Motorcycle Blog Posts 128
Seven years ago I dragged this 1978 BMW R80 out of a basement in Massachusetts. I immediately found out it had badly rusted cylinders and the pistons were frozen. I didn’t document what happened next, but the top end got completely rebuilt. The cylinders were sent out to be serviced and to accept R90 pistons, upping the compression to 10.5, and the displacement to 900cc. The motor purred like a kitten and ran beautifully. However, about 50 miles later the transmission failed and the bike had to be towed home. Since then the bike has been sitting on a lift with the transmission spread out on a bench.
The time had finally come to get this old girl back on the road. Let’s build a transmission!
My current two wheeled love affair is a 2002 Honda XR650R. I know I know I know, it’s not a vintage street bike – but I’ve certainly had plenty of those!
Adventure biking has really sucked me in lately and this is my do-it-all-everywhere machine.
I picked it up in Denver sometime in October of 2009.
I got a lift out to Arizona this weekend and picked up this Yamaha XS1100e.
I managed to lose my camera on the trip so I only have these low res cell phone photos for now.
It’s a 1978 model with 49,000 miles on it. Just had the valves refreshed and the cam chain replaced.
It’s idling slightly rough, but runs and rides pretty well otherwise. It has a few highly desirable mods for this particular model. The coolest is the replacement of the final drive gears with the gears from an XS750 triple. This reduces the highway cruising RPM’s by about 700 and improves gas mileage. You can also swap out the XS850 gears. They are not a direct swap, but simple enough that it is becoming common to do.
It also has Honda 3 ohm coils which removes the need for the ballast resistor. And the Yamaha Venturer auto cam chain tensioner swap.
It also has new fork springs, wheel bearings, fuse panel, and a few other pieces.
A good solid bike. It needs a little tuning still, but it hums down the highway beautifully. I’ve always liked these XS1100s.
Better pictures to come!
Here’s a photo of a XS1100 primary drive and chain. Look how beafy that chain is!!
I ordered up some superbike bend handlebars to swap onto the XS1100. I have put the same bend bars on many of my bikes over the years and always like the look and comfort level – I have long arms. I also ordered some new grips, oil filters, and air filters. This bike is going to be ready to haul some serious miles!
Here are a couple others I put the same bars on.
I’ve been out putting lots of miles on the Yamaha XS1100. It cruises so nicely.
I adjusted the clutch cable today and it really cleared up some hard shifting symptoms I was having. It seemed to be in adjustment originally, but these bikes like them set a little tight.
I cruised up the coast tonight – it was beautiful out:
Does anyone happen to know what the ratio is for the tachometer on an 82 Nighthawk 450? I need to replace mine and I found an aftermarket one on EBay that comes with a matching speedo that looks good. May need to replace speedo as well. I Just replaced the cable but the speedo is sticking. Can find replacement stock speedo on eBay but sadly no tach at the moment. The ratio on the tach is 1:5 and the speedo is 60mph @ 2240 rpm. I know the Yamaha’s and Kawasaki’s use a 1:5 ratio but not sure about the Honda’s. Would these work for my Honda? Thanks.
Hmmm. That’s a good question Matt.
I didn’t find the answer in my manuals. I’ll have to pass this one off to the readers. Anyone know?
I was just reading an article in Classic American Iron from a year ago posing a question about one of Joe Petrali’s flat track race bikes. I’ve been on a bit of a flat track kick lately and was just posting a few cool photos over in the forums, so I thought I’d answer it for them (since I know the answer).
They ask about the double down tubes on Joe’s bike (seen in the photo to the left) and ask why the bike same bike, which is on display at the Indiana Motor Speedway Museum, has only a single down tube (seen in the photos below).
The answer may be obvious to some, but it’s an interesting bit of history so allow me to explain.
I know I know, another Yamaha XS1100 post. Thankfully many of my readers are into them just as much as I am. To the others, please bear with me.
Anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows I have a predilection for Yamaha XS1100’s. I’m not sure how it developed, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important are the bikes!
I recently stumbled upon this spectacular custom built example and thought I would share.
I haven’t had a Kawasaki KH100 before and never paid much attention to them. But I just stumbled across this example being sold by a gent in California who used it as a display piece in his dealership. It only has 17 miles on it!
A lot of the road going 2 strokes of this vintage pull the fuel and oil directly into the crank. This creates a nice long lasting bottom end, but sacrifices performance. I suppose there isn’t much use comparing the 2 stroke technology of yesteryear to that of today because they are so sharply divorced, so I’ll spare you that for now. But what interests me about this particular model is the orientation of the carburetor. Where is it?! Do you see it?
Since I’m already on the topic of late 70’s Yamaha bikes and mentioned my sorted history with XS1100’s yesterday, I figure I ought to dispense a little information about how to build one properly into a long distance touring bike.
This is my 1978 Yamaha XS1100 that I picked up in Arizona.
1978 is the first year of the XS1100 and also the best in my opinion if for nothing else than they came with a kickstart shaft. They do not have a permanently affixed kicker, but one can be easily bolted on. They instead came with a small kickstart lever hung under the seat for use in emergencies. The later year XS1100’s did not come with a lever or shaft in the engine. The hole for the kickstart shaft was plugged and the space for the mechanism inside the cases was left empty.
A reader recently wrote in a question addressing my apparent lack of interest in the Yamaha SR500 singles.
Just stumbled upon your site, awesome.
I just can’t understand with all of the great motorcycles that you’ve chosen, how you don’t own an SR500. The xs650 is fun, the XS1100 is fast, the XS400 is cute, but the SR500 is just plain cool. Get one.
Well Todd, I certainly hope I haven’t given off the impression that I don’t dig the SR500’s. I am a man of all stripes and don’t hold prejudice against any motorcycle (well, I can think of a few…), and certainly not any single cylinder vintage ride.
The Yamaha SR500’s are wonderful bikes in both stock and modified form. They actually still produce them in a 400cc variety sold overseas – if only the American consumers would get their heads out of their asses and wrapped around a bike that doesn’t weigh 600 pounds.