Mar­tini Yamaha

Clothed cru­sader

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Story Jim Scaysbrook Pho­tos Sue Scaysbrook, Paul But­ler

When Mike Hail­wood made his cel­e­brated come­back to the Isle of Man TT in 1978, after an 11-year ab­sence from the cir­cuit where he al­ready had 12 wins to his name, the deal was ini­tially for him to ride an NCR Du­cati 860 in the TT For­mula One race and pos­si­bly the week-end­ing Un­lim­ited TT, with much of the spon­sor­ship com­ing from Cas­trol. The ar­range­ment suited Mike, as the Du­cati was con­sid­ered the un­der­dog against the works Honda to be rid­den by Phil Read, and cer­tainly suited the Du­cati’s en­trant, Sports Mo­tor­cy­cles of Manch­ester, who were happy to have Mike and the blaze of pub­lic­ity all to them­selves. How­ever Mike’s come­back cre­ated such a me­dia avalanche that soon a sec­ond string was be­ing mooted; for Mike to ride not one, but three Yama­has sup­plied through the com­pany’s Euro­pean head­quar­ters in Am­s­ter­dam and fet­tled by le­gendary race me­chan­ics Nobby Clark and Trevor Til­bury. There was a pro­duc­tion TZ250 for the Light­weight TT, an ex-Agos­tini OW20 4-cylin­der 500 for the Se­nior TT, and a pro­duc­tion TZ750 for the Un­lim­ited TT. The cat­a­lyst was a deal ar­ranged by Hail­wood’s long-time ‘man­ager’ Ted Ma­cauley, a Manch­ester-based jour­nal­ist, with the money com­ing from the Ital­ian Mar­tini & Rossi com­pany un­der their fa­mous Mar­tini ver­mouth brand, which had a long and il­lus­tri­ous his­tory in mo­tor sport. The com­pany had backed numer­ous suc­cess­ful Le Mans ef­forts, world rally teams, and the Brab­ham For­mula One team, so the Hail­wood/Yamaha ef­fort was a very good fit for them, and one that was wel­comed by the TT or­gan­is­ers, who had en­dured some lean times in the pre­vi­ous few years. The Yama­has, rider and crew were decked out in the dis­tinc­tive Mar­tini colours of red, black and blue, and to max­imise the im­pact, Yamaha also pro­vided a road-go­ing XS1100 in the same liv­ery. After such a long ab­sence, Mike was keen to cover as many laps of the 60.7 kilo­me­tre TT course as pos­si­ble be­fore of­fi­cial prac­tice got un­der way, and Yamaha/Mar­tini were just as keen to have their mo­bile bill board cir­cu­lat­ing

