—  Yamaha XVS1100A
By Trevor Hedge

I am not a cruiser kind of guy but I came away quite enamoured with Yamaha’s middle of the road XVS1100A offering.

Priced at $15,699 it’s certainly at the cheaper end of the cruiser scale for a machine of its size. (Until July 27, 2011, Yamaha are offering $3000 off, making the XVS1100A only $12,699! The cruiser bargain of the century).

There are not many machines on the market still sporting a pair of carburettors and a fuel tap rather than EFI but the XVS1100A, also known as the 1100 Classic, is not poorer for it. As good as EFI is for cold starts and precise fuel management, nothing beats a set of CV carburettors for smoothness when rolling on and off the throttle.

The 1063cc air-cooled twin is smooth and while not quite geared for urgent acceleration grunts away from the line or out of a corner with a relaxed but satisfying gait. Maximum torque is developed at a low 2500rpm.

Apparently the engine responds enthusiastically to a set of aftermarket pipes and with a little carb’ fettling a marked increase in power can be had for a modest outlay. I’m not sure I would bother. This type of classic cruiser is not really about painting black lines on the tarmac but more about just going with the flow.

Some of you would be thinking by now that I have gone a little soft in the head but the 1100 Classic just puts you in that sort of mood. I rode the machine back to back with the much higher specification XVS1300A and rate the more affordable 1100 Classic more highly.

I also enjoyed the 1100 Classic more than the Triumph Speedmaster and America machines we recently tested.

From both a price and performance perspective the 1100 Classic seems to offer a great middle of the road alternative between the quite gutless smaller capacity cruisers and Yamaha’s large capacity arm stretchers such as the XV1900AS. Priced at around 5 grand more than a V-Star 650, only 2k more than the 950 but a whopping ten grand cheaper than the 1900, the $15,699 (plus on roads) 1100 Classic marks a value sweet spot in the range.

The five-speed gearbox and shaft drive match the engine nicely although an overdrive sixth gear would prove handy on long highway hauls. At 110km/h some small vibrations are felt but keep under that mark and it is smooth sailing.

If you want to cruise around at those highway speeds for long however you will certainly want to add the optional windshield as fitted to our test bike. This takes a huge strain off the shoulders and combined with the optional hard panniers turns the 1100 Classic into quite a reasonable touring machine. It would be nice if those trinkets were standard as they really round out the package but unfortunately you’ll have to open the wallet further to up-spec the machine.

A reasonably sized and quite compliant 110mm of rear suspension travel helps to ensure the buttocks are suitably cared for despite the seat being perhaps a little softer than preferable. We never sampled the pillion seat but must say it doesn’t look all that accommodating.

The twin-disc front end and ample sized rear disc provide good stopping power but unfortunately ABS is not available.

Despite the huge 1645mm wheelbase and raked out front end the Classic steers well enough once outside the city but the relaxed geometry combined with the swept back bars can make inner city manoeuvring a bit of a challenge. Despite that, the 1100 Classic does seem smaller and lighter than comparable machines and a very low 710mm seat height also helps to offset those low speed difficulties.

This is a machine that is more about lowering your heart rate than raising it, and it did exactly that for me in a way that I found quite alluring. And for that reason alone this is my pick of the upper capacity mid-range cruisers.


Specs – Yamaha XVS1100A
Engine – 1063cc, air-cooled, SOHC, 75-degree V-Twin
Bore x Stroke – 95 x 75mm
Transmission – Five speed, shaft final drive
Seat Height – 710mm
Wet Weight – 285kg (full tank)
Fuel Capacity – 17 Litres
Average Consumption on test – 5.5 litres per 100km
Range – 310km
Warranty – Two years
Price – Expect to pay around $15,699 plus applicable stamp duties and registration charges

Verdict – ****

+ You can’t help but relax when on board
+ Looks and sounds good
+ At normal price is a comparative bargain amongst cruisers, with the current special taken into account this is the cruiser bargain of the century

– Seats could be better
– Typical cruiser ground clearance issues

(Until July 27, 2011, Yamaha are offering $3000 off, making the XVS1100A only $12,699! The cruiser bargain of the century).