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Yamaha History - 1960-1969

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    Yamaha History, 1955-1959 | Yamaha History, 1960-1969

    After the success of Yamaha's earlier motorcycles the 1960's saw the introduction of several new models including Yamaha's YA-3, a 125cc, single cylinder, 2-stroke streetbike; the YG-1 and AT90, both represented a great combination of utility and sports riding which became very popular. Yamaha's YDS series had also evolved steadily from the YDS-1 introduced in 1959 through the YDS-2 of '62 and then the YDS-3 in 1966.

    In addition, Yamaha introduced their first moped, the MF-1, and their first scooter, the SC-1, in 1960. The MF-1, which would become the base for the Mate that was to follow later, featured an electric starter that helped establish the image of the moped as a machine that anyone could easily ride. The 1950s saw a large number of both foreign and domestic manufacturers enter the scooter market, creating a big scooter boom. Amidst this, the SC-1 opened the eyes of the scooterists of the day with its outstanding running performance and avant-garde form.

    In the latter half of the 1960s the US economy was suffering from the ongoing conflict in Vietnam. The motorcycles that had once been the symbol of adventurous young men were not selling anymore. The motorcycle industry was in a slump and Yamaha was no exception, however, market research by Yamaha's US sales company at the time, Yamaha International, concluded that there would be future growth in the trail (off-road model) category. The new model that was developed as a consequence of these research results was the Yamaha DT-1.

    Prior to the DT-1 the concept of an off-road motorcycle in Japan was simply a road sports machine modified for off-road riding. It was an era when the makers sold genuine kit parts to enable owners to convert their road sports machines into 'scrambler' bikes but, both in terms of performance and cost, these machines did not offer riders an easy and affordable means to enjoy off-road riding. Japanese motorcycle manufacturers had begun to compete successfully in international road racing, but off-road racing was still dominated by the long-standing European makes.

    When the Yamaha DT-1 debuted in 1968 it was hailed as the pioneer of a whole new genre of bike, winning an unprecedented following and starting a worldwide boom in trail bikes. At the same time as its launch in Japan, Yamaha enlisted the cooperation of its dealers nationwide in the holding of Yamaha Trail Schools, to teach as many users as possible the fun of off-road riding. As the number of off-road sports fans quickly grew, the success of Yamaha's original aim of building a product that would make motor sports accessible to anyone was realised. In this way, the know-how and technology that went into the development of the DT-1 and the promotion of the Trail School activities and races can surely be seen as the birth of off-road motor sports in Japan.