NEW TO YOU XS1100:
Get a MANUAL for this bike. You’re going to need it sooner or later and all too often, later will be too late and serious damage will have been done. You can still get new after market manuals from many sources or buy one used on e-Bay. Factory manuals are available from time to time on e-bay and a CD version is also obtainable.
The first thing to do while you wait for your manual to arrive is give the bike a good cleaning. It’s a lot easier to trouble shoot and work on a bike that is clean. Cleaning should include an engine degreasing followed by a good wash and rinse. While washing the bike try to avoid spraying water into places it would not normally get to in normal use. If the recommended degreasing is carried out do not panic when you see smoke coming off hot engine surfaces when the engine is run for the first time after the degreasing.
The first thing to do is a safety check followed by safety related repairs or maintenance to make the bike safe to use.
1- Check the condition of the tires. Even if the tread looks good and is not worn to the wear bars that can be seen between the treads, the rubber may be hard, cracked or permanently distorted by improper storage. Most motorcycle tire manufacturers recommend that tires be changed every 4 years no mater what they look like. Getting the wheels balanced is also in order even if the tires that came on the bike are going to be used.
2- Check the brakes for proper operation, shoe wear and adjustment at the front and rear of the bike. See, you need your manual already. The brakes should operate smoothly and the brake shoes must fully release when pressure is removed from the front brake lever or the rear brake peddle. If ether the front or back brake systems are difficult to operate or the shoes do not fully release, a full brake rebuild is in order for the system that is faulty. If the brakes are working properly (be fussy about this conclusion) all that needs to be done is to replace the brake fluid in both systems. In the front, bleed the calliper that is the farthest from the master cylinder first. USE ONLY DOT 3 fluid. Just bleed the new fluid through the system until you see the new fluid coming out at the calliper bleeding nipples. Do one caliper at at time and don’t let the master cylinder go too low of brake fluid while doing this operation or air will enter the system and you will have a different job on your hands to get it out. Check the thickness of the brake shoes. There’s a viewing door on the top of each calliper for this purpose. There are wear indication lines on the tops of the shoes. If the shoes are worn to those indication lines, replace the shoes. If your replacing the shoes do them is sets. In other words all the fronts or both shoes at the rear. Do not replace the shoes on only one calliper of the front brakes. The bike will pull to that side during quick stops making the bike somewhat dangerous to use. Also note that the manufacturer clearly states that the brake hoses are to be replaced every 4 years. Given that the bike is rather old the brake hoses are likely toast no matter what they look like. They fall apart from the inside out. If hose replacement is on your list. Replace with stainless steel braided hoses. New Old Stock hoses are difficult to find and if you do find them they will cost about the same as SS hoses. SS hoses will provide GREAT braking power for this fast heavy bike.
3- Check the suspension systems for proper operation. With the front brake on you should be able to depress the front forks several time with the weight of the bike. The up and down operation of the forks should be smooth with no binding in their travel. The forks should also rebound to the normal static position each time. Unless the bike has been dropped or involved in an accident the forks will likely work as they are suppose to. The upper fork tubes must be free of rust, pitting or other damage through their entire sliding range. If not the upper fork tubes will need to be replaced. If the front forks are working properly your only job will be to change out the fork fluid. Do only one leg at a time or the bike WILL fall forward as soon as you remove the fork cap on the second leg. The rear shocks require no maintenance and are not repairable. The rear shocks should support you weight and any intended load without bottoming out. They should rebound to their full static position as soon as you get off the bike. If not, replace them outright.
4- Check the Steering system for proper operation. Make sure the handlebars move smoothly and freely from the full left steering stop to the full right steering stop without binding and without the handlebars contacting the fuel tank. The adjustment of the head set bearing should also be checked as part of the steering system. With the bike on the main stand and the front wheel off the ground there should be no free play in the head set bearing when you push / pull on the forks.
