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-   -   Hey guys! (http://www.xs11.com/forum/showthread.php?t=42254)

Hak 06-07-2014 10:56 PM

Hey guys!
I've been on here for a bit some of you may remember my controversial purchase thread of a minty fresh xs1100 special lol

I ended up buying 2 xs11's, the special and a half torn apart standard with a venture tank, which was going to be my project build. Once I got the special out I realized these bike's don't really need a whole lot of 'hak'ing to make them awesome.

I decided to sell the standard I got and just do some simple (and completely reversible!) mod's to my special just to personalize it and make it more fun to ride.

So here's where I'm at! I got some clubman bars, grips, bar end mirrors, new front master cylinder (the O.E. one was sticking and I wanted to get rid of that ugly fluid reservoir..) Got a headlight cowl, seat cover and some different lights coming, and now I'm on to the good stuff...

The bike has some aftermarket slip-on's on it, they're alright so I'm just gonna leave em, but the carb's are all kinds of messed up.. It's about a 50/50 shot I'm gonna be able to take the bike out without it dying on me at some point in the trip... Pulling over and letting it simmer down and playing with the petcocks seems to get it to run.. so I ordered some petcock rebuild kits just to make sure that's all good, I'm ordering some pod filters from mikesXS (I did my homework on these and just want the look/sound of them so please nobody fight me on it lol) and I got plans with a local bike shop to get the carb's all cleaned and rebuilt. As much as it pains me to have someone else do work on any of my vehicle's I just am not interested in learning about carb's in the slightest bit and know that I'll never be able to set them as well as a pro..

Here's my questions for you guys! The suspension is clearly tired, I want to get a fork brace for the front, is the TKAT still available and is it the best way to go? Seems to be the common accepted best option lol I put an email into their website. I would like to replace the rear shocks/springs with some black unit's and see lots of options out there, but also don't really want to drop $400+ on them! So what's a good route to take, and would I get good improvement replacing just the shocks and keeping the OEM springs? Also, is it really worth while (major improvement) to replace the front springs?? Don't really feel like taking all that apart to rebuild if I don't have to.

Thanks for your input in advance, so far I'm really pleased with my purchase and now fully understand why you guys love these bikes so much! Happy riding

IanDMacDonald 06-07-2014 11:38 PM

Well, nobody is going to talk you out of specific mods to your bike, as it's your bike. However, unless you're knowledgable about jetting, I simply ask you to weigh the pros & cons of putting pods on, if you have a good-working stock airbox. I'm a huge fan of OEM exhaust because of how quiet it is (HUGE fan of Goldwing exhaust). There really are no benefits to putting pods on carbs versus stock airbox. And, some say it makes carb removal easier, but I say "how often do you need to remove your carbs?"

Anywho, cheap alternative rear suspension would be to pursue XJ rear air shocks, or some other system. I have CB1000 rear air shocks on mine, and they work well. As far as the front, some have put an R6 front-endbon it, others have put new springs and emulators in. The list goes on with functional mods.

James England 06-08-2014 02:16 AM


Originally Posted by IanDMacDonald (Post 442158)
I'm a huge fan of OEM exhaust because of how quiet it is (HUGE fan of Goldwing exhaust). There really are no benefits to putting pods on carbs versus stock airbox. And, some say it makes carb removal easier, but I say "how often do you need to remove your carbs?

I agree 100%. Raucous pipes do no good for people's ears or the bike and the OEM airbox looks, IMHO, far nicer than pods which, to my eye, look a bit Heath Robinson-esque. Also, I've often wondered..what happens when it rains?

Re carb removal. I read a tip on here and , since then, have never had problem getting carbs on or off. Just loosen, without completely undoing, the top mounting clamp bolts, slide the airbox hard backwards off the frame and it will then drop further, allowing the carbs to be pulled off easily.