reg­u­larly as the tens of thou­sands of TT fans poured onto the is­land to watch their idol back in ac­tion. Apart from the liv­ery, this XS1100 was dif­fer­ent from stan­dard in one ma­jor re­spect in that it sported a com­pre­hen­sive touring fair­ing – rem­i­nis­cent of the Amer­i­can Wind­jam­mer style – which had been cre­ated by Bri­tish de­signer John Mock­ett. These days, Mock­ett is bet­ter known as ‘Sprocket’ – his edgy car­toons de­pict­ing rather un­flat­ter­ing ren­di­tions of Mo­toGP stars and per­son­al­i­ties. Back in the ‘sev­en­ties, Mock­ett had sev­eral com­mis­sions from Yamaha Am­s­ter­dam, in­clud­ing de­sign­ing of the liv­ery for the Grand Prix bikes and team ap­parel when Gi­a­como Agos­tini headed the squad in 1975. A sim­i­lar com­mis­sion came about when Kenny Roberts ap­peared on the scene with his mainly Amer­i­can crew. Prior to the 1978 TT, Mock­ett had moved on from gen­eral de­sign to the more tech­ni­cal side, which he re­vealed in a re­cent in­ter­view. “Yamaha let me loose in the wind tun­nel de­vel­op­ing a fair­ing for the XS1100. It was in­tended as an R&D ex­er­cise but ended up reach­ing the mar­ket as the Mar­tini Yamaha. It was ugly but it worked. With an open-face hel­met you could smoke at 100mph if you wanted to, and most of us did.” Wher­ever Mike and the Mar­tini XS1100 went in the Isle of Man dur­ing the 1878 TT fort­night, it cre­ated near hys­te­ria. The mo­ment he stopped around var­i­ous parts of the course Mike and the bike were en­gulfed by well-wish­ers. Dur­ing his fre­quent re­con­nais­sance laps, Mike would pull up at pop­u­lar spots such as the Crosby Ho­tel, Creg Ny Baa, and Ram­sey where news­pa­per pho­tog­ra­phers would just hap­pen to be on hand to cap­ture the frenzy his pres­ence cre­ated. Con­se­quently, Mike and the Mar­tini XS1100 grabbed the lion’s share of the pre-race pub­lic­ity. Of course, his­tory records that Mike went on to a fairy­tale re­turn, win­ning the open­ing race of TT week, the For­mula One, on the Du­cati, an­ni­hi­lat­ing Phil Read and the works Honda in the process. With that win in the bank, it was then time to fo­cus on the other three races in which he was en­tered on the Mar­tini bikes, but ul­ti­mately, the Mar­tini ef­fort, known of­fi­cially as Team Mar­tini Hail­wood, achieved lit­tle. After crash­ing the 250 dur­ing prac­tice, he fin­ished 12th in the Light­weight TT race, failed to fin­ish the Un­lim­ited on the 750, and ran out of fuel on the 500. Iron­i­cally, the least im­por­tant and cer­tainly least ex­pen­sive com­po­nent of the Mar­tini Hail­wood ef­fort, the XS1100, went on to bet­ter things. In 1979, Yamaha an­nounced a lim­ited pro­duc­tion run of just 500 Mar­tini XS1100s, with around 70 des­tined for the UK mar­ket, a sim­i­lar num­ber for USA, and the bal­ance for Europe. We now know that at least one made it to Ja­pan.

In re­al­ity, the only non-stan­dard fea­ture of the new ma­chine was the John Mock­ett fair­ing, but that com­po­nent rep­re­sented the most vis­i­ble and mem­o­rable as­pect of the mo­tor­cy­cle. One of the bug­bears of touring mo­tor­cy­cles, when loaded with pan­niers and with the weight of a pil­lion pas­sen­ger, is for the front end to be­come pro­gres­sively lighter as speed in­creases. Us­ing the Yamaha wind tun­nel, Mock­ett was able to ex­per­i­ment with the fair­ing’s shape in order to gen­er­ate front end down-force, which at the time was the buzz word in the For­mula One world but had equal ap­pli­ca­tions in mo­tor­cy­cling terms, par­tic­u­larly for touring bikes. The other aim was to pro­vide out­stand­ing weather pro­tec­tion, with deep shrouds for the rider’s hands, and to this end the de­sign suc­ceeded ad­mirably, although the over­all ap­pear­ance was con­tro­ver­sial for the still-staid Bri­tish buy­ing public. It was con­structed in two parts, with the top sec­tion mounted on the han­dle­bars and the bot­tom part at­tached to the frame. This meant that the top sec­tion of the fair­ing ro­tated with the move­ment of the han­dle­bars, and al­lowed the top sec­tion to be nar­rower as it did not need to al­low the han­dle­bars to ro­tate in­side it. Mock­ett’s de­sign in­cor­po­rated lug­gage com­part­ments, and two Ci­bie spot­lights,

