1979 XS1100F Standard, bullet bike (2015)

This is my first XS1100 standard. They called it the XS ELEVEN. Some say it is called the Eleven because of the 1100 cc engine, others say it is because this was the first stock bike to break the 12 second quarter mile. The eleven ran it in 11.xx seconds, making it the fastest bike of it’s day!

The bike has been sitting since 1986! When the bike quit running, it had electrical problems. The owner replaced the ignition coils and that didn’t fix it so he parked the bike in the garage and left it there for 29 years! At some point during those years the owner  found out that there was a broken or shorted wire somewhere under one of the engine side covers, which later on it was discovered that broken pickup/pulsar wires was an inherent flaw in the 1100’s. By the time he found out about the problem , the bike had sat for so long that it had too many other problems for him to tackle.

My first impression was…It’s really dirty! 29 years of dirt buildup! But it only has 10,801 miles on it. (Because he only rode it for 5 seasons before storing it for 29 more seasons)



After a quick rinse off, overall the bike appears to be in pretty decent shape cosmetically, except for the rusted mufflers and the internal fuel tank rust, which was a significant amount.



First things first…A bath! I pressure washed the bike to remove 29 years of dust and dirt. It cleaned up pretty good. The paint is in decent shape and so is most of the chrome. The header pipes are excellent but the muffler are badly rusted through.



Some of the unique things about this bike compared to the specials (none of which I am sure that I like or not):

It has square headlights, turn signals, and gauges.

The specials have a 3 gallon teardrop style tank,

This one has a bigger and boxier 5 gallon tank.

The standard has a flatter seat rather than the stepped seat.

And it has chrome fenders rather than painted fenders.

A couple of cool things are the 17″ rear wheel which is preferable to the 16″ wheel on the specials and this bike has a kick starter! One of the reasons I bought this bike was to steal the larger black wheels for my Army bike.

NOW let the project begin! (9/24/15)

I pulled the spark plugs and squirted some WD40 in the cylinders, drained the old gas from the carb bowls and squirted some more WD40 inside them too. I’m not sure if WD40 is the best thing to use for that, but I use it for everything. I hooked up a battery and turned the engine over a few times. The compression checked excellent @170 psi per cylinder. The turn signals and horn work too.

Frank came down and we made the first attempt at starting this thing up. Put some gas in it and found gas just pouring out of the airbox. Which means the floats or float valves are stuck, which means it needs a carb rebuild. No surprise there because ALL of these old bikes do. It took some starting fluid but finally it fired and I mean “FIRED”! We had flames in the airbox! Not once but at least 2 or 3 times before we decided to quit before we burned down the house!  We did manage to get the engine running for a minute or two though,  just long enough to know that the motor sounds ok, all 4 cylinders were firing and there were no unusual engine noises. That’s always a good first step.

Frank told me about this stuff called Evapo-rust. He had good success with it on his Honda tank. So I made a couple of aluminum plates and gaskets to seal off the bottom petcock holes and poured a gallon of evapo-rust into the tank. I rotated the tank periodically throughout the day. As bad as this tank is rusted, it’ll probably take a couple of days or longer. Hope it works.


After 3 days of turning and rotating the tank,  I drained the Evapo-rust and was surprised that the fluid wasn’t coming out as dirty as I expected. A look down inside the tank with a flashlight was quite a disappointment. I had to look really close to discern if there was any improvement at all.  I decided that I needed to completely fill the tank and let it soak. So I purchased 5 more gallons of evapo-rust and filled the tank to the brim.

There’s good news and bad news. The 5 gallons of evapo-rust is working. BUT The tank is leaking now! I didn’t notice any leaks before with only one gallon in the tank. I can see one tiny pinhole in the front of the tank where there was a stone chip and there is another leak underneath  somewhere because the work bench is wet. I ordered a quart of Red-Kote tank sealer.

