July 12, 2012

Early History

(from an anonymous 1972 American motorcycle book)

Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd. was established in 1955 as a small subsidiary of Nippon Gakki, Ltd., the world’s largest piano manufacturer. The firms entrance into the field of motorcycle production was hardly considered a threat by the giants of the industry, but after the first model was introduced and marketed later that same year, they quickly realized that Yamaha would soon be a formidable competitor.

1955 Yamaha YA-1

The first Yamaha was designated YA-1 and dubbed the “Red Dragonfly”. It was styled after the famous BMW and was powered by a single cylinder 125cc two stroke engine. This first effort was such a success that by 1959, the company was offering sports and utility models in 125, 175, and 250cc displacements. In 1960, their phenomenal growth continued, multiplying their original investment nearly thirty times and expanding their product line to include mopeds, boats, and outboard motors.

By that time, Asian export market had already proven very profitable, but it wasn’t until the early-to-mid-1960’s that foreign sales really began to soar: America discovered the Japanese motorcycle and suddenly the demand for them became overwhelming.

The motorcycle industry’s heated competition for this new market was eventually carried to the European Grand Prix circuit, where Yamaha and their rivals locked horns in a furious racing and development battle. Factory engineers worked frantically to provide faster and more powerful machines for the Grand Prix effort, and as a result, two-stroke motorcycle technology advanced by leaps and bounds. The Yamaha racing team won five world championships.

After development and thorough testing the products of this racing program were employed on production machines: mainly, the rotary valve in 1961, Autolube oil injection in 1963 and the five-port cylinder in 1968.

Meanwhile Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd. continued to grow – building nine new plants in Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Equador, and Guatemala. In addition to achievement awards in motorcycle engineering, the company also received great acclaim for their design of the Toyota 2000 GT in 1966, and the introduction of Yamaha snowmobiles in 1968.

Most recently, the firm has built a new test facility in Japan and introduced a complete line of off-road Enduro and Motocross motorcycles. They have also expanded their street motorcycle offering by applying their Toyota 2000 GT experience to the construction of Yamaha’s first four stroke model-the XS1.

The Yamaha trademark of three crossed tuning forks has now become a familiar sight all over the world and serves as a subtle reminder of the firm’s musical origin. Their motorcycle products currently range from the 58cc Mini-Enduro to racing’s “dynamic duo”, the 250cc TD and 350cc TR road racers. There is a model to suit every enthusiast and each one reflects, as Yamahas always have, the ever-growing interests of the motorcycling public. 


Yamaha (US models)

Here are listed all the models that sold new in the USA. Worldwide there are many more Yamaha models. Some of those are similar to US models, and some are different. Here the focus is on the smaller 50-80cc Yamahas that are like mopeds. Those small Yamahas are also displayed and explained.  

Yamaha 1964-67

Yamaha 1964-67

1962 Yamaha
0055  MJ2 Omaha (55cc rotary valve 3-speed)
0055  MJ2T Omaha Trail (55cc rotary valve 3-speed)
0250  YD3 Sport 250 (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  YDS2 Super Sport (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  TD1 (Road Racer)

1963 Yamaha
0055  MJ2 Omaha 55 (55cc rotary valve 3-speed)
0055  MJ2T Omaha Trail (55cc rotary valve 3-speed)
0080  YG1T Trailmaster (73cc rotary valve 4-sp)
0250  YD3 Sport 250 (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  YDT1 Touring (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)

1964 saw the introduction of Autolube oil injection on all models. With the new lubrication system and other improvements, the YJ1 became the YJ2, the YG1K became the YG1K (same) and YGS1T, the YDS2 became YDS3C. 

1964 Yamaha
0050  U5 Newport (50cc rotary valve 3-sp auto-clutch)
0055  MJ2 Omaha 55 (55cc rotary valve 3-speed)
0055  MJ2T Omaha Trail (55cc rotary valve 3-speed)
0060  YJ2 Campus 60 (58cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0080  MG1T Omaha 80 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0125  YA5 Santa Barbara (123cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0250  TD1B (Road Racer)


With the addition of electric starting, the U5 and YA5 became U5E and YA6.