one on each side of the lower sec­tion, with the mount­ing flutes care­fully blended to the over­all shape. These lights were omit­ted for the mod­els sold in Ger­many, where such ex­tra il­lu­mi­na­tion was not per­mit­ted on mo­tor­cy­cles. All up, the fair­ing was a very prac­ti­cal and worth­while ad­di­tion to what was al­ready a fine mo­tor­cy­cle. The penalty of course, was weight, the fair­ing adding 25kg to the Yamaha’s al­ready portly 256kg. Just what hap­pened to Mike Hail­wood’s Mar­tini XS1100 fol­low­ing the 1978 TT is un­known, but it was cer­tainly a sig­nif­i­cant player in the un­prece­dented pizazz that sur­rounded the TT, which up to that point had been in the dol­drums since los­ing its sta­tus as an FIM World Cham­pi­onship round in 1976. That year (1978) I was a TT rookie, but mighty for­tu­nate in hav­ing struck up a friend­ship with Mike through our ef­forts in team­ing to­gether on a Du­cati 750SS for the 1977 Cas­trol Six Hour Race and 1978 Ade­laide Three Hour Race. We both ar­rived in the is­land well be­fore TT fort­night; he to re­fresh his mem­ory of the track and me to un­ravel a seem­ingly end­less rib­bon of cor­ners and ob­sta­cles. For­tu­nately I was able to bor­row a very well used Yamaha RD350 from a lo­cal mo­tor­cy­cle dealer, which I flogged mer­ci­lessly around the course day and night, of­ten in com­pany with Mike on the XS1100. One day he de­cided against go­ing out, the bar at the Dou­glas Casino prov­ing more at­trac­tive than fur­ther laps of the dank and driz­zly cir­cuit, and he of­fered the big Yamaha to me. “Just re­mem­ber, if you get pulled over by the po­lice, lie!” were his part­ing in­struc­tions. So off I set, now thor­oughly pro­tected against the el­e­ments, and with an abun­dance of smooth surg­ing four-cylin­der power be­neath me. The XS1100 re­ally came into its own across the bleak moun­tain sec­tion, where the fair­ing made light work of the om­nipresent cross winds. The lim­it­ing fac­tor of the whole plot was then, as now, the tyres, par­tic­u­larly the rear 17 inch hoop with its high side­walls, which tended to flex, and hence, over­heat the tread area.

Mind­ful of re­turn­ing the XS1100 to Mike in one piece, I took things rea­son­ably eas­ily, but I must ad­mit that when I came down the long un­du­lat­ing de­scent to the al­ways crowded Creg Ny Baa Ho­tel, with pa­trons spilling all over the road and the car park burst­ing with mo­tor­cy­cles, I de­cided to stop and bask in some re­flected glory, be­ing the tem­po­rary cus­to­dian of the most re­gal and rec­og­niz­able mo­tor­cy­cle on the is­land at that point. Im­me­di­ately the Yamaha and I dis­ap­peared un­der a sea of fans, and it seemed to mat­ter not that I was an im­poster on the mae­stro’s ma­chine. A pint of O’Kell’s Ale was thrust into my hand amid a bar­rage of questions. What could I do but ac­cept with grace and hu­mil­ity? Suit­ably re­freshed, I dashed off on a sec­ond, un­planned lap; I knew Mike couldn’t care less, his mind by this stage oc­cu­pied on other things.

Fast for­ward

The Mar­tini Yamaha XS1100 was but a dim mem­ory (well, it was 38 years ago) when I re­ceived a phone call from Steve Leem­bruggen, the al­ways en­thu­si­as­tic pro­pri­etor of Old Gold Mo­tor­cy­cles in Lon­don­derry, western Sydney. Steve ex­plained that his lat­est ship­ment of pre-loved mo­tor­cy­cles due into Sydney from Ja­pan in­cluded a rare ma­chine – a Mar­tini Yamaha XS1100, or more ac­cu­rately an XS 1.1 as they were known in Europe – and would I like to test ride it? Would I what!

Prior to the ma­chine’s ar­rival, I set about col­lect­ing some 38-year-old thoughts, but a break­through came when I con­tacted Paul But­ler, for­merly with Yamaha and more lat­terly Mo­toGP Race Di­rec­tor, and a very well known fig­ure in the ad­min­is­tra­tion side of mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing. As it turned out, Paul is now re­tired and

“... you could ac­tu­ally feel the down-force that Mock­ett built into the fair­ing...”

