The Yamaha XS Eleven motorcycle, also called XS11 and XS1100, is a the largest, most powerful Japanese motorcycle produced from 1978 to 1981, powered by an air-cooled 1,101 cc(67.2 cu in) 4-stroke, DOHC inline four-cylinder engine mounted transversely in a duplex cradle frame with swingarm rear suspension, 95-hp shaft drive, and telescopic forks.
The XS Eleven made its debut in 1978 as the largest capacity then in production. It featured dual front disc brakes, a rear disc brake, shaft drive, and cast wheels.
In 1979, Yamaha followed the growing trend of offering a “factory custom” version of the bike, called a “Special” by Yamaha. Pullback handlebars, a stepped seat, a smaller, fatter rear wheel, a smaller capacity tear-drop gas tank, fully adjustable suspension, and altered frame created a factory custom, the forerunner of the modern cruiser. The XS Eleven Special sold well despite complaints about the poor ergonomics.
“…The XS is a Rolls Royce with a blown Chrysler Hemi motor…” – Cycle Magazine
In 1978 The bike was ran a quarter mile time of 11.78 s 1/4 mile @114.21 mph (183.8 km/h) (test by Cycle World). — not bad for Yamaha’s first four-cylinder, four-stroke motorcycle.
Darryl Flack of Motor Sports Retro wrote: “While the new CBX1000 and Suzuki were out and out sports bikes, the shaft-drive XS1100, affectionately called the “Xcessive’, was more of a muscle bike come tourer. Heavier than and not as fast as its rivals, the XS1100 did have one particular ability – winning races.”
The bike doesn’t have the same legendary reputation as rivals like the Kawasaki’s biggest Z and Honda CBX bikes, which means it’s available for a budget price.
Well-known British motorcycle-journalist Roland Brown, says in his book “Superbikes of the Seventies“: “The Yamaha’s lack of reputation gives it one advantage these days, though, in that a clean XS such as this one costs less than its more successful contemporary rivals – whose performance advantage, so crucial then, is far less important now. Two decades and more after its launch, maybe the XS1100’s time has finally come.“
Shawn Coffill of Campbell River, British Columbia, who brought the full potential out of a mighty XS, building a muscular, even brutal XS1100 cafe racer. While working in a CNC shop, Shawn manufactured many pieces of the bike, including a top triple, motor mounts, headlights, and even velocity stacks. Below, Shawn gives us the whole story of the build.
XS11 Cafe Racer: In the Builder’s Words (Shawn Coffill)
The bike was mildly modified, low mileage has done when bought, then the project started by stripping down to bare metal. I used the factory seat pan, shortening it by 4 inches, then turned up the tailpiece to create a bum-stop. A custom aluminum pan under the seat was made to house the electrics and a Full Spectrum Power P3 lithium battery under the seat.
The forks were rebuilt, tunes machined 2 inches shorter and a 3-inch lowering kit machined to lower internally. Progressive springs were installed as well. I worked as a fabricator in a CNC shop, so I designed and had made a number of parts customs. The top triple, solid motor mounts, velocity stacks, and headlight mounts are custom.
Custom-fabbed velocity stacks. The headlight is an 8-inch part from a Yamaha Seca and the rear wheel is from a Special that was machined to fit. Tires are Firestone Deluxe Champion…
An electronic 2.5-inch gauge from Acewell to keep tabs on things and a DOT marker light from a Bluebird school bus for a taillight. Fork braced, clip-on-ed, custom rear sets, a chrome baloney pipe from a Sportster. Built over three years.
Image & story credits: Bikebound