The Yamaha XS1100 was Yamaha's answer to the ever-growing superbike cult of the 1970s. Honda started it back in 1968 and arguably Kawasaki and Suzuki jointly put a full stop on it come the turn of the next decade, with the Yamaha adding a bit of spice during the latter part.
The Yamaha XS1100 was a good sound engineering exercise in how a motorcycle should be built, its powerhouse engine was housed in a strong steel chassis with a titanic shaft drive keeping the horsepower in check as they were transferred to the rear wheel. The only trouble in the weight that all this overkill created, the Yamaha XS1100 is certainly no lightweight, especially when compared to its rivals and it showed when viewed alongside the opposition.
The type was a popular model in the USA however, where long roads span out for mile upon mile making the ow maintenance Yamaha a breeze to cruise the highways. Unlike the other big motorcycles, the engine was tuned to give massive spread of power and peaked around 8,000rpm, this allied to a wide and flat torque curve gave the rider a huge punch with each and every gear shift. Although not a pure sports machine by any stretch of the imagination the Yamaha XS1100 did have considerable success on the race tracks of the southern hemisphere. In the year it was launched, the Yamaha XS1100 took the chequered flag in the prestigious Castrol Six Hour race and several more long distance speed events, too Fighting against more likely racer machinery like the Suzuki GS1000, the big Yamaha stole the show thanks to its super reliability and huge fuel capacity. The Yamaha needed at least one less fuel stop over the race distance and this along with the spirited riding of Roger Heyes and Jim Budd took the big machine to a stunning win.
Honda was also present with their new six-pot CBX, but it suffered tire wear problems leaving the Yamaha XS1100 to romp home unchallenged.