Members bike owned by Paul Watts
(the ramblings of a very amateur DIYer)


Press reports
Bike Magazine 1978 - Motorcycle Mechanics 1978

XS1100 powder coated coated engine

The above bike, was almost entirely rebuilt by Stephan Morris. After many years of badgering me and slagging off my Yamaha XS650D as only half as good as an XS1100, I finally succumbed.

He had to bribe me by offering to sell me the bike and rebuild if for me. So, I obviously had to agree, he would have been so upset had I not done so.

After many months of hard work on Stephan's part and just a week on mine, my new XS1100 was completed in time for the 2005 Hastings May Day ride from Orpington in Kent to Hastings. Funnily enough, this takes place on May Day every year. It is an event that I like to try and make.

I attended the very first Mayday ride back in 1978 with about 400 other riders. These days, the town welcomes 15-20,000 bikers every Mayday bank holiday generating important income for the town.

Refurbished XS1100

This machine was absolutely spanking. A stunning job was done. Even the engine was powder coated. Thousands of pounds had been spent on it. Not to mention the man-hours.

So imagine the the distress, when just 2 months later this happens....................

A garage fire that almost took the the house, but did do for my newly acquired bike along with the wife's 1983 Yamaha XS1.1 sport, her 1997 Suzuki Bandit 600, 4 spare engines, many years of collection of new old stock (NOS) spares for the XS650's and not to mention the garage!
XS1100 destroyed by fire
After this trauma, I decided that buying a good quality runner would be the best option. A really nice low mileage model was subsequently found via ebay. This is the one that is now the feature of this members bike feature.
Purchased in August 2005, it had an apparent genuine 12,750 miles on the clock. In the run up to our first holiday together, I changed the oil and filter, new stainless steel pistons on the front calipers whilst fitting new brake pads. Phil Denton who is often at classic shows manufactures stainless steel parts for various models, I think these cost about £15 each at the time.
XS1100 with Krauser panniers

Photographed at the 2006 Mayday run in the main Hastings car park, BCG 555V is shown above getting mucky in the rain.

Non-standard items:

Motad 4-1 exhaust
Fitted by a previous owner
Krauser panniers
Bought on ebay for £56 and the fitting kit bought direct from Mr Krauser in Germany
Off-side handlebar mirror
Fitted by a previous owner. Unfortunately, it not only looks knaff and doesn't work due to the effect of vibration, it is a right-hand thread and been somehow forced into a left-hand female thread.
American model XS1100 rider foot pegs
Fitted by me as the stand UK model pegs give me cramp being too high and too far back for my legs.
Off-side mirror
A previous owner had forced a right handed threaded mirror into the left handed thread of the master cylinder.
The horn bracket is missing
The off-side horn can be seen mounted direct to the oil cooler bolt.
Engine bars

Yamaha never set the world alight with the handling of the XS1100, but this one seemed particularly heavy. I have never seen the point in consciously counter-steering as the XS650 turn effortlessly with just a slight adjustment of my ample (but pert) bottom. This bike however, needed a gold leafed invitation sent days before entering a bend before it thought about doing anything but going straight.

It was with this machine then, that I understood the technique and realised it's merits. I know that we are told that we all counter-steer even without thinking. Like ghosts though, I don't see it, so I need to be convinced that we all do this when taking any bend above around 20mph.

With my XS1100 I deliberately used counter-steering to attack the many bends on our Devon roads to great effect. I was able to almost flick the machine through bends as though it could handle.

Although this made riding fun again, it was quite tiring, so I devised a plan to make the handling better. I was on the lookout for the forks from an XS1100 special or the same as Lyn's (she who should be obeyed) XS1.1 Sport (5K7). These Yamaha models have the wheel spindle set in front of the fork sliders instead of beneath, this alters the trail of the geometry and make the handling lighter.

Fortunately, I hadn't got around to spending my hard earned before I had to change the tyres in readiness for a 2006 holiday in Scotland. I forget what tyres were on the bike but a new set of Metzler Lazertec tyres transformed the handling for the better. I have now ditched the conscious counter-steering nonsense and am back to my pert bottom technique.

XS1100 tour of Scotland

Rechromed second-hand original exhausts (£800) and horn bracket fitted. Still got the bodged, almost useless square mirror though. This shows about 60 miles into a 750 mile 1 x day trip. Note the sheepskin just about visible thrown over the saddle. This helps no end to the squirming that you would normally get with so many hours in the saddle. I heartily recommend one for those oh so long rides.