5- Check the throttle and clutch cables for proper operation. The throttle cable should work smoothly through its full twistable range and return to full stop when the grip is released. It should spring back to the stop position quickly and smoothly. It should literally snap back to the stop position. Any binding must be corrected. Binding can be the result of improper cable routing or the cable may just need to be lubricated. The clutch cable should allow for smooth operation of the clutch lever through the levers full range of movement. When the clutch lever is released it should return to its original position. Both these cables should be lubricated as per the manual.
6- Check the frame for any cracked or broken joints at all the wield points and check the lower frame tubes under the engine for rust through. This tends to happen on the side stand side of the bike if the frame drain holes have become plugged and water got trapped7- Check the lighting systems and horn for proper operation. Lighting system includes the headlight (both high and low beams), tail light, turn signal lights, front running lights, instrument pod lights and gage lights. All these systems should work with the main switch keyed to the on position with the exception of the head light. The engine must be running for the headlight to be tested. On the 78 and 79 model the front turn signal lights double as front running lights so they should be on with the main switch keyed to the on position. The horn should also operate with the main switch keyed to the on position.
8- Check the foot peg rubber and peg spring action for proper operation. The rider pegs should move upward when pushed up and spring back to their static position when upward pressure is removed. The passenger pegs are not spring loaded but should flip up and stay up when they are not in use. The rubber covering on both the front and rear pets should have enough tread on them to give the rider or passenger a good foot hold on the pegs. Replace the rubber covers if they are worn out.
9- Beyond what is listed here the bike MUST of course pass a state or provincial safety check before it should be considered to be road worthy.
The next thing to do is replace the engine and drive system oils and carry out a fitness check
1- Change the engine oil along with the engine oil filter. You will have to change it out cold unless you have a running engine. If you do, then drain the oil once the engine has been warmed up. The oil pan drain plug is on the front left side of the oil pan which is the pan on the bottom of the engine. Remove this plug to drain the engine oil. If you have a fine screen of some sort you can drain the oil through it so you can check for metal filings which might indicate an impending engine issue. The oil filter is in the engine filter bowl which is the circular bowl on the bottom front of the engine. For both these tasks use care to not strip the drain plug or filter bowl bolt threads. Let the engine drain for about 20 minutes. Wait longer if draining the oil cold. After the engine oil is fully drained and the new oil filter is installed in the filter bowl, fill the filter bowl with new oil and apply a little bit of anti-seize grease to the threads of the filter bowl bolt and the drain plug. This will make future removal much easier.
Install the plug and the filter bowl with new filter as instructed in the manual and torque them to the correct value stated in the manual. The engine oil filler cap is located on the engine clutch cover on the top and towards the back of that cover. The clutch cover is the largest engine cover on the right hand side of the engine. Refer to your manual and fill the engine with the correct weight, type and amount of engine oil for your current temperature range. DO NOT OVER FILL and DO NOT USE synthetic oil. This engine uses a “wet” clutch that shares its oil needs with the engine from the same oil pan. The transmission also uses the same oil supply.
2- Change the middle gear oil. The middle gear is the unit that is attached to the engine’s left hand side toward the rear of the engine. It has a Circular chrome cover on it. The drain plug for the middle gear is on the bottom of the middle gear case. It is up in a recess so you can’t readily see it by just looking under the middle gear housing. This drain bolt can sometime be tight but it’s a good sized bolt and can be removed with the right sized socket and ½ inch drive ratchet. The filler cover bolt is on top of the middle gear. It is a socket head bolt that may still have a small black plastic plug on the bolt to keep the HEX socket opening clear of debris. THIS BOLT WILL BE VERY TIGHT and often needs to be approached with a bit of additional leverage. First make sure you have the EXACT size HEX wrench or HEX socket and that it fits fully into the HEX opening on the top of the filler bolt. Most HEX wrenches are too short and too small to get the leverage required to loosen this filler bolt so use a ½ inch drive ratchet and HEX socket if at all possible. If you must use a standard type HEX wrench slip the piece of pipe over the wrench or clamp the wrench into the jaws of a vice grip pliers to make the handle longer and easier to grip. The middle gear oil is heavy so the middle gear should be let to drain for an hour unless it’s being drained hot. Even hot, 20 minutes is the norm to drain the middle gear. Apply a little bit of anti-seize grease to the threads of the drain bolt and filler cap bolt during reassembly so removal in the future will be easier. DO NOT FILL THE MIDDLE GEAR WITH ENGINE OIL. The middle gear uses special hypoid gear oil. Check your manual for the proper weight, type and amount of oil to use. Install the drain plug and torque as per the manual. Fill the middle gear with the right amount of the right weight and type of oil. Install the filler cap bolt and torque as per the manual.
