Yamaha Motorcycle Parts & Accessories

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Without knowing the company history, a Yamaha owner might think the logo on his motorcycle’s gas tank is just a creative design generated by a graphic artist. But the emblem has meaning because it represents 3 tuning forks, tools used to tune musical instruments, which were Yamaha’s original products. Although Yamaha Motor Company split off from Yamaha Corporation over 60 years ago, both entities share the same basic logo because the 3 tuning forks also represent the cooperative relationship between technology, production, and sales, a successful collaboration that has resulted in Yamaha becoming one of the biggest names in the powersports industry. From a business venture that was begun to make use of idle machining equipment, Yamaha has grown into the company with perhaps the broadest line of recreational products in the world, including motorcycles, scooters, ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles) and side-by-sides, snowmobiles, boats, personal watercraft, outboard engines, and generators and other power products.

The firm that would become known as Yamaha Corporation began producing reed organs in 1887 and today has become the largest full-line manufacturer of musical instruments. The company is also a leading producer of audio/visual products, computer related products, sporting goods, home appliances, machine tools and industrial robots. During World War II, Yamaha was an armaments manufacturer for the Japanese military. After the war they were looking for a way to make use of equipment that had been used to make aircraft propellers, and after considering various products like sewing machines and auto parts, they decided that the motorcycle market offered the greatest opportunity. After performing extensive research on the motorcycle industry, including visits to the U.S. to study the market and Europe to tour motorcycle factories, Yamaha built its first prototype motorcycle in 1954, the air-cooled, single-cylinder, 2-stroke YA-1. To ensure quality, the bike was put through a rigorous 10,000 km (6213 miles) endurance test before entering production. The following year, a new factory was built for motorcycle production, and Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd. was founded on July 1, 1955.

In 1957 Yamaha built its first twin-cylinder motorcycle, the 2-stroke 250cc YD-1, which the following year became the first Yamaha model sold in the U.S. through the independent distributor Cooper Motors. The company took control of U.S. distribution in 1960 with the formation of Yamaha International Corporation. Throughout the 1960s Yamaha sold 2-stroke scooters and single-cylinder and parallel twin-cylinder motorcycles from 50cc to 350cc, the most notable of which was the YDS-3 250, which debuted in 1964. Prior to the YDS-3, owning a 2-stroke motorcycle was a hassle, because the lubricating oil had to be premixed with gasoline in a precise ratio, typically 20:1 up to 50:1. Two-stroke oil was usually not available at gas stations so riders had to carry oil with them and then do the math when filling up to get the ratio right. The YDS-3 changed all that because it was equipped with an oil injection system Yamaha called Autolube. All the rider had to do was maintain the oil level in the Autolube reservoir, and nothing but gasoline went in the fuel tank. In short order most manufacturers of 2-stroke motorcycles began equipping their bikes with oil injection systems.

The next landmark Yamaha machine was the 1968 DT-1 Enduro. In the late 1960s the popularity of off-road riding was exploding throughout the U.S., but riders had to choose between big, heavy “scramblers” that were nothing more than street bikes with high-mounted exhaust pipes and not really suited to dirt riding, or purpose-built dirt bikes that were finicky and expensive and had to be trucked or trailered to riding areas. The single-cylinder 2-stroke 250cc DT-1 was the first true “dual purpose” bike, an inexpensive, lightweight dirt bike that was competent out on the trails, yet had a full complement of street essentials like lights and a mirror so you could ride home at the end of the day. The DT-1 spawned a whole class of motorcycles and soon Yamaha and its competitors were cranking out dual-purpose bikes from 50cc to 400cc. 1968 was also the year that Yamaha introduced its first snowmobile, the twin-cylinder 2-stroke SL350, which featured slide-valve carburetion.

In 1970 Yamaha introduced its first 4-stroke motorcycle, the vertical twin-cylinder SOHC (Single Over Head Cam) 650cc XS-1. The XS-1 was built to compete with the popular British bikes of the era, with performance that was equal to or better than comparable models from Triumph, BSA, and Norton. Although most of their Japanese competitors were moving exclusively to 4-stroke engines because of tightening emissions regulations, Yamaha continued selling 2-stroke street bikes throughout the 1970s. The powerful, lightweight RD250, RD350, and RD400 outperformed many larger 4-stroke machines. The end of the line for Yamaha 2-stroke street bikes came with the liquid-cooled, catalytic converter equipped 1984-1986 RZ350. Yamaha added to their 4-stroke lineup with the shaft-drive XS-750 and XS-850 triples and then in 1978 with the shaft-drive XS-1100 4-cylinder. That same year a “Special” version of the XS-650 was added, which featured pullback bars, teardrop tank, stepped seat and other custom styling touches, making it the first production cruiser built by a Japanese motorcycle manufacturer.

