My Army Tribute Bike (Project XS1100 Midnight Special)

A brief overview and picture story of the project build.

BEFORE and AFTER

This is a rare 1980 Yamaha XS1100LG Midnight Special.
An 1100cc 4 cylinder vintage Power Bike.

MS2rough1
MS2rough2

From a distance the bike doesn’t look too bad, but it definitely has some significant cosmetic flaws. Not to mention that the engine turns over but will not start or run at all.

Wiring

In addition to many other problems, The electrical system has issues as well.

It’s a long story, but after the miracle of getting all of that sorted out,
next was the difficult decision:

To restore it to its original beautiful black and gold look or to customize into something completely different? That is the question. (Ha! Here’s a crazy idea: Why not go for an old Army bike theme?)

Old Army bikes need a solo seat! The original big bulky Yamaha seat will never do.  I decided that if I could not find a solo seat that would work on this bike, then the crazy project idea is off. Here were my seat choices.

sampleseats
seatsideview

This one seemed to work best.

Of course it has to be OD green. Right? So I experimented with painting an old fender. The goal is to find an Army OD green paint that matches as close as possible to my ammo can. I wish I could brag and say I was good at this but the truth is: After just a few attempts I got lucky, so let’s just go with that!

ODtestfender

Had to get rid of the “Yamaha” name from the tank and replace it with a white star after prepping the tank for paint.

Bodywork

ODpaint

After a TON of work, it was time to put it all back together for a first nervous look, hoping it wasn’t all for nothing!

The saddle bags looked OK, but I thought an Army bike should have ammo cans instead.

visor

The final touches were a few decals added to the ammo cans and some basic white lettering like all of the old military equipment had.

After some encouragement from a friend, I decided to enter the bike into a charity car cruise event that was taking place at the VA hospital. I was kind of reluctant because I didn’t know how my amateur DIY bike would be received parked next all of those beautiful old classic cars.

I really enjoyed sitting back and watching all of those old gray haired Veterans (like me!) being pushed around in their wheel chairs with a smile on their faces, enjoying the old classic cars and bikes. I’m sure that most of those VA hospital patients didn’t get an opportunity to get out of the building much, especially on such a nice warm sunny day.

armybike1-bordered15

Here it is pictured below in another show at the Shriners Children’s Hospital charity benefit.

I was happily surprised that the bike was quite the attention grabber! People actually come up and took pictures of it! Ha! Even won a trophy!

Project XS11 Army bike built by:

Robert Kuhn, Author of “Rucksack Grunt
B-Co. 1/22 Infantry, Vietnam 1971-1972.
https://rucksackgrunt.com

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