Archive for the ‘function’ Tag

XS650: What Could Have Been   Leave a comment

I don’t require a bike to be clean. Mine mostly aren’t. I do require the lines to be though. And the feel. That must be right.

Many of my bikes have been what most might call rats. Now I don’t take that negatively. After all, rats fulfil their niche conditions perfectly. Evolutionary survivors.


a prime example of what was being produced in the mid 70s…this 6T chop of my cousins took out the cold kiwi hill climb in 1977 when many specialised bikes failed


If form and function are observed, a bike is not supposed to remain clean.

This is one of the things I like about the XS650. And not just me. This is a machine that simply wont die. A ghost returning to haunt Yamaha.

3 clean platforms. None perfect. All with recogniseable soul.

You met Bob a while ago. He helped create the Ténéré 650 prototype. He came from Norton, NVT. Did little jobs for Yamaha.

“We were trying to create extra business. The British motorcycling industry was sort of collapsing, and tried to generate money by doing engineering contracts for other companies. We did several contracts for Yamaha while I was technical director at Norton. Yamaha wasn’t the big international company it is now, and they did not know about Europe as they do now.”

Development of the HL500.


HL500 .. cool singles


“At Norton we did the HL500 motocross bike with the TT500 engine. We developed the chassis, it was the first one with an aluminium swingarm. It was a very exclusive bike, only 300 units were produced.”

And the NVT650.


..NVT650 … often called the Ascot TT, according to Ludy Beumer from Yamaha Netherlands ‘The Amercano’s (YMUS) had absolutely nothing to do with this project.’ Bob Trigg himself said that the american flat trackers – ascot – was only the design concept


“Also we did a good styling concept for the XS650, styled as an American flat-tracker, the Ascot TT. I still have the bike, it still works great, it’s a real pure motorcycle. When I ride it, people still ask me where they can buy it.”

I’m sure I’ve seen this bike. In the French Alps. Doing what it was designed to do. Leave me in the dust.

Halco, I believe, used to knock these off. Even caught some of the magic.

It’s not perfect. But. Bob is right. It would have sold.

Too bad the French were still to learn their rally marketing lessons.

What could have been.

…nicely written-up in Classic Bike Dec 1996 p102-5…

XS650TT Bob Trigg Ascot TT


Posted January 23, 2011 by xscafe in Frame - Design, Frame - Handling, XS Pics

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XS650: Ténéré   Leave a comment

What do this

sr500 prototype..1973..Shiro Nakamura


And this

2011 Super Ténéré 1200


Have in common?

Ask Bob Trigg. He can tell you.

“We constructed a bike with the twin engine as an example for Japan, and presented the target concept for such a model. That was the birth of the Super Ténéré. We requested a big capacity 750/900cc twin with big torque feeling, and with a modern engine: the 45 degree engine layout, as the Genesis engine of the FZ750 had.”

“Our target was to launch a Paris-Dakar OW factory racer, then the Super Ténéré, and then a new Street bike with the same engine. That became the TDM 850, an alternative touring bike developed to be the best bike in the Alps.”


prototype, a Ténéré 600 with an XS650 twin engine mounted in it!


The humble XT500. Took out the inaugural Paris Dakar 1979. The French went mad. Vive le Bleu

’79 Paris-Dakar .. 1st 2nd


1979. 1st. 2nd. 8th. 12th.

1980. 1st. 2nd, 3rd. 4th. 8th. 9th. 11th. 12th.

1981. 2nd. 3rd….took out 11 of the first 31.

1982  saw the XT550. 4th. 5th. 10th…..11 from the first 33.

1983 XT600. 4th. 5th. 7th. 8th. 15th. 23rd. 24th.

1984 XT600. 6th. 7th. 9th. 11th. 14-17th….13 from 33.

81 XT500 Paris-Dakar


Bob Trigg says:

“Also in offroad we were trying to get away from the 2-stroke image. A lot of efforts went into developing the XT/TT 600 line-up, we were also entering the Dakar rallye and that was very popular. Sonauto, the French importer, asked for a production version of the race bike so we also introduced the Ténéré.”

“Later it became clear that a single cylinder could not win the Paris Dakar anymore, and we considered other engine developments. Even a 4-cylinder was an option, but it was a problem to get enough grip and traction for offroad use. So we made a big-bang engine, firing like a twin. But in the end nobody liked it, a 4-cylinder was supposed to be smooth and to have the typical 4-cylinder sound, that was the in-thing of those times.”

Imagine that.

Posted January 21, 2011 by xscafe in Frame - Design, XS Pics

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XS650: Cafe Walkaround   Leave a comment

Nice eye for line and detail.

Posted January 20, 2011 by xscafe in Frame - Design, Frame - Handling, XS Pics

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XS650: Hillclimb   Leave a comment

Classic form and function at play.

– and just because I can:

… Jeff Thomas … injected nitro-methane burning hillclimber

… Jason Smith … injected nitro-methane

… Jason Smith

… Winning ride at the 2006 Hillclimb World Trophy in Decazeville, France..first run

… and now hillclimb for real men


Posted January 20, 2011 by xscafe in Frame - Design, Frame - Handling, XS Pics

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XS650: Flow   Leave a comment

I like design.

I went to the Senkenburg Museum the other day. On the back wall, in 3 different colours, in overlapping planes with separate layering, were laid out the main whale family developments. The axis are Time and Development over Time. If you stand back the concurrent and consecutive development stands out. You can clearly see the pattern of successful and unsuccessful modification. Convergent and divergent.

Survival of the fittest. In a couple of instances lines have diverged successfully then reconverged tens of millions of years later. Made me wonder what stress factors they were experiencing to do that.

I like flow too.

Fluid dynamics are fascinating. To me anyway. Most of the beautiful things flow. Important in design. It minimises stress. Natures antidote to chaos. Suck that Newton.


dynamic fluid dynamics


The whole world flows.

All the great moutain ranges were once sediment particles settling through a water column.

And they will be again.

In time.


dolomites..nth motorcycling country


Ralph Lauren got it right “Form follows function”.

Cross that with K.I.S.S. I reckon this is what we’d get


Frederic Fleury…XTY700 


Frederic Fleury from France put it all together. Design. Flow. Function. Form.

Posted January 20, 2011 by xscafe in Frame - Design, Frame - Handling, XS Pics

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