A History of Yamaha and their Motorcycles
The second-largest of Japan's "Big Four," Yamaha has been making motorcycles since 1955, with models arriving in the United States not long after. Since then, Yamaha has competed with Honda both on and off the track, racing at the highest levels while generously allowing all of that technology and engineering experience to flow down to its products.
When you hear the word Yamaha, you might think of grand pianos or fantastic motorcycles, depending on your interests. After all, it's no secret that the Japanese firm has had enormous success in the music and motorcycle industries.
Yamaha is well-known for producing durable and high-performance motorcycles, which almost every young boy in the 1970s and 1980s aspired to purchase. That is particularly because the glitz and speed of Yamaha motorcycles enchanted everyone. Today, we'll take a closer look at some of Yamaha's top motorcycles throughout the company's history. The majority of these are still highly valued today.
For decades, Yamaha has produced some of the top motorcycles and sports bikes in the market. The company is frequently at the top of the best-seller lists. But, with such a long history of bikes, which ones have proven to be the most impactful and notable? We've compiled a list of the top 10 Yamaha motorcycles ever produced.
Team Blue enters 2021 with some fantastic new bikes, upgraded bikes, and old favorites that are no longer available. This year, the new MT-09 was released, but not the MT-10 that has been rumored.
The all-new Tenere 700 should pique the interest of adventure bike enthusiasts. The Tracer 9 GT, on the other hand, provides Yamaha with a good choice for individuals who prefer hard bags yet want to spend more time on the road.
Yamaha quickly gained a reputation for exceptional durability, which it has maintained to this day. This reputation extends to a complete array of dirt, street, and dual-purpose bikes, as well as ATVs, side-by-side off-road vehicles, watercraft, and other products.
The company recently debuted a couple of Niken three-wheelers to further broaden the rider envelope, and it also started importing its long-running line of Ebikes to the United States in 2019: it's the world's largest maker of the increasingly popular electric-assisted bicycles.
The YZF-R6 and the VMAX are two bikes that Yamaha does not provide. The withdrawal of the R6 signals the end of the middleweight supersport category; nonetheless, while the R6 is no longer in production, it maintains a history of supersport superiority that no other bike can equal.
The VMAX's long-lasting history began when the bike was first released as the V-Max, ushering in the era of the power cruiser. It was powerful and had a unique quality, but unfortunately, sales didn't follow. The VMAX was gradually phased out of Yamaha's range in various markets worldwide until its era came to an end.
Best Yamaha Motorcycles
Yamaha, of course, has a lot more to offer. Here are some of Yamaha's best motorcycles, ranging from the YZF R15 to the YDS3C Big Bear and MT-09:
Yamaha Motor Company has been producing the YZF-R15 single-cylinder sportbike since 2008. The second generation, dubbed v2.0, was introduced in September 2011 in India and in April 2014 in Indonesia, whereas the third edition of the bike, dubbed v3.0, was released in January 2017.
This particular motorcycle is available in five models and five colors, with the premium variant starting at Rs. 1,83,575 in India. The Yamaha YZF R15 V4 boasts a 155cc BS6 engine that produces 18.1 horsepower and 14.2 Nm of torque. Moreover, the Yamaha YZF R15 V4 features anti-lock brakes on both the front and rear discs. It weighs 142 kilograms and features an 11-liter fuel tank.
The new models have incorporated several stylish features, including a bi-functional LED headlight, a full-fairing, M-air duct design, a step-up seat, and a side-slung exhaust. Both motorcycles have a digital instrument cluster, but the M-model adds Bluetooth connectivity, a quick shifter, and traction control to the mix.
The mechanical parameters remain the same as before, with a BS6-compliant 155cc single-cylinder engine producing 18.1bhp vs. 18.3bhp on the previous model. At 7,500rpm, the highest torque output is 14.2Nm. A slipper and an assist clutch are also included in the six-speed gearbox.
The motorcycles' suspension consists of upside-down front forks and a rear mono-shock. Single discs on both wheels handle braking duties, while a dual-channel ABS and a side-stand engine cut-off feature provide added safety.
