Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Yamaha XS1100S Sport

Tue, June 29th, 2010

NOTE: The XS1100S was never sold in the U.S.

1979–81 Yamaha XS1100S 1.1 Sport
The XS11 was a mighty brute of a motor. Even though it was eclipsed by other bikes within its lifespan in terms of absolute performance, it is still a satisfying ride, with gobs and gobs of torque.
The shaft drive XS1100 was never a remarkable handing bike, and the 'Sport' version was not any more sporty. Today, most riders will find it takes an unsettling amount of effort to initiate a quick turn, and unlikely to inspire confidence once heeled over.
The original XS11 looked dowdy, old-fashioned, and chubby. With only minor changes that included a slimmer tank, very nicely proportioned quarter fairing, and the same black-and-gold motif as the Midnight Maxim cruisers that came stateside, the Sport model was a vast improvement. I consider it the best looking of all XS fours, even though the swirly-spoked 'italic' cast wheels are an acquired taste.
While the XS1100 did not enjoy the drag racing reputation of the chain drive Suzuki and Kawasaki literbikes of the time, it's a very strong engine let down only by weak electrics.
Two point deduction for not being a U.S. model. Another point off for its ungainly maneuverability. A great bike to take cross-country, for those who don't like dressers.
The only XS1100 that has ever appealed to me.
When people got sick of standards, America got UJMs dressed up in cruiser duds and Europe got theirs with faux-café doo-dads. Neither was better than the standards they evolved from, but European bikes like the XS Sport really look the business.