This process has become very frustrating. The evapo-rust works well, but after flushing it out with water, “flash” rust developed quickly. That wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t have to seal the leaks because I’d be able to coat it right away with oil or whatever. But since the tank is leaking and  I have to seal it, the tank has to be 100% dry and clean and oil free for the sealer to adhere everywhere. But if I let it dry, the rust forms again, and pretty fast too! Talk about the cat chasing its tail! So for the 4th time I de-rusted the tank and then quickly dried it and swished around some acetone inside, which absorbs all of the residual moisture, and then quickly began the sealing process using Red-Kote sealer. What a pain in the ass! Tank cleaning and sealing is a job that I never want to do again!


Eventually the Red-Kote job turned out good. Here is a picture of the plastic like covering that seals the inside of the tank. That was peeled off from my drain pan. It looks pretty strong and durable.


Next step as always on these projects is to clean the carbs. The first thing I discovered is that the #2 slide was stuck. The carb bowl screws were so  tight that I had to use pb blaster and vice grips to remove them. Once I finally got the bowls off…. What I saw was disheartening. Some sort of green residue everywhere, and some sort of putty sealer on some of the gaskets, and many of the jets were clogged and  stripped out. I was very lucky to be able to remove them all without drilling them out. The #2 float is deformed,  the #2 & #3 float posts are broken off. It is amazing that this bike even attempted start at all. What a mess!




Don’t ask me how I got this stupid idea! There are a lot of float post repair ideas out there, but none that looked easy. I’ve been playing around with different ideas the past couple of days. I don’t know if this will work or not but I’m going to go with it.



What I haven’t decided yet was how to secure the new brass ammo posts. They may not even need to be secured because the float bowl rubs tight against the posts and they really can’t move, but a small screw or jb weld would make me feel better. However I keep reading that gasoline will soften JB weld.


I had to file the float mounting tab to make it  fit between the new posts.


Then I soldered the float that was dented, which also had a cracked seam. Not an easy task but fortunately I have a good bit of soldering experience. I accomplished this by placing the float in a bowl of water so that it didn’t over heat. And now it floats!


I decided to go with Seal-All, a gas resistant sealer that seems to be holding the posts in place nicely.


Frank came down for the first live test of the bullet carbs. We got it started without too much trouble but it was only running on 2 cylinders. This baffled me since I know it was running on all 4 before. Frank asked me if I had charged the battery, and yes I did. “Did you disconnect the battery cable before charging it?”


He said well then you blew the ignition module. He did the same thing on his XS1100 and luckily for me, he bought a spare one. We got it running on all 4 cylinders and it smoked like crazy, but gradually less and less as it burned off. The engine sounds good!

The first test ride

Note to myself: Check the tire pressure before you ride!

The tires looked inflated ok but I almost fell off the bike before I got to the stop sign at the end of my street. The front tire was almost flat! The first test ride was kind of ok once I got going.

The good news is:

The bike runs ok and shifts ok and the motor sounds good and the bike pulls strong.

The bad news is:

It smokes like crazy and there is an oil leak somewhere on the left lower half of the motor. It seems to be coming from the left side above the footpeg/shifter area. Oil is splattered all underneath and dripping on to the ground. It looks like I am going to have to degrease and pressure wash everything to even begin to locate the leak. Maybe this latest project find wasn’t as great as I first thought!

After I pressure washed everything, I saw that the oil was dripping from the air box. All I had to do the first time was walk over and look at one of the other bikes to compare oil levels. Lesson learned! The crankcase was just overfilled. Now that I drained 2 1/2 quarts of excess oil, and inflated the tires properly, the 2nd test ride went much better. The engine pulls strong and the tranny is shifting very well.

October 31, 2015 (Halloween)

After an oil change and new plugs and one more test ride and after deciding that I don’t really care for the standard model as much as I like the specials, I am calling this project done and posting this good looking old classic bike for sale.


And 6 weeks after buying this bike, And 24 hours after listing this bike for sale, It was sold to a local guy who then resold it shortly afterwards to someone out of state.