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Endurance test of the Yamaha XVS 650 Drag Star

Our favorite lunch break motorcycle

How nice the café rides were? 50,000 kilometers require greater action. For example, lunch breaks in Patras or on the Stilfser Joch. But they leave traces. With people and material.

Stuttgart, twelve noon, sometime in August 1999.

Your familiar place on the shelf of the endurance test vehicle fleet is empty. Only an orphaned duplicate key is still there, somewhere between the logbooks from RSV mille, Hayabusa and Ducati ST 4. “Yamaha XVS 650 Drag Star” is still written underneath it in adhesive letters. She is gone. After two years, five months and 50,000 kilometers. We miss her. Just now. It was our favorite lunch break motorcycle. Well, actually more Monikas. I was a little embarrassed at times. But Monika Schulz liked this Crusel, as she called it. This relaxed modesty. Sit on it, drive off, park without having to pay attention to anything or take it seriously. Without stress, without professional behavior. I was happy if she at least lit the cigarette in the café.
The midday reading of the logbook, however, revealed completely different tones: "Poor cold running, difficult to steer, drives on bad ruts." Colleague Koch gets down to business at kilometer 20. ”The clutch only engages for the last five millimeters, although play is okay. It ought to be easier to adjust, "notes managing director Humke, kilometer 81." Drives imprecisely and wobbly, seating position completely uncomfortable, "groans Stefan from the graphic. Josi, head of duty, even thinks she is "on a lawnmower-like utility vehicle." And test boss Gegesch complains about the hard-to-shift, loud cracking gearbox when the engine is cold. Emotions boil in the green booklet: »No pressure, no target accuracy, no nothing at all. Yamaha even seems to have forgotten the rear cushioning. Plus, the pillion seat is a joke. You should sink the carrot in the Neckar. "Name known to the editors.
The summer of 1997 flies by while the drag star, despite all the grumbling, unwinds a thousand after the other. And in between, we hardly believe our eyes, we even get praise. "The best are the brakes," it says. Directly behind: "Neiiin, the design." According to Yamaha, the main decision to buy a drag star. And it really is beautiful. “Even Greece is impressed by her,” notes colleague Mike Schümann in Patras. But Mike really suffered on his tour. We read with concern that he has never had so much backache. Moni orders an ouzo. “The gear get up came loose during the last few kilometers. Retaining screw vibrated out. ”By the way, not the first vibration damage. The upper silencer was replaced after 1,800 kilometers as the end piece had passed. A case for the warranty department. Meanwhile, Mike had to make do with something else. Fixed the gear lever with a cable tie, drove home and never again Drag Star.
But then the bottom seems to have finally bottomed out and Little Harley seems to get into the right hands. Editorial intern and VS 1400 driver Heiko Wacker takes her to the Alps. When he returns with odometer reading 17229, the front brake pads are down, the pegs are a bit shorter and the license plate vibrates, but he has experienced something. »After 2000 kilometers you know how it works. All in all, it’s a really fun thing, even if the fork constantly hits the ground and the load can no longer exceed 45 km / h in alpine heights. "
As soon as the drag is back on its breath, it is chartered by the publishing house employee Werner Pfändler. Alps again. Even higher. Fernpass, Stilfser Joch, Umbrail, Ofenpass ?? the whole program. “I saw it as a sport,” the Swiss-born explains happily, “and trained beforehand. In a large parking lot. Lean until I touch down so I know what is happening. In the mountains it was really fun. Such easy driving, so carefree. ”He also found the seating position okay. “There are such and such. You just have to get involved. “And the embryonic posture on sports motorcycles does not reveal itself immediately. It’s all a question of attitude, the VFR driver sums up.
October 28, 1997. She is back home. However, our first café ride is accompanied by unsettling engine noises. Have the huge flights left their mark? After all, alpine passes are not driven on the idle. Or is this rattling normal after 22,000 kilometers? The first half is almost over, in just ten months. Not a bad cut. But the 2000 kilometers to the 24000er inspection, during which no damage to the engine was found, dragged on over five months: "Stuttgart-Böblingen, Stuttgart-Esslingen, Stuttgart-ceiling Pfronn", not particularly exciting. Cruising is not fun in winter. The only comment: »Man and machine ?? they rattle and rattle and rattle. "
The first logbook ends on September 28, 1998 at mileage 35874. A good two thirds are packed. In the meantime, the endurance test BMW K 1200 RS has let an engine smoke up, the Triumph Daytona completely exhausted its life as a result of a silly accident, just like the Yamaha Fazer shortly afterwards. And the little one? Nothing. Except for one more vibration damage. This time on the lower silencer. Another guarantee case. So far, she has used two and a half pairs of tires, two sets of brake pads at the front and one at the rear. The oil consumption is not even measurable.
Winter again. The lunch breaks are boring, the logbook is no longer useful. Everyone has already said everything, now we just have to finish this thing. Fleet manager Matthias Schröter hands out the keys in the evening, everyone has to go. Oddly enough, the women seem to be "everyone" a little more often than the rest of the editorial team. But it doesn’t matter. swam over it.
March 1999: The Drag is two years old and has to go to the MOT. Without shortcomings. Then ?? finally something to read again: racing driver Markus Barth is leaving. Czech Republic. To go on vacation. But he shortens the tour: "Motorcycles absolutely hostile to long-distance journeys." We resume our regular coffee shop. Small cattle also make crap. 42,000 kilometers. The penultimate inspection. The last set of tires. Pirelli Route 66. Steers better than the Metzeler Marathon, which, however, could not be killed. Lasted 20,000 kilometers. Names determined destinies.
43000. 44000. Now it’s really dragging on. But then the last guest driver pulls it out. Mr. Hofmayer. A foreign. Does 2000 kilometers in a row and writes: »Great looks, good engine performance, nice to drive, only the sitting position tiring in the long run. But it’s surprisingly easy to maneuver through curves for a chopper. ”Man, Draggi, do you hear? Another guy got involved and immediately had fun. Even when he says chopper.
On August 9, 1999, it was finished. Test employee Christian Vetter takes the final measurements at mileage 50,023. 42 HP on the clutch, 154 km / h top speed. The drag sounds scary, but it runs faster than ever before. Respect. Also in terms of their not very aged appearance. But the innards? by no means a pretty sight. The paint on the pistons and cylinders is literally off. Connecting rods and piston pins don’t look good either. Several valves are leaking. A gear wheel is heavy, the bevel gear at the gear output is slightly chipped. Ironically, the clutch, which was annoying from start to finish, isn’t missing anything.
Zthree and a half years with a small cruiser. Two and a half years without breakdowns. Without malicious abandonment, neither from one side nor from the other. But also with a few really nice hours. And everyone thought that no one would miss them. Until that noon in August. When we realized that we now have to take the RSV mille or the Hayabusa. We ran a couple of times. But now we have something again: Kawaski W 650.

