10 Classic Yamaha Motorcycles Every Enthusiast Should Know | Taza Khabre

Resume

  • Yamaha has a rich history of producing iconic motorcycles that have left a lasting mark on the world, from enduro bikes to sports bikes and cruisers.

  • The classic Yamaha motorcycles featured in this article represent different eras, riding styles and innovations, demonstrating Yamaha’s continued dedication to creating legendary motorcycles.

  • Each of these classic Yamaha motorcycles holds a special place in the hearts of motorcycle enthusiasts around the world, offering a variety of experiences and design aesthetics that have stood the test of time.

Yamaha has a rich history of producing some great motorcycles that have left a lasting mark on the world. Known as pioneers in their own right, we take a look at some of the best classic Yamaha bikes, each representing a unique era and riding experience. From enduro bikes to performance roadsters, cruisers, tourers, sport bikes and iconic adventure bikes, Yamaha has certainly had a lasting impact on the evolution of motorcycles as we know them today.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, we look at the most important Yamaha motorcycles that not only shaped the motorcycles of the time, but also paved the way for future motorcycle development with their unique design, performance and handling capabilities. Each of these classic Yamaha motorcycles holds a special place in the hearts of motorcycle enthusiasts around the world.

They represent different eras, riding styles and innovations, demonstrating Yamaha’s continued commitment to creating motorcycles that have become legends in their own right. For any motorcycle enthusiast, these classic Yamaha bikes offer a variety of experiences and a design aesthetic that has stood the test of time. Whether or not you agree with our list of the top ten classic Yamaha bikes, you should definitely check out these iconic bikes.

All the technical data of the classic Yamaha motorcycles in this list are taken from the official website of Yamaha Global; also links to motorcycle specs

Related: Top 10 Yamaha ‘R’ Motorcycles to Remember


10 Yamaha DT-1

Yamaha Archive

Yamaha’s pioneering enduro bike of the late 1960s became an innovator in the world of off-road motorcycles. This bike also contributed to the rise of motocross. Released in 1968, the DT-1 claims fame as one of the first mass-produced off-road motorcycles. Its 250cc two-stroke engine, lightweight frame and strong suspension made it a pioneer in the new motocross and off-road riding.

The success of the DT-1 marked the birth of the motorcycle genre, revolutionizing recreational riding and racing. With its iconic design and long-lasting performance, the DT-1 laid the foundation for Yamaha’s strong heritage in off-road motorcycles and laid the blueprint for countless motorcycles to come.

Features of the Yamaha DT-1 engine

Years of production

1968-1985 years

Configuration

Two-stroke, single-cylinder

Moving

246cc

power

18.2 hp

A turning point

16.67

9 Yamaha YZ250

Side view of a 1982 Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke motorcycle in yellow
KAPLAN AMERICA Via YouTube

The Yamaha YZ250 is a legendary two-stroke motocross motorcycle known for its exceptional performance and maneuverability. Equipped with a high-speed engine with a volume of 249 cubic meters. The YZ250’s lightweight frame, excellent suspension and precise handling make it the best choice for riders who want exciting jumps and precise cornering.

Its famous blue and white livery and distinctive style make it stand out on the track. Over the years, Yamaha has continually improved the YZ250, ensuring it remains a competitive and beloved machine in the motocross world, embodying the spirit of pure, unadulterated off-road excitement.

Yamaha YZ250 engine specifications

Years of production

1974-present

Configuration

249cc

Moving

Two-stroke, single-cylinder

power

33 hp

A turning point

15.3 lb-ft

8 Yamaha XT500

Yamaha XT500 in white front third view
Yamaha Archive

Introduced in the late 1970s, the Yamaha XT500 is a pioneering dual-sport motorcycle that helped define the genre. Thanks to the reliable single-cylinder air-cooled engine with a volume of 499 cc. Its rugged, simple design has made it a favorite for desert racing and adventure riding.

The XT500 rose to prominence when it dominated the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally in the 1980s, demonstrating its rugged performance. This legendary bike symbolizes Yamaha’s heritage in the dual-sport category. It is adored for its rugged reliability, timeless design and lasting influence in the dual-sport and adventure motorcycle community. Yamaha actually introduced the XSR XTribute a few years ago as a tribute to the iconic XT500.

Yamaha XT500 engine characteristics

Years of production

1976-1989 years

Configuration

Four-stroke, single-cylinder, SOHC, two-valve

Moving

499cc

power

32 hp

A turning point

29 lb-ft

Related: These are the best Yamaha bikes of the 2000s

7 Yamaha RD350

Yamaha RD350 side view
Car and classics

Yamaha RD350 is a cult motorcycle since the 1970s, and as its famous print ad symbolized, it was indeed a giant-killer, competing against threes and fours with twice the displacement of the 347cc engine. Equipped with a high-speed two-cylinder engine with a volume of 347 cubic meters. The RD350’s lightweight frame and agile handling have made it a favorite among riders who need excitement and sharp turns.

Its iconic racing-inspired design and distinctive two-stroke engine sound created a cult following. The RD350 pioneered the small-displacement sportbike category and remains a beloved classic, celebrated for its exhilarating riding experience and influence on future sportbikes. In 1983, Yamaha launched the RZ350 as an unofficial successor to the RD350.

Yamaha RD350 engine specifications

Years of production

1973-1975 years

Configuration

Two-stroke, parallel-coupled

Moving

347cc

power

39 hp

A turning point

24 lb-ft

6 Yamaha RD500LC

1985 Yamaha RD500LC in red front third quarter view
Mecum Auctions

Introduced in the 1980s, the Yamaha RD500LC is a legendary and iconic two-stroke sportbike that left an indelible mark on the motorcycle world. Thanks to the unique V4 engine with a volume of 500 cc.

