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:
I tinker and seem to have an unnatural draw to anything that’s no longer factory supported with replacement parts (I bought a polaroid camera the day before they announced that they would no longer be making film)
So I bought this bike a few years ago. It ran alright (had charging issues). I rode it into the ground and then stashed it in a garage for 18 months.
Now I’m learning how to fix things on it. The tank was a barrel of rust flakes and so I pulled and cleaned the carbs, patched a few holes and evaporust / por-15’d the tank. Now I’m dealing with some cross-threading issues with the spark plugs.
with bicycles the best way to chase squirrely threads is to come in from the side that hasn’t been buggered. Any reason this is different here? The plan is to tap them from the inside out. I’m also worried about all this black crap in the cylinders. Is there a good way to safely clean that out while the thing is apart? I’m not entirely sure I want to get any deeper into this engine at the moment (if I can get away with that)
Also – I’m replacing bolts as I come to partially stripped ones. Any materials I should avoid with the replacements?
p.s. loved the “just boil the hell out of it” carb article. unfortunately I had already pulled everything apart and cleaned it with carb cleaner, but I did boil the gummed innards of an old Eskimo desk fan from the 40’s that had stopped oscillating. Worked like a charm.
So I have the mechanical bits back together and nothing happened. I’m going to start trouble shooting the electrical problem, but I’m thinking I unplugged something (everything) essential when I was flipping the bars (rookie mistake)
I was going to rewire it down to nothingness, but I took a closer look at the diagram you posted for Cafes and choppers and I’m not sure I want to be that bare. I’m totally into gauges (at least the spedometer) and a bit nervous about my rectifier having 4 wires coming out of it.
I don’t have a starter (ok, so I have one, but it doesn’t work – the chain has been disconnected and “something else” is wrong with it . . . and I don’t care enough about having a starter to try and make it work, or even figure out why it doesn’t)
so anyway – one of the rectifier wires is heading into the starter . . . why? (diagram for examples)
The other two go into opposite sides of the alternator via the voltage regulator – anyway. at the risk of sounding dumb (which is better than doing dumb things) do I need the voltage regulator? It looks like I can remove the starter line and run things anyway.
Also . . . I’m looking into ordering 16ga wire to rewire with . . . should I get larger (lower) gague wire? – McMaster Carr has some heat/chem/cut resistant wire – worth investing in or just eff it?
Need more advice on this KZ650 cafe project. Bike is pretty clean but I am having the engine plastic bead blasted anyhow just to even out the look of the aluminum. Till I am done this bike is going to be mostly engine anyhow so I want it to look good.
On my CB 900 I painted the engine black with high heat paint as it was mostly painted factory black in 82 anyhow. But with the KZ I am wondering what sort of clear coat can I put on that protects the freshly blasted aluminum from oxidation while handling the heat without trapping too much?
My CB has an external oil cooler so heat is not a big issue but I’ve heard both painted air cooled engines are not a good idea to it doesn’t matter?
I like the Duplicolor Engine Enamel products. I find they lay down much nicer than the Rustoleum and other spray equivalents.
I wouldn’t worry about spraying too many coats of paint on your engine. CB’s do not run especially hot and a few coats of paint has little effect. Many of the motors came painted and clear coated from the factory anyway.
Last year my son gave up on this bike and asked me if I wanted to give it a try. He could rarely get it running and could never keep it running for very long.
I have no experience with motorcycles but decided to accept the challenge.
I am in the process tearing it down, cleaning it up, assessing what needs to be done, and getting it running and keeping the cost down until then. In other words, little is being spent on cosmetics at this time until I see if I can get it working properly.
I’ve decided to keep a blog of my progress just for grins and to amuse my friends, but it occurs to me that perhaps if some folks who actually know motorcycles take a look at what I’m doing, perhaps some useful advice can be gleaned. So, just in case anyone is itnterested, and cares to see how I’m going about this I’ll include the URL and maybe I can get some free advice.
Great looking project! You’re really putting some elbow grease into it.
How did the pistons and cylinder walls look when you opened up the motor? Did you happen to do a compression check. At first glance everything looks to be in decent shape.
I’ll give your blog a read. Thanks for posting!
The cylinder walls looked pretty good I didn’t notice any scoring or discoloring. The tops of the pistons had some carbon build-up, as did the cylinder heads. Didn’t do a compression check before I opened everything up…mistake??
I’m looking for a shop to mic the pistons/cylinders and check valves before reassembling. I should do this right? Also waiting on a gasket set I ordered.
Also, I’m wondering about cleaning the pistons and cylinder heads…any particular type of solvent I should look for? How abraisive should I get? Anything I absolutely shouldn’t do?
Wow! What a fantastic looking bike. You did a truly great job on it.
