Yamaha is known around the world as the leading manufacturer of quality motorised products.
For decades, the company’s advanced technology has satisfied the demand for premium motorcycles, water vessels, outboard motors, and industrial engines.
This Japanese motor brand has worldwide net sales of more than $20.5 billion (2017), owns 20+ subsidiary companies, and employs around 53,000 staff globally.
Impressive, isn’t it? And if there’s anything that matches Yamaha’s spectacular achievements, it’s none other than their rich history.
History of Yamaha
In 1955, Yamaha Motor Company (YMC) was established with Genichi Kawakami acting as the first president. During the same year, the company also produced its first product, the Yamaha YA-1 — a 125cc motorcycle that was also dubbed the “Red Dragonfly”. The YA-1, Yamaha’s first ever bike, achieved huge racing success in Japan.
Just two years later in 1957, the company released its sophomore product, the YA-2. It has the same 125cc two-stroke engine as the YA-1, but with better frame and suspension. In the same year, they also released the 250cc two-stroke twin-cylinder Yamaha YD-1. Yamaha was on a roll.
Not one to break a successful streak, Yamaha Motor made history the following year as the first Japanese manufacturer to join international racing. It placed 6th in the Catalina Grand Prix in the USA. Its participation and performance in the race has earned the company heavy popularity, propelling the first Yamaha motorcycles (YD-1 and the 500cc MF-1) into the US market through the independent distributor Cooper Motors.
In 1959, Yamaha Motors released the performance motorcycle YDS-1, a 250cc two-stroke twin cylinder motorcycle.
Yamaha International Corporation was founded in the USA and began selling Yamaha motorcycles in 1960. In the very same year, the company also started venturing to boats and outboard motors. By 1962, the company moved its motorcycle development operations from Yamaha Technological Research Institute to the YMC headquarters.
Meanwhile, on the racing front, Yamaha continued to make a name for itself. From 1953 to 1964, Yamaha Motors won five of the 11 rounds of World GP series and getting its first world championship with Phil Read. The sales of the company remained impressive during this period.
In 1965, the first 350cc motor was built and in 1967, the larger R-1 350cc two-stroke twin cylinder model was manufactured. Yamaha Motors released the DT-1 Enduro, the first trail motorcycle, by 1968.
Yamaha Motors has made its first four-stroke motorcycle, named the Yamaha XS-1 in 1970. It was also at the beginning of this decade that Yamaha developed the first off-road bikes or dirt bikes for off-road riding and competitions. Yamaha Motors Brazil was also founded in 1970 and two years later, the company moved to its present headquarters in Iwata, Shizuoka, Japan.
In 1973, Yamaha expanded to Canada and developed the first single-shock rear suspension system called Monoshock. This suspension was initially incorporated in 1974’s Yamaha YZ-250, which was in production (with various updates) until 2015.
The second half of the 1970s marked the launch of the famous XT500, which won the first ever Dakar Rally which was also known as the Paris-Dakar 1979 race. Yamaha Motor Corporation USA also separated from Yamaha International Corporation in 1977 and released the brand’s first all-terrain vehicle, Yamaha YT125.
The 1980’s was a transformative decade for Yamaha. In the next 10 years, YMC concentrated their efforts on the innovation and diversification of their products. It started by manufacturing the company’s first air-cooled V-Twin cruiser called Virago 750 in 1981. The Yamaha Virago 750 is one of the pioneering cruiser style motorcycles in Japan. Yamaha Motor went on to release a dozen more of this type of motorbike in varying engine configurations and displacements.
One of the Yamaha products that gained massive popularity then was the Yamaha RZ-350. It was also sold in the U.S. and was seen everywhere in the streets throughout the decade. Another is 1985’s Yamaha FZ750, a high-performance bike with 750cc four-stroke four-cylinder engine. It was the first motorcycle to ever have a five-valve cylinder head.
Aside from motorcycles, Yamaha Motor manufactured its first Personal Watercraft (PWC), the MJ-500T. It also released the Surface Mounter Boat 21 Series, gas heat pump YGC401W model and the limited R-50 unmanned helicopter.
