Are motorcycles popular in Japan

Yamaha: The motorcycles from Japan

Motorcycle guide overview

In 1955, the Japanese company Yamaha started producing motorcycles. (Just click to enlarge)

Yamaha was up World-famous in the mid-1950s for its first-class musical instruments. On 1st of July In 1955, the Japanese giant entered the motorcycle industry and in the following years was able to prove itself as a established well-known manufacturer of motorcycles. Nowadays the product range of the second largest motorcycle manufacturer from Japan includes numerous models from scooters to luxury liners to high-performance racing machines.

Founding history of the company

Similar to Europe, the Japanese motorcycle industry can become one boast a long tradition. As early as 1908, a certain Torao Jamaba - not to be confused with Yamaha - developed a Bicycle with a powerful 500 cc four-stroke engine. But whether this vehicle is the first to be manufactured in Japan motorcycle no one knows exactly anymore.

What is certain, however, is that the In the first half of the 19th century, clever craftsmen worked in small workshops with the production of motorcycles. However, there were only few copies produced and mass production in the current sense was still a long way off and nothing was to change until the 1950s. It was not until after the Second World War that the industrial production of motorcycles began in Japan. This is due to a curious fact. As Japan emerged as a loser from World War II, the victorious powers decided that the country's industrial facilities should not be used for the construction of aircraft parts. So came Genichi Kawakami on the idea of ​​founding a new company - Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. - and the to use free industrial capacities from 1955 for the production of motorcycles.

The first Yamaha motorcycles

Yamaha entered racing as early as 1958.

In the year In 1955, Yamaha's first motorcycle became the YA-1who also lovingly "red dragonfly"was launched. The YA-1 model was a 125cc motorcycle with a 5.6 hp strengthen Single cylinder-Two-stroke engine. Since the YA-1 motorcycle is a almost 1: 1 copy of the DKW RT 125 represented, the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers were able to get one save large sums of money in development costs. Nobody in Japan was bothered by it anyway and Germany was ten thousand kilometers away.

In the mid-1950s, reliable and above all inexpensive mobile pedestals were very popular in Japan, something that Yamaha recognized early on and the market with high quality motorcycles at affordable prices. The company's boss Genichi Kawakami was a huge racing fan and he saw motorcycle racing as a great way to promote Yamaha motorcycles, so that is Japanese companies entered racing as early as 1958.

From In 1961, Yamaha was directly involved in the motorcycle world championship and already in the year In 1964 the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer was able to win the titlewhich nobody really expected. Because the big favorite in the 250cc class was the experienced four-time world champion Jim Redman. The inexperienced Englishman Phil Read competed against the star pilot and the huge favorites. He was able to defeat the world champion with his simple Yamaha racing machine, which was powered by a two-cylinder two-stroke engine. Suddenly everyone was talking about Yamaha outside of the racing scene. But this is no wonder, because at that time no company linked racing so closely with the production of series motorcycles as Yamaha. At that time, however, the high-performance street cars from Yamaha were only available in Japan.

The expansion of the motorcycle business in Europe

The The focal point of the motorcycle business in Europe was IFMA in Cologne represent. In the year In 1964, Yamaha made its debut in Germany at the IFMA in Cologne. A total of three new models were shown, namely: the 250 DS3 with a two-cylinder engine, the 80 YG1 model and the YF-1 moped with a single-cylinder engine. The presentation was organized in cooperation with the Japanese trading company Mitsui GmbH based in Düsseldorf. Yamaha dealers who have been with us since the very beginning included: Manfred Weihe from Löhne, who is now Vice President of Yamaha Motor Deutschland GmbH.

For Yamaha, the motorcycle business in Germany developed into a great success within a very short time, so that as early as 1966 there were 23 authorized dealers in Germany, and the trend was rising to sell more than 200 Yamaha motorcycles to two-stroke fans in the same year. The Yamaha XS1 and Yamaha TX 750 were among the most popular motorcycle models from the Japanese manufacturer at the time. The 1970s heralded a new age for motorcycle culture. From 1970 onwards, motorcycles suddenly enjoyed a completely different status. Motorcycles were no longer seen as vehicles for poor people, but increasingly as Sports equipmentwith which one in his Free time to experience exciting adventures. For adrenaline junkies there were still the fast two-stroke models such as the Yamaha DS3, while for drivers who appreciated a leisurely driving style, new chopper and cruiser models were added such as the Yamaha XS1 and a few later the successor model the Yamaha XS2 and the XS 650.

