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Yamaha YR-1

Profile – Yamaha YR-1

(August 2020)

Yamaha YR-1

Grand Prix breed

by Guy 'Guido' Allen

The bike has aged pretty well, though we're not so sure about the fashion. Yamaha's YR-1 Grand Prix of 1967 was a hugely important bike for the company and it's quickest road machine to date.

Its piston-port twin-cylinder two-stroke claimed a very respectable 36 horses (27kW) at 7500rpm, ran a five-speed transmission and weighed 157kg dry.

The engine featured some new technology for the company, including aluminium barrels with cast iron sleeves, and horizontally-split crankcases.

Fun fact: it was designed so the gearshift could run either side of the bike, to keep the markets on both sides of the Atlantic happy. At the time, Europe was using right-side shift, while the USA and Japan favoured left side.

Model development was pretty frenetic at the time, and the YR-1 was supseded by the YR-2 in 1968, YR-3 in 1969 and R-5 (bottom pic) in 1970.

The adoption of the 'Grand Prix' tag and what it implied wasn't entirely without foundation, as the 350 was a seriously quick bike for the day and quite capable of taking the performance fight up to bigger four-strokes.

Yamaha R-5

See our Yamaha YD1 and YDS-1 profile


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