Yamaha XV1600 Roadstar Problems: 5 Known Issues (Explained)

The Yamaha XV 1600 was among Yamaha’s initial cruiser models offered to American buyers. Aimed at reducing market leader Harley-Davidson’s dominance, these Japanese-made cruisers offered plenty of technological features at low prices.

Today, the XV1600 remains a superb cruiser model that can haul you over long distances with minimal stress.

However, like every other motorcycle, owners of the XV1600 have experienced a few mars in reliability over the years.

We will evaluate these commonly reported problems in this article and, where possible, offer solutions.


1. Motorcycle Makes Abnormal Noises

Because of the air-cooled engine design, the Yamaha XV1600 makes a ripping racket.

Unlike their liquid-cooled counterparts, air-cooled engines do not have a water-filled jacket that dampens engine noise; a wide-opened, finned v-twin motor lets its roar loose.

This makes that users experience some weird noises during either idling or riding.

That said, not all the noises on these bikes are normal. Some are actually signs that something is out of place or in need of replacement.

Let’s take a look at a few of the sounds in question:

i. Ticking noise from the cylinder head area

The cylinder heads’ air-cooled nature means some ticking is inevitable, especially as engine temperature increases and parts start expanding.

However, hearing a ticking noise when the engine isn’t hot may point to improper valve clearance adjustment.

Each cylinder in the engine has two intake valves and two exhaust valves. A single rocker controls the opening and closing of both series of valves.

One side of the rocker is nonadjustable, and the margin is self-adjusted by the hydraulic lifter.

The opposite side is adjustable and must be fixed, so the valve junction point is the same as the other side, or it will create that unconventional ticking noise even when the bike is cool.

ii. Tapping noise from the camshaft area

It is normal for you to hear a tapping sound from the camshaft area while the bike warms up. This noise should subside as the bike reaches operating temperatures.

The tapping is caused by extra push-rod clearance while it waits for the hydraulic lifter to be pumped up.

The push-rod rests in a position where one of the valves is open when the motor is killed, and because of pressure applied to the lifter by the valve spring, the lifter will flow down over time.

Upon restarting the motor, a small quantity of air may enter the lifter. It’ll need a few minutes for the air to spurt out of the lifter and self-adjust to proper clearance.

However, Continuous tapping in the camshaft is not normal. Constant tapping could be due to a part known as the flat-lifter.

If the piston inside the hydraulic lifter is scratched, then the lifter will not contain the compressed oil inside to make the valve/pushrod.

A damaged lifter will need to be replaced.

iii. Knocking noise from the crankshaft area

At low speeds, you may hear a somewhat subdued knocking noise from the crankshaft area. This noise is due to the XV1600’s engine design and is normal.

However, if this noise persists irrespective of engine temperature or load, it may be a sign of imminent bearing failure. In severe cases, maybe the bearing has failed.

The best way to diagnose this problem is to inspect the bearings; bearing failures can deteriorate in a relatively short period.

If the noise disappears often, then the noises are merely a result of the engine’s operation.

2. Transmission May Malfunction

Some early XV1600s had trouble with the transmission system, especially those released between 1999 to 2003.

In the transmission of the affected motorcycles, Yamaha announced that they’d manufactured the second/third pinion gear wrong.

This caused abnormal wear on the transmission. If this happens, the circlip may break and come loose, which would cause the transmission to lock up.

This problem is quite serious, as the rear wheel may seize, increasing the rider’s chances of crashing.

Yamaha issued a recall for this problem, instructing dealers to make necessary modifications to the transmission by replacing the transmission gears and shafts with adequately machined parts.

If your bike is showing symptoms of transmission lock-up, take it to Yamaha immediately. This is a severe issue, and the mechanic should fit your bike with the updated parts asap.

3. Suspension May Bottom Out

Older Yamaha XV1600s weren’t equipped with the more advanced suspension developed in recent years.

When the suspension on a motorcycle bottoms-out, the shock has no travel left. Bottoming out often causes banging or clunking in the wheel area. Here is a guide to fixing this problem on XV1600 models:

Inspect the preload on the motorcycle shock/spring. The damper may fail because of the stock springs’ weakness, leading to the bike bottoming out.

Inspect the mounts where the shock connects to the frame. These mounts may suffer damage from insufficient preload or a bad damper. The damage may worsen over time and cause the mounts to break at the frame. If this happens, the bike may bottom out.

To solve this problem, you could weld the broken mounts. Alternatively, you can buy a stronger aftermarket shock/spring.

Ensure it comes with either a manual preload adjustment knob or an electric preload adjustment motor.

4. Handlebars Wobble/Front End Feels Lose

We’ve encountered a few riders who complained that the handlebars on their bikes were wobbling at high speeds.

The same riders reported that the front end of the XV1600 felt loose while making turns.

The common culprit in these cases was the same- loose neck bearings.

This is one of those cases of the best offense being a good defense; examining the condition of the motorcycle’s bearings is part of routine maintenance, ensuring that the bearings are torqued to Yamaha’s specifications, which they outline in the owner’s manual.

