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Yamaha YDS-3

Profile – Yamaha YDS-3

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen

Yamaha's YDS-3 was an important stepping stone in the factory's journey to build an international reputation. Here's a little background, and one up for auction

Yamaha's twin-cylinder two-stroke 250 series was by 1964 in its third generation, the YDS-3, as part of a rapid development process. This saw a number of variants, across street and scrambler styles.

It all started with the YD1 back in 1959, followed months later by the higher-spec YDS-1 the same year. See our profile for this series.

Yamaha YDS-3

By 1964 the company had made significant inroads into the all-important cashed-up USA market, where the YDS-3 was also marketed as the Catalina.

Yamaha YD-s3 catalina

Among the significant advances were Yamaha's 'Autolube' oil supply system and a pair of rear shocks that now had three-way adjustable spring preload.

Just as a bit of trivia, the bike originally ran a tuning fork symbol on the fuel tank, which was replaced six months into production by a Yamaha badge.

By now the little twins had developed a reputation for being more lively than their modest engine capacity might at first suggest, with a top speed of 130km/h (80mph), and they proved reasonably robust.

Performance from the 246cc twin was pegged at 17.6kW (23.6hp) @ 7500rpm and 22.6Nm of torque at 6000rpm. The package weighed a claimed 159kg dry.

An English reviewer had this to say in 1964: "It yowls and wails as it goes through its five gears in a fashion to delight the most phlegmatic of riders...the YDS-3 is a marvellous machine to ride. The twin-cylinder power unit does its job with ultra smoothness. Only a very slight tingle through the tank at high revs indicates that below lies a high-performance engine."

Yamaha YDS-3

Shannons in Melbourne Australia has a 1965 model up for auction (above and below) that appears to have undergone a thorough restoration. It was originally sold in Sydney, through Tom Byrne Motorcycles in Wentworth Avenue. The online sale runs November 11-17 and the estimate is at Au$8-10,000 (US$5800-7300, GB£4400-5500).

Yamaha YDS-3

YDS-3 NZ film

The YDS-3 also played a starring role in a film short by Rodney Charters, in New Zealand in 1966. See it here.


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