How is she running? Just as sweet as she looks I presume.
please take a listen to the video in the link and tell me what you think about the noise that’s almost like a backfire. OK? Bad?
also, near the end of the video there is smoke that is coming from the area of teh prechamber. anything to worry about there? it’s hard to see.
http://motorcyclediary-laprete.blogspot … t-now.html
Hey Iprete –
Sounds like there are a couple issues in the video. Number one – the bike is LOUD. You have no baffles. In my experience, you aren’t going to get any vintage air cooled bike to run well without baffles unless you put quite a bit of effort into jetting and tuning. If you are just looking for a bike to zip around town on I would actually recommend trying to get some real mufflers on there that provide some back pressure to the exhaust valves.
Two – Yes, sounds like you’re running only on one cylinder. This can be caused by all sorts of things. You definitely have a little exhaust backfiring. Pull your plugs after running, I bet one of them is wet. It’s either wet because:
A.) The cylinder is getting too much gas (stuck float, improper float height, way off throttle sync)
B.) There is no spark to burn the gas (bad spark plug, bad cap/wire, dead coil)
The bike is definitely looking great. Seems like you’re right on track. If you plan to keep it and ride a while I’d recommend a muffler that hasn’t been hollowed out. Even a cheap Dunstall replica will give you decent back pressure and help the motor idle smoothly.
Notes from a Reader:
Evanfell is 100% right. I have a Z750 twin which was doing the same thing. Gave the carbs a good clean through, changed mains to slightly bigger and baffled the loud exhausts. She runs sweet now. yours sounds like it’s definitely the carbs palying up
Wanted to do a Bobber/Rat but this just sort of happened?? Will be headed to Daytona with it next month for 2011 Bike Week.
Wow man, that bike sure is out there! I bet it turns heads everywhere. Big tractor seat, stove pipe exhaust, and bright pink to boot.
How did you go about painting the tank? Did you do it yourself or have a pro shoot it for you?
Thanks, Actually just got it done this winter have not had it out yet due to constant snow and ice! , I will ride my VStrom in some pretty tough stuff but not cold and ice.
I did have it out before final paint and details and yes, a few guys just about drove in the ditch looking over their shoulder as I passed by.
I did the paint work myself, wish I would have taken more time as it was my first job and it started off as a “rat” but I just couldn’t leave it there. I stripped the tank, etched primer (gray) , laid down pink rattle can, (applied a sticker lable from one of our wine bottles), then satin black rattle can, (removed sticker), then shot clear over with air gun w/hardner. Frame rattle can silver.
All the colors were chosen due to meanings (too much for here to list) associated with our fight with Breast Cancer.
The bike has a 10 speed tranny so in low/1st it sorta has “grunt” too. Lots of other parts came from local heavy truck supply place, led lights, head lights, etc.
There are a lot of little things I sorta “Ma-guyvered” along the way w/safety 1st then $$ 2nd.
I’m a farmer/trucker/Winery owner/Corn maze/Pumpkin Cannon kinda guy hence the way its done. My wife is a B.C. survivor, If selected for saftey crew I’ll ride it as an escort in the 2011 Cleveland 60 mile 3 day walk.
Wait till ya C the KZ650 when I’m done with it, however it will be more “traditional cafe'”
Awesome! Thanks for the details. The best bikes are always the ones with the most personal touches. It’s the whacked out looking ones like this that get the crowds around them at the rallies!
The paint looks quite nice in the video, especially for a rattle job. I generally avoid doing multiple colors because it’s hard to get the lines straight and balanced from side to side. You definitely did a good job there.
Ya know, it just sorta fell together, I’m not a real patient person on projects that was my biggest goal this go around (I got better). I used a lot of the lines that were already there in the tank design and just “went with them”.
If anybody else does this I wish I would have probably sanded a bit more and then pushed down harder on the tape on the edges more cause I got some “bleed-through” here or there. Buy a high quality masking tape (I bought crap from Big Lots, ) that has good glue, but get it off as soon as possible so you don’t lift the paint underneath.
I was going to use a “flat clear” but it was twice the price of gloss, (trying not to nickle and dime this project into big $$)
I maintain and care for my equipment but ride it hard too, this will not be a trailer queen,(except for the snow/ice covered miles between Oh and Fla.). Probably get scratched up, but I figure they’ll keep making paint!
I still give “hats off” to the pros, but if I’d have a “$ fancy $” paint job, I’d just drop the bike! I’m always going someplace I probably shouldn’t.
looking to turn my bike into a bobber really do not know how to go about it,do you think a shaft drive would turn out as a sweet bobber…this bike I hav had since new really do not want to let it go so really want a bobber and think it would make a nice one but never seen a shaft drive as a bobber if you know of any or have any pics would love to see them and any input you have would be greatly appreciated thanks bro looking forward to hearing from you Peace bro, Pete…
The quality of the finished project will be exactly as good as the effort and time you put into it. There have been tons of awesome shaft drive bikes built, the XS line is no exception.
I tend to like the bagged out XS1100’s myself, but I’ve always been an XS11 fan.
Hey I have an 82′ kz440 that i chopped into a bobber and i’m tryin to wire it the your diagram. this is my first bike that i am wiring. Your diagram is for a 4 cylinder and my obviously is a twin. maybe if you got a diagram for one you could email it to me. let me know!