It's sad and disheartening to see favorite models go, but newcomers like the Tenere 700 have taken the middleweight adventure bike market by storm. The bike has already begun to gain a cult following because of its reasonable size, power, and weight - not to mention its relatively affordable pricing.
Yamaha has been producing the Ténéré 700, a midsize adventure/dual-sport motorbike, since 2019. The motorbike is powered by a 689cc parallel-twin engine with a six-speed gearbox and chain drive. ABS brakes are switchable by the rider.
While there are certain reasons for the lower spec and equipment levels, it still provides good value for money. The MT-07 and the Tracer 700 Adventure motorcycles can make fantastic starting bikes.
The combination of a very high-quality foam core and an ergonomic design produces extremely comfortable seating with excellent motorcycle handling. Yamaha has impressively proved its claim to supremacy in the mid-range travel enduro segment with the Ténéré 700, or T7 for short.
The Ténéré 700 is powered by a 689cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected inline twin-cylinder engine based on Yamaha's award-winning MT-07. This tiny power train is designed for adventure riding, with tractable and controllable power in all riding conditions.
The Ténéré 700's small body, slim gasoline tank, and flat seat provide for maximum rider mobility, allowing the rider to grab the tank while sitting or standing. The protective shielding and handguards work in tandem with the tapered handlebar to offer comfort on the roughest rides.
Yamaha YZF1000 R1
The Yamaha YZF 1000 is the next greatest Yamaha bike on our list. This 1998 superbike has adopted the features of several bikes to turn into one incredible beast of a machine. Its dependability, speed, comfort, and appearance are some of the top qualities that make this bike stand out. The bike weighed 190 kg and had a 998cc engine with a top speed of 266 km/h.
Yamaha introduced this bike to dethrone its opponent (Honda Fireblade) from first place on the sales charts, but it received a lot more than it bargained for. The R1 lived up to its reputation of being lighter, stronger, and faster, and it quickly gained a large following. Despite Yamaha's numerous achievements, the R1 is without a doubt one of the company's greatest masterpieces.
Yamaha made some significant adjustments to the model as the competition grew stronger. This included cosmetic changes such as an under-seat twin exhaust and performance enhancements such as radial brakes and, for the first time, an R1 Ram-air intake. Furthermore, prior versions' proclivity for wheelies was decreased by altering the frame geometry and weight distribution. The all-new engine featured a separate top crankcase and cylinder block and was no longer used as a stressed element of the frame.
YZR500 (Yamaha YZR500) (OW48)
Don't be turned off by the motorcycle's hefty appearance! We're talking about the champion of not one but multiple global championships! In fact, it has enthralled a slew of motorbike superstars with its quick handling and acceleration.
The Yamaha OW48 was similar in weight to earlier motorcycles, but it had a top speed of 290 km/h, which was more than double that of the Big Bear. This strong bike features an aluminum frame and a liquid-cooled two-stroke motor. Needless to say, OW48 continues to have a large following around the world.
The Yamaha MT-09 is a standard or naked MT series motorbike with a 12-valve DOHC inline-three engine, a lightweight cast alloy chassis, and a cross-plane crankshaft.
The frame and double-sided swingarm are both made of a lightweight alloy that is cast in two sections. The headstock and back of the frame castings are bolted together, whereas the swingarm sections are welded together. The MT-09 is the first Yamaha motorcycle with an inline-three engine since the XS750 and XS850. Both motorcycles are shaft-driven and date from 1976 to 1981.
LED lighting, slipper clutch, ABS, traction control, fully adjustable suspension, and revised appearance are some of the changes that were made to the MT-09 in 2017.
Yamaha has achieved their goal by enhancing the MT-09's exhilaration and reputation. The Yamaha MT-09 debuted in 2014 and is also known as the FZ-09 in North America. It mostly competes with the Triumph Street Triple, the Z900 Brutale/Dragster 800 Duke 790/890, and other similar motorcycles. Although it covers a wide range of motorcycles, including Yamaha's own MT-07 and MT-10, it also covers the company's own smaller MT-07 and larger MT-10.