liv­ing in the Isle of Man, mar­ried to Vicky, who is the for­mer Mrs John Mock­ett! Small world, in­deed. Paul was able to sup­ply the won­der­ful orig­i­nal shots of Mike on the ‘pro­to­type’ Mar­tini XS 1.1 fea­tured here. Old Gold’s XS 1.1 is no con­course model, just a good orig­i­nal ex­am­ple of a very rare mo­tor­cy­cle. After ar­rival from Ja­pan, it had been fit­ted with a new seat cover and new tyres, but be­fore de­liv­ery to the new own­ers, I was given the chance to take it for a gal­lop. The roads of outer western Sydney are a stark con­trast to the Isle of Man’s com­bi­na­tion of vil­lage streets and the gusty moun­tain stretch, but im­me­di­ately I re­called the think­ing be­hind the model; cruis­ing in com­fort. Sure, that con­cept has come a long way in 38 years, but back then, the by-word for the spec­i­fi­ca­tion was the BMW R100RS, a mo­tor­cy­cle that set new stan­dards for the touring rider (and pas­sen­ger). The Yamaha, with its Mock­ett fair­ing, is out of the same mould, with the em­pha­sis firmly on weather pro­tec­tion. En­velop­ing a big en­gine in a plas­tic fair­ing in­vari­ably ac­cen­tu­ates en­gine noise, and this is im­me­di­ately no­tice­able, with ev­ery lit­tle rat­tle and squeak as­sum­ing a new aware­ness that was pre­vi­ously swept away in the airstream on the naked ver­sion. On one of the very few orig­i­nal road tests of the Mar­tini XS 1.1, the rider was moved to note, “For straight line com­fort and ef­fort­less speed­ing, there’s lit­tle to match it.’ It’s worth not­ing that the spec­i­fi­ca­tion of this 1979 mo­tor­cy­cle could well ap­ply to any of to­day’s su­per cruis­ers; shaft drive, a 12 volt power out­let for elec­tri­cal ac­ces­sories, dou­ble over­head camshaft (al­beit two valve) en­gine, ad­justable fair­ing, triple disc brakes, ad­justable sus­pen­sion, and more. And then there’s the per­for­mance. With the aid of the slip­pery fair­ing, the XS 1.1 will see a gen­uine 205 km/h, should you be lucky enough to find a road that al­lows it, which I wasn’t, at least sec­ond time around. Equally im­pres­sive is the torque – 66.5 ft/lb (90.1 Nm), with heaps of grunt spread from 2,000 to 6,500 rpm, which is where you spend the ma­jor­ity of your rid­ing time in an ur­ban sit­u­a­tion. But John Mock­ett’s work is most ev­i­dent in the en­vi­ron­ment in which I orig­i­nally ex­pe­ri­enced this ex­cel­lent mo­tor­cy­cle. Once you round Ram­sey Hair­pin on the TT course, ac­cel­er­ate up the steep hill through Water­works, around the Goose­neck and through what is now known as Joey’s, away she goes. The next stretch is all wide-open spa­ces, windy more of­ten than not, of­ten wet. Here the Mar­tini XS 1.1 was re­ally in its el­e­ment, where you could ac­tu­ally feel the down-force that Mock­ett built into the fair­ing at work. Even the de­signer him­self ad­mit­ted the de­sign was some­what con­tro­ver­sial (“ugly” were his ac­tual words), but 500 buy­ers had no hes­i­ta­tion in stump­ing up a fair wad of cash for the Mar­tini replica back in 1979. I just wish I had been one of them. The Mar­tini is now co-owned by a cou­ple of real XS11000 en­thu­si­asts; in fact one of them was in­stru­men­tal in es­tab­lish­ing the Down-Un­der chap­ter of the XS1100 Own­ers Club. As he owns five such bikes, his en­thu­si­asm for the model is un­der­stand­able, and he now has a real rar­ity to play with. It is not in­tended to re­store the Mar­tini, just re­fur­bish it in cer­tain ar­eas. The en­gine and gear­box seem fine to me, and there are plenty of parts avail­able for the other mi­nor ar­eas that need at­ten­tion. Watch out for this one at fu­ture XS1100 OC ral­lies!

ABOVE Mike Hail­wood with a cou­ple of friends at the launch of Team Mar­tini Hail­wood in London in 1978. RIGHT On a typ­i­cally Bri­tish fine sum­mer’s day, Mike pre­pares to cut some demo laps of Don­ing­ton Park on the XS1.1 prior to the 1978 TT.

From the front, the Mock­ett fair­ing is con­sid­er­ably slim­mer than con­tem­po­rary mod­els.

Top sec­tion of the fair­ing ro­tates within the lower. Ci­bie spot lights were not used on the mod­els sold in Ger­many.

All orig­i­nal in here. Owner says the screen can be pol­ished back to full clar­ity.

“1100” to us. Nice new seat cover!

Stor­age com­part­ments are handy and un­ob­tru­sive.

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