Yamaha 1964-72

Yamaha 1964-72

1965 Yamaha
0050  U5L, U5E Newport (50cc rotary valve 3-sp auto-clutch)
0060  YJ2 Campus 60 (58cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0080  MG1T Omaha 80 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0080  YG1T/YG1TK Trail 80 (73cc rotary valve 4-sp)
0125  YA6 Santa Barbara (123cc rotary-valve 4-speed)
0250  YDS3 Super Sport (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  YDS3C Catalina 250 (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0305  YM1 Catalina 305 (305cc piston-port twin 4-sp)

1966 Yamaha
0050  U5E Newport (50cc rotary valve 3-sp auto-clutch)
0080  YGS1 Sport 80 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0080  YGS1T Sport 80 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0100  YL1 Twin Jet 100 (98cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0125  YA6 Santa Barbara (123cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0125  YA6B Santa Barbara (123cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0250  YDS3 Super Sport (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  YDS3C Catalina 250 (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0305  YM1S Catalina Sport (305cc piston-port twin 4-sp)

1967 saw new models YL2, YCS1, YR1 and primary kickstarting on some models. With the addition of electric starting, the YL1 became the YL1E and the YDS3C became the DS5. The new YL2C and YCS1 were also equipped with electric starters.

1967 Yamaha
0050  U5E Newport 50 (50cc rotary valve 3-sp auto-clutch)
0100  YL1E Twin Jet 100 (98cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0100  YL2 Rotary Jet 100 (97cc rotary valve 4-speed)

Yamaha 1968-73

Yamaha 1968-73

0100  YL2C Trailmaster (97cc rotary valve 4-speed)
  YCS1 Bonanza 180 (180cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
  DS5 Yamaha 250 (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  TD1C (Road Racer)
0350  YR1 Gran Prix 350 (348cc piston-port twin 4-sp)

1968 saw the introduction of a new 5-port cylinder design on the DT1, YAS1C and YR2C. (5-port means 2-intake ports, 2-transfers, 1-exhaust) With the addition of electric starting and other changes, the YG1K and YGS1T became the YG5T, and the YCS1 became the YCS1C.

1968 Yamaha
0080 YG5T Trailmaster 80 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0100  YL2CM Trailmaster (97cc rotary-valve 4-speed)
0125  YAS1C Scrambler 125 (124cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0180  YCS1C Bonanza 180 (180cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  DS5 Scrambler 250 (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)

0250  DT1 Enduro 250 (246cc piston-port 4-speed)
0350  YR2 Gran Prix 350 (348cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0350  YR2C Scrambler 350 (348cc piston-port twin 4-sp)

1969 saw new models AT1 (electric start), CT1, L5T (electric start and two-range, 3-speed transmission. The YA1SC became the AS2C and the YG5T became the G5S (without electric starting). The DS5 of 1967 evolved into the DS6C (without electric start). The YR2C became the newly styled R3. DT1 became DT1B. The five-port cylinder design was now used on all of the piston-port (piston-controlled induction) engines. Rotary (disc) valve engines do not have any intake ports in the cylinder at all. Instead their intake is through the side of the crankcase and crankshaft. A spinning disk with a cut-away blocks the air-fuel mist from back flow.  

1969 Yamaha G5-S

1969 Yamaha
0080 G5S Yamaha 80 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0100  L5T Trail 100 (97cc rotary-valve 2 x 3 speed)
0125  AS2C Scrambler (124cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0125  AT1E Enduro 125 (123cc piston-port 4-speed)
0125  AT1M Enduro 125 (123cc piston-port 4-speed)
0175  CT1 Enduro 175 (171cc piston-port 4-speed)
0250  DS6C Scrambler (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  DT1B Enduro (246cc piston-port 4-speed)
0250  DT1S Enduro (246cc piston-port 4-speed)
0350  R3 Sport 350 (348cc piston-port 4-speed)

1970 saw new models HS1, HT1, RT1, XS1 and the introduction of Keystone-type (trapezoidal or slanted-top) piston rings. The YCS1C and R3 were completely revamped to produce the CS3C and R5. With new styling and internal improvements the G5S, AT1, L5T, CT1, DT1B and D6SC became the G6S, AT1B, L5TA, CT1B, DT1C and DS6B. The five-port cylinder was also used on the new HS1, HT1, and RT1.

1970 Yamaha
0080  G6S Yamaha 80 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0090  HS1 Twin Street (89cc piston-port twin 5-speed)
0090  HT1 Enduro 90 (89cc piston-port 5-speed)
0100  L5TA Trail 100 (97cc rotary-valve 2 x 3 speed)
0125  AT1B Enduro 125 (123cc piston-port 4-speed)
0125  ATM1B Enduro (123cc piston-port 4-speed)
0175  CT1B Enduro 175 (171cc piston-port 4-speed)
CS3C Scrambler (195cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  DS6B Scrambler (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  DT1C/DT1CMX (246cc piston-port 4-speed

1971 Yamaha JT1 Mini Enduro
Notice how on a rotary valve two-stroke,
the carburetor is hidden behind the
cover where the clutch normally is.

