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Old 02-13-2010, 12:11 PM
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draketrumpet draketrumpet is offline
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Question New owner

I just purchased an 1978 XS 1100. It's my first real bike, and of course it needs lots of little work. I don't mind doing the work (I've done all but major repairs on my cars), but being new to motorcycles, I'm hoping to use this thread to post questions that a person almost totally new to bikes has, and get some helpful feedback. If I say things wrong, please correct me.

My first repair is going to be my blinkers.

When I was looking at the bike, I turned the blinker on, and it worked fine. Switched it tot he left, and it didn't blink any more, just came on solid. Now it does that on both sides. I'm guessing it's the flasher. I was miffed that there was a two prong in a three prong plug, but saw some other posts explaining that. Can I just stick any two pronged flasher in there, or will only certain ones work? The one in there now is a Wagner/Stanley 223 12 volt.

Related, the switch is sticking on the blinkers, making it really hard to switch them off manually. Can I just use some WD 40 in the little slot to loosen it up, or small machine oil? Or should I take it apart and spray/clean it.

Thanks for the help, excited to become a part of this community.
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Old 02-13-2010, 12:28 PM
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What may be happening is you aren't getting enough juice to the switch or the blinker for it to work. The XS has a bit of a weak charging system anyway, so at idle it may not be providing enough volts. Does it help when you rev it a bit? You could also be having corrosion at the connections causing a drop in the useable voltage getting to where it needs to go. When I first got my bike, I found that I only had 9+ volts getting to the headlight even though there was 14 at the alternator plug.

As for the switch itself.. just two screws on the underside of the assembly. Take it off and clean it up. Might be helpfull if you take a couple pictures as you disassemble the switch. Seems I remember having a bit of a time remembering the proper order to the pieces even though there's only like 3? I'd use some dielectric grease instead of WD-40 though. You can get the stuff in a little blister pack at the autoparts store for a buck. A little bit will go a long way.

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  #3  
Old 02-13-2010, 10:52 PM
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I would definitely take the switch apart and clean the insides. There are lots of little springy connections in there that move a lot, and tend to collect corrosion. Some dielectric grease added to the switch once you get it cleaned out will help prevent it from happening again. As Tod mentioned, it's not uncommon to have the flashers not flash when at idle. Cleaning every contact (especially all the ground connections) in the entire electrical system helps to clear up that issue. Changing the brake lights to LEDs helped mine too, at least for while stopped at a light waiting for a left turn.
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Old 02-13-2010, 11:32 PM
mro mro is offline
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Hi draketrumpet,

Quote:
If I say things wrong, please correct me.
As long as you have a sense of humor I might reply

Turn signals should work fine when engine running, even at idle.
All mine do and the only XS I don't/haven't had is a 78E and an 81 MNS.
Right near the top of my list of things to do on a new XS is to clean all the electrical connectors and fuse box ( a couple have TCs new box and Im adding one to the current project). Pretty good improvement. With a fully charged battery mine normally flash just with the key on. Ive replaced the lug on the main grounds on a few and that helped too. (actually replaced the whole wire as they can get short trimming back to clean wire XSpecially on the battery ground)

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Old 02-16-2010, 07:42 PM
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draketrumpet draketrumpet is offline
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12, count 'em, 12

So, I opened the switch box, and I didn't see any corrosion at all. But I do know there is some on my terminals that I'll take care of another day (darn law school getting in the way of my new toy)

But I was investigating a running light that didn't work and I found 12 loose end wires: 3 inside the fairing and 9 behind the instrument panel but not in the fairing. I was fiddling with a few of them in the dark and one of my blinkers got brighter, so I figure my blinking problem is a little more than corroded connectors .

Oh well, back to the books, look at it more another day.
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  #6  
Old 02-16-2010, 08:16 PM
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draketrumpet draketrumpet is offline
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Question Noob RPM question

So, the bike I've ridden before now was a 50cc, it topped out at like 40, 50 down a big hill (that was scary, never did it again). It had 4 gears and when I went 25, 4th gear always felt right. It didn't even have a tachometer.

Well, this baby is a little bigger. The red line is around 8500 and I have no idea where a good cruising RPM is for getting the most out of my bike. Around town I go 30 in 3rd at about 3k RPM, but I could do it in 4th at around 2k. So, my question is, when I'm not picking my gear based on how much power I can get out of it, what is best for my bike? What is best for MPG?

I tried searching the forum, but the best I got was don't take it to 7500 often if you want it to last. Check, not too interested in XSive speed as SWMBO would have my head. So, what RPM makes my bike happy?
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Old 02-16-2010, 08:21 PM
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CatatonicBug CatatonicBug is offline
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I remember asking the same question about 2 years ago.

