Friday, 9 April 2010

CLASSIC YAMAHA'S from the 60s & 70s >>>>

My friend Steve Cooper loves his small capacity Japanese motorcycles. I met him many years ago at a Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club Rally in Kettering in the east of England. We were both riding XS650s at the time and our friendship grew from there. I was producing the club magazine at the time and as Steve had a wry sense of humour and a talent for putting more than two words together, I twisted his arm into providing me with some copy for the mag. He's know a freelance writer for the UK motorcycle press and I'm producing a blog!!!! But I'm not bitter.....

Anyway, back to his bikes. The last time I stayed at his house the garage was crammed to capacity, but I know he's acquired a few more since then. Maybe that's why his bikes keep getting smaller.

Never buy a bike in boxes is a maxim many champion and Steve wonder's why he didn't follow his own advise! Bought as a completely dismantled project from Sheffield the bike came with loads of New Old Stock parts but proved to be a jigsaw of international proportions. The CS5E had a very short sales run in the UK and was marginalised by the RD200. It's estimated there are less than 25 complete CS5Es in the UK and parts are not easy to find. The oil tank was bougfht from a New York Kawasaki dealer and the mudguards came via a UK dealer from Australia in exchange for some Yamaha RD500LC parts. The bike has been built to reflect the 1972 model year sales brochure with the braced rear light and front indicators mounted on the top yoke rather than the more common position on the head lamp brackets. The motor is a little buzz saw and comes on pipe manically at 7000+rpm. Just a like a stroker should.

Here's a rare one! Steve purchased this Yamaha RS200 complete but totally worn out and seized. The model was originally designed for Nigeria and features a Yamaha RD125 type frame, 17" wheels, single carb and a single seat. The rack is a standard Yamaha fitment. Surprisingly the engine is as good if not better than the equivalent RD200 and returns better fuel economy. Apparently the piston ported motor benefits from Yamaha's motocross knowledge. The only down side is the single leading shoe front brake which can be a little marginal when the bike is ridden hard.

Here's an unrestored Yamaha YL1 from 1967. The piston ported 100cc twin was developed from the Japanese market only AT90. The bike is an American market model that required a very thourough decoke along with new set of pistons and rings due to what looked liked a cold seizure early in its life. The YL1 is a rare mini-beast these days and normally attracts a crowd when it's parked up. The silencers do a reasonable job aroud town at lower revs but as soon as the throttle is wound open the slash cut pipes start to scream and Steve descibes the sound as being like a pair of demented chain-saws!!!

Here's Yamaha's first 350cc two stroke twin from 1967.  This model was never sold in the UK but did reach France and Scandanavia. Yamaha's TR1 & 2 racers were based on the YR1's engine and laid the foundation for the company's 350s that pealed with the YPVS 350 of the 1980s. This machine was imported from the USA via eBay. It needed a full service and decoke that saw the silencer's weight reduced by 50% when all of the carbon was removed. Once allowed to breath properly the engine gives a good account of itself; a fact supported by Cycle World road test that showed the YR1 was as potent as any of Yamaha's 350s until the advent of the RD400!

This is Steve's YB100 that has recently been sold to fund another project. The little commuter is a UK bike and a very early example with an L2 chassis number. Although a 1974 model it wasn't regsitered until 1976.  The bike was used for fifteen years until the original owner was unable to ride. It spent the next nine years under a blanket and covered in a mixture of oil and sawdust. Following a throrough clean and fresh fuel, aided by a new battery the little disc valve motor fired up third kick. Steve put some 4000 miles on the clock before reluctantly deciding to move the little fellow (known as Rhubarb) on to a new owner.

Finally we come to this little chap..............or is that Chappy? Steve's Yamaha Chappy has a 72cc reed valve motor to propel the step-through chassis to the dizzy heights of more than 48mph. At these speeds the basic suspension and brakes are pushed failry close to their respective limits!


  1. I just acquired a bike that says on the 1982 registration that it is a 1967 ylz. it looks a lot like your pic of the yl1, what else can you tell me about that bike? my email is

  2. Hi Anonymous, I've posted your query on to my friend Steve Cooper who owns the YL1, I'm sure he'll be in touch soon with some answers. BCB

  3. I bought a brand new YL1 id 1967 for about AUD$500. It was a great bike and one of the first of its kind. It would easily outpace a car off the mark at the lights and when wound up it could reach 60MPH. very zippy and manouverable.


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Whitehaven, Cumbria, United Kingdom
Disenchanted City Boy who rode out of the fast lane and into the back lanes! Life on Two Wheels is so much fun.