Yamaha continued to create pioneering technology for the dirt in the 70s. At the time, long travel suspension was the latest innovation on motocross racers, because of the way it soaked up the bumps and ruts and allowed the bike to be ridden faster. But while other manufacturers were content to just move the rear shocks forward on the swingarm, Yamaha created their “Monoshock” rear suspension, which not only provided longer travel but allowed the frame to handle loads better. A single shock was located under the gas tank and connected to the steering head at one end and to a triangulated swingarm at the other end. Monoshock first appeared on the 1974 YZ-250 motocrosser. Single shock rear suspensions, albeit in many variations, are now commonplace on dirt bikes and street motorcycles. During the 1970s Yamaha also forged their reputation for performance in the snow with snowmobiles like the high-performance 1971 SR433 sled and the legendary 1976 SRX440, and the company expanded into other markets with the ET1200 Generator in 1973 and the G1 Golf Cart in 1978.

Diversification continued in the 1980s with Yamaha’s first ATV, the 3-wheel YT125 and first electric golf cart, the G1-E, both introduced in 1980, followed by outboard motors and the first 4-wheel ATV, the YFM200 in 1984, and personal watercraft in 1987 with the sit-down WaveRunner and stand-up WaveJammer. The company had another string of motorcycle firsts during the 80s. In 1981 they became the first Japanese manufacturer to produce a V-twin powered cruiser, the air-cooled 750cc Virago. Four valves per cylinder were commonplace in motorcycle engine technology by 1984, but that year Yamaha took engine breathing to the next level with the 5-valve per cylinder FZ750. Up until 1985 performance was not a word commonly used with cruisers, but that changed with the introduction of the legendary 1200cc V-4 Yamaha V-Max. The V-Max had blistering acceleration, a true factory hot rod that combined a bare bones cruiser chassis with a modified version of the big engine from Yamaha’s Venture Royale touring bike. With the V-Max Yamaha created the power cruiser, also called muscle bike, motorcycle category.

In 1986 Yamaha built its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Newnan, Georgia and established Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America. Production of golf carts and watercraft began a year later. In 1997 manufacturing at the plant was expanded with the production of the BearTracker ATV. During the 1990s Yamaha also increased its presence in the watercraft market, buying the Cobia, Century, and Skeeter boat companies and establishing Tennessee Watercraft in Vonore, Tennessee to build boats, personal watercraft, and outboard engines. In 1996 Yamaha introduced the first of the Star line of cruisers, the 1300cc V-4 Royal Star, and followed up 2 years later with the YZF-R1, a motorcycle that would become the benchmark for open class sport bikes. The company also continued transitioning from 2-stroke to 4-stroke engine power with the YZ400F in 1998, the first mass-produced 4-stroke motocrosser, the FX140 WaveRunner in 2002, the world’s first high-performance 4-stroke personal watercraft, and the RX-1 snowmobile in 2003, the world’s first high-performance 4-stroke snowmobile. Yamaha’s off-road offerings increased in 2004 with the introduction of the Rhino side-by-side.

From the very beginning Yamaha went racing, not just to promote their machine’s capabilities but to gain valuable knowledge that could then be used to improve production models. From that first 125cc race win at the Mt. Fuji Ascent Race in 1955 Yamaha went on to win numerous Formula 1, Moto GP, World Superbike, and AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) road racing championships, AMA Grand National Championships, and motocross and supercross championships. Unlike most other manufacturers Yamaha also made production road racers available to the public. The air-cooled Yamaha TD and TR production road racers of the 1960s and early 1970s, and subsequent liquid-cooled TZ series bikes almost immediately made their older 4-stroke competition obsolete. They were inexpensive and competitive right out of the box, and required no special knowledge or equipment, which was a necessity with the older 4-stroke engine designs.

Yamaha’s current powersports range includes something for everyone. No matter where you like to have fun - pavement, dirt, snow or water, Yamaha has the machine, for beginners and experienced riders. From race-proven YZ motocrossers to V Star touring bikes, Super Ténéré adventure tourers to the Moto GP inspired YZF-R1, if your idea of fun means 2 wheels Yamaha has the bike. For work and play in the dirt Yamaha ATVs like the Raptor, Grizzly and Kodiak series, and side-by-sides like the YXZ, Wolverine, and Viking series can handle any terrain. Whether its 2-up touring on a Venture, trail riding on a Sidewinder, or tackling mountainous terrain on a SRViper, Yamaha snowmobiles are ready for cold weather adventures. And for solo riding or family fun, racing, fishing or towing skiers and wakeboarders, Yamaha WaveRunners and boats have the power, handling, reliability, and features you need for a great time out on the water.

Owning a car gives you comfort, owning a motorcycle gives you freedom. Your bike is your therapy, your passion, and your access to off-the-beaten-path places. In our selection of motorcycle accessories and parts, we have everything you need to keep your Yamaha running, show some love to your prized possession, and hit the road or trail with confidence. We take the hassle out of your motorcycle maintenance, repair, and tune-up experience.

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