Yamaha XS 1100, 1979 The XS1100 was Yamaha’s conce…

10 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Yamaha XS 1100, 1979 The XS1100 was Yamaha’s conce…
Yamaha XS 1100


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The XS1100 was Yamaha’s conception of the ideal touring motor cycle. It was large and heavy, at home on the highway but uneasy through bends. It was intended for the USA, where it persuaded would-be and current owners of 750-1,000cc BMWs that Yamaha were offering a value-for-money package that had the German flat-twin beaten hands down.

The XS provided four cylinders against the BMW’s two, dohc versus primitive pushrods, three disc brakes instead of sometimes no more than one, up-to-the-minute transmission with quieter gear-changing, 20 per cent more power. all this, and its price was approximately half, certainly not more than two-thirds, that of the BMW. Hitherto reckoned to be the ultimate tourer, the BMW slipped to second place behind the Yamaha in many western States.

In Europe, and especially in the UK, the Yamaha had a less enthusiastic reception. ‘Dry’ weight of the XS1100 was 600lb, which made it 1001b heavier than the original CB750 Honda; this plus the long (61 in) wheelbase gave the Yamaha slow cornering reactions that dismayed riders reared on the likes of a 110mph Triumph Bonneville or, later, accustomed to the behaviour of the fast but critically lighter Suzuki 1000.

What the XS1100 offered was sheer power. Not the lightning-response, high-rpm variety provided by apparent rivals, judged on displacement, such as Honda’s CBX; but power — more precisely torque — to take this 600lb motor cycle plus say 500lb of rider, passenger and luggage from 30 to 125mph in top gear in under 20 seconds.

Less than a year younger than the XS750, the big four of 1978 showed significant differences from the three, apart from the obvious one of the extra cylinder. Where the primary drive of the smaller engine was taken off one end of the crankshaft, the 1100’s Hy-Vo chain came from the middle of the shaft. Other unspecified modifications to strengthen the broadly similar transmission were carried out in deference to the 1100’s 30 bhp increment.

The engines differed in the reduced finning allowed for the four’s cylinder head, which was more than compensated for by an oil cooler, carried in front of the twin down tubes. Combustion-chamber profiles were different, too, with the four’s designed to take more kindly to low-octane fuel.

A preload-adjustable front fork was present to help owners with a taste for experiment and some patience with tools; but, however finely set, it did nothing to improve the basically mediocre handling.


When Yamaha announced their XS750 three-cylinder four-stroke, it was acclaimed as an excellent tourer with the best shaft drive of any machine available. If one thing was lacking it was outright performance for, although quick, it could not match the top-of-the-range models of the other Japanese manufacturers. The obvious idea would have been to graft an extra cylinder on the 750 to make it a 1000, but Mitsui Machinery decided to go one better and so the XS1100 was born.

Yamaha XS 1100
Yamaha XS 1100

The engine of the bike is an air-cooled unit of just a shade under H02cc and, with its valves actuated by twin overhead camshafts, •produces 95bhp at 8ooorpm and 66.51b ft of torque at 65oorpm. The whole unit is canted forward a few degrees and an oil cooler just under the steering head helps keep the motor running cool. Chain and gear primary drive goes to a wet-multi-plate gearbox and thence to a five-speed gearbox and the shaft drive which runs along the left side of the bike.

The gear lever pedal is pivotted at the front so that it looks back-to-front but it does work in the normal one-downfour-up sequence.

Top speed of the big Yamaha is i38mph, while it will accelerate to a quarter mile from a standing start in just under i2secs; fuel consumption is 4impg.

The most awe-inspiring thing about the XS1100 is its size and mass, for it dwarfs just about everything apart from Harley-Davidsons. Once travelling at a few mph and the weight is forgotten, but it does affect the high-speed handling of the bike and the braking. Even though the Yamaha uses three 11.23m diameter discs, they are not up to stopping the 5641b bike repeatedly from high speed, although the 3.5m front and 4.5m wide rear tyres keep their grip.

Although the Yamaha has a sprint-like turn of speed, it is primarily intended for touring as its high bars and 5.28gal fuel tank prove. Not having to adjust the chain every 150 miles or so is a boon for long-distance travel, too.

The styling of the XS1100 is rectangular, with headlight, instruments, indicators and reflectors all this rather odd-looking shape.

Standard equipment on the bike includes fuel gauge, a cut off switch for the ignition should the bike fall over, self-cancelling indicators and sockets for intercom, fog lamps or other accessories that could be fitted.

Yamaha XS 1100
Yamaha XS 1100
Yamaha XS 1100
Yamaha XS 1100
Yamaha XS 1100
Yamaha XS 1100
Yamaha XS 1100
Yamaha XS 1100

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