Another chain-drive XS11
Richard Scoular told me you have done an article on the XS11 chain drive superbike build up that was raced in Australia in the ‘80s. He suggested you might follow up with something on the Bakker framed one I raced in South Africa for a season in ’83. The distributors – Charlie Young Yamaha – originally built a bike based on the street frame using the Yamaha kit, a la the Aussie one, on which Rodney Gray won the Formula 1 (as they called it) title in ’82. I rode this in a race at the Killarney circuit in Capetown during a visit there for an International Production bike series in ’82 and as a result formed a deal to race it for a season the next year, with a few upgrades. By the time I rode the street fighter model there was not much if any of the kit installed (I remember seeing those crazy side draft Solex carbs and a head sitting gathering dust) and the spec. was smooth bore Mikunis, Norris drag race cams, Wiseco pistons that took it to about 1200cc and a head they worked themselves, plus a modified Bassani pipe. ‚
They had even made their own sprocket carrier/ bearing assembly. They attempted to stabilize those rather slender standard forks by welding a second steering stem and yoke to the bottom of the standard setup with the second set of clamps a couple of inches further down the stanchions. Not a bad idea but unfortunately the front end would get into a horrendous sort of flex/chatter approaching slow corners from time to time and you almost had to come to a stop to bring it under control. Apart from that, it was a pretty cool ride though. The new frame and components addressed a few issues but I think I might have preferred the more sit up style of the old bike and it took us a while to iron out the new set up – like getting rid of the 16 inch front tyre which seemed to only want to tuck the front end as soon as you released the brakes and rolled into the throttle. The engine was very flexible but ultimately couldn’t match the acceleration of the newer Suzuki and Kawasaki engines, and I also felt the power unit was probably a bit heavy in comparison. We got some good results later in the season and I enjoyed the competitiveness of the riders there. I have attached some photo’s you might want to include of the Bakker model alongside Gray (Kawasaki) and Dave Peterson (Honda). Yamaha RSA actually modified five or six new XS1100s to a chain drive spec similar to the first bike they built, but with a milder motor, and sold them as street bikes. Peter Fleming Wellington, NZ
Peter Fleming on the Nico Bakker chain-drive XS11. Fleming leads Rodney Gray’s Kawasaki in a South African F1 round.
Ray Curtis duelling in the dirt with fellow legend Herb Jefferson.