pieces are a bit brittle, both of these machines have shown cracks and imperfections at premature intervals. Honda plastics seems to be more durable, but I think any in this age group are going to be less than ideal.
Mechanically, the bike is fairly reliable, with the big V-4 motor at the heart of it all. The 1986 is the first year for the 1300 cc (actually 1294cc) motor. From 1983 (the inception year) until 1985 it was a 1200cc motor. Both engines have lots of power, especially a lot of low end torque, which is what you "feel" when you take off, and two up riders particularly will like the commanding acceleration the bike provides.
The Venture was Yamaha's answer to Honda's Goldwing, and actually did quite well in comparison until the mighty 6 cylinder Honda came out in 1988. Even though the Yamaha would still perform, usually "neck and neck" with the Wing, it was still a 4, compared to the Honda's 6. "Bigger is Better" won out and after 1993, the big Yamaha was discontinued, although the engine design was also shared by the successful "V-Max" and later a "cruiser" version of the Royal Star, aptly called the Royal Star Venture.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 13th February, 2015