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Yamaha Motorcycles

Creativity and Spirit of Call

“If you are going to do something, be better”

Jinichi Kawakami, Yamaha Motor Company The First President.

Under this motto, Yamaha Motorcycles, using all its creativity and with a very strong spirit of challenge, has become what is now: one of the biggest players in the world motorcycle scene.

But the history of Yamaha does not start with motorcycles.

In 1877, Torakusu Yamaha started work with Nippon Gakki, which later became Yamaha Corporation: an important producer of fine musical instruments.

As the company grew, they explored several areas of opportunity in the textile industry and others.

During the Second World War, the company created a factory for producing air screws. This factory played an important role in the introduction of Yamaha into the motorcycle industry, as you will see.

After the war,

Yamaha Corporation was to find new ways to use the tool and experience accumulated during its existence in the field of aircraft, and at that time, the Yamaha Motor Corporation was founded.

It’s important to note that, despite the fact that this new company was simply another subsidiary of Yamaha Corporation, it was placed under independent guidance. In this case, under the leadership of Jinichi Kawakami; which turned out to be a brilliant step.

Before releasing her first motorcycle, Jinichi Kawakami traveled a lot, finding that it would be very useful. He also sent his engineers to Europe and taught them to build motorcycles, especially from DKW; with whom they kept underground and unofficial long-term relationships.

One of the proofs of this is that at present, the only two manufacturers in the world massively produce five side flaps – Yamaha Audi (DKW – Auto Union).

One of the most important heritage of these international relations was all the skills acquired by Yamaha engineers on two-stroke engines. Other manufacturers like Suzuki would not have reached the same level of development in this area until seven years later.

Do not be surprised why the first bike from the Yamaha Motorcycles 125 YA-1 was a fairly faithful copy of the 1949 DKW RT 12. The only two important differences were the four speeds instead of the original three speed gearbox, and the transmission gear replaced the primary chain drive.


Yamaha YA-1

Yamaha YA-1
Yamaha YA-1

Despite the fact that Yamaha YA-1 – baptized “Acatombo” (Red dragonfly) by its admirers – had “nothing special” and was more expensive than its competitors, it almost immediately became a great success.

It was safe:

before putting it on the market, prototypes were tested along 10,000 miles of rugged rides. Even the big boss himself, Ginichi Kawakami, was riding a bike without any incident from Hamamatsu in Tokyo.

It was beautiful:

with this model Yamaha was the first manufacturer to pay particular attention to the design of the motorcycle. This assignment was handed over to GK Design in Tokyo. It is worth mentioning that this company has developed the “look” of most Yamaha motorcycles today.

It was fast:

YA-1 received excellent overall results in the most important local races of that time: Mount Fuji (third place) and Mount Asama (first place).

In fact it was this aggressive attitude in the sporting world that helped Yamaha Motorcycles gain quick recognition even though they made a late start on the motorcycle scene (compared to Honda and Suzuki).

In other words:

Yamaha Motorcycles have demonstrated the world from which they came to be considered from the very beginning as good and fierce competitors. Especially Honda and Suzuki.

Other important models since then:

 Yamaha YD-1

Yamaha YD-1
Yamaha YD-1

(Competition for Suzuki TP at that time)

Some technical specifications:

Yamaha YD-1

15 hp

70 mph

185,000 yen

in comparison with:

Suzuki TP

18 hp

80 mph

195,000 yen

Yamaha YDS-1

Yamaha YDS-1
Yamaha YDS-1

Dream of the bike of all young Japanese between 1959-1960.

Some technical specifications:

20 hp

333 pounds.

85 mph

Direct rival Honda CB72

Since then, the history of models and victories goes on and on…

Today, Yamaha Motorcycles is one of the main players on the worldwide motorcycling scene.

Just to give you an idea of ​​how important Yamaha motorcycles are:

– Yamaha YBR is one of the best Yamaha motorcycle.

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