1964 Yamaha Trailmaster 80
Taking it to the trails
1964 Yamaha Trailmaster 80.
Photo by Chris Hartman
Yamaha Trailmaster 80
Years produced: 1964-1966
Claimed power: 6.2hp @ 10,000 rpm
Top speed: 41mph
Engine type: 81cc 2-stroke, air-cooled single
Weight (dry): 63.5kg (140lbs)
Price then/now: $367/$1,000 - $2,500
When you think of a vintage small-bore Japanese motorcycle for running in-town errands or slinging mud on a weekend camping trip, what comes to mind?
For many it’s a Honda Trail 90. But if you want something different, the Yamaha Trailmaster 80, might be the bike for you, and in many respects it surpasses its more heralded competition.
Out of the shadows
In the early 1960s, Yamaha was best known in America for its larger YD series of machines. It wasn’t until the introduction of the YG series in 1963 (and the lesser-known YJ series of 1964) that the small-bore crowd was treated to Yamaha’s wonderful mix of style, sportiness and 2-stroke innovation.
The Yamaha YG1 was the more mainstream street-oriented machine, with a full front fender, two-place seat and sporty two-tone paint schemes. Today, the occasional YG1 comes up on eBay and would prove an excellent street machine on its own merits. But it’s the YG-1T, or Yamaha Trailmaster 80, that is getting our attention, as it deserves a little spotlight of its own, out from the shadows of the all-powerful Honda Trail.
First introduced in 1964, the Yamaha Trailmaster 80 combined Yamaha’s then-new rotary-disc-valve 2-stroke engine, with a few well-chosen functional modifications to make it better suited for the occasional off-road journey. Items like the cut-down front fender, the small rubber mud flap, the solo seat with a sizeable luggage rack on the back and a skid plate mounted under the engine all work together to shout “Trail.”
In fact, when sitting next to their similar vintage Honda Trail 55 and 90 counterparts, the Yamaha Trailmaster 80 fits right in, yet looks more refined. While the Hondas were based on the step-through Cub C100 series and flaunted their raw look with exposed components, the Trailmaster was based on a sportier street bike, and therefore carries over a few more stylish cues like the gleaming chrome fuel tank and low-mounted
As with other mid-1960s tiddlers, the stamped multi-layer sheet metal frame forms the foundation, incorporating the central spine, headstock support and rear fender into one robust, yet lightweight, beam. Combined with sheet metal side covers, the frame carries the bulk of this bike’s bold red paint color. Sitting atop the frame is a tear-drop-shaped fuel tank gleaming in polished chrome. Small ribbed rubber kneepads fit snugly on each side, while an early-style Yamaha badge proudly displays its heritage. The comfortable solo seat complements the clean look, while the body-colored luggage rack hangs off the back fender, ready for a bag of groceries.
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