New chapter in the company's history

The Yamaha company was founded in Japan.

With the market launch of the 650 twin in 1970 the Japanese had one new chapter in the company's history pitched. For the first time, a came in on a Yamaha motorcycle Four-stroke for use. To the quality and performance of their Engines To demonstrate, Yamaha developed it "Big Red" motorcyclewith which the American Don Vesco set a new speed record for motorcycles in September 1970. The "Big Red" machine hit one on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the US state of Utah Speed ​​of 405.25 km / h and thus went in the history books as that fastest motorcycle a.

The The next big hit came in 1972 with the TX 750which paved the way for many new models. The TX 750 model was a Two-cylinder touring bikewhich quickly became a bestseller and was particularly popular in Germany. In 1976, the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers started the motorcycle world with the XT500 Enduro amazed that in a relatively short time to Symbol of freedom and adventure has been. The XT500 Enduro was for both the Off-road fun in the field, as well as for relaxed rides on the road. The XT500 Enduro became the Synonymous with adventure travelso it was only natural that the XT500 would be considered over the years Prototype for numerous enduro models acted.

Well sorted product portfolio

In the mid-1980s, motorcycle enthusiasts could find out about the balanced variety of models at Yamaha do not complain. For the representatives of The two-stroke group were the 250 and 350 RD machines available and in 1984 came the RD 500 LC add that one at the time Super athlete embodied who was looking for his own kind. The range of Enduro and Yamaha Cross-Machines sat out Single cylinder models along with those with two- and four-stroke engines were equipped. In the Middle class were they XJ550 and XJ650 settled, both with one novel DOHC four-stroke engine with four air-cooled cylinders were provided.

The real big sensation in the 1980s, however, was the new TR1, with which Yamaha broke new ground in terms of design and function. The In terms of optics, TR1 was strongly reminiscent of the Vincent Black Shadow from the 1950s Years. The installation position of the V2 four-stroke engine as well as the bridge frame and some other details were partly designed in the same way as the legendary model. A novelty, however, was the closed fat chain case represented, whereby the TR1 was optimally aligned to the requirements and needs of touring riders. The TR1 was not made by Yamaha as a tourer but as a pure sports machine marketed, but due to the upright seating position and the 70 hp V-engine, it encouraged a more leisurely than sporty driving style. In addition, there was also the traditional look in combination with modern motorcycle technology such as an OHC engine or Disc brakes on the front wheel. The time was simply not yet ripe for such a machine, so production was discontinued in 1983.

Modern Yamaha motorcycles

The Japanese company has a modern corporate policy and is constantly investing in new technologies.

It had long been clear to the Japanese company that a motorcycle could no longer simply be called a motorcycle. Yamaha Cross, Enduro, super athlete, all-rounder, chopper are the key words by which customers orient themselves. The current Product portfolio includes a number of different motorcycle modelsthat are designed for different application scenarios. Yamaha recently refreshed its product range so that numerous new products are being launched in 2017. The sporty Yamaha YZF-R6 or the MT-10 touring bike are just a few of the new models that will soon shape traffic. The modern corporate policies and ongoing investments in new motorcycle technologies have paid off for Yamaha.

According to current figures Yamaha was able to clearly overtake the competition in the past year and has now taken the lead in the German market in the motorcycle segment. With approximately 14 percent market share let the traditional Japanese company brands like BMW or Honda well behind. Last year, Yamaha managed it, overall 24,303 motorcycles from 125 cc for sale in Germany. According to the latest figures from the motorcycle industry association in Essen, Yamaha has left BMW behind with 13.88 percent. In third place is Honda with a market share of 11.64 percent. Like all other motorcycle manufacturers, the Japanese company successfully implemented the EU3 regulations in all new motorcycle models in 2016.


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Image 1: © markt.de
Image 2: © Pixabay.com / Meromex
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Image 4: © Pixabay.com / reinbacher