0250  TD2 (Road Racer)
0350  TR2 (Road Racer)
0350  R5 Sport 350 (347cc piston-port  twin)
0360  RT1/RT1M Enduro (351cc piston-port)
0650  XS1 (4 stroke twin) (653cc SOHC)

1971 saw the new JT1 Mini Enduro. All 1971 models carried a last letter designation change from their 1970 versions. (Some end letters increased, like B to C, and others decreased, like C to B) For example, the HT1 of 1970 became the HT1B of 1971, even though very few changes were made.

1971 Yamaha 
0060  JT1 Mini Enduro (58cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0080  G6SB Yamaha 80 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0090  HS1B Twin Street (89cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0090  HT1B Enduro 90 (89cc piston-port 4-sp)
0090  HT1BM (off road) (89cc piston-port 4-sp)

0125  AT1C Enduro 125 (123cc piston-port 4-speed)
  AT1MX (Motocross) (123cc piston-port 4-speed)
0175  CT1C Enduro 175 (171cc piston-port 4-speed)
0200  CS3B Scrambler (195cc piston-port twin 4-speed)
0250  DT1E Enduro 250 (246cc piston-port 4-speed)
0250  DT1MX (Motocross) (246cc piston-port 4-speed)

0250  TD2B (Road Racer)
0350  TR2B (Road Racer)
0350  R5B Sport 350 (347cc piston-port  twin)
0360  RT1B/RT1MX Enduro (351cc piston-port)
0650  XS1B (4 stroke twin) (653cc SOHC)

1972 Yamaha U7E

1972 saw the introduction of reed valve induction on the AT2, CT2, DT2, RT2, and the new LT2 and U7E. The HS1 was enlarged to 97cc, restyled and designated LS2. The DS6 was completely revamped and designated DS7. The JT1 Mini Enduro was made available in either street trim (JT2L) or off-road trim (JT2M). The XS1 was fitted with a front disc brake and electric starting, and re-designated XS2.

1969 to 1972 Yamaha model names (except U5 and U7) had the engine size (cc) in the first letter J=60, G=80, H=90, L=100, A=125, C=175 or 200, D=250, R=350 or 360, X=650, followed by the bike type T=Trail, S=Street, M=Motocross. 

1972 Yamaha
0160  JT2L Trail 60 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0160  JT2M Mini 60 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0370  U7E Newport 70 (73cc reed valve 3-sp auto-clutch)
0080  G7S Scrambler 80 (73cc rotary valve 4-speed)
0100  LS2 Twin Street 100 (97cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0100  LT2/LT2M Enduro (97cc reed valve 5-speed)
0125  AT2 125 (123cc reed valve)
0175  CT2 Enduro 175 (171cc reed valve)
0250  DT2 Enduro (246cc piston-port 4-speed)
0250  DS7 (street twin) (246cc piston-port twin 4-sp)
0250  TD3 (Road Racer)
0350  TR3 (Road Racer)
0350  R5C Sport 350 (347cc piston-port  twin)
0360  RT2/RT2MX Enduro (351cc reed valve)
0650  XS2 (4 stroke twin) (653cc SOHC)

It’s reed valves for everyone! Small or big, single or twin, come and get your free 20% more torque! Soon reed valves were on all two-stroke Yamahas. In the following few years Suzuki, Kawasaki and most other two-stroke motorcycles switched to reed valve induction.

In 1973 the G7S, DT2, DS7, R5C were replaced by GT1, DT3, RD250, RD350 with reed valve cylinders and other improvements. 

1973 was the beginning of standardized format model names, where the first two or more digits are letters that mean what model type, followed by two or more digits with numbers that mean what size engine. 

