Yamaha Royal Star Venture/Hannigan Trike Conversion Road Test
story and photography by James Parchman
[This Yamaha Royal Star Venture/Hannigan Trike Conversion Ridden & Rated was originally published in the March 2011 issue of Rider magazine]
Like some recent sports and entertainment notables, motorcycles occasionally experience positive character changes as a result of forced intervention. This certainly was the case with the Yamaha Royal Star Venture on which we racked up post Labor Day miles. The original two-wheeler is certainly a palatable enough dish, but Hannigan’s conversion morphed it into a delightful three-wheel dessert of chocolate and cherries jubilee!
The Yamaha Venture has a schizophrenic history. Introduced in 1983, it leapfrogged Honda’s then 1,100cc Gold Wing with a totally engineered touring package. However, after upgrading the V-4 engine to 1,300cc in 1986, the Venture remained virtually unchanged and was discontinued after 1993. The nameplate re-emerged in 1999 on the Royal Star Venture, and the Venture S continues into the 2011 model year as a fully featured touring cruiser, now sporting a fork-mounted fairing, hard lowers and plenty of audio. The liquid-cooled V-4 engine remains, though retuned for better midrange. Hannigan Motorsports identified the bike’s attributes as ideal for a motorcycle trike and engineered a conversion package for post-1999 machines.
My test machine is a head turner, beautifully painted in gloss black with red fender edges. It sports optional weight-bearing floor fairings on the lower platform. In back there’s a pair of five-spoke, polished 7- x 15-inch wheels, and dual chrome pipes that protrude just enough for a roadster effect. It’s a big trike at 112 inches long, 61.5 inches fender to fender, and weighing about 1,200 pounds.
Venture two-wheel aficionados will be right at home with the front two-thirds of Hannigan’s conversion. The large batwing-style upper fairing, frame-mounted lowers and tall windscreen protect the rider from the elements. There’s no trike-specific switchgear, but the left side of the engine has two controls that might puzzle newer riders: a fuel petcock with reserve and a choke knob. Yep, the Venture remains carbureted; four 32mm Mikuni’s feed from its 6-gallon tank.
Travelers will appreciate the trunk capacity of 6 cubic feet. That’s nearly 45 gallons, which two duffels and an extra jacket filled about 50 percent. The top box holds another 15 gallons, and even more gear can be lashed to the trike’s upper luggage rack. Making a long journey? Trailer hitches are available and Hannigan builds some of the sleekest motorcycle cargo trailers available.
The Venture’s powerful V-4 produces one of the best rumbling sounds in motorcycling. Engaging the hydraulic clutch got my trike rolling without complaint; the engine’s torque is sufficient for fifth gear (overdrive) to work well at speeds of 40-plus mph. The transmission only moves you forward, however; reverse is not yet available on this machine. Just use a little more thought when selecting parking spots.
Wide handlebars make steering almost effortless at speed, a task no doubt improved by the inclusion of Hannigan’s optional Steer Lite. Steer Lite is a re-engineered yoke that shortens the fork trail for a major reduction in steering effort. A trike’s front tire is called upon for heavy use, and with aggressive riding can need replacement within 5,000 miles. The rear tires have it easier; owners report they typically last 40-60,000 miles.
Like Pontiac automobiles of yesteryear, Hannigan ascribes to the “wide-track” design approach—building machines low and wide—as the best means of achieving stability and handling. Its Venture conversion incorporates long-travel independent suspension with an anti-sway bar and Progressive Suspension gas shocks.
My tester with 20,000 miles rode and handled well on all manner of highways, even with a well-worn front tire. Its width seemed a bit daunting at first, but after a few miles proper lane position became instinctive.
Yamaha claims an average 42 mpg for its two-wheel Venture. My test trike got 28-36 mpg, with mileage declining quite rapidly as speed increased. Hannigan offers an optional 4-gallon auxiliary tank. It’s a worthwhile $800 investment for long-distance travelers. Miles rolled up quickly on this comfortable machine, and many stops were only necessary because of fuel.
Once you test ride, you’re apt to get the trike bug. If so, Hannigan’s Royal Star Venture is an ideal option. Its liquid cooled and shaft-driven, and the base motorcycle has been engineered so sturdily that Yamaha offers a five-year warranty. Ventures are plentiful in the market, and Hannigan Motorsports or one of its dealers can handle the conversion. The MSRP is reasonable at $7,595, which gets you the kit; another $1,500 or so gets it installed. Lots of options like auxiliary tanks, paint, chrome, etc. may persuade you to spend more.
Hannigan Motorsports has been designing and manufacturing three-wheelers since 1983, when it began producing motorcycle sidecars—a business which continues to this day. Trikes came along in 1999 and business is thriving. Andrew Hannigan reports that while interest has definitely increased since Harley-Davidson introduced two trike models, it just reinforced what it they knew all along—three-wheel motorcycling is a blast!
Hannigan Motorsports is located in the western Kentucky lake region. It offers trike conversions for many models of motorcycles. Check out the website www.hanniganmotor sports.com or call (270) 753-4256.
For more info on Yamaha Ventures, both two and three-wheel, check out the Venture Rider website: www.venturerider.org.