1971 Yamaha XS1B 650 Twin

1971 Yamaha

Today’s bike is my 1971 Yamaha XS1B. This example is a survivor and not a restore. I only wish I could age this gracefully… she is now 44 Years Old! Original paint, original chrome, and those gauges are the same ones that have been looking back since coming out of the factory’s crate 44 long years ago. I, like her previous owners have smiled back at those gauges every time she takes us down the road.

showing gauges

Ok, go backwards………………pure and simple. If you remember these, you’re either gray haired, have no to little hair, or you’re sneaking bottles of hair coloring into the house! The year was 1971 and you are looking at Yamaha’s King. This was the BIGGEST and BEST Yamaha had to offer in road machines. It was the most powerful motorcycle in Yamaha’s catalog. This was it’s 2nd year production model. The previous 1970 model was a better and welcomed answer to the British 650 Twins of the Triumph and BSA. The superior Yamahas had electrics that worked, their crankcases horizontally split so they wouldn’t leak. Yamaha’s 650 Twins also incorporated 2 Constant Velocity carburetors (vacuum) for smooth deliver of the whopping “53 Horsepower” the XS and XS1B produced.

left side view of the 1971 yamaha xs1b

For me, it’s what this 1971 Yamaha doesn’t have that makes it special and so wonderful. Times were certainly more simple and less “cluttered and this bike reflects more of that than most. No electric starter, no disc brake, and every mechanical movement is by cable or lever. The only fluids are oil and gasoline. No radiator, no oil cooler, the mirrors shake, and the clutch feels like it’s something out of a cable car. No other bike’s clutch works quite like this one. My first ride was on a Gold/White 1971 just like this one. I was the passenger and I thought my arms were being pulled from my torso. I was 13 and this was clearly God’s gift to motorcycling! School was out for the Summer and I was in Virginia visiting my older brother, Norman. I had my own 1968 CL175 and had already “killed” my Honda S90 by age 13. None of that mattered, I would never forget the sound, the feel, and the mass of that Yamaha XS1B.

Still one of my favorite machines and is my #1 “pick” to tell a story of what was……Barry, thanks again for letting me bring this one home so many years ago……I LOVE my piece of Yamaha history!

1971 yamaha xs1b gas tank

1971 yamaha xs1b engine


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