Reading experiences

Since June 1997 I have driven 14,500 kilometers with my Drag Star. In my opinion, the chassis and motor are absolutely sufficient for such a "wheelchair": cozy, comfortable, fast ?? if needed. Cruising in the truest sense of the word. The only disturbing thing is the loud cracking when engaging first gear when the engine is cold. During the conversion of my bike, I did not discover any defects in workmanship on the part of Yamaha. XVS owners should, however, make sure that the swing arm hits the battery box when it is compressed, which can rub off the paint and cause rust. In addition, the spokes of the rear wheel sometimes loosen. Walter Zährl, Ingolstadt My reasons for buying a Drag Star were the design and the price / performance ratio. The performance is sufficient, the brakes good, the suspension comfort could be better. The XVS is also sensitive to ruts. I recently installed the Givi cruiser cases, which ?? apart from the complicated cultivation? convinces. Uwe Harms, Stuttgart Mileage: 5365. Average consumption: 4.6 l / 100 km. Breakdowns: none. Appearance: lonely tip. There is nothing to complain about in the XVS’s engine either, on the part of the chassis, the lack of lean angle and poor passenger comfort bothers. In addition, the wind pressure from 100 km / h is almost unbearable. A pane relieves the upper body of the body, but it causes strong turbulence. Stefan Häne, Algetshausen-CH I have been driving a Drag Star since August 1997, of course in orange. Current mileage: 16,000. The tires have held up until now. However, I think 500 Märker for new slippers is tough. As a guarantee, the rear wheel spokes that had already been tightened but now broken had to be replaced. The Drag Star has only two disadvantages: no sound and little passenger compatibility. Yamaha has a retrofit seat called "Tour" for 379 marks, but the thing has metal rivets, which firstly I don’t like and secondly means that the driver’s seat has to be replaced. Michael Dung, WeilerswistIt was love at first sight. After 20 years of abstinence, I bought a drag star in April 1997. Probably due to my age I already belong to the generation of warm showerers, in any case the first thing I did was install a windshield and a larger pillion seat roll. The slightly wider handlebars of the Drag Star Classic were added later. This makes the XVS even more fun. It may be due to the attitude of the driver and his body size, whether he suffers on longer tours or experiences pure pleasure. In any box, the latter has always been true for me for 17,000 kilometers. Horst-Heinrich Laue, Tegelbusch Apart from the loud switching noises when the engine is cold, I’m completely satisfied with my Drag Star ?? even if she doesn’t like badly paved curves. In two and a half years I covered 16,000 kilometers with her, and I even drove through the last two winters. I converted my moped with a Remus exhaust system and a rear conversion from HM ?? all with the blessing of TÜVs. Rudolf Link, Recklinghausen

