|Bob Jones of MerriamCycle: What makes the XS11 the Best Bike EVER?|
This is from the Bob Jones Merriam Cycle site.....No wonder I never wanted a HD. Haha We still have one of the best bikes ever made!
2. It had to be a shaft drive without torque reaction
3. It had to be faster than a Z1 in the ¼ mile
4. It had to carry more than a GoldWing
5. It had to handle like a road racer
6. It had to last almost indefinitely
7. It had to perform well at any altitude
8. It had to be easy to ride in traffic
9. It had to be above all, easy to repair if it did break
Could it? Will it? (Does it? Do all of those things?)
You tell me, it’s 28 years later and even now there isn’t anything out there that has all of its capabilities in one bike. They made a big effort since to limit each new model to a specific job or purpose and they can’t do much of anything else. That leaves the XS Eleven right where it started, at the top of the heap.
Yamaha, in the XS750 Triple, had already accomplished the removing of side torque reaction from a drive-shaft bike. In the XS Eleven they went a step further, by making the engine rotate backward. The torque made by the turning crankshafts centrifugal force that might twist the handlebar out of your hands on a BMW, Honda CX or Motoguzzi was turned into a positive thing. It puts the torque reaction onto the back tire while the crank is spinning that direction. That’s like putting a bunch of sand bags in the back of your pickup. You know, those vehicles that go sideways on wet pavement from wheel spin, like a Corvette can do on the dry.
An XS Eleven will get better traction from this feature and is harder to wheelie than other bikes. However, if you lean over as you accelerate in low it will still squirt the rear end right out from under you. I have permanent injuries to prove that.
There is plenty more that makes the XS Eleven the best. The seven spoke cast aluminum wheels for instance. This design is so strong that I built “Street Sleeper” from a crashed 1980 Standard that suffered and impact so strong that it bent the frame and forks. I used the original wheels, engine and drive train on a 1978 frame and forks. The wheels were still in perfect condition after a crash like that. Try that on any 3 spoke mag type wheel of late, no chance.
A Wiseco big bore 1196cc kit was installed in my original long miles XS Eleven at 80,000 on the odometer. It developed some piston slap after another 80,000 miles. I figured it would require another set of cylinders to be bored and another kit. I disassembled the engine top end and ordered new pistons. Upon their arrival I slipped one in a cylinder and measured the clearance. It was still .002, which was in spec. The cylinder metal had no appreciable wear on it. I only scratch honed the cylinder barrels, so the new rings would reseat and reassembled the top end with the new pistons. It’s still running today with 219,300 on it. It sounds like the same thing has happened again. It’s still got a couple more long trips in it, but I plan to freshen it up again soon. Still, when you can cruise at 90mph and carry 8 pieces of gear for 100,000 miles, who cares? I’ll take that kind of reliability any day of the week for all that power. I’d certainly rather take an XS Eleven apart as opposed to a water cooled over complicated anything else. If some of you disagree with that, no problem. You do yours when it’s due and I’ll do mine. We’ll see how you feel after that. You’ll more than likely just buy another new bike. That’s just one of many reasons that I say the XS Eleven is the best. I’m just as thrilled each time I ride mine, as I was the first day I got it. If other bikes can do that then why are the papers full of them for sale?
I just installed the third new cam chain in this same bike at 216,000 miles. If you buy a copy of my book, “XS ELEVEN HEAVEN” By Bob Jones you’ll find a lot of useful information about the maintenance of cam chains and their adjusting device. Not to speak of many other things.
Why is the XS Eleven in a class by itself? Up until its creation no one company had tried to make an all round superior and versatile motorcycle. By 1977 most everyone had made their best effort and Yamaha knew what had to be done in every category to create such a bike. Once it was built and sold. Well, the other three Japanese companies saw it was unique in every way and a good idea and they didn’t have one. They hurriedly added on the drive shaft feature to their already existing chain drive inline transverse fours. This gave them competitive models to the XS Eleven, but they inherited all of the same problems and weaknesses of there chain drive predecessors and weren’t even close in any other department.
The buying, riding public had no way of knowing this though. They didn’t even have any way of finding it out. Dealers, even myself, were ignorant of the facts, so who would point it out?
After a 4-year run with the XS Eleven and the use of the engine in the XJ1100 Maxim in 1982. Yamaha then realized it was actually too good and would virtually last too long. After the crash of 1982, that left models from that year in show rooms and in warehouses for 5 years, it was obvious riders had to be resold. How can you do that if the bikes they have would last a lifetime? Yamaha then jumped on the bandwagon with everyone else. Everyone was making a lot of noise with and about V-Twins and V-Fours. They first produced the Viragos and then the Venture Royal and the V-Max, which is basically the same engine with a few hop up goodies in it. It’s still in production today 20 years later. Both are cumbersome and virtually one-purpose bikes.
The tourer can’t cross over the line to anything else because it’s too big and cumbersome. The V-Max may be a handful in a straight line, but it just doesn’t cut it in fast turns. Plus there’s not enough gas on board to actually go very far. We recently had one in our shop for repairs. It was a basket job and I doubt anyone else would even have taken it in. They have electronic V-Boost and a host of other such parts too numerous to mention that are very fradual and make them very costly to repair. All are a far cry from Yamaha’s best effort ever. (The XS Eleven)
After the mid eighties planned obsolescence went into all motorcycles, except Harley’s they were already obsolete. Ha Ha, did I say that?
I have a customer in Germany who has an electronics factory. He told me that a few years ago Japanese motorcycle company executives came in and wanted some relays made to put into their new bikes. He didn’t say which brand, but they asked how many functions these parts would make? He told them 100,000 and they said “ Well, we don’t want that, we only want 10,000.” Get the picture? They learned it from the car people.
At 10,000 functions every component on your shiny new bike will start to fail. That alone will total the bike if you don’t crash it first. That will definitely total it. I haven’t fixed a wreck in years, except for XS Elevens. Insurance companies won’t pay for it. They just total anything that’s crashed. The bikes were never meant to hold up in a crash or even in long time constant use. The materials aren’t strong enough.
There are no components in an XS Eleven built with these new rules. The best of everything known at the time was employed in its design and construction. Previous to it the technology was not there.
No matter what the mythical they make now, the mindset used on the XS Eleven will not be employed. Not to speak of government intervention for pollution, power and other so called abuses. This leaves the XS Eleven as a loner, one of a kind. The best all round motorcycle ever made and that ever will be made. So the next time someone asks you why is the XS Eleven better than anything else? Well, now you know.
I was in their face for three years until they built it and it will never die until I do and I doubt even then if it will. People who have them will end up having to leave them to someone else since they will most likely outlast their owners. Even now I deal with many people who have inherited the XS Elevens that they have."
END OF EXPLANATION