January 2007 sees a modification. Some people suggest that the XS1100 is bulky, even brutal in it's style, certainly the ultimate muscle bike of the era.

I like the chunky appearance, but fancied a subtle way of deflecting the winds to reduce fatigue and the wind chill. My guess was that the Kawasaki ZRX11 bikini fairing would fit the Yamaha with minimum alterations and set about trying to get a second hand one.

After missing out on a couple, I had success on ebay for about £50. It turns out that the ZRX1100 fairing fits the XS1100 almost perfectly and requires no cutting, filing, drilling, gaffer tape etc. to fit on the new host.

The UK model ZRX has an ugly running light above the headlight. I decided that I didn't want one of these for the appearance or having to carry out modifications to the wiring. As luck would have it, a fairing from a grey import arrived through the post and it comes with an insert that allows air through.

I hope that this will allow high speed (but legal ossifer) speeds without a weave that some fairings can induce.

As for the brackets, I chose to approach Ian Drowne in Halwill Junction to get him to make the brackets for me. He is not cheap, but he came up with a great way to fit the fairing with some neat stainless steel.

The fairing can be removed in moments and the brackets can be left in place and are fairly unobtrusive.

I think that the result is very tasteful and a practical, stylish addition. It is smaller and more discreet than the XS1.1 Sport and retains the larger fuel tank missing from the Sport.

The Kawasaki fairing has a very dark purple colour that is difficult to distinguish between this and the standard black of the Yamaha. I am happy to live with this until I get the whole of the paintwork re-sprayed.
XS1100 with ZRX11 cockpit fairing
The correct original equipment mirror has now been fitted to the off-side of the handlebars. Rather depressingly, the newly chromed exhaust is starting to flake. It wont be long before this is very obvious. The chromers have already said that they had many problems dealing with them and that they will never take on silencers again. I resign myself to having to put up with this and save up for a stainless Gazelle system perhaps?
XS1100 rear wheel out

Unlike Mr Honda with his GL1000, Yamaha tried to make removal of the rear wheel easier for the home mechanic. As shown above, the rear mudguard pivots up for easy access.

In just 3,500 miles of two up Scottish holidaying, the rear tread was barely legal, hence another Metzeler was required.

In the raised position, the rear mudguard can be inspected.

Having just had a rear mudguard returned from the chromers, a different one from those that carried out the exhaust pipe work, I thought that I had best take the original mudguard off. It is not bad, but the might tin worm has started to take up residence and a swift nip in the bud is required.

The only problem being that the rust had welded a screw to the mudguard.

One of the screws holding the black plastic box of tricks failed to move.

The head of the screw needed to be drilled off as shown above left and a small set of stilsons could then be used to screw it back down. The rechromed mudguard received some grease to help slow down future rot.
XS1100 rear fender, sorry mudguard
Although it had some extra holes drilled into the mudguard by a previous owner, it looks the business after coming back from Peterborough chromers.
The rear light bracket could do with rechroming but, I have decided to obtain another one and chrome that. They don't come up too often and it would be a disaster to send it away and not get it back without a back up. Yes, I am a half empty glass person, did I say?

As I hope to keep this XS1100 for many years to come, I hope to fit stainless steel items where it is practical and not too much of a strain on the wallet.

This photo shows the replacement stainless steel rear indicator stalks on the rear light bracket. These were obtained from a fella in Germany for £12. This has to be good value.

The original chrome stalk is shown next to it.

New Metzeler fitted along with the shiny tinware and non-rusting indicator stalks makes the rear end look better.

One of the tappets developed an irritating tap, tap, tap when riding around, so adjustment was the order of the day.

The camshaft cover was very reluctant to reveal the internals of the engine. Some very careful forceful persuasion saw the cover give in, but the gasket didn't. Very annoyingly, the gasket held firm, some on the cover, some on the head.

Some very careful scraping with a wood chisel saw the gasket give in. The cam cover is less problematic as it is just damage to the aluminium that needs to be considered. The cylinder head not only needs to avoid damage, but also needs to avoid any bits dropping in to the void that is the engine.

Any parts of the gasket floating around the engine can cause disastrous blockages in the oilways. Hopefully, this has been avoided. Only time will tell.

