My Yamaha XV535

Updated 06/10/02

Note:  I no longer own the motorcycle on this site.

I decided to step up to a bigger bike (a Yamaha V-Star 1100 Silverado).  To see that bike and lots more Vstar 1100 info, please visit my new site:

Meanwhile I've decided to keep this site up for those of you who still own XV535s - still a great ride!  


Hi!  My name is Mark Garetz and I've created this page for folks who want to see and hear what I' did with my Yamaha XV535.

It's a 1997 model, purchased new in June 1998.  For me, when I bought it, it was the perfect bike.  Plenty of power, great looks, low cost, easy handling and low maintenance due to the shaft drive. 

Here's a picture of the bike when I first got it:

oldbike.jpg (23022 bytes)

But, I started modifying it as soon as I got it. XV535 accessories are hard to find.  I wanted to dress it up and I needed more storage.  Saddlebags are hard to fit the stock bike (at least with any capacity).  So I decided to go with a tail trunk.   I ordered a tailbag from Chase-Harper (a Super Sport Tail Trunk), but frankly it was junk. I exchanged it for another Chase-Harper model (the AeroPac) and while this was better, I still wasn't happy with it. I looked at the rack from Yamaha, but it was useless with a 6 pound payload rating and expensive as you had to buy their utterly worthless sissy bar in order to mount the rack.  I ended up with a cool rack system from Ventura.  It works great and provides passenger hand-holds too.  The bag they sell with it is fine, but not really styled for a cruiser.  A fellow rider was selling an Ameritex studded trunk bag so I got that and adapted it to the Ventura rack with some webbing and clips.  It's not yet perfect, but it works. (Note:  Ameritex makes two models of this bag (also comes in a few sizes). The one I got slips over a sissy bar and won't slip over the Ventura rack.  But they now make a "universal" mount that attaches with wide velcro straps and this fits the rack fine with no mods necessary.  So if buying new, get this version.)  To dress the bike up I went with the Yamaha Custom studded seat (which turns out is made by Corbin) and their studded tank cover.  I added a small after-market windshield  to catch the major bugs and make it easier to ride on the freeway.  It helped immensely and is fairly unobtrusive.  (Note:  This windshield cracked and I have just replaced it with a National Cycle Dakota.  Pictures and review below.)  

I had the bike looking great, but it sounded like sewing machine.  For some people, this is great.  But I wanted it to rumble!  So my latest addition has been a set of Jardine slash cut pipes (more on the pipes later).  Another mod has been the addition of a Priority Lites module.  This converts the rear turn signals into running lights and auxiliary brake lights, without affecting their function as turn signals.  Very cool and easy to install.  I always wanted to add a light bar but could never find one that worked with a windshield.  Almost forgot!  First thing I wanted to add was clock.  I ride to work and need to know what time it is.  Good luck finding a clock for a motorcycle.  I can't understand why no one makes a reasonable one.  All I found was an expensive and bizarre piece for a Harley that fit on the fork cap. It was a chrome bezel with a watch stuck in it, and it wasn't even a waterproof watch!  Duh!   So I made my own.  Click here to go to the motorcycle clock page.

I also replaced the wimpy headlamp bulb with a halogen bulb.  The Yamaha bulb is very similar to an H4 bulb, but not quite!  One of the tabs on the H4 is off just enough so it won't fit.  I just carefully bent that tab out of the way and the bulb fits fine.  Much, much better at night.  I used one of the "cool blue" automotive bulbs.  It's a 9003 CB (same as an H4) from Sylvania.  You can get it at any auto parts store.  Is it blue?  Not really.  Is it "whiter" than halogen?  A little.  Would I buy a "blue" bulb again?  Probably not.  Is using an H4/9003 better than the stock Yamaha bulb?  YES!

Here's a picture of the bike as it looked before the new shields (heat and wind):

newbike.jpg (24281 bytes)

Here's how it looks now, with the heat shield on the front pipe and the new windshield:

Here are some shots of the new Dakota shield.  The first is a close-up, the second so you can get a feel for the over-all look:


