Road Tests And Magazine Articles

Cycle, July 1976

An American test of the first Yamaha triple exported from Japan, the XS750D. It's a very technical review this one, although they did like the bike a lot. Amazingly, the guy reviewing seemed to know more about gearbox design than Yamaha. Check out this part:

"If we may be presumptuous and offer advice, we would guess that they’ve made the shifting-cam drum diameter too small, which results in the shifter-fork camming slots being too steep-and this is reflected in a somewhat notchy feel at the shift lever, an insufficiently positive force to drive the shift dogs into engagement, and a tendency for the dogs to bounce apart instead of meshing unless
there is a very considerable gap between their teeth.  They’ve opted to save space inside the transmission with a small shift drum, compensated for the engagement difficulties with dog-teeth clearance, and created an objectionable degree of drive-train lash."

Amazing really, that they predicted Yamaha's years of gearbox woes just by riding it and playing with the back wheel.

Anyway, here's the article:

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Motorcyclist Illustrated, January 1977

An early UK magazine test of the XS750-2D by Vic Barnes. This story covers the press launch event in Marrakesh, Morocco and it doesn't have a lot of technical detail about the bike - it's really just him and two other British journalists thrashing it to death across the countryside. Still, he does seem to have had a lot of fun doing it and he even goes as far as to say it was the best handling Japanese bike he had ever ridden.

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Motorcyclist Illustrated, May 1977

Now they in the UK instead of hooning about in Marrakesh and John McDermott seems to be determined to find things to criticise on the bike. He reckons it is ugly and the horn is too weak. Also the wheels look like they are off a wheelbarrow apparently. Even so it's a great bike and he can't help but write a good review of it.


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Motorcycle Mechanics, December 1977

This magazine had two articles about the XS750 - one road test about the XS750 itself and they also used its rather pathetic original headlight in a headlight test. The intrepid testers tried out various aftermarket halogen light conversions and measured the output by running round in a field with a light meter.

It sounds quite crude by modern standards but it was pretty scientific and it seems to have worked well enough.

They seemed to like the bike (a 750-2D, the first model officially imported into the UK), although they said the fuel consumption was a bit variable. Apparently it was better than a Moto Guzzi in all departments and half the price of a BMW.

And it had a useful storage pocket at the back.

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Motorcycling Monthly, August 1977

I actually bought this issue with my own pocket money. This particular magazine was very fond of facts and figures, which must have taken them ages to compile without the aid of a computer. So if you want to know exactly how fast a 2D can go, this is the one for you.

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Motorcycle Mechanics, November 1978

A lengthy test of the new XS750E over 2,300 miles, including a long tour around France. The tester really seemed to like the bike, although he unusually criticised the seat for being uncomfortable. Most people seem to think the XS750 is like an armchair, so that's surprising.

There is also a lot of detail on what is different between the E and earlier models, very handy if you are trying to figure out the changes.

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Road Bike (Part 6), 1979

This was a bit different to the other magazines; it was issued weekly (I think) and the idea was to build up the full collection so that you would have a full set at the end. There were regular articles on various aspects of bike mechanics, and the writing standard (and quality of information) was pretty good.

You could also buy binders to put them in, although being a penniless student I didn't bother. The bike featured here was a UK-spec 750E which in my opinion looks really nice in black. Unfortunately the test bike seems to have been a bit out of tune - very likely it needed the carbs to be set up - so they didn't get much of a top speed out of it.

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Bike Magazine, July 1977

In this issue they toured around Ireland with an XS750-2D and a BMW R75/7. This was the golden age of the XS triple and the magazines were raving about it. In this test they thought it was a far better bike than the BMW, even accounting for the price difference.

So, read on and enjoy tales of high prices (93p a gallon!) and how the BMW broke down and had to be repaired with the XS toolkit.

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Bike Magazine, February 1979

This one contains a group test of the big four Japanese 750s at the time, although to be fair they should have chosen the the Kawasaki Z650 instead of the Z750 twin. I worked part-time in a Kawasaki dealership at the time and I don't recall ever selling a twin, whereas the Z650 four was flying off the showroom floor as fast as they could get them from Japan.

Anyway, the Bike magazine guy really liked the ample charms of the XS750E, even though the entire road test was somewhat limited because they did it in December when the weather was rubbish. So read on, and see how the triple stacks up against its contemporaries.

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Bike Magazine, July 1980

Now for the XS850, which Bike magazine tested against the CB750, Kawasaki Z1000 and BMW R80. The CB750 had a great engine but handled terribly, the Z1000 was powerful but was really thirsty and the BMW won the test on account of having the best chassis, but the XS850 came a very close second.

Parts of the XS850 review are remarkable when you read them today:

"it will pick up speed like a rocket ship dialled into warp drive"

And:

"The real joy is the glorious noise. You can keep your fours, and your sixes. There is nothing like a triple on full song. If that doesn't pump your adrenaline, you're already dead."

So read on and imagine the days when an XS850 was one of the fastest things on the road.

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Superbike Road Tests, 1982

I don't own this magazine, the scans were sent to me by another triple enthusiast, but the layout and graphics look very similar to those in Motor Cycle Weekly.

In this one, the tester is slightly less impressed with the performance (compared to the Bike review), but it's a quite enthusiastic article all the same.

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Motorcycling Monthly, July 1980

Here's a test of the XS850 from possibly the nerdiest magazine of the time, Motorcycling Monthly. The test isn't really a glowing one, despite the bike not really doing much wrong. The tester wasn't all that impressed by the outright power, although he did think there was considerably more mid-range pull than on the XS750. He thought the brakes were poor, especially the front ones. Also notable was the enormous 5.1 gallon tank, which required £6.80 to fill up.

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