Geoff Bamford's Amazing Yamaha XS1 Time Capsule
The annual Bulli Antique Motorcycle Show and Auction has a reputation for attracting unique, rare and interesting machinery, and the recent event did not disappoint.
While the event's theme was early 20th-century board trackers from the famous American marques of Harley Davidson and Indian, the tuning fork faithful still turned out to display some classic old Yamaha machinery.
Sitting in the main display area of the show was Geoff Bamford's Candy Apple Green XS1. Almost exclusively, the first comment made by anyone approaching the bike was 'Wow, it looks brand new' and that's because it pretty much is.
Bamford, a Yamaha XS specialist, owns possibly the most unique XS1 in the world. Despite being 53 years old, the beautifully preserved piece of Yamaha history has never been ridden. Its speedometer - in miles per hour - displays only a single digit. Every inch travelled by this bike has been achieved by pushing it around, usually on and off a trailer when being transported to a show. Since rolling off the production line at the Yamaha factory five decades ago, Geoff's XS1 has never been started, and while it remains in Geoff's hands it never will.
Yamaha fans may remember this perfectly presented bike at the Yamaha stand during the 2011 Sydney Motorcycle Show. The story behind its appearance still gives Geoff a laugh today. "That was a funny situation," recalls Geoff. "Yamaha called me up and asked if they could use the bike on their stand to promote the launch of a new model. I visited the stand during the show to see my bike on display, and I asked one of the Yamaha workers how it was going. He said 'We have taken 41 orders for it, and not too many for the new model'.
"I said it would need to be brand new. He replied, it's never been ridden or started"
Since purchasing the bike almost 40 years ago, there has been plenty of offers from serious buyers, but at this stage, no one has been able to tempt Geoff to part with his machine, and it's unlikely they ever will.
"I paid $5000 for the bike 38 years ago, and that was a lot of money back then," Geoff reveals. "I don't have a clue what its value would be today because I have no interest in ever selling it."
Geoff came into possession of the shiny XS1 when Yamaha dealer Wayne Ulbrich closed his Wollongong dealership in the mid-1980s. Despite the sizeable price tag, Geoff knew that the chance to own such a unique machine would probably never present itself again. Geoff said that when Wayne Ulbrich called him up and asked if he was keen to own the best XS1 in Australia, it instantly piqued his interest.
"I said, well it would need to be brand new because I know of some pretty good XS1's going around," Geoff recalls. "When he replied, 'well yes it is, and it's never been ridden or started' I knew I had to get it."
Geoff Bamford is certainly no stranger to Yamaha's popular XS models. Rumour has it that he has not only owned every XS model, it's most likely he has owned numerous of each. Geoff’s business Geoff's XS is a go-to for anyone looking for parts, advice or a complete Yamaha XS, his knowledge of the 650cc model is legendary and his skills with a spanner are highly sought after.
“It’s old-school, not a chopper, not a bobber, but it’s cool to ride”
Also at the Bulli Show was Bungy Williams with his Yamaha XS650 Special. The Special was first released by Yamaha in 1978 as a more cruiser styled version of Yamaha’s cult classic XS650.
Proudly displaying the bike, Bungy said he fell in love with the big yellow machine the moment he laid eyes on it. “I had another 650 Special at the time and sold that to buy this one,” explains Bungy. As he runs through the list of modifications that have been made to the bike its obvious that this is a unique machine.
“It’s been raked two inches, standard forks with two-inch caps fitted, it has a 20-litre tank. The top half is a Yammy 1100 that has been cut and shut into a 650 bottom. It’s got mono-shock suspension, a Harley rim and a Honda hub.” When asked what category of bike his XS650 Special falls into, Bungy said he couldn’t pigeon-hole the custom machine. “It’s old-school, not a chopper, not a bobber, but it’s cool to ride.”