The main jets in the carbs kick in at about 2-2.5K rpm. Really, anywhere between 3-4k in town is comfy for me, and a bit higher once I'm out on the slab. It may not be the "perfect" number, but it works for me.
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1980 XS850SG - Sold
1981 XS1100LH Midnight Special (Sold) - purchased 9/29/08
Fully Vetterized and Dynojet Kit added, Heated Grips, Truck-Lite LED headlight, Accel Coils, Irridium plugs, TKAT Fork Brace, XS850LH Final Drive & Black SS Brake lines from Chacal.
Here's my web page devoted to my bike! XS/XJ User's Manuals there, and the XJ1100 Service Manual and both XS1100 Service manuals (free download!).

Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot - You're right.
-H. Ford
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Old 02-16-2010, 09:27 PM
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You can run it as low as 1,000 RPM, if you want. The vacuum advance/retard on the bike allows it to work well in a WIDE range of RPM's. I usually run my bikes in 3rd or 4th around town, and I'm in 5th by 45MPH. Most of the people here don't run their bikes at that low an RPM, but I DO get almost 40MPG on my 80MNS.
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  #9  
Old 02-17-2010, 06:41 AM
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oseaghdha oseaghdha is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by draketrumpet View Post
So, the bike I've ridden before now was a 50cc, it topped out at like 40, 50 down a big hill (that was scary, never did it again). It had 4 gears and when I went 25, 4th gear always felt right. It didn't even have a tachometer.

Well, this baby is a little bigger. The red line is around 8500 and I have no idea where a good cruising RPM is for getting the most out of my bike. Around town I go 30 in 3rd at about 3k RPM, but I could do it in 4th at around 2k. So, my question is, when I'm not picking my gear based on how much power I can get out of it, what is best for my bike? What is best for MPG?

I tried searching the forum, but the best I got was don't take it to 7500 often if you want it to last. Check, not too interested in XSive speed as SWMBO would have my head. So, what RPM makes my bike happy?
I usually run around 3-4K. The bike shifts smoothly, and there is enough torque to squirt between cars and get away from idiots.
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  #10  
Old 02-17-2010, 06:46 AM
vileneeds vileneeds is offline
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Good information

Thanks guys. This was going to be in my future posts.
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:49 PM
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draketrumpet draketrumpet is offline
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Pictures!

So, I finally got my camera out by my bike and took way too many pictures. Oh, and more good news. All those disconnected wires, two of them were somehow connected to the blinking thing, so that's all working now. And it turns out there were at least 15 loose wires (I stopped counting once I realized one of them just made the blinker blink).

Now, to the pictures:

Missing from these pics are the matching saddle bags. They were detached when I got the bike, and are a wee bit filthy. PO said something about the latches being broken, but I'm unsure if he was referring to part of the attaching mechanisms or the lid latches as they looked ok. I'll worry about those later.


Now, I believe this bike has seen a lot of sun due to the discoloring on the fairing. I think it is an original fairing that came with the bike, but you guys are the experts, not me. You can also see that the trunk has been well used. Curious about that other bike? Check the other bikes forum for an upcoming post.


I'm not sure if the bike has ever been laid down, but there that nice mark along the fairing. Not sure how I feel about the highway pegs, but I haven't ridden more than 2 miles without needing to shift yet.


Did I mention, I finally got it up on the center stand! The first time I had to grab both sides of the seat. This time was easier.


There is a little corrosion on that connector, but that's on the list of things to do later. So far, now that the blinkers are fixed, electrical seems to be fine, but I haven't tried the cigarette lighter yet... Also not a stock flasher, but one of those is in the works thanks to nice forum member.


If you look where the VIN is on the engine, it looks like I have a little gas leak. More on that in a sec. Could someone pleas explain the fuel line switches to me? I think I know what the different positions are for, but I'm not sure. You can see that nice black oil too. Don't worry, that's next on my list.


So, I believe that carb in position 1 has a bit of fuel dripping somewhere. I have no idea where. If that is what is leaking, I have no idea how it gets over to the right side of the bike.


Here is part of my mess of wires I get to deal with behind the instrument panel . At least the blinkers and running lights are working fine.


What is supposed to go on the bracket at the top left of the battery? connectors here are decent, just some rust on the one end.


Personally, I think the fairing is kind of ugly. Is it hard to take off? It looks real complicated to me the noob. I have enjoyed the windshield though. Now the tire well (I don't know what else to call it, tire guard?) is an aftermarket ugly thing. As best I can tell, my forks are stock, but I don't have the brace thingy.


If y'all see something that looks wrong in any of these, please tell me.


Those tube thingys on the left are a bit cracked, but the ones on the right are new. I know the PO had just done a bit of cleaning in the carbs. Is this where I saw somewhere to spray wd40 and see if the engine revs to know if I need to replace them?


PO also said he cleaned the tank out recently.


After the oil change, I'm going to get a new seal. It's got some cracks, and the tank 'sings' to me whenever I park it.


I'll have to get a new side cover too, or figure out some way to make the latch work again.


Discs look a little ridgy, but feel mostly smooth.


