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Yamaha YDS3

Yamaha YDS3

It wasn't their first bike, but 1966's YDS-3 certainly played a major role as establishing Yamaha as one of the world's major motorcycle manufacturers.

The YDS series had evolved steadily from the YDS-1 introduced in 1959 through the YDS-2 of 1962, before the YDS-3 really made a breakthrough. At a time when the sportsbike roost was ruled by British 500cc four-stroke machines, the lightweight Yamaha - with its 26ps 246cc parallel-twin two-stroke motor - established itself as one of the first Japanese sportsbikes.

The YDS-3 was designed with the export markets in mind. While the YDS-1 and YDS-2 had been designated as sports bikes, Yamaha felt that the bikes needed improvements in certain areas to succeed worldwide.

High-performance had not been a major consideration for domestic market Japanese bikes, due in no small part to the lack of freeways or even paved roads. However, the focus changed for the YDS-3. Engineers took the highly-regarded YDS engine and built a more rigid frame to improve handling and straight line stability. The YDS-3 was the first twin to use an autolube system, therefore doing away with the often messy job of pre-mixing the fuel with two-stroke oil. Its blend of performance and reliability, combined with innovative new features like adjustable shock absorbers, showed riders that they could enjoy everyday practicality in a high performance motorcycle.

In order to make a full-fledged entry into the US motorcycle market Yamaha would have to overcome these two hurdles of building a more rigid frame and solving the problem of having to mix the gasoline and oil. The YDS-3 was much revered around the world, especially in America, making it a worthy entry into Yamaha's hall of fame.