3- Change the final drive gear oil. The final drive unit is at the center of the rear wheel on the left side of the bike. The drain plug is on the bottom center of the unit .This drain bolt can sometime be tight but it’s a good sized bolt and can be removed with the right sized socket and ½ inch drive ratchet. The filler cap bolt IS NOT ON TOP OF THE UNIT. The cap on the top of the final drive unit is the vent. DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE IT. The filler cap bolt in at the 3 PM position when you’re looking at the final drive unit. It is a socket head bolt that may still have a small black plastic plug on the bolt to keep the HEX socket opening clear of debris. THIS BOLT WILL BE VERY TIGHT and often needs to be approached with a bit of additional leverage. First make sure you have the EXACT size HEX wrench or HEX socket and that it fits fully into the HEX opening on the top of the filler bolt. Most HEX wrenches are too short and too small to get the leverage required to loosen this filler bolt so use a ½ inch drive ratchet and HEX socket if at all possible. If you must use a standard type HEX wrench slip the piece of pipe over the wrench or clamp the wrench into the jaws of a vice grip pliers to make the handle longer and easier to grip. The Final gear oil is heavy so the Final gear should be let to drain for an hour unless it’s being drained hot. Even hot, 20 minutes is the norm to drain the Final gear. Apply a little bit of anti-seize grease to the threads of the drain bolt and filler cap bolt during reassembly so removal in the future will be easier. DO NOT FILL THE FINAL DRIVE GEAR WITH ENGINE OIL. The final gear uses special hypoid gear oil. Check your manual for the proper weight, type and amount of oil to use. Install the drain plug and torque as per the manual. Fill the final drive with the right amount of the right weight and type of oil. Install the filler cap bolt and torque as per the manual.
4- Grease the Final drive gears. There is a nipple for this on the final drive shaft but most will not count on this to get the grease to where it needs to go. To properly grease the final drive gears you should remove the final drive unit and grease the gears by hand. This is not a difficult job to do and should be considered as part of the mechanical check up.
5- Check the swing arm bearings. While the rear wheel off for balancing or to address the final gear re-greasing job, check the swing arm bearings for free play. To do this you will also need to remove the rear shocks. With the rear shocks removed the swing arm should move up and down only and should do so smoothly and without binding through its full range of movement. You should not be able to rock the swing arm sideways or move it forward or pull it backwards. Attempting to twist the swing arm should reveal no free play. The swing arm should also not move side to side on the bearing pins. If there is free play the bearings should be inspected / re-greased and or replaced outright. NOTE: If you find yourself removing the swing arm for inspection or replacement of the bearings the torque for the swing arm bearing pins IS NOT 40 FOOT POUNDS as many manuals state. It is 4 foot pounds. The swing arm bearings are tapered bearings that do not take very much torque. Some say hand firm only for this type of bearing. The pin lock nuts can be tightened as per the manual s torque spec. Another tip to do here while the rear axle as been removed is to apply a thin coating of wheel bearing grease to the entire axle. This will keep the rear axle from bonding into the very rare discontinued left side wheel bearing made only for Yamaha that is part of the rear wheels setup. On bikes that have not been maintained properly and not had the rear axle removed in many years, the axle can become bonded into this bearing and often only be removed by destroying that bearing.
