When Yamaha announced their XS750 three cylinder four-stroke, it was acclaimed as an excellent tourer with the best shaft drive of any machine available. If one thing was lacking it was outright performance. Although quick, it could not match the top-of-the-range models of the other Japanese manufacturers. The obvious idea would have been to graft an extra cylinder on the 750 to make it a 1000, but Mitsui Machinery decided to go one better and so the XS1100 was born.

The engine of the bike is an air-cooled unit of just a shade under 1102cc and, with its valves actuated by twin overhead camshafts, produces 95bhp at 8000rpm and 66.51b ft of torque at 6500rpm. The whole unit is canted forward a few degrees and an oil cooler just under the steering head helps keep the motor running cool. Chain and gear primary drive goes to a wet-multi-plate gearbox and thence to a five-speed gearbox and the shaft drive which runs along the left side of the bike. The gear lever pedal is pivotted at the front so that it looks back-to-front but it does work in the normal one-down, four-up sequence.

Top speed of the big Yamaha is 138mph, and it will accelerate to a quarter mile from a standing start in just under 12secs. Fuel consumption is 41mpg.

The most awe-inspiring thing about the XS1100 is its size and mass, for it dwarfs just about everything apart from Harley-Davidsons. Once travelling at a few mph and the weight is forgotten, but it does affect the high-speed handling of the bike and the braking. Even though the Yamaha uses three 11.23m diameter discs, they are not up to stopping the 5641b bike repeatedly from high speed, although the 3.5m front and 4.5m wide rear tyres keep their grip. Although the Yamaha has a sprint-like turn of speed, it is primarily intended for touring as its high bars and 5.28gal fuel tank prove. Not having to adjust the chain every 150 miles or so is a boon for long-distance riders as well.

The styling of the XS1100 is rectangular, with headlight, instruments, indicators and reflectors all this rather odd-looking shape.

Standard equipment on the bike includes fuel gauge, a cut off switch for the ignition should the bike fall over, self-cancelling indicators and sockets for intercom, fog lamps or other accessories that could be fitted.