Meanwhile, Yamaha Motors continued to expand globally. In 1986, Yamaha Motor Taiwan was founded as was the Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America. The company also acquired France’s MBK and created a Beijing liaison office.
The efforts of the past decade paid off and by the 90’s, Yamaha Motors became a global brand. It established more subsidiaries around the world; including the ones in France, Mexico, China, Austria, Hungary, Portugal, Thailand, Argentina, Indonesia, Italy, Vietnam, Singapore, and Peru.
During the latter half of the 1990s, the company introduced more motorcycle models. These include the cruiser-type 1300cc V-4 Royal Star (the first Star model), the YZF-R1and YZF-R6 sports bikes, and the YZ400F four-stroke motorcross bike. All of these motorcycles received great approval from consumers.
Other notable achievements by Yamaha Motors during this decade were the creation of the boat “Nippon” for 1992 America’s Cup, the victory of the Yamaha Snowmobile in the Harricana International Snowmobile Rally in Canada, releasing of the JW-I wheelchair electric power unit, and triumph in the 6th Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race (W60 class).
Yamaha Motor Philippines, Cambodia, India, and Russia were the results of the company’s expansion efforts in the 2000s. Meanwhile, some of the motorcycle models received significant upgrades. That includes the fuel injection system, a slipper clutch, and Yamaha Chip-Controlled Intake for YZF-R1. The YZF-R6, on the other hand, received the Yamaha Chip-Controlled Throttle.
YMC’s biotech business also flourished during this decade. It successfully mass-cultured the marine planktonic diatom Chaetoceros in high concentration. This microalgae species has a potential for biofuel use and sourcing of health additive Astaxanthin, according to research. It also opened a Life Science Laboratory in Fukuroi, Shizuoka, Japan.
In 2009, the Yamaha Marine Company merged with YMC.
An electric scooter is one of YMC’s new ventures this decade, the first of which was the EC-03. It has a rechargeable battery with a range of 43 kilometres. After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the company increased the production of boats to help with the government’s recovery efforts.
The company’s expansion continued as well. The New Intelligent Machinery group was created in 2011 to enhance the Surface Mounter business in the USA and Europe. YMC also established a Research and Development facility in India (2013), a new motorcycle factory in Argentina (2014), a new subsidiary in Pakistan (2015), and Ventures & Laboratory Inc. in Silicon Valley (2015).
Yamaha Motor in Australia
In 1983, Yamaha Motor built its business in Australia and started distribution in New South Wales. The company has since established itself as one of the major players in the country’s motorcycle industry. YMC bought a marina and marina construction business, a restaurant, and a motorcycle accessories company to further strengthen its business. Through the years, Yamaha Motor has been one of the most trusted brands by Aussies to provide them with quality recreational and industrial products.
The Future of Yamaha Motor
There’s no stopping Yamaha Motor from innovating and producing a wide range of motorcycle products. In Australia, the company just released the 2019 Yamaha WR450F in August to celebrate this model’s 20th anniversary. With a larger fuel tank, new 5-speed transmission, and new smartphone tuning, this off-road bike will surely be a favourite in motocross competitions.
An upcoming Yamaha motorbike to watch out for is the Tenere 700. It’s a bike designed for adventure riding that’s focused on dirt. Yamaha Motor conducted a Tenere 700 World Raid Tour to test the Tenere 700 prototype by running it around the globe. The tour kicked-off in Australia and went to Dakar in Africa, Argentina in South America, and the British Isles to Italy in Europe.
Other 2019 Yamaha motorcycle models include the Yamaha YZ250F 250cc bike, the YZF-R1 and R6, the all-new Yamaha YZF-R3 Supersport motorcycle, and the all-new Niken and Niken GT (with Leaning Multi-Wheel Technology).
Get your new Yamaha Motorbike with Aussie Bike Loans
Yamaha Motor has proven through time its reliability and dedication to manufacturing the best motor products, especially the motorcycles.
If you want to purchase your own Yamaha motorcycle, make sure to get a pre-approved bike loan first at Aussie Bike Loans. We have a wide array of bike financing products that will suit any motorbike needs.
Call us today on 1300 769 999 or if you are ready to apply, fill out our online application to get started.