Driving report Yamaha XVS 1100 Drag Star
Star Trek II
After the brilliant success of the 650 Drag Star, Yamaha is now reaching for the stars with an 1100 version of the space glider.
What happened so far: In 1981 Yamaha presented the TR 1, a 1000 series with a two-cylinder V-engine. It didn’t lure a dog out from behind the stove – not least because of its styling that took getting used to.
So it comes as no surprise that the ancestor of all Japanese large-piston V2 engines shows a will to survive even on the threshold of the turn of the millennium: As the mainspring of the XVS 1100 Drag Star, it tries its hand at the old days of cruising – and thus has a good chance of to find his final destination.
The oldie is heading in the right direction: with 85 Newton meters, delivered at a speed of 2500 rpm, it convincingly stands for a spontaneous and confident start at the lowest end of its performance range. And it turns out to be one of the few large two-cylinder engines that refrain from shaking shift-lazy drivers from the lowest steps of their speed ladder. Above all, the 1100 with 61 hp is not a paragon of temperament, but is well equipped to show mobile roadblocks the exhaust in a nerve-saving brevity.
From the fact that it is an engine of the early years – air-cooled two-cylinder have largely become obsolete in the Japanese competition – the 75-degree V2 makes the best. It is easy to maintain, has cooling fins that are cooling fins, and impresses with its smooth running. On top of that, it is internally strengthened and its periphery has been modernized: Forged pistons in coated cylinders ensure increased thermal well-being, a newly designed starter mechanism promises an old weak point – Virago owners can sing a song about the vulnerability of this component – to clean up, and a Throttle valve sensor for load detection ensures a modern ignition map.
The docked five-speed gearbox with a wide spread of the gear steps is rustic, typical for cruisers. Engaging first gear is always accompanied by a metallic crash, the gear lever calls for energetic kicks. The power is transmitted to the rear wheel via an open cardan shaft, which directs the view to a characteristic element of the chassis – the rear wheel suspension.
Like the little Drag Star, the 1100 series has a rear section, behind whose hardtail look a triangular swing arm with a central spring strut hinged by a lever system is hidden. The XVS 1100 can only partially realize the advantages that such a construction promises compared to a conventional swing arm with two spring struts: With 113 millimeters of spring travel, it offers an above-average amount of flexibility, but – again typical for cruisers – it lacks responsiveness.
The front counterpart, which is 1640 millimeters ahead of the rear wheel, is better equipped in terms of shock absorption: the 41 telescopic fork plays fine over all stumbling blocks and offers above-average comfort. Admittedly, too little of a good thing has been done to dampen them. With vigorous use of the easy-to-dose and powerfully biting double-disc front wheel brake, the fork kneels violently, only to then settle back down to zero with a few naps.
With the XVS 1100, commuting is otherwise, thank God, not on the chassis program – as far as this can be judged after a day’s driving on winding roads in the south of France. What is certain, however, is that the great drag star largely suppresses other insubordination in its driving behavior: The long, heavy machine can be kept on course with a surprisingly light hand, surprisingly precisely, it spares the driver in tight bends with the genre-typical naughtiness, falling arbitrarily into a sloping position and thanks to the low center of gravity and the generous steering angle, it makes U-turns without footing an easy exercise.
Because a cruiser should be more than the sum of soberly assessed properties, the fathers of the XVS 1100 made sure that the sensual pleasure is not neglected. With success: From the driver’s point of view, the large, clearly drawn speedometer on the tank surface and the unobstructed view of the shiny chrome headlamp pot are spontaneous. Practitioners who also see a cruiser as a commodity will be delighted with the combined steering / ignition lock and the functional switch units – on the left even with an integrated choke lever.
NNot just because of that: the bottom line is that the large-capacity variant of the Drag Star is a successful addition to the cruiser scene.
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