6- Check the air delivery system. The air intake system consists of the air box and its air filter along with the often overlooked venting hoses for the engine and carbs. The air box and filter are pretty straight forward. The bottom of the air box is removed by loosening the 4 wing nut type bolts on the bottom of the air box. There is one wing nut towards each corner of the bottom half of the air box. When loosened completely the bottom of the air box will drop down onto the engine for removal on the left side of the bike. The filter will be sitting on the bottom half that your removing. It should be cleaned with compressed air if it’s the stock paper type or cleaned with a mild solvent if it’s the oiled type that many owners use on these bikes. If it the oiled type it will need to be re-oiled after it is cleaned. Special oil is needed for this filter so off to the bike shop you go. The vents at the top front of the air box also MUST to be checked to confirm that they are not blocked. This will include the nipples that are part of the air box as well as the hoses that attach to these nipples. If these vent passage ways are blocked the bike will not run because the carbs will not work properly and engine flooding will be a chronic problem. It is easier to check these nipples when the carbs are removed which is the next job on the list which will be fuel delivery systems.
7- Check the fuel delivery systems. This check starts with the fuel tank and fuel petcocks. The fuel tanks on these old bikes are often very rusty and will need to be cleaned and or relined. To clean the fuel tank you will need to remove it, drain it and let it air dry somewhere safe. Once that is done remove the fuel petcocks and put them aside. Apply heavy duct tape over the holes for the fuel petcocks. Add a roll (50) of loose pennies to the fuel tank along with about ½ cup of light oil like WD40 or air tool oil. Close the fuel filler door and shake the fuel tank in a fashion that the pennies are slid around on the inside surface of the fuel tank. The intention is not to have the pennies bouncing around in the tank but rather sliding around on its inside surfaces to remove loose rust. You will need to allow the pennies to slide over all the inside surfaces so the tanks position will have to be changed accordingly throughout the process. It is impossible to tell how long this will take because no 2 tanks will be in the same condition. However about 15 minutes per surface should do a pretty good job. Once this is complete you will need to recover the pennies and flush the tank with more light oil followed by a rinse with gas. If the fuel tank is in very poor condition you might have to have it lined or replace it.
Now it’s time to check the fuel petcocks for smooth and proper operation. Many will just replace them with aftermarket units that are a simple on / off design but that’s up to you. Given that the bike is 30 so odd years old you will most likely need to rebuild the fuel petcocks but that job will not be covered here in detail. The rebuild kits are available and rebuilding is easy enough but GREAT CARE MUST BE EXERCISED to make sure they are reassembled properly. There are no instructions on petcock rebuilding in the manual and the provided pictures are crude so you will have to make notes and or take photos during the disassembly of the units. Once they are apart clean them very carefully with carb cleaner and SOFT brushes. Make sure all channels are clear of fuel deposits and fuel gum. They must be perfectly clean if they are going to work as intended. If you take your time and allow the parts to soak long enough in a good quality carb cleaner you should be ok. The screens also need to be cleaned and it’s best to do that with compressed air. The screens are fragile when old so handle them with care. Once the fuel petcocks have been cleaned and rebuilt reinstall them on the fuel tank in their correct positions (they are marked on the bodies as being left or right) and bench test them. Fuel should flow freely when the levers are in the “prime” position and no fuel should flow when the levers are in the “on” or “reserve” positions. Note that the lever should be treated like the hands on a clock when selecting its position. The lever will be over the chosen selection. If this test works the next test is to confirm that fuel will flow in both the “on” and “reserve” positions when a vacuum is applied to the smaller nipple of the fuel petcock. This can be done with hand vacuum pump with a SMALL amount of vacuum applied or with a long air hose and just suck on it but not so as to draw gas into your mouth if the petcock is not working correctly. It does not take very much vacuum to make the fuel flow if the petcock is working properly. If the fuel petcocks fail these tests rebuild them again or replace them with simple on / off units that can be obtained. The fuel petcocks MUST work as intended or you will have chronic engine flooding problems, Gas in your engine oil and other serious problems.
The next part of the fuel delivery system is the fuel and vacuum supply hoses, all of them. Check them to confirm that they are still soft, flexible and not blocked. It is most likely that this will not be the case and you will likely need to replace all the hoses. They can be obtained at small engine shops, bike dealers and a few places on line like e-bay. Make sure to replace them with the “thin wall” type fuel hoses as room between the carbs is tight even with the “thin wall” type.