Under the Radar: Yamaha's XS750 was the company's response to it's flawed TX750
You daaaamn right! Yamaha marketed its shaft-driven XS750 to a young crowd with big-bore European tastes but small-potatoes budgets.
Image courtesy Jean Aker
Years produced: 1976-79
Total production: 150,000 (est.)
Claimed power: 64bhp @ 7,500rpm
Top speed: 106mph
Engine type: Three-cylinder in-line
Weight (dry): 232kg (511lb)
Price then: $2,240 (1976)
Price now: $1,200-$2,000
Imagine it’s 1976 and you’re hearing two new sounds, trying to determine which will have more staying power.
One is the sweet exhaust note of the new three-cylinder Yamaha XS750; the other the chain-saw guitar on The Ramones’ debut record. The band is a galaxy away from the mainstream in a year when the Starland Vocal Band will win the Grammy for Best New Artist, while the XS750 has the motorcycle press going nuts.
"Certainly new and different, and most certainly bound for success," declared Cycle World in August 1976.
Fast-forward 29 years, though, and "Blitzkrieg Bop" is a standard while Yamaha’s triple has largely faded away.
Not fair, says Rob van der Touw, who’s been riding XS750s for more than 20 years and considers them works of art.
"What makes it unique to me is the character of the engine. It’s a very smooth-running, balanced machine. In fact, the whole bike is a statement of balance in many ways."
Driven from the big-bike market by the mid-Seventies when the Yamaha TX750 twin proved unreliable, Yamaha faced the challenge of producing a new bike that was unique but not too radical for the mainstream market.
The solution was a package of technical advancements and user-friendly touches designed to make the XS750 one of the smoothest, most comfortable and appealing bikes of its day.
"The triple was, from my standpoint, Yamaha’s response to cover up for the first 750 they made," says Jean Aker, an XS750-2D owner and motorcycle journalist who has written extensively on the bike. "When the TX750 failed so miserably, Yamaha had to come back with something special."
The company did just that.
While the dual overhead cam power plant didn’t blow anybody away with its claimed 64bhp at 7,500rpm, critics generally contended that the bike’s lack of muscle was more than offset by such features as triple disc brakes, self-canceling turn signals and cast aluminum wheels that provided more rigidity than wire spokes.
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