Anyone know a good way to get stickers off of forks without scratching the forks off or breaking fingernails?


Pretty sure those are the original pipes too.


Yeah, that trunk has a lot of sun rot on the top .


Not sure what the stock seat feels like, but this one sure is comfortable.


I find the purposefully dented pipes amusing.


Yeah, that thing is pretty sun rotted too. Do you think I need to replace it? Also, right above the starter button there is a 'lights' switch with 'on' and 'off' settings. Is that switch supposed to do anything?

Well, I hope I haven't bored you to tears with all these pictures. Please don't feel obligated to respond to any/all of those questions. However, I will be very appreciative of any you do answer.

Thanks for looking!
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:44 PM
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madmax-im madmax-im is offline
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Hi Drake...Welcome to the site...I am almost certain that fairing was not from the factory. In '78 they just didnt come with them...some previous owner put it on. On the whole the bike looks pretty good. There looks to be a fair bit of rust..particularly on the gas tank filler area...you might have more in the tank itself...there are threads dealing with how to remove the rust.No doubt you'll have to clean the carbs too...check the tech tips as well... If this is your 1st big bike...be aware that these are big and heavy machines. In their day they were the fastest production bikes on the market. Even today an XS in good tune can still run with 90% of todays bikes. If you have no real riding experiences aside from 50cc machine I suggest you invest in a Motorcycle safety foundation BRC (beginners riding course) and a good helmet and jacket. You have found the best site dedicated to keeping these bikes alive and well. Best of luck and dont be afraid to ask questions if you cant find what you need to know....BTW those rubber intake boots on the carbs look bad...if the right side was replaced then i would do the left side as well
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Last edited by madmax-im; 02-17-2010 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:50 PM
crazy steve crazy steve is offline
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....I think it is an original fairing that came with the bike, but you guys are the experts, not me.

That's the 'factory' Pacifico fairing, but these were either dealer or owner installed at the time. Yours looks like it was added later due to different fading.

....Could someone please explain the fuel line switches to me? I think I know what the different positions are for, but I'm not sure.

There's 3 postitions: 'ON', which is where you want to leave it, as this automatically turns the fuel on when the bike is running, off when it's not. 'RES' is reserve (if you run out on 'ON'), 'PRI' is prime; the fuel is on all the time.

....Personally, I think the fairing is kind of ugly. Is it hard to take off? It looks real complicated to me the noob. I have enjoyed the windshield though. Now the tire well (I don't know what else to call it, tire guard?) is an aftermarket ugly thing. As best I can tell, my forks are stock, but I don't have the brace thingy.

It's not all that hard to remove, but you'll need a headlight bucket, mounting ears for same, front turn signals w/mounts, and maybe some wiring harness bits. All this stuff was removed for the fairing, so unless you got these as 'spare parts', you'll need to pick these up. Yeah, that front fender is pretty ugly, so I'd ditch that too. These are all over Ebay or contact Andreas. Make sure you get one for a 'standard', as the special fenders won't fit. Your forks are stock. In fact, the whole bike looks pretty unmolested and in very decent shape all-in-all.

...Those tube thingys on the left are a bit cracked, but the ones on the right are new. I know the PO had just done a bit of cleaning in the carbs. Is this where I saw somewhere to spray wd40 and see if the engine revs to know if I need to replace them?

The intake rubbers could look better, but if they're not cracked all the way though, paint 'em with plasti-dip and they'll be fine.

...I'll have to get a new side cover too, or figure out some way to make the latch work again.

It looks like you still have the 'tab' on the cover, so try fixing/lubricating the latch.

...Pretty sure those are the original pipes too.

Yep, they are. Not in that bad shape either it looks like.

...Yeah, that thing is pretty sun rotted too. Do you think I need to replace it? Also, right above the starter button there is a 'lights' switch with 'on' and 'off' settings. Is that switch supposed to do anything?

The sun-dried master cylinder resevoir is pretty common, and good 'standard' model replacements seem to be hard to come by. You can't use a 'special' piece, as it mounts entirely different even though it looks the same from the outside. I think that some of the other XS models use the same resevoir, so that may be worth a look. If the cosmetics of it don't bother you, it's probably ok. And no, the on-off switch doesn't do anything, as there's a relay that automatically turns the lights on when the bike starts.

'78E original owner
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:19 PM
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If the bags are vetter detachables, throw a strap through the handles and over the seat to make sure you don't lose one. I wouldn't doubt what the PO said about the mounts...
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  #15  
Old 02-18-2010, 05:13 AM
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oseaghdha oseaghdha is offline
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The missing piece from the top left of the battery is.................THE THING THAT HOLDS THE BATTERY IN!

It's a diagonal piece of strap steel that tabs into a slot at the bottom right and bolts to the part that goes across the top of the battery. You should get one. It actually just clamps the top bar down. Your battery probably wont fall out because of the + cable, but it keeps it from bouncing around.

You probably need to rebuild the petcocks (fuel switches?)
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