Ready to Race: 1960 Yamaha YDS1 Scrambler

Was the Yamaha YDS1 Scrambler the Yamaha Motor Company’s first production racer for the masses?


1960 Yamaha YDS 1 Scrambler

Engine: 246cc air-cooled OHV 2-stroke parallel twin, 56mm x 50mm bore and stroke, 8:1 compression ratio, 20hp @ 7,500rpm (claimed)
