A brief history of Yamaha bikes
Yamaha was a relative latecomer to the motorcycle world, with the bike division of Yamaha only established in 1955. As with many of the world’s leading bike manufacturers that are still around today, it was motorsport that helped establish it as a brand.
Yamaha wasted little time after they joined the sport and in their first year of production won the important Mt Fuji assent in the 125 cc class. They also won the top three spots in the All Japan Autobike Endurance road race in the same year. While those races might not mean much to us 50 years later, at the time, this was big news in the motorbike racing world – particularly in their home country, Japan.
With Yamaha now a name in the Japanese market, it took a little longer to break through in international competitions and it wasn’t until eight years later in 1963 that Yamaha’s persistence paid off with victory in the 250cc class at the Belgian Grand Prix. Sales of road bikes soon followed in Europe, and international expansion began in earnest.
In 1970 its XS-1 bike, a 650cc four stroke was launched matching the performance of stablished British bikes of the era, the Triumph Bonneville and BSA Gold Star.
1998 was a big year for Yamaha with the launch of its YZF-R1, acclaimed by many as one of the best super sport models of its generation. The R1 brought the best of race-bred engines together with leading chassis technology for bikers, with many seeing it as one of the best high performance bikes on the market.
Moving to the present day, today’s range of Yamaha motorcycles includes tourers, roadsters and cruisers and Yamaha firmly remains one of the most popular bikes on UK roads.