It would be a bit tenuous to justify the fitting of pods by the fact that they make carb removal easier...as you say, it's hardly something one does a lot on a running, well-tuned bike.

b.walker5 06-08-2014 03:17 AM

Pretty sure he made it clear that 'decision made' on the pods, and he didnt want a fight about them, and he made no mention of ease of removal. ;)

Hi Hak. Theres lots of good low cost options around for rear shocks. From memory I paid around $100 NZ for black shocks and springs, and they worked perfectly well. MDM was the brand but they may not be available under that name in the states. I'm sure others will chime in with acceptable alternatives.
As for front springs, i replaced mine with progressives and 1" spacers. Some love 'em, some hate 'em, but unless you're into riding at a million miles an hour on the sides of your tyres, there's nothing wrong with them. That said, measure your spring sag before you go down the road of replacing them. All too often a change of oil, and oil weight is enough to solve front end problems. Tkat's brace is well engineered piece of kit, and well worth the money, but be aware that it will definitely change the handling and feel. I rode mine for 10 years before fitting a brace, and found the change almost uncomfortable, to the point where I took it off again. I didnt feel like learning to ride it again at my age, and was comfortable dealing with the flex the way it was.

natemoen 06-08-2014 05:04 AM

I would suggest different pods if you really want pods. They are affordable but people dopey that they fall apart.

As to the carbs, if you do t already have the pods on it when you broight the bike in to the shop, you will either need to bring the bike back to the shop and pay them a couple hundred more to do it, better have them check your valve gaps too cause that will throw your sync off. Oh and when you get it back and it still runs like crap cause they don't know what to to with a carbed, non computer controlled bike we can talk you through the carbs :D

For the rear your best bet is used shocks from larger bikes. If you want new shock that offer real improvements you will probably need to start in the $600 and up range. Front suspension, emulators and straight rate springs, another $200+ .

jetmechmarty 06-08-2014 07:12 AM

What kind of suspension mods you need depends upon how you ride the bike. For putzing around town I'm not so sure the fork brace is warranted. The cheapest decent shocks are at least $300. $300 to $500 gets you a performance improvement without spending far more than the entire machine is worth. Your only other option is take-offs. Some bikes come equipped with garbage, some get quite a bit better.

Your forks are equipped with ancient technology. They work, but not very well compared to many modern motorcycles. You can transform the front suspension for about $300 and bring the bike to another level. Stout straight rate springs will cost about $125 and cartridge emulators, another $150. The heavy spring won't work with the damper rods because you can't move fluid through them fast enough. If you do this there will be more load placed upon the forks under certain circumstances. The fork brace becomes more of a necessity and I think TKAT is the way to go.

Bonz 06-08-2014 07:31 AM

Here are your shocks, look no further. They are a straight bolt on, I have these on my 80SG. Inexpensive on eBay and work great. Nice look too.


Hak 06-08-2014 11:06 AM

Great info as always, thanks guys! Guess I'll have to find myself some of those showa shocks! Good improvement on a budget is exactly what I'm looking for as I'm not sure I plan to keep this bike forever and don't want to lose too much when/if I decide to sell.

The pods I am definitely set on, hence the don't argue me on it lol Also the shop that will be tuning them is very good, my friend used to work there and the talent of the owner is impressive to say the least, he's been tuning custom carb'd bikes forever and even made his own digital vacuum sync tool just to get that little extra bit of accuracy, but I appreciate the concern. The exhaust is going to stay simply because I don't really want to track down a stock system or anything else, and it's not crazy loud or anything.

I don't plan to ride it all that crazy, I already have had a few slightly sketchy moments cornering harder than I probably should have been on this bike. I'm going to track down some of those showa's and maybe a front brace and see how I like the feel of it, then decide wether or not I want to tackle the front shocks as well.

