Of Minds and Motorcycles

The XS

"People call me a perfectionist, but I'm not. I'm a rightist. I do something until it's right, and then I move on to the next thing." - James Cameron


So I've been riding the 1979 Yamaha XS1100 for the past season, and everything is pretty well finished on it. I say pretty well finished because I have a bad habit of moving on to new projects before completely finishing old ones. Let's say it's in the testing phase of completion, which is actually pretty accurate. The rest of the work is a perfectionists game; you know, cleaning up the wiring and what not. But by gosh it runs, and it runs well at that.

I had been updating a bit on the XS11 forum: XS11 Forum Post, before I realized maybe this wasn't the best place to talk about my build. Some XS11 enthusiasts weren't too pleased about me chopping into a reasonably conditioned example.

"Am I the only one crying over the metamorphosis of a nice XS1100 into another machine?" - XS11 Forum Member

So rather than fight with the purists, it's about time that I review the last stage of the build on here.


When we last left off, I had put the bike together on a rolling chassis with the bare metal tank. Last summer, I finished the project starting with the seat foam:

I shaped the foam using a turkey carver and a grinder.



Then I had it covered in a leather vinyl by Fernando at Marlee Upholstery. No I didn't do the upholstery myself. But I pretended I stitched it myself with lots of #builtnotbought hashtags and lots of cool filtered instagram photos. Or is it non-filtered photos that are in these days, #nofilter. Or is it... aww fuck it, and fuck Instagram.


But where was I, yes, I finished off the cosmetics with some mesh grills a la Classified Moto. The front grill for this bike is totally a Classified Moto style front, so I have to give them full credit for the idea. I loved the look of it on their Kawazuki, and wanted to mess around with welding mesh together in different shapes myself. So this bike may not be the most original in all respects, but I think it's still a mish mash of different styles.



I also had the tank nickel plated by Jim's Buffing and Polishing in Scarborough. It's a bright nickel coating, so it did turn out somewhat shiny, despite not having been polished beforehand. I've learned from clear powdercoating the SV650 that the best way to rust proof a tank is still the old fashioned way; either by painting or powder coating with colours, or by plating it with nickel or chrome. The clear coat just doesn't last no matter how you do it.



I used a Motogadget M-unit as the heart of the electrical system, and began to wire the entire bike from scratch. I also used a RFID key reader to start the bike. I made my own system out of cheap ebay parts rather than paying an arm and a leg for the Motogadget M-lock unit. Since I had switched to modern carburetors from a ZRX1200, I used the control switches from the same bike to match the choke cable with the carbs. I wired up the hazard button to control the power to the reader. This way you have to press the hazard button in to engage the reader, turn the main switch on, and tap the key FOB to the reader. When you want to turn the bike off you simply turn the main switch off as you would normally. This means once the bike is on, you don't have to have the key FOB near or attached to anything on the bike.






Before I sell the bike next year I'll be making a wiring diagram to go with the bike so that someone can figure out what the hell I did with everything. Right now it just looks like a complete mess. I'll be cleaning it up as well.

If anyone is curious about how I wired everything in detail, please contact me.


I upgraded the rear shocks to a set of Progressive Suspension units. The old ones were actually still in reasonable shape, but I wanted to change to black shocks with a bit better response. So far it hasn't really improved the ride of the bike all that much; at least not in comparison to stiffening up and lowering the front forks. The bike actually handles quite well for a boat, which was much improved from the chariot like stance of the stock forks and springs.



Last but not least I painted all the leftover bits and coated the exhaust so the welded on sections at the back wouldn't rust.

And that just about sums it up.


Stay tuned for updates about El Citron.

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