1973 Yamaha
0060  RD60 (Street)    (reed valve)
0080  GT1 Enduro 80  (reed valve)
0080  GTMX 80 (MX) (reed valve)
0100  LT3 Enduro 100 (reed valve)
0100  LTMX 100 (MX) (reed valve)
0125  AT3 Enduro 125  (reed valve)
0175  CT3 Enduro 175  (reed valve)
0250  DT3 Enduro 250 (reed valve)
0250  RD250 (Street)  (reed valve twin)
0250  MX250 (MX)     (reed valve)
0250  TZ250 (Road Racer)
0350  RD350 (Street) (reed valve twin)
0360  MX360 (MX)     (reed valve)
0360  RT3 Enduro 360 (reed valve)
0500  SC500 YZ (MX)  (reed valve)
0500  TX500 (Street) (500cc SOHC twin)
0650  TX650 (Street) (653cc SOHC twin)
0750  TX750 (Street) (750cc SOHC twin)

1974 was the “end of confusion” when all models names were standardized. RD means Street, GT means Enduro, DT means Dual Purpose, TY means Trials, IT means Off Road, MX means Motocross, YZ means Motocross Racer, TZ means Road Racer, TX or XS means Street 4-stroke. The bike type, size, and year are easy to see from the model name. 

1974 Yamaha RD60

1974 Yamaha (suffix A)
0060  RD60A  (Street)
0080  GT80A  (Enduro)
0080  GTMXA  (Motocross)
0080  TY80A   (Trials)
0080  YZ80A   (MX Racer)
0100  MX100A (Motocross)
0125  MX125A (Motocross)
0125  YZ125A (MX Racer)
0175  MX175A (Motocross)
0200  RD200A (Street)
0250  RD250A (Street)
0250  TY250A (Trials)
0250  MX250A (Motocross)
0250  YZ250A (MX Racer)
0350  RD350A (Street)
0350  TZ350A (Road Racer)
0360  MX360A (Motocross)
0360  YZ360A (MX Racer)
0500  SC500A (Motocross)
0500  TX500A (Street)
0650  TX650A (Street)
0750  TX750A (Street)
0750  TZ750A (Road Racer)

1975 Yamaha GT80

1975 Yamaha (suffix B)
0060  RD60B  (Street)
0080  GT80C  (Enduro)
0080  GTMXB  (Motocross)
0080  TY80B   (Trials)
0080  YZ80B   (MX Racer)
0100  DT100B (Dual Purpose)
0100  MX100B (Motocross)
0125  DT125B (Trail)
0125  TA125  (Road Racer)
0125  RD125B (Street)
0125  MX125B (Motocross)
0125  YZ125B (MX Racer)
0175  DT175B (Trail)
0175  MX175B (Motocross)
0200  RD200B (Street)
0250  RD250B (Street)
0175  TY175B (Trials)
0250  MX250B (Motocross)
0250  YZ250B (MX Racer)
0350  RD350B (Street)
0400  MX400B (Motocross)
0360  YZ360B (MX Racer)
0500  XS500B (Street)
0650  XS650B (Street)

1976 Yamaha LB80-2 Chappy

1976 Yamaha (suffix C)
0080  GT80C (Dual Purpose)
0080  GTMXC (Motocross)
0080  YZ80C  (MX Racer)
0080  LB80-2AC Chappy

0080  LB80-2HC Chappy
0100  DT100C (Dual Purpose)
0100  YZ100C (MX Racer)
0100  RS100C (Street)
0125  DT125C (Dual Purpose)
0125  RD125C (Street)
0125  MX125C (Motocross)
0125  YZ125C (MX Racer)
0175  DT175C (Dual Purpose)
0175  TY175C (Trials)
0200  RD200C (Street)
0250  DT250C (Dual Purpose)
0250  TY250C (Trials)
0250  TZ250C (Road Racer)
0350  TZ350C (Road Racer)

0360  XS360C (Street)
0400  RD400C (Street)
0400  DT400C (Dual Purpose)
0400  IT400C (Off Road)
0400  YZ400C (MX Racer)
0500  XT500C (Street)
0500  XS500C (Street)
0650  XS650C (Street)

1977 Yamaha LB80-3 Champ

1977 Yamaha (suffix D)
0080  GTMXD (Motocross)
0080  YZ80D  (MX Racer)
0080  LB80-2AD Chappy

0080  LB80-3D Champ
0100  DT100D (Dual Purpose)
0100  YZ100D (MX Racer)
0125  YZ125D (MX Racer)
0175  IT175D (Off Road)
0250  DT250D (Dual Purpose)
0250  TY250D (Trials)
0250  TZ250D (Road Racer)
0350  TZ350D (Road Racer)

0360  XS360D (Street)
  XS400D (Street)
0400  RD400D (Street)
0400  DT400D (Dual Purpose)
0400  YZ400D (MX Racer)
0500  XT500D (Street)
0500  XS500D (Street)
0650  XS650D (Street)
  XS750D (Street)
0750  TZ750D (Road Racer)