With only 98 cc and a top speed of 113 km/h, the Yamaha RX100 was a little bike. You might be wondering why this little 95 kg bike is ranked so high on the list at this point. The RX100, it turns out, is one of the most popular Yamaha bikes among consumers due to its lightweight and incredible durability!
Not only did it garner a lot of attention in India, but every adolescent in the 1990s was enamored with this very inexpensive and extremely reliable motorcycle. Furthermore, due to the astonishing amount of power that its small engine could provide, the RX100 was very popular in drag racing!
YZF-R7 Yamaha (OW-02)
The Yamaha YZF-R7, a newer bike that debuted in 1999, is one of the best models Yamaha has ever produced. Many racers in the early 2000s were drawn to this athletic bike, which featured a 749 cc, 4-stroke, 20-valve engine, and a striking appearance. The Yamaha YZF-R7 is a top-spec racing bike with 106 horsepower and a top speed of around 160 km/h.
This bike is still highly respected by many people today. In fact, Freddie Spencer, a well-known racer, rode the R7 for fun in 2016. Although some have noted that the bike appears to be slightly larger for its performance, its power and dependability compensate for it.
Remember how the Big Bear was the first scrambler to hit the streets? The Yamaha XT500, on the other hand, pushed it to a whole new level, ushering in a new age in sporting motorcycles. Although the production of this nimble yet powerful bike began in the mid-1970s, it continues to have a devoted following.
Aside from its lovely sleek design, the most notable characteristic of this 160km/h bike is that it debuted the reliable and well-loved 4-stroke engine. Furthermore, this bike (albeit substantially modified) won a number of races and even finished second in the 1977 GrandPrix world championship!
We're actually going back a year with the Yamaha RD350B. This bike is not only lighter than the Big Bear and YZ250 before it, but it also has greater power! With this bike, Yamaha upgraded their engines to include reed valves, allowing for higher power without the risk of blowouts.
The RD350B had a maximum speed of 169 km/h and a power output of 39 horsepower. The bike also has an Autolube automated oil injection system for the owner's convenience. It was also the first sports bike produced in India. All of these characteristics resulted in a huge fan base for the RD350B, which is still going strong today.
The gorgeous Yamaha YZ250 is another fantastic model. With 21 horsepower and a top speed of 141 mph, it is extremely similar to the Big Bear in terms of power and speed. It does, however, include Yamaha's mono-shock suspension system, which helped the company win the world championship last year.
In addition, the bike's slim, basic design and simple handling made it particularly popular among novice riders. Its vibrant color selections were also a hit with owners, with blue being the most popular. One thing is certain: the YZ250 made sure you rode in style.
Here are a couple of bonus entries - Yamaha motorcycles that were incredibly popular among riders but just didn’t make the cut.
Big Bear Yamaha YDS3C
In comparison to some of the other sporting bikes on the market, the Yamaha Big Bear dual-sport motorcycle was actually quite small. The Bear is a touch heavier than most bikes of the time, at roughly 160kg, but the basic, classic frame and sleek form don't exactly scream huge and clunky.
Yamaha's first successful attempt at a street scrambler was this bike, which was released in 1965. The YDS2C has a top speed of 142 km/h, making it a powerful motorcycle for its day. In actuality, the bike was based on the Yamaha YDS3, which was responsible for the company's first racing triumphs.
It was crucial to make a strong first impression as the first bike imported from Japan to the United States. Fortunately, the Yamaha YD2 was well-liked both in the west and the east, thanks to its stocky appearance, stylish paint job, and a top speed of 113 km/h.
This city bike has a twin-cylinder engine and a pressed steel frame, as well as an electric start for the first time in Yamaha history. Fans adored this model for its dependability, despite the fact that it wasn't as fast or powerful as some of Yamaha's other bikes.
About THE AUTHOR
Russ currently owns a Yamaha FZ6N and KTM RC 390. When it comes to vintage bikes, his favorite motorcycle is the feisty BMW R32. He also holds a particular interest in the LAMS segment and triple cylinders. Himself a riding enthusiast, Russ has had experience with racetracks from around the world including Willow Springs Raceway in California and the Imola Circuit in Italy.Read More About Russ Crowley