Yamaha Motorcycles – History (From 1955)

The motorcycle division of Yamaha was founded in 1955, and was headed by Genichi Kawakami. Yamaha’s initial product was a 125cc two-cycle, single cylinder motorcycle, the YA-1, which was a copy of the German DKW RT125. The YA-1 was a competitive success at racing from the beginning, winning not only the 125cc class in the Mt. Fuji Ascent, but also sweeping the podium with first, second and third place in the All Japan Autobike Endurance Road Race that same year.[6] Early success in racing set the tone for Yamaha, as competition in many varieties of motorcycle racing has been a key endeavor of the company throughout its history, often fueled by a strong rivalry with Honda and other Japanese manufacturers.

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Comment (28)

  1. Disappointing documentary. Why not show every model for every year? I've owned 6 Yamaha over the years and they didn't show any of them. This is just a commercial wanting you to buy. Boo.

  2. Its about 15 minutes of history, the rest of it is a commercial for their sport bikes. Seems like alot of people beat me to the sort of comments I was gonna make. But still, I gotta. I stopped watching at around 23 min./
    RDs?!? YZ? The innovations in MX suspension? The Vmax? The modern motocross 4 stroke? I mean that was pretty HUGE!!! Alot of icons missing!!

  3. They were talking about the 1970s and dirt bikes which was all good, and then they skipped ahead to the 4 cyl, 4 stroke supersport era. Like where's their first 30 years in MotoGP? Where's Kenny Roberts hanging TF on at the Indy Mile? Where's their firecracker GP bikes going up against Honda and Suzuki in the 70s? It just waffled on about pianos and R1s.

  4. I used to have the 1977 Yamaha 650 twin. Everything was good about the bike except the lack of seating comfort, the silly generator which should have been an alternator, and the front break was a bit marginal.

  5. Not a mention of the XJ Engine in either the air or water head version or the Maxim X with 5 valves per cylinder…or the tax, tariff BS that kept a max of 700cc's…very lacking in history and very pointed to the current machines. Which is fine, but don't sell it as a "history of Yamaha". Nothing on the XS either. The XS1100 Midnight Special was a beautiful bike and the Venture Royal, a fine touring bike…they really missed the mark…

  6. Totally agree with flyinbiker… how did they skip over the amazing RD series??? This felt a lot more like a promo video for the R1 and R6… it was good, but should have been so much more… They jumped from 1958 to 1968… what about all the great 60's Yamahas? Paused for a moment to talk about the XS-650 in 1970 , then skipped over all the 70's – huh???The Yamaha 2-stroke twins put Yamaha in front and center in the racing world. What happened to all the 70's? The MX bikes that became the YZ's? The Yamaha R5 that morphed into the amazing RD 350's, that in turn morphed into the RD400's and RZ-350s?? Thanks just the same…

  7. I gotta say my 09 R6 Was a high tech light weight canyon carver. It was the burnt orange tribal paint with flames 🔥 to. My Ninja was faster I think 🤔 but no doubt the Yamaha could whip its ass through the twisty stuff. And it was no slouch In a straight line either and the quality was high end appliance like real nice fit and finish quality item. Honestly it was not the bike for me though I’m to big for a 600cc not the engine the frame and weight. I feel best on big tires and at least 450-500lbs bigger 750-1400cc bikes. I’m 6’3” and 225lbs so a 600cc 400lbs bike feels like I’m doing 150mph on a ten speed 😮. Actually the bike I could ride best was the 1998 ZX900RR now that bike was perfect size perfect power every where if only it had the quality of the Yamaha. It was a fine bike but not to the level of a Yamaha or Honda of the day. Now the engines where as good or better but not the ergonomics. Plastic would fall off after 20k miles if you wasn’t super easy on the bike. It was thin plastic and after a few years of summer sun and lot of wind they would give up the 👻! The Honda’s and Yamahas had far better plastics and build quality. You could drop them and not even hurt them you drop a ninja it’s done. The 900 was so fast it blew the turn signals off new 🤦🏼‍♂️😂. Like nobody tested it to see what happens if you actually wind it out a little or a lot 😂

  8. I’m a Kawasaki man from my first KX125 at 13 to my Z1000 now but the fiat bike I ever rode was a 1978 IT175 and the first street bike I ever bought was a Yamaha Virago 650 at age 16. I’ve always respected Yamaha as they always seemed to push the boundaries of new technology more than any other bike maker. 5 valve heads, cross plane cranks, etc. back when I had my ZX6R a buddy let me ride his new at the time 2005 R1. To say it was eye opening would be a huge understatement. I think my bike made 105 RWHP, to go from that to 160 or so was amazing. It redefined fast for me

  9. Disappointing. So much was overlooked. What about all the offload, flatrack, RD400, this was way too focused on the R6 and R1. History seems lick click bait. Again, very disappointed!

  10. I have owned Yamaha bikes spanning from a 75 rd350B to my beloved 04 fz1, 19 bikes total. I'm absolutely convinced that Yamaha buids the best machines in the world today. Trple Forks Forever!!

  11. Such a glossy production with lots of effort however completely clueless in regards to early history. They avoid telling us about all the heavy duty machinery left over from the war effort. Perhaps this had more influence to produce motorcycles than they could build pianos? That's fine. They obviously wanted to avoid that and i understand. Then they talk about their first 250 twin the YD1. Too bad they don’t seem to know what one looks like as all they show us is a later copper YDS1. As far as the YD1 not being influenced by German design they should confess and tell us they had a German 250 Adler twin laying around and it's very clear their is a strong design influence of it to the YD1. This is fine but it bothers me to see such an elaborate production getting the history completely wrong. Good grief. Shame on you.

  12. This video was pretty poor. Like an ad for the R1, with a smattering of history to make it less obviously an advertisement.

    Not only did it skip over the great two-stroke RD series, it missed the XS1 650, the XS750,us the amazing XS Eleven, the FJ1100…
    This was a total bait and switch.

  13. Sport bikes are neat and all and they're where a lot of the advances came from but Yamaha was/is a big deal in other niche areas such as dirt bikes and scooters. I wish they'd have gotten into that too.

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