The Yamaha History

Yamaha Motor Company was founded in 1955 when the company separated from Yamaha Corporation. Yamaha Motor Co was founded by Genichi Kawakami and Began production straight away on the first Yamaha Motorcycle, the Yamaha YA-1 which had a 125cc 2 stroke single cylinder. This motorcycle was in fact a copy of the German motorycle the DKW RT125. The bike was a success instantly winning the Mount Fuji Ascent race, and also grabbing 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in the Japan Autobike Endurance race the same year. The following year Yamaha brought out the YA-2, which was very similar but had tweaked suspension and frame.

Yamaha were the first to put a 5 speed gearbox in a Japanese motorcycle with the YDS-1 in 1957, this was a competition motorcycle which boasted a 250cc twin cylinder engine and a double downtime cradle typed frame.

The 1960s Yamaha only grew bigger and gained more success in motorcycle racing. The first international gp win was in 1963 in the 250cc class. In 1965 a 305cc twin cylinder 2 stroke motorcycle called the YM-1, this was quite special as it had autolube which had a separate oil tank for 2 stroke oil. The oil and fuel was automatically mixed by the oil system which was more convenient for the rider who didn’t have to premix at every fill of the fuel tank. 1968 saw the launch of Yamahas first 4 stroke with the Yamaha XS-1 which had a 650cc twin cylinder engine, this was to compete with the British motorcycles of the same time.

The 1970s was a fantastic time for Yamaha, which saw the launch of the ever so iconic RD models. The RD models stood out from the rest with their high power to weight ratio and agile handling ability, which went on to dominate short circuit racing but also put much bigger displacement British motorcycles to shame on the roads. the first mono shock motocross bike was released in 1974 on the YZ250, of which the modern version is still being sold today. Yamaha also won the 1978 and 1979 500 World titles with Kenny Roberts on the YZR500.

1980s were another strong decade in racing and road bike categories once again. Kenny Roberts kicked off 1980 with another 500 world title, and Jon Ekerold winning the 350cc world title so this started Yamaha off very strongly for the start of the new decade. 1980 was also given the Yamaha RD350LC, this was revolutionary and even had its own race series called PRO-AM. The rd250LC came a year later and both models were really popular with production racing and were the gateway for many riders to professional racing such as such as Niall Mackenzie.

1985 saw Yamaha bring out the FZ750 Yamaha, this was the first road motorcycle to have a 5 valve cylinder head which was another great invention from Yamaha.

In the 1990s Yamaha had much more racing success with Wayne Rainey winning the 90,91 and 92 500 titles and Hard winning the 250 title in 93. the late 1990s saw arguably the most revolutionary sports bike ever, the Yamaha R1. The Yamaha R1 boasted 150BHP from a 1000cc inline 4 engine with a 5 valve head and nothing could come close, its that iconic Yamaha still make the R1 today.


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