Yamaha Motor Company
|Founded||July 1, 1955|
|Yoshihiro Hidaka (President & Representative Director)|
Number of employees
|52,664 (as of December 31, 2014)|
Yamaha Motor Company Limited (ヤマハ発動機株式会社 Yamaha Hatsudōki Kabushiki-gaisha) is a
The company's products includes
The motorcycle division of Yamaha was founded in 1955, and was headed by Genichi Kawakami. Yamaha's initial product was a 125 cc (7.6 cu in) two-cycle, single cylinder motorcycle, the
Yamaha began competing internationally in 1956 when they entered the Catalina Grand Prix, again with the YA-1, at which they placed sixth. The YA-1 was followed by the YA-2 of 1957, another 125cc two stroke, but with significantly improved frame and suspension. The YD-1 of 1957 was a 250cc two-stroke twin cylinder motorcycle, resembling the YA-2, but with a larger and more powerful motor. A performance version of this bike, the YDS-1 housed the 250cc two-stroke twin in a double downtube cradle frame and offered the first five-speed transmission in a Japanese motorcycle. This period also saw Yamaha offer its first outboard marine engine.
By 1963 Yamaha's dedication to both the two-stroke engine and racing paid off with their first victory in international competition, at the Belgium GP, where they won the 250cc class. Success in sales was even more impressive, and Yamaha set up the first of its international subsidiaries in this period beginning with Thailand in 1964, and the Netherlands in 1968. 1965 saw the release of a 305cc two-stroke twin, the flagship of the company's lineup. It featured a separate oil supply which directly injected oil into the gasoline prior to combustion (traditionally riders had to pre-mix oil into gasoline together before filling the gas tank on two stroke engines). In 1967 a new larger displacement model was added to the range, the 350cc two stroke twin R-1.
In 1968 Yamaha launched their first four-stroke motorcycle, the XS-1. The Yamaha XS-1 was a 650cc four-stroke twin, a larger and more powerful machine that equaled the displacement and performance of the popular British bikes of the era, such as the Triumph Bonneville and BSA Gold Star. Yamaha continued on with both the two-stroke line and four-stroke twins at a time that other Japanese manufacturers were increasingly moving to four cylinder four-stroke machines, a trend led by Honda in 1969 with the legendary CB-750 four-stroke four-cylinder cycle.
Not until 1976 would Yamaha answer the other Japanese brands with a multi-cylinder four stroke of their own. The
The 1970s also saw some of the first dedicated off-road bikes for off-road racing and recreation. Yamaha was an early innovator in dirt-bike technology, and introduced the first single-shock rear suspension, the trademarked "Monoshock" of 1973. It appeared in production on the 1974 Yamaha YZ-250, a model which has continued in production, with many updates, until 2015, making it Yamaha's longest continuous model and name.
By 1980 the combination of consumer preference and environmental regulation made four strokes increasingly popular. Suzuki ended production of their
Throughout the 1980s the motorcycle industry gradually went from building a few basic but versatile models designed to work well in many roles, to offering many more specialized machines designed to excel in particular niches. These included racing and performance street riding, touring, motocross racing, enduro and recreational off-road riding, and cruising. Yamaha branched out from the relatively small number of UJMs (
The XV750 of 1981 featured an air-cooled V-twin four stroke engine and cruiser styling, and was one of the first Japanese cruiser style motorcycles. By the end of the 1980s Yamaha had offered dozens of cruiser styled bikes in a variety of displacements and engine configurations.
The RZV500 was one of the first "repli-racers", a near copy of Kenny Roberts competition GP bike, it featured a liquid-cooled two-stroke motor of 500cc displacement in a V4 configuration, along with a perimeter frame and full fairing.
A more popular and practical high-performance model for the street was introduced in 1985, the
In 1998 Yamaha marketed a 1000cc four cylinder road bike called the YZF 'R1', this model introduced a new style of gearbox design which shortened the overall length of the motor/gearbox case, to allow a more compact unit. This, in turn allowed the motor to be placed in the frame further forward, designed to improve handling in a short wheel-based frame.
In 1995, Yamaha announced the creation of
In 2007, Yamaha established the