1978 Yamaha LB50-P Chappy

1978 Yamaha (suffix E)
0050  LB50-PE Chappy

0080  GT80E (Dual Purpose)
0080  GTMXE (Motocross)
0080  YZ80E  (MX Racer)
0080  LB80-2AE Chappy
0100  DT100E (Dual Purpose)
0100  YZ100E (MX Racer)
0125  YZ125E (MX Racer)
  DT125E (Dual Purpose)
0175  IT175E (Off Road)
0250  DT250E (Dual Purpose)
0250  TZ250E (Road Racer)
0350  TZ350E (Road Racer)

0400  RD400E (Street)
0400  DT400E (Dual Purpose)

1979 Yamaha QT50 Yamahopper

0400  YZ400E (MX Racer)
0400  XS400E, XS400-2E
0500  XT500E (Dual Purpose)

0500  SR500E (Street)
0500  XS500E (Street)
0650  XS650E, XS650SE
  XS750E, XS750SE
1100  XS1100E (Street)


In 1979 the Yamahopper QT50 was introduced. Here is a excellent article about the cutie on mopedarmy.comThe Yamaha QT50 is the same design as Honda NC50 and Suzuki FA50. All three ultralights are zippy, well made, and easy to ride.

1979 was the last year of over-175cc two-stroke Yamaha street bikes, including the beloved RD400. 

1979 Yamaha QT50 Yamahopper

1979 Yamaha (suffix F)
0050  QT50F Yamahopper

0050  LB50-PF Chappy

0080  GT80F (Dual Purpose)
0080  GTMXF (Motocross)
0080  YZ80F  (MX Racer)
0100 DT100F (Dual Purpose)
0100  YZ100F (MX Racer)
  MX100F (Motocross)
0125  YZ125F (MX Racer)
  DT125F (Dual Purpose)
0175  IT175F(Off Road)
0175  MX175F (Motocross)

0250 DT250F (Dual Purpose)
0250 YZ250F (MX Racer)
0250  IT250F (Off Road)
0250  TZ250F (Road Racer)

  XS400F , XS400-2F
0400  RD400F (Street)

1980 Yamaha LC50 Champ

0400  IT400F (Off Road)
400  YZ400F (MX Racer)
0500  TT500F (Street)

0500  SR500F (Street)
0650  XS650F, XS650SF, XS650-2F
  XS750F, XS750SF
1100  XS1100F (Street)

In 1980 Yamaha sold the LC50 Champ. It was like a QT50 with fat tires. Here is more about the Yamaha LC50

1980 Yamaha (suffix G)
  QT50G  Yamahopper
  QT50-2G Yamahopper
  LB50-PG Chappy
  LC50G  Champ
080  GT80G (Dual Purpose)
0080  YZ80G  (MX Racer)
0080  MX80G (Motocross)

1980 Yamaha QT50 Yamahopper

0100  DT100G (Dual Purpose)
  YZ100G (MX Racer)
0100  MX100G (Motocross)
  IT125G (Off Road)
0125  YZ125G (MX Racer)
  DT125G (Dual Purpose)
0125  TZ125G (Road Racer)

0175  IT175G (Off Road)
0175  MX175G (Motocross)

0175  DT175G (Dual Purpose)
0250  YZ250G (MX Racer)
  IT250G (Off Road)
0250  SR250G (Street)
0250  TT250G (Street)
  XT250G (Dual Purpose)
0250  TZ250G (Road Racer)

  XS400G, XS400SG
  IT425G (Off Road)
0400  YZ465G (MX Racer)
0500  TT500G (Street)

1981 Yamaha PW50

0500  XT500G (Dual Purpose)
0500  SR500G (Street)
0650  XJ650G (Street)
0650  XS650G, XS650SG
  XS850G, XS850SG
1100  XS1100G, XS1100SG, XS1100LG


New for 1981 is the little kids Yamaha. The PW50 Y-Zinger has the same engine and shaft-drive as QT50. That’s right, shaft drive! These are the only (common) 50cc motorcycles with shaft drive. 

1981 Yamaha (suffix H)
  QT50H  Yamahopper

  PW50H Y-Zinger
060  YZ60H (MX Racer)
0080  YZ80H  (MX Racer)

1981 Yamaha QT50

0080  MX80H (Motocross)












1983-87 Yamaha QT50