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|The Yamaha Motor Corporation, Ltd., began on July 1, 1955, is a
major part of the entire Yamaha group, but is a separately managed
business entity from the Yamaha Corporation. The Yamaha Motor
Corporation is the second largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the
world. Yamaha Motor Corporation owns its wholly-owned subsidiary
in the U.S. called Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, that is handling
not only motorcycles, but also snow mobiles, golf carts, outboard
engines, and water vehicles, under the brand name of Yamaha as
In 1954 production of the first motorcycles began, a simple 125cc
single-cylinder two-stroke. It was a copy of the German DKW design,
which the British BSA Company had also copied in the post-war era
and manufactured as the Bantam.
The first Yamaha, the YAI, known to Japanese enthusiasts as
Akatombo, the "Red Dragonfly", established a reputation as a
well-built and reliable machine. Racing successes helped boost its
popularity and a second machine, the 175cc YCI was soon in
|The first Yamaha-designed motorcycle was the twin-cylinder YDI
produced in 1957. The racing version, producing 20bhp, won the
Mount Asama race that year. Production was still modest at 15,811
motorcycle, far less than Honda or Suzuki.
The company grew rapidly over the next three years and in 1959
introduced the first sports model to be offered by a Japanese factory,
the twin-cylinder YDSI with five-speed gearbox. Owners who wanted
to compete in road racing or motocross could buy kits to convert the
machine for both road and motocross racing.
By 1960 production had increased 600% to 138,000 motorcycles. In
Japan a period of recession followed during which Yamaha, and the
other major Japanese manufacturers, increased their exports so that
they would not be so dependent on the home market.
To help boost export sales, Yamaha sent a team to the European
Grand Prix in 1961, but it was not until the 1963 season that results
After the Korean War the American economy was booming and
Japanese exports were increasing. In 1962 Yamaha exported 12,000
motorcycles. The next year it was 36,000 and in 1964 production rose
In 1963 Yamaha had produced a small batch of 250CC road racing
motorcycles for sale, the air-cooled, twin-cylinder TDI. Ever since
then Yamaha has built and sold motorcycles that could be raced
successfully "straight out of the crate", and as a consequence
Yamaha machines have won more road races than any other make,
exposing Yamaha to a good deal of publicity.
By 1965 production was 244,000 units, split about 50/50 between
home and export sales. One of the biggest drawbacks to the sales of
two-strokes was that the rider had to mix oil with their gas. Yamaha
technicians accomplished a major technical feat by the development
and introduction of a new Autolube system.
Basically an oil tank that fed lubricant to a pump that metered oil to
the big ends, main bearings and cylinder barrels. It proved very
reliable and did away with mixing oil and gas at every fill up.
The first overseas factory was opened in Siam in 1966 to supply
Southeast Asia. In 1967 Yamaha production surpassed that of Suzuki
by 4,000 at 406,000 units. Yamaha established a lead with the
introduction of the first true trail bike "the 250cc single-cylinder DTI".
The company also developed a two-liter, six-cylinder, double
overhead-camshaft sports car unit for Toyota Motor. Which proved
helpful when Yamaha produced their own high-performance
The world's first production off-road motorcycle debuted in 1968 to
create an entirely new genre we know today as trail bikes. The DT-1
made a huge impact on motorcycling because it was truly
|In 1969 Yamaha build a full size road racing circuit near their main
factory at Iwata.
|By 1970 the number of models had expanded to 20 ranging from 50cc
to 350cc, with production up to 574,000 machines, 60% of which were
for export. That year Yamaha broke their two-stroke tradition by
launching their first four-stroke motorcycle, the 650cc XSI vertical twin
modeled on the famous Triumph twins.
Yamaha realized the long-term potential of the two-stroke engine and
continued to develop two-stroke bikes, concentrating on engines
400cc and under.
In 1973 production topped one million (1,000,000) motorcycles per
year for the first time, leaving Suzuki way behind at 642,000 and
catching up on Honda's 1,836,000. During the 1970's Yamaha
technicians concentrated on development of four-stroke models that
were designed to pass the ever-increasing exhaust emission laws
and to be more economical than the two-strokes that had made
Over the years Yamaha produced some less successful motorcycles:
The TX750 twin of 1972. The TX500 double overhead-camshaft,
four-valve per cylinder, twin of 1973. The XS750 shaft-drive, double
overhead-camshaft, three cylinder of 1976. And the XS Eleven,
four-cylinder of 1977, was at the time the biggest bike produced by a
Japanese manufacturer. Other four-strokes were more successful,
notably, the XT500 single-cylinder trail bike and the copy of the
Triumph 650cc, the xs650c of 1976.
|In the 70's the RD twin cylinder sports models were a big success as
well as the RD250LC and RD350LC water-cooled versions that
replaced them in the eighties which were based on the famous TZ
Production in 1980 was 2,214,000, with export sales of 1,383,000. In
the 1980's the company introduced the compact XJ four cylinder
models, ranging from 550cc to 1100cc. Not wanting to miss anything
the company also introduced the 750cc and 1000cc air-cooled V-twin
models followed by the XZ550 water-cooled, mid-weight sports bike.
In 1994 Yamaha announced the creation of Star Motorcycles, a new
standalone brand name for its cruiser series of motorcycles in the
American market. Although a separate brand, Star motorcycles will
continue to be sold at Yamaha dealerships. In other markets the same
bikes will still be sold as Yamahas. In 2006 The brand was expanded
to being its own company, although Yamaha still handles production
and distribution. The brand is operated out of the Yamaha America
offices in Cypress California; the motorcycles are designed in the
United States. By 2013, motorcycle sales were down globally 7.46%.
Yamaha was up, 27.56% in 2014.
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