TopCatGr58 06-08-2014 11:14 AM

Hey there Hak,

Okay, I'll be the voice of the cheap bastard that many of us "ARE"! :p
The OEM shocks only had compression damping, not rebound damping. I clearly remember my new 81SH after I first got it broken in and was able to get into the engine's full performance, and was very surprised with the bucking bronco type ride I got from the acceleration causing the rear wheel being pushed downward and the rear of the frame being pushed upwards because the shocks didn't control/slow the expansion process! :eek:

I then rebuilt my bike in 1999 and was doing it on a tight budget and found the Partsnmore shocks, a pair for ~$ 69.00 or so, put them on and experienced an immediate improvement....mostly because the new shocks had both compression and expansion dampening! I ride mostly 1 up, only weigh 220lbs, but also have saddlebags/trunk bag, and angle iron frame for it all on the back. They still work just fine some 10 years later. I also have a TKAT FB but I have 4" longer front upper tubes...:rolleyes:...most folks lower their bikes, I raised mine being 6'6" tall...Bonz has me beat by 2" but I digress!
The FB did help to stabilize the front end quite a bit, but I still have the OEM fork springs....just measured them during a recent fluid change and they are still in spec length. I have 4.5" spacers...4" for the extra fork length, and an additional 0.5" for some additional preload/antidive/sag adjustment. The 81SH has air assisted adjustments, but can be difficult to set evenly, so I preferred to not bother with the air. I put in Dexron III type ATF fluid for fork oil, designed for ATFs, durable, non-foaming, detergent, and similar in weight to 10w fork oil, and cheaper.

Okay, now for the comparisons between a couple of different purchase sources...partsnmore.com and MikesXS.net.

On www.partsnmore.com site; Universal components for XS1100



Shock Absorber Set/2

#06-3647 $90.00 + S&H

Shock Absorber Set/2 Black body, Chrome Spring & End Cap 325mm (12 3/4") Eye to Eye 4 Position Spring Preload Adjustment Progressive Wound Heavy Duty Springs Comes With Bushings, Inserts, Washers & Spring Preload Wrench Universal Fit - Please be sure to measure your current shocks, and determine what style you need.
This site has a wider selection of shocks:

Same above shock on PNM(06-3647) on www.MikesXS.net are labelled Monza Sport, but are only listed as being replacement for XS650's for only $75.00. This makes me think that the springs going to be a little lighter/not as stiff if they are only listed for use on just the 650's.

However, this shock below is listed as just Monza Shock Absorber; but is described as fitting a bunch of other bikes including the XS11 as well as other brands of larger displacement machines, it's the same Eye to Eye size as the one above. However, they seem to be just using the Eye to Eye measurement as the criteria for it being able to be used on the other models, both smaller and larger than the XS650, but they don't say anything about it's PERFORMANCE specs aside from the same as the previous shock....dual progressive rate springs and adjustable preloads!? But they are MORE EXPENSIVE, which again makes me believe that they are made with either heavier springs or stronger dampening, otherwise they are the same shape/design as the cheaper 3641.


Monza Shock Absorber Set 12 3/4" (325mm) eye to eye 1974-84 +


Part #06-3607 $92.50 USD Set

Shock Absorber Set - (Monza Traditional) standard size for 1974-84 XS650 TX650's - Dual Progressive
wound Chrome Springs & Long Black top shroud with black shock body.
12 3/4" (324mm.) eye to eye., Includes preload wrench & set of eye rubbers.

Can be used as replacement on: Yamaha RD400 1976-79, XS400 1977-81, SR500 1978-81, XS750 1977-78, XS850 1980-81, XS1100 1979-81, XV700 1984-86, XJ750 1981-83, XJ900 1983, XJ1100 1982, XV1100 1984-86, RD250 1978-79
Finally, you mentioned ALL BLACK shocks..the above ones have black bodies and spring caps, but chrome springs. Mikes has this one, it's a little longer in length in 335mm vs. 325mm, but has black springs.