Worn bearings should be replaced immediately.

If you’re experiencing front-end wobbling and your neck bearings seem to be in condition and adjusted appropriately,

make sure your fork and triple trees aren’t damaged or out of wack in any way.

If you’re unsure about what this entails, ask a Yamaha-literate technician to inspect your bike.

Also read our article on 3 Most Common Problems With Yamaha DragStar

5. Weak Oil Pump Gear

Before 2001, the old gear in the fuel pump of the XV1600 was thinner. These lesser-quality gears were prone to wearing out.

In addition to upgrading the oil pump gears in 2001, Yamaha issued a recall for the affected bikes and replaced the weak oil pump with a stronger variant.

Before we delve into the problem, let’s understand how an oil pump works. The oil pump has two gears (inner and outer). When the two gears rotate, the intake area separates and creates a vacuum between the gears. This vacuum sucks oil, which is later transferred to the discharge area through gear motion.

Afterward, the gears connect (on the discharge side) to squeeze the oil out.

The original design of oil pump gears on the XV1600 was thin, lacking the integrity needed to endure frequent force.

In a few cases, this led to the failure of the oil pump on the motorcycle. Signs of oil pump failure include:

a. Low oil pressure: The oil pump maintains optimal oil pressure levels in the engine. It uses pressure to circulate oil that a) keeps engine parts greased b) prevents friction. If the oil pump fails, the oil pressure (and the oil flow) in the engine will decrease. This will lead to a reduction in power and frequent stalling. It may even lead to extensive engine damage or failure.

b. Higher engine temperature: As said earlier, the oil helps reduce friction among the engine’s components. Once the oil pump fails, friction will increase, and so will the heat in the engine.

This will lead to a spike in the engine temperature.

c. Noisy hydraulic lifters: The hydraulic lifters in your engine require constant lubrication to function properly and noiselessly. Reduced oil supply (occasioned by the failed oil pump) will increase the noise and wear rate on the lifters.

b. Noise in the valve train and oil pump: The valve train houses key engine parts, e.g., pushrods, valve guides, and seals. Like the hydraulic lifters, these parts need constant lubrication, or else they can’t operate quietly.

If the oil pump becomes faulty and the oil supply reduces, the valve train will become noisy.

. If your bike is older than 2001, take it to Yamaha and run the VIN to find out if you’ve been fitted with the upgraded, more rugged oil gear.

General Pros and Cons of the Yamaha XV1600

Here are the pros and cons of the Yamaha XV1600:

Pros of Yamaha XV1600

Here are some of Yamaha XV1600’s selling points:

1. Powerful Performance: If a powerful cruiser is what you want, the XV1600 is perfect. The model’s enormous 1602cc V-twin engine produces a whopping 134.3nm of torque at just 2250 RPM. With such low-end torque, you don’t have to rev high to accelerate while cruising.

Other performance-enhancing features on the XV1600 include:

  • i. Redesigned valve system
  • ii. Camshafts
  • iii. Rocker arm
  • v. Air induction system
  • vi. Heavy-duty cooling fins
  • vii. Stronger clutch

2. Ergonomic Design: Owners of cruiser bikes love going on a long, cross-country ride. Noticing this, Yamaha’s engineers made riding the XV1600 as comfortable as possible.

For example, the model comes with an ergonomic cockpit layout and back-swept handlebars made for easy gripping.

It also comes with floating floorboards for more comfortable touring.

3. Sharp Brakes: Every rider knows the importance of having good brakes on a motorcycle. Often, the performance of the brakes may be the difference between life and death.

Luckily, the XV1600 models feature dual 298mm front disc brakes with four-piston calipers and a 320mm single-disc rear brake for potent stopping power.

4. High-Quality Finish: For those who like attractive-looking bikes, the XV1600 is a good choice. The models feature gleaming, chromed bodywork, classic-styled fenders, and blacked-out engines.

Regardless of where you go, the XV1600 is the kind of bike that turns heads.

Cons of Yamaha XV1600

Here are some weaknesses of the XV1600:

  • I. Motorcycle Makes Abnormal Noises
  • II. Transmission May Malfunction
  • III. Suspension May Bottom Out
  • IV. Handlebars Wobble & Front Ends Feel Lose
  • V. Weak Oil Pump Gears

What Do the Reviews Say?

“The cockpit layout is relaxed and comfortable, with wide handlebars on rubber mountings and floating floorboards. Handling is stable, thanks to a rigid, double-cradle frame, brushed-steel fork, and quality Bilstein shock…

The Roadstar (XV1600) is a machine to embody the concept of excessive power, torque, and stature, and bombard you with the joy of motorcycling.”
Source: Totalmotorcycle.com

What’s The Resale Value On the Yamaha XV1600?

Year Mileage Price($)
2013 7,067 $6,695
2008 22,639 4,499
2007 24,091 4,999
2003 50,987 3,899
2014 15,529 7,999
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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.