Operating under a different press embargo than that affecting U.S. models, European press (including, most notably, Motorcycle News of England) have revealed the 2002 Yamaha BT1100 Bulldog sport tourer featuring cruiser design elements and the air-cooled motor from Yamaha’s 1100cc cruiser line.
Combining the low, scalloped seat of a cruiser, and the relatively low horsepower, broad torque powerband of a cruiser, with sporty chassis geometry and even R1-type brakes, the Bulldog signals a new design direction from Yamaha first evidenced by its MT-01 concept revealed a year ago. Designed and built in Europe, the BT1100 is currently a Europe-only model.
One of Yamaha’s Amsterdam-based designers stated a design goal: “We wanted to design a bike that appeals to both experts and newcomers. The shape should somehow capture the essence of a motorcycle, at the same time basic but not boring, modern but without gimmicks. The shapes are pure but the design has lots of movement in plain view.”
Nobuaki Kuwata, Yamaha manager at Global Design, stated “Yamaha has a strong tradition of creating new categories, with V-Max, TDM, recently with the MT-01 show model for example. With the Bulldog, we try to establish a new type of streetbike, using elements of different categories like ‘cruiser’ and ‘roadster’. Bulldog was developed in parallel with MT-01, and it has somehow the same spirit ‘pure V-twin sensation’.”
Featuring shaft drive and a large fuel capacity, the Bulldog is intended to provide practical, fun motorcycling with style. Although featuring sportbike-grade brakes (including twin discs and R1-style calipers in front), engine performance is not intended to reach sportbike levels. Yamaha claims its Drag Star V-twin was tweaked to provide higher peak horsepower and even more torque in this application, but peak horsepower is only 68 at the crank. Torque, however, will exceed many other, higher tech naked bikes of the same or smaller engine capacity.
Oliver Grill, another product planner at Yamaha’s Amsterdam office, made the following comments: “With its updated V-twin from XV 1100 Drag Star, it has the ideal power-plant for ‘torque surfing’ and impresses with sensational pulse and torque. The bike offers a wide range of usage, from sporty riding on smaller roads to long distance touring. But unlike other versatile concepts, the rider never feels bored on it. And I am sure, couples will appreciate the passenger comfort too.”
Oliver went on to state: “This combination of a custom engine feeling in a sporty road chassis gives a very nice sensation in particular when cruising on smaller roads. You don’t need to shift a lot, since this engine pulls strongly even from lower rpm. It is a pleasure to swing from one corner to the next . . . I think it fits the mood of many riders today, who are looking for a sporty machine but at the same time enjoy a cool and relaxed riding style.”
Apparently, Yamaha’s product planners in Europe determined that many new and returning riders were looking for the engine sensations associated with cruisers in a sportier package.
No indication when the BT1100 might be available in the United States. Here are Yamaha’s specs for the machine. Yamaha claims a remarkably light dry weight (given the massive engine) of 505 lbs.