Shock Absorber Set -13 3/16" (335mm) Monza Sport all Black
Shock Absorber Set - (Monza Sport) for 1974-84 XS/TX650's -Dual Progressive
wound Black Springs with Black shock body. No top cap or shroud.
13 3/16" (335mm.) eye to eye., Includes preload wrench & set of eye rubbers. This look has proven to be very popular! Great look for chopper and bobber custom projects. Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda.
Part #06-3643 $80.00 USD Set/2

Hak 06-08-2014 11:22 AM

You guys are unbelievably helpful lol I wish every forum could be like this one. Thanks Top Cat!

Bonz 06-08-2014 01:14 PM

TopCat, what did you do to extend you fork tubes, or where did you find them off what other bike? At 6'11" my issue is the riding space as defined by the seat and pegs. Bars can be swapped around easy too.

On my other bikes I have built up the seat and lowered pegs or both, however have left the 80SG all stock as much as possible. Guess I should get a spare seat as a donor and have that built up. Adding 2" or more to the seat thickness when possible is a huge help.

Those shocks from partsnmore look like a good option! A guy might do a bit better on a used set of Showa's but it takes some patience to find a pair that looks really good.

DiverRay 06-08-2014 04:00 PM

Forking by Frank, http://www.frankmain.com/ is the place to look. He will make what you need at a reasonable price. The only thing I wanted, was NOT available!:( I wanted BLACK fork tubes, and he only does nickel plate.

TopCatGr58 06-08-2014 06:58 PM

Hey there Bonz,

Sorry, I didn't mean to short you 3"! Dayam, 6'11". :eek: And people think I'm tall! Anyways, DriverRay is correct, I got them from Forks by Frank. However, I jest a bit with my comments about raising it on purpose. Mine sits up more because my front end geometry is not stock. I had an incident just a few years after I got the bike home from Japan and then got out of the service. Had a front end collision with a CAR during my commute, bent the forks/wheel into the engine! :eek: That's when I decided to put the extra longer forks on it, always like the mild CHOPPER look, and thought it would accentuate it a bit. But unbeknownst to both me and the shop that was doing the repairs is that the front frame NECK had gotten tweeked a bit, bent straight backwards so that my trail was reduced from the stock ~6 inches down to only ~2 inches! So that's why mine sits up a bit more in the front than it really would if it had the OEM geometry. The easier turning characteristics were chocked up to the longer forks, and so I got used to it.

I have a photo of 3 specials in a row, standard forks, mine, and then a fellow that actually put on 6" overs, and mine still looks like it is higher than the one with 6" over forks. And remember that the fork tubes are still relatively small in diameter, and so being longer can also add to it's flexibility. The fork brace makes a definitive improvement in how it handles.

SO...what I'm longwindedly trying to say is that putting 4" over length forks on a stock Special may not provide as much elevation as what I got due to the normal rake/trail. YMMV!


Eveready1100 06-08-2014 08:14 PM

Easiest (and probably cheapest) way to get 4 inch over forks is to get a pair of standard forks. A complete set would be easiest, as you'll need the caps and springs to match the tubes.
Dismantle both sets of forks and fit the special's sliders, complete with all their matching internals onto the standard tubes, fit the standard's springs, fill the forks with the correct amout of oil for the special forks, then put the standard caps on the top of the standard tubes, which will give you a set of Special forks approximately 4" longer than stock, just using stock XS11 parts.

The only disadvantage is that you lose the air caps, but I've never run extra air in my forks since I've owned my bike, so it's no loss really.

TopCatGr58 06-08-2014 09:35 PM

Hey Eveready,

That's an interesting mod. What's more interesting is that the Progressive springs that folks can get are only made in the Standard Size. What I've read has stated that to put them into Special forks, you have to use a 4" spacer.

Anyways, Bonz, I found those photos...they were from an XS East Rally in '06, just uploaded them to Photobucket, so here they are. Mine is the green beast in the middle...and you can clearly see the angle of the fork tubes is more closer to perpendicular than the other 2, the front OEM and the rear one is the 6" over!



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