The Riva 180/200 is a very comfortable ride and great for covering long distances.
Notorious for autochoke problems.
No underseat storage
YAMAHA RIVA 180 / 200 (XC180 / XC200)
Yamaha showed up in North American with the Riva 180 (model code XC180) for 1983, beating Honda to the large scooter market by a full year. The Riva 180 was a powerful 4-stroke scooter with a respectable top speed of 70-75 mph. This was similar to the 250cc Elite and Helix scooters Honda would introduce in the coming years. As a 180cc model, this Riva was sold from 1983 – 1985 and then it returned as the Riva 200 for 1987 – 1991.
Outside of the USA & Canada, this scooter was normally sold as the Cygnus 180 / 200. Yamaha continues to use this name today with a 125cc model.
The Riva 180 was sold from 1983 – 1985. Over this span, Yamaha sold three versions; the regular Riva 180 (code XC180), an upgraded ‘Z’ version (code XC180Z) and then a ‘Deluxe’ version (code XC180D). All of the model codes are then followed by a letter corresponding to the year (1983 = K, 1984 = L, 1985 = N). So for example, a 1985 Deluxe Riva 180 would be model code XC180DN. The standard version of the Riva 180 was sold all three years, but the Z version was sold only in ’84 and ’85. The Deluxe version was only sold in 1985.
Opting for the Z trim over the regular Riva 180 got you a two-tone paint job with pin-striping, color matched rims, a digital clock in the dash, a ‘plush’ two step seat and the option to add a tinted windscreen. The Deluxe trim took things a step further and added digital instrumentation, turn signals that shut off automatically and a carpeted floorboard (yeah a little sketchy). Checkout the brochure scans at the bottom of this page for a look at the Deluxe Riva 180.
Yamaha withdrew the Riva 180 from our shore after 1985 but they returned for the 1987 model year with an improved Riva 200 (XC200) capable of 75mph. In addition to an extra 20cc, the Riva 200 had an improved dual sided fork, and improved auto choke system and a few other tweaks like new aluminum rims. This improved Riva was sold from 1987 until 1991, again in several trim levels. 1987 saw both a regular and ‘ZC’ version. Presumably the C stands for California, so maybe the Z version was only sold in California since just a Z version is not listed. In 1988 through 1991, both regular and Z versions were sold, except for 1990 when just the Z was available. Opting for the Z version netted you the same upgrades as mentioned early for the Riva 180 Z.
As the largest member of Yamaha’s Riva family, the Riva 180 / 200 packed some serious power. The Riva 180 was quite fast for its size with a top speed in excess of 70mph. 75 is achievable in good conditions. The Riva 200 added another 5 mph to the top speed and offers quite strong acceleration right up to 65 mph so it’s not a bad choice for casual highway riding.
The motor used in the XC180 / XC200 is a simple but rugged design. This single cylinder motor is air cooled, carbureted and uses 2-valves. The first iteration was 171cc, while the later was 199.7cc.
Design and Amenities
The Riva 180 has a decent sized glovebox but unfortunately there is no storage under the seat. The large motor and under seat fuel tank occupy this space which is to unfortunate. Quite a few other large scooters from this era also don’t have underseat storage (ie. Riva 125, Honda Elite 150). The main ones that do are the Honda Helix and ’89-90 Honda Elite 250.
Yamaha sold quite a few neat accessories for their Riva 180/200 scooters including rear cases, a ‘streamliner’ windscreen and an unusual tennis racquet holder rack. I wonder what portion of Riva owners are also avid tennis players? Apparently Yamaha hopes quite a few are.
This scooter unfortunately used drum brakes front and rear. While not uncommon at the time, at least a front disc brake is now the norm so these big Riva’s don’t offer excellent braking. The front drum does the best job it can, but performance is still lackluster.
The Riva 180/200 is a very comfortable ride and great for covering long distances. Unfortunately, the 180cc models are plagued by an expensive and difficult to solve auto choke problem. These auto choke problems often require unclogging the starter jet and/or a $200 ‘bistarter control valve’ (BCV) from Yamaha to fix. Until this problem is fixed, these Riva’s are difficult or impossible to start. Follow this diagram to make sure you have the hoses hooked up properly. Typically the easiest way to fix one this issue is to replace the BCV with a manual ball valve to operate the choke by hand (see diagram and improvise). The Riva 200’s aren’t affected by this problem as they use a different auto-choke system.
Owners and buyers should be aware that a recall exists for ’87 – ’88 Riva 200 scooters (Recall code: 89V099000) that corrects a weakness in the front brake compression bar. Of interest, Yamaha has stated this recall applies to 3506 vehicles, so we know that’s how many Riva 200’s were sold in the USA during those 2 years. That means that sales were roughly 1750 units/year. You can use this to get a rough idea of how many might be in existence for all years, but keep in mind that scooter sales dropped off quite a bit by ’89 and stayed low for over a decade.
For more information on the Riva 180/200, check out this Yahoo! group. You need to sign up for Yahoo to access their group but they have complied an impressive collection of information that makes sign up worthwhile.