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Yamaha Motorcycle History and a Quiz Too

By Walter F. Kern

Learn about Yamaha Motorcycle History and Take a Yamaha Quiz Too

This article gives a history lesson and quiz about Yamaha motorcycles. It is part of a series of motorcycle history lessons and quizzes.

Some may think they already know a lot about Yamaha, its history and its machines. Perhaps you would like to take a quiz on Yamaha history and skip the rest of this article. That's OK. You may want to come back later for more information.

Here's your chance to take the Yamaha Motorcycle History Quiz now. (Currently, the quiz does not work on mobile devices.) However, I hope you will first want to read more about Yamaha motorcycle history before you take the Yamaha quiz.

The following is a short potpourri of the history of Yamaha motorcycles.

Use it to satisfy yourself that you know Yamaha history now or as a stepping stone to learning more Yamaha motorcycle history later on. There will be a quiz at the end.

New riders of motorcycles are familiar with the current models but may not be aware of the history of a given motorcycle manufacturer. Someone unfamiliar with motorcycles associates the name Yamaha with musical instruments. In reality, Torakusa Yamaha did build an organ reed in 1887. He founded the Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd in 1897 to produce musical instruments. Over the years this company produced many products and in 1954 began production of the YA-1 single cylinder two-stroke 125cc motorcycle based on a copy of a German DKW RT125. The Japanese called this motorcycle the "Red Dragonfly."

The Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. was founded in 1955 after it separated from Nippon Gakki. The first Yamaha designed motorcycle was produced in 1957 and was a twin-cylinder model called the YD-1.

Yamaha began exporting to the United States in 1960.

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In 1963 Yamaha made the TD-1 motorcycle that was a 250cc road racing machine. Yamaha won its first road racing championship in 1964. Thus began a road racing tradition that assisted Yamaha to become well known and drove many new customers to its showrooms.

In 1965 Yamaha introduced an automatic oiling system for its two-stroke so the rider no longer had to worry about mixing oil and gasoline when filling up the gas tank.

In 1970 the first four-stroke 650cc motorcycle, the XS-1, was produced. It was a vertical twin. In 1974 Yamaha's model YZ250 was built with a single horizontal rear suspension and quickly became the best motocross bike available at that time.

Yamaha topped sales of 1,000,000 motorcycles per year in 1973 and continued its growth with sales of 2,214,000 per year by 1980.

In 1985 Yamaha produced the V-Max custom that drove 120 hp to the rear wheel. Also released that year was the FZ750 that was the first five-valve-per-cylinder motorcycle. In 1993 Yamaha introduced the GTS1000 that was the first Japanese bike to utilize a single-sided swinging arm front-wheel geometry invented by American James Parker. A special chassis had to be devised to contain this innovation that replaced the traditional telescoping forks. Both the V-Max and the GST1000 models were the only Yamahas featured in the Guggenheim exhibit, The Art of the Motorcycle. They are also featured and described in the book of the same name. (See Books.)

Many groups of loyal Yamaha customers have developed over the years. The Internet has several active groups including the International Star Riders Forum and the Road Star Riders Forum.

So, do you know the difference between a Lucky Star and a Midnight Star? Take the short 10-question trivia quiz on Yamaha motorcycles. This should be as easy as finding your Yamaha YZF-R6 parked at a camping rally of BMW owners.

Take the Yamaha Quiz. (This does not work if you are using a mobile device.)

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