When replacing the gasket, I made sure that I applied liberal amounts of engine oil to both sides of the gasket to help avoid a similar problem next time I have to take the cover off.

February/March 2007
Isn't annoying how even the easiest of tasks can sometimes turn around and bite you? Stephan paid a visit and insisted that it was about time that I fitted the American gear shift cover that I had got powder coated. This was to replace the UK standard item that holds part of the rear sets that I have now removed.

As he has done this a number of times on different parts, I was happy for him to take the lead.

The fins on the cover were never black as they are when they come back from the coating process. The first job then was to hone a knackered old wood chisel and chip off the coating from the raised area. The inevitable digs, then were sanded back with a power detail sander. This makes life easier but also helps to prevent the glass paper/emery cloth from damaging other areas.
XS1100 powder coated cover

Next came a modification to a drill bit. This is needed to remove the coating from around the area that the fastener will tighten down on to the cover. If this is not done, the coating will crack and ping away a big swathe around the fastener.

A dremmel was used to grind away the end of the drill bit. This locates into the opening to allow the wider part of the drill to cut the coating away.

After using metal polish to dull the gloss coating to satin that should have been applied, it was now ready to fit.

'Don't you think that we should drain the oil first Stephan?' say I. 'No problem' says he, 'there isn't any oil behind this cover'.

I disappear from the garage to find a tool and return to the newly concreted floor that now has a rather large dark, sticky. oily patch and lots of paper under the bike. Of course, it doesn't take a genius to realise that if there is an oil seal fitted, this should have been a clue!

The mop up took place and that was that. The gasket was unserviceable, so the refit had to wait until another day.

Well, the gasket arrived, the cover fitted and off I went. Although, not very fast as it would only go from neutral into first gear. Off came the cover again so that I could put the gear change teeth in to the correct position. And just like magic, the Yamaha has a full complement of gears once again.

I convince myself that I can be forgiven because I have not refitted one of these covers before. I suppose that I could have read the manual that the nice Mr Haynes so carefully prepared for me, but hey I'm a bloke, why bother with reading manuals?

What I cannot forgive myself for is missing the section of gasket still on the crank case. This lead to a steady drip, drip as I made my way around Dartmoor. I hope that Sally and Bruce don't see the puddle in their car park at the Highwayman Inn!

Anyhow, back to the garage, drain the oil, remove offending gasket scrap and the Yamaha is oil tight once more.

XS1100 gear change conversion to USA spec

March 2007
Of course, now the oil is staying in the XS, I can trial the fairing. I chose Hartland Point and Hartland Quay. Those that know Hartland will be aware that the Atlantic winds drive hard on to this coast. You don't wont to go there with a rug unless you have Evostick as glue that's for sure.

Being a bloke and being butch I chose a day that even the cows had to be tethered to the ground to stop them blowing in to the next field! Brilliant sunshine interspersed with very heavy, horizontal hail. It was a good test for the protection the fairing offers and I am pleased to report that it works well.

No problem going into the wind. The wind blast hits just across the shoulders and helps to keep the crotch a bit dryer than usual in those conditions and that can't be a bad thing.

XS1100 Hartland Quay, Devon

June 2008
Another new rear tyre fitted at 19,716 miles Metzler Lazertec 130/90 17 mc 68H the last one managing a consistent 3,500 miles.

XS1100 rally 2008, Loreley, Germany

On tour at the XS1100 on the Rhein in Loreley, Germany 2008

Yamaha XS1100 in the Alps with snow

Further South up in the Alps

Yamaha XS1100 in the Alps

Damp and cold but it's still the Alps so who cares?

XS1100 touring to Pisa, Italy

Down South to the heat of Pisa. Look carefully at the skyline and the famous tower is just visable. Around 40mpg and never missed a beat.

April 2009
24,069 miles and a new front Metzler fitted. These only come as V rated in the 19 inch front wheel size.

November 2009
I decide that it is time to splash out on new paintwork but only fit the newly paint ZRX11 fairing for now. As the fairing was to be gleaming and colour match the standard paintwork I thought that a new screen to replace the scratched one would be in order. What isn't in order is the bloody amount of money that Kawasaki charge for their bits of plastic. I baulked at spending £206 for an itsy bitsy bit of plastic so went after market at £27.99. A perfectly good replica item that is barely discernible from original.

I think that this looks the part now, just what Mr Yamaha should have done.

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