The RD500LC was admired for its lightweight aluminum frame, racing style and extreme maneuverability. In its time, it set a new standard for the performance of sports motorcycles and is remembered as one of the best two-stroke machines.

Yamaha RD500LC engine characteristics

Years of production

1984-1986 years

Configuration

Two-stroke liquid-cooled V4

Moving

499cc

power

88 hp

A turning point

48.45 lb-ft

5 Yamaha XS750/850

1977 Yamaha XS750 in cinematic red
Classic.com

The Yamaha XS 750 and Yamaha XS 850 were a line of motorcycles produced by Yamaha Motor Corporation from 1976 to 1981 for the global motorcycle market. The last model year of production was 1981. Launched in Japan in 1976 as the GX750 sports wire wheels (as opposed to the cast alloy wheels on all other models), the XS750 became the name of the export model. In subsequent years, the engine was upgraded to a larger 850cc for the final two model years.

XS750 is considered the progenitor modern Yamaha triples like the XSR900, FZ-09 and FJ-09. In the late 70s, the Yamaha XS750 was introduced at the time of the four-cylinder Kawasaki Z1 and Honda CB750. Still, with its distinctive three-cylinder layout and exhaust note, the Yamaha XS750 did find its fans, even though it didn’t have the highest specs among its competitors.

Yamaha XS750/850 engine specifications

Years of production

1976-1981 years

Configuration

Transverse three-cylinder, four-stroke DOHC

Moving

750/850 cubic meters

power

64 hp

A turning point

51 lb-ft

4 Yamaha TX750

Yamaha-TX750
Bring a trailer

Produced from 1973 to 1974, the Yamaha TX750 was a great but short-lived motorcycle known for its innovative design and engineering. It had a 750cc air-cooled, parallel-twin engine that was quite advanced. The engine included a unique concept – a horizontal split engine housing that provides effective cooling and ease of maintenance. It produced 50 horsepower, providing good on-road performance.

The TX750 was ahead of its time in handling thanks to its dual stand frame and front disc brake. However, it ran into reliability issues and suffered from teething problems, which eventually led to its discontinuation. Despite its relatively short life, the Yamaha TX750 model is remembered for its innovative design and as a testament to Yamaha’s commitment to innovation.

Yamaha TX750 engine characteristics

Years of production

1972-1975 years

Configuration

Four-stroke, parallel-twin, SOHC, 2 valves per cylinder

Moving

743cc

power

63 hp

A turning point

50.6 lb-ft

Related: 10 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Yamaha R1

3 Yamaha FZR1000

1990 yamaha fzr1000 exup left side front
Mecum Auctions

Introduced in the late 1980s, the Yamaha FZR1000 was a ground-breaking sports bike that set new standards for speed and handling. Equipped with a 1,002 cc inline-four engine, it boasted the most advanced technology of its time, including an innovative design with five valves per cylinder.

This classic Yamaha sportbike delivered exceptional power and precise handling, making it a dominant force in the world of sportbikes. The Characteristic “Genesis” FZR1000 frame and the edgy style added to its appeal. The FZR1000’s success on the racetrack and on the street cemented its reputation as a high-performance icon. It was a pivotal moment in motorcycle history, pushing the boundaries of what a superbike could do.

Yamaha FZR1000 engine specifications

Years of production

1987-1995 years

Configuration

Four-stroke, transverse four-cylinder, DOHC, 5 valves per cylinder

Moving

1002cc

power

145 hp

A turning point

79 lb-ft

2 Yamaha V-Max

A third-quarter front view of a 1980s Yamaha-V-Max
Yamaha Archive

The Yamaha V-Max, an iconic power cruiser, debuted in 1985 and has since become legendary in the world of cruiser motorcycles. It is powered by a powerful 1679 cc V4 engine known for its incredible torque and acceleration. The V-Max’s muscular, aggressive design, distinctive air intakes and soft stance emphasize its power.

Its unique blend of cruiser styling and superbike-like performance has earned it a loyal following. The V-Max constantly pushes the boundaries of what a cruiser can achieve, delivering an exhilarating riding experience and a distinct road presence that makes it a true icon in the motorcycle world.

Features of the Yamaha V-Max engine

year

1985-2020 years

Configuration

Four-stroke, V4, DOHC

Moving

1679cc

power

200 hp

A turning point

123 lb-ft

1 Yamaha YZF-R1

Three-quarter front view of the 1998 Yamaha YZF-R1
Yamaha Archive

The first Yamaha YZF-R1, introduced in 1998, revolutionized the sports bike industry. It was a compact, lightweight machine equipped with a 998cc inline-four engine that produced a best-in-class 150 horsepower. This extraordinary power-to-weight ratio allowed the R1 to surpass its competition and set new standards for superbike performance.

Its sharp handling and agile chassis made it ideal for both the racetrack and the open road. The expressive silhouette and aggressive style of the R1 captivated drivers around the world. This revolutionary bike not only redefined the concept of sports bikes, but also laid the foundation for the legacy of high performance bikes that would carry the R1 moniker, making it an icon in the realm of super sports bikes.

Features of the Yamaha YZF-R1 engine

Years of production

1998-now

Configuration

With liquid cooling, four-row

Moving

998cc

power

138.8 hp

A turning point

80 lb-ft

Leave a Comment