The KZ440 is a great little bike. Should be a fun project for you! There isn’t much of a difference in wiring between a 2 and 4 cylinder bike, and if you go off ofhttp://cycles.evanfell.com/2010/03/simple-motorcycle-wiring-diagram-for-choppers-and-cafe-racers/ then you shouldn’t have any issues. The only difference is you have one coil instead of two.
Scored a mostly in tact 1981 XS400 earlier this week for a steal. Definitely a project but it looks like it’ll be back up and running (at very least) with not too too much work. Anybody played around with one of these before? I’m debating going street tracker or cafe on it. I mostly ride around New York City and up into the catskills/mountains. I’m looking to keep this on the cheap. Things I know I need are a clutch lever (ordered), a battery, tires, and almost 100% gonna need some cables and gaskets. I’m definitely doing a seat/bar swap as well.
Any advice on what you’ve all done before and had fun on? My other bike’s a 2001 buell blast with a bastardized cafe set up and it’s a ton of fun.
The XS400’s have great little motors, I’ve always enjoyed mine. I typically prefer the 1977 XS400 models because they are a more standard style rather than a cruiser like the later years. But they are good all around bikes regardless. I wouldn’t go ‘cafe’ with a cruiser if I was you, they never look quite right. Just clean it up, make sure it runs/rides nice, and enjoy it as is!
Notes from a Reader:
I own the bike as well. The common thing with the XS seems to be Cafe Racer. I can’t wait till I have money to make it worth something. The only thing I’ve had a chance to do is throw straight pipes on mine and do minor fixing up from accidents.
The only thing I have to say specific to the XS400 that I’ve noticed is the headlight is terrible weak if you ride at night.
I have a modified 26″ Bicycle which we STRETCHED 18 1/2″ are going to add 2cycle China Bike Motor 70cc to. :devil:
TO EXPLAIN WHAT WE HAVE DONE:
we lowered bike (top of seat is 20 1/2″ from street surface) because we are using 17″x3.50″ rear Motor Cycle rim, tire and 10G/36H spoke coupled to a Custom Bicycle hub. which has 6 speed free wheel gearing and disc brakes. the original BB or where pedal/chainwheel and crank were is now right side removable (2) chain wheels 42t attach by chain to rear wheel, 24t attached to new BB chain wheel 38t and crank which is 18 1/2″ forward from original location, to give leg room to pedal bike. Now on left side of bike on original BB axle is 18 or 22t free wheel to attach to drive gear on motor. We actually extended bike from seat post to front fork 18 1/2″ stetching out frame and then double walled all tubing. We are using a Honda M/C front fork (suspension) which actually let use use either 26″ or a 24″ disc brake bicycle rim and tire (Double walled rim) We were actual able to fabricate a bracket to mount caliper to and original caliper fork mounts….lined up perfect with rotor.
REASON FOR SOME OF THE ABOVE (OTHER THEN LOOKS :
What we have done is added freewheel to center BB to let motor sit still while pedaling and vise versa let the pedals sit still while under petrol power. (because of pedals it is considered a bicycle still and with specific additions is street legal with no license needed.
NOW THE PROBLEM:
When we extended frame we gave Head Tube more rakeactually just turned it over. Not wheel wants to dart here and there. (when you turn fork ground contact point varies) We had Nice 26″ x 1.38″ tire and rim. We switched to 24″ x 1.75″ and that seemed to improve handling, Why?
If we go to 1.96 width tire or 2″ or even 2.25″ will it continue to Improve? Is it because wider tire is more contact surface? With 26″ as we turned fork tire contact seemed to roll from center tread to off center. Could I even go to 26″x 2.25 or 2.50 and get same improvements? (would look more Radical )
Hey David – sorry for the delay – I’ve been out riding!!
Every bike, bicycle, motorcycle, etc will have a unique steering geometry and performance based on the rake, wheel size, fork length, and axle mounting position. The longer you stretch the front end of a bike the more the tires contact point with the ground will shift side to side when the handlebars are turned.
Ever notice that when you take a hard right corner on your motorcycle you actually turn the wheel to the left? Thats due to the offset, there’s not simple way around it. That’s also why, when you park your bike on the street you always turn the handlebars in, because the front tire will then be further to the outside of the bike’s axis allowing it to lean more firmly into the kickstand.
The slower you are traveling the more pronounced this effect will be.
If you want a more sharply steering and controllable bike, then bring your forks closer to vertical. A vertical fork is the only one which will not exhibit an offset in ground contact when the bars are turned.
You can also use a smaller tire, which again will reduce the side to side offset.
Keep me posted on your progress!
Hey Evan, I saw where you had done an 82 KZ550 so I thought you might be interested in seeing mine. Its coming along pretty nicely and it definitly has a unique look for a kz550. I can;t lie Im pretty happy with the way this bike is going. Let me know if you want any specifics! This pic is fairly recent, the newest ive got anyways.
Any comments good or bad welcome.
Hey Jon – killer looking 550. I love the KZ motors, they’re all great. If it were mine, I’d probably add on some handlebars with a little rise and bend to them. :devil:
What’s next for the bike?!