1978 Yamaha XS1100E Standard (2016)

July 2016

Early on a Saturday morning, I headed out by myself this time, and returned the next day on Sunday evening with another project!

It was a long 2 days but after approximately a 1050 mile round trip, I own another non-running XS1100 without a title! And with the travel expenses and hotel cost, etc…it wasn’t cheap to obtain!


Sept. 2016

 1978 was the first year for the XS11’s and I’ve heard that this year model was the fastest of them all. I really just wanted to ride one to see for myself. That was the year that the XS11 broke the 12 second quarter mile record and earned the reputation as the fastest out of crate stock bike made.

Generally overall this bike seems to be in fairly good shape cosmetically, although it will definitely need to be repainted. The handle bars need to be replaced, as does the left handle bar switch which is broken. The tires are dry rotted badly. There are a few red wires cut or disconnected under the seat. I like the front fork brace! I think it will look good on my Army bike.

I hooked up a battery and was happy to find that the engine turns over ok. Though it tends to try to lurch forward a bit, even when in neutral. I’m inclined to think that it has a clutch problem, but then it could be a transmission problem also, which these bikes are notorious for.

The compression is ok.


I think the 90 should come up once I get the bike running. AND it does have spark on all 4 plugs. The carbs are not original; they are off of a 1980 XS11. The front brake calipers are in a box with some other parts. The tank has been cleaned and sealed. Overall, this looks like it is going to be a fun project!

I’ve been struggling with the clutch dragging and getting the transmission to shift into neutral. So I’ve decided to flip the bike over and take a look inside the transmission! The first thing I found was metal filings inside the clutch cover. The clutch spring bolts were rubbing against and cutting into the aluminum housing.  The clutch springs appear to be the wrong springs, they are too long.



This is what was in there:


This is the correct size:


I was hopeful that installing the correct shorter springs would solve the problem, but no such luck. So it’s time to flip the bike. NOT an easy task by myself. By using a couple of big C-clamps attached to the garage beam and a come-along,  I managed without doing too much damage.




And a view of the transmission :


After pulling the gears out I found that 3rd gear was seized to the shaft. I had to pound the gear off with a hammer. The shaft was scarred and couldn’t be saved. Fortunately Frank had a spare  set of gears  and brought them over. Together we dremel cut the gears and installed them. This is our second tranny job together and we’re getting better at it.

November 2016

After a long 2 month break from working on the bikes, it feels good to get back into it. It helps when things go right too. I was able to get the bike started up on the first try.  Even though it is only running on 3 cylinders and smoking like crazy,  hearing the motor running is always a good feeling. It’s not unusual for these bikes to smoke like that after sitting for years and years. That usually clears up in time. All of the cylinders have good compression and fair spark. But the number 2 cylinder is cold. The next step is to pull off the carbs and clean them. I always do that anyhow and in this case the carbs on the bike are from and 80. I want to put on the correct carbs for this 78. The rear master cylinder is trash. I bought a rebuild kit for it but I’m not sure that I can salvage it.

January 2017

A new year and a new start on this project. I lost interest in it for awhile. That sometimes happens when I am going through the braking systems. I finally got both master cylinders and all 3 calipers rebuilt. The front brake lines were missing but I had a set in the shed. The 17″ rear tire was badly dry rotted. I have a 16″ wheel and tire in the shed that I put on temporarily. Having a spare parts supply really helps out a lot. I’m almost ready for the first test ride but the high temperature today was only 18 degrees!


I worked hard the last 2 days to get this thing put all back together. The reason being that it was a really nice and unusually warm 60 degree January day. Perfect for the first test ride. I had to sort out some wiring issues first, but that went very well. I swapped out the dry rotted back tire. Put the carbs, airbox, and air cleaner back on.

The bike wasn’t idling very well at all and it ran like crap at low rpm’s but once it hit 3k rpm it took off and ran great! It runs strong and quick and smooth. The smoking diminished significantly. The new transmission shifted really nice and smooth through all of the gears. I’m confident that I can resolve the low rpm and idle problems with some rejetting, carb synching, and fuel air mixture adjustments. It’s just a matter of finding the right combination. So all in all, I consider this first test ride a great success.

March 2017

I’ve had a couple of these XS11 standards now and I just can’t get enthused with them. I just don’t like the boxy cafe racer style look that they have. So I decided it’s time to move on to the next project.