By John Burns
1981 was just slightly before my time, when I was still in the “lusting in my heart” but “unable to obtain” stage of motorcycling. I do remember the XS Eleven being the fastest thing at the dragstrip there for a while, in spite of its shaft drive, but I don’t know if I ever knew of the Venturer version of the bike, lovingly semi-restored by Ric McKinsey, of Crescent City, California. The saddlebags are genius. Take it away, Ric.
This is what the original Venturer looked like.
In 1981 Yamaha had nothing to compete with the Honda GoldWing. Their V-four touring bike (the Venture) was still two years away, so as a stopgap they took their biggest bike, the XS Eleven, and tricked it out for touring. It was called the Venturer. It came with a special version of the famous Windjammer fairing (by Vetter), a braced frame, oil cooler, 6.3 gallon tank, rear rack and hard saddlebags.
When I found mine in 2015 it didn’t look like this one, but with a lot of work on my part I got it to where it is today. This bike might be 40 years old, but for a lot less than anything new I was able to paint it, replace the windshield, rebuild the forks with Progressive springs, rebuild the brakes front and rear, put on a fork brace, and Progressive shocks, LED lights all around with driving lights, new master cylinder, new handlebars, old-school fork boots and knee pads and on and on… It was great fun to do and I never see anyone on any thing like it these days.
<img src="https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-633×356.jpg" alt="" width="633" height="356" srcset="https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-633×356.jpg 633w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-315×177.jpg 315w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-768×432.jpg 768w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-75×42.jpg 75w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-120×67.jpg 120w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-150×84.jpg 150w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-186×105.jpg 186w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-210×118.jpg 210w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-224×126.jpg 224w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-270×152.jpg 270w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-408×229.jpg 408w, https://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/042020-readers-rides-1981-yamaha-xs11-3-637×358.jpg 637w" sizes="(max-width: 633px) …read more