Yamaha takes a stand…

…to the leaking valves. In our opinion, nothing speaks against re-use. However, the seats would have to be ground beforehand and the valves ground in … for wear, scuff marks and discoloration on the piston pins and upper connecting rod eyes. The piston pins have to be replaced. For the connecting rods, an exchange or the insertion of thin bronze bushings by a specialist company is possible. By the way, do we know this picture ?? also from engines from other manufacturers. Since the lubrication is extremely unfavorable at this point, the connecting rod eyes should already be provided with bushings during production … to the worn pistons. A disappointing picture. The replacement of the pistons is unfortunately inevitable. However, we assume that the test machine was very heavily used … the scuff marks and grooves on the cylinders. Here, too, only reworking helps: the cylinders have to be bored out and honed … for extreme pitting on the wheel of fifth gear. Since the mating gear has no corresponding tracks, we assume a manufacturing error. Therefore, the damage would be settled on goodwill … to the bevel gear at the transmission output, which is beginning to pitting. We are aware of the problem, but only affects the models from the first hour. As early as 1997, the manufacturing tolerances were further reduced … to the loud switching noises when the engine is cold. This is unpleasant, but from a technical point of view harmless … to the very late clutch. The pressure point is in fact not exactly defined, but there have been no complaints from customers …. about the poor cold-running behavior. A consequence of the poor coordination, which is, however, necessary to comply with the exhaust gas limits.


Inspections and wearing parts 4574.58 Mark tires (including assembly, balancing and disposal) 1506.00 Mark fuel (2800 liters normal) 4673.29 Mark Repairs (parts and labor costs) 2 x silencers renewed (690.40 marks each) * Right fork seal renewed 84, 15 marks incandescent lamp 2.10 marks total costs 10,753.87 marks purchase price (1997) 11990.00 marks estimate price (dealer sale) 6550.00 marks loss of value 5440.00 marks costs per kilometer (without loss of value) 0.22 marks costs per kilometer (with loss of value) 0.32 marks (footnote) * Was replaced under warranty, therefore not included in the cost calculation


Valve train: camshafts and rocker arms in very good condition. Valve stems and guides ok. Traces of fire on the seats of the exhaust valves. Several valves are leaking, but they can still be used without hesitation after revision. Cylinder, piston and crank drive: Both cylinder liners with strong grooves and scuff marks must be drilled out and honed. Piston worn, inevitable replacement. Piston pin with discoloration and scuffing marks, upper connecting rod eyes also heavily attacked, the connecting rods must be replaced or booked. Conrod bearing shells show signs of wear, but these are harmless. Crankshaft in good condition. Clutch: hub, basket and friction disks look very good considering the high mileage. Transmission: A fifth gear wheel has to be replaced due to severe material chipping. Apart from that, gears, shift drums and shift forks look good. Bevel gear at the gearbox output with beginning pitting. Exhaust system: Due to two vibration damage, the upper silencer was replaced after 1800 kilometers, the lower one at 36000 under warranty. Chassis: Only very slight traces of corrosion on frame and swing arm. Paint fine. Lower steering head bearing with a slight notch. Fittings and electrics: good condition.

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