Windshield notes:  It definitely keeps the wind off you!  Before (with my small shield) I had to put the visor down on my helmet after reaching about 20 mph.  Now I can ride visor-up until about 50 mph.  The quality of the shield and mounting kit (for the 535 you need an N2304 shield and a CJI mounting kit) is excellent.  The turn-signal relocation kit leaves a bit to be desired.  It works, but there's a "bump" on the bike side of the turn signal mount that keeps the stock turn signals from rotating.  The new brackets don't accommodate the bump without drilling.  I didn't drill mine but let them sit "over" the bump.  You can see that one of the signals has rotated a bit as a result.  Looks like I'll be drilling.  The shield mounting hardware just fits.  No room for adjustment.  But it is very heavy duty.  (A tip:  use rubber bands to hold the mount together while you get it in place.) The shield fits the bike fine with one exception:  It touches one corner of the brake fluid reservoir.  This is easily remedied with a piece of sticky-back foam, of which extra comes with the kit.  The shield seems to have some effect on the bike's performance.  There is a big difference in how much it picks up side-winds.  It also seems to slow the bike some.  Both are to be expected with a shield this big.  It took some getting used to, but now I don't notice it nearly at all.


The addition and selection of new pipes had been the most perplexing and trying.   I put a request on the Far West Ramblers (now the Virago Star Cruisers Motorcycle Club) website asking for those with aftermarket pipe experience to email me with comments.  I got lots of responses and all but one were requests for me to let them know what I heard.  I talked to the various manufacturers and they were little help.  (FYI you can get pipes for the 535 from Cobra, Jardine, Mac and theoretically Highway Hawk but they've yet to send me a catalog and I've requested one several times.)    One person responded with their experience with Cobra pipes.  He was happy with them except he said the heat shields were small.  My friend Don at the local shop (Dublin Motorsports, which is now, unfortunately, out of business) recommended Jardines over Cobras as in his experience they had a more pleasing sound (less high pitch popping/pinging and more rumble).  And they were less expensive.  So I had him get me a set of Jardine slash cuts (which Jardine said were the loudest of the pipes they make for the 535).  We also got a jet kit from DynoJet. (Note:  While Jardine recommends the jet kit, I have heard from many readers who bought Jardines after reading this site and they did not put in the jet kit.  They have not reported problems.)

Don's crew installed the pipes and jet kit in a few hours.  It took another few hours to get the carbs adjusted right.  The jet kit recommended setting the needle clips at position 2.  We ended up at position 5 before the bike ran right.  But it was worth it!  The bike runs great and it seems like there's more power.   But it sounds great!  Way more loudness and it rumbles!   Here is a recording of the pipes:

Click here to hear the new pipes (left click will play the sound, right click if you want to download and save it).  It's a 135KB .wav file.   Flash!  New sound file.  This one was digitally recorded in my driveway - no processing of the sound.

The  Jardine pipes are much lower on the rear wheel than the stock pipes and they're also much longer (see the before and after pictures).  The benefit is that it will be easier to use saddlebags with the XV535, which is near impossible with the stock pipes.

Pipe bluing/heat shields:  The stock pipes come with full heat shields, the Jardines have only one  - and it could be better.  It's on the bottom pipe (that exits from the rear cylinder) and covers the curve at the bottom and most of the way up, but stops short of making the 90 to the cylinder.  I've partially melted my over-pants on this spot twice (admittedly shortly after I got the pipes - haven't done it since).  Anyway, one of the nice things about the stock shields is that they hide all the pipe discoloration (yellowing and bluing).  The Jardines discolored near the cylinders immediately (note the front pipe in the picture above).  I tried Blue-Away, it works but it is a lot of work!  Blue Job works much better.   Still, the pipes start to discolor again almost right away.  I found a heat shield made for Harley's that fit the front pipe reasonably well (had to bend it smaller a bit because it was so fat).  It's not perfect but it looks a lot better than the discolored pipe.  Still looking for piece for the rear.  Jardine is rumored to have a larger, rear pipe shield in development.  It was supposed to be out in Fall of 2001, but it still hasn't appeared (January 2002).  Here is a picture of the front shield.  

Now that my bike looks and sounds great, I'm very happy with it. 

If you have any questions you can email me.  But please be warned, I am not a mechanic and I can't troubleshoot your Virago.  So if you need tech help, I suggest you join the Virago Owners Club.  A lot of tech help is available to members.


I've been getting a lot of requests for links for "sissy bars" lately.  Yamaha made one, but it is worthless.  The rack system I have looks a lot like a sissy bar, but it is not a sissy bar!  The rack system is made by Ventura - their link is below.

Jardine   The makers of my pipes.
Ventura   The makers of my rack system.
Yamaha Accessories   (the Virago section of this website has been down for some time, but try anyway)
National Cycle  Makers of the Dakota Windshield.
Virago Owners Club  Lots of cool info on the Virago and links to other Virago sites.
Virago Star Cruisers Motorcycle Club    More Virago info.
Motorcycle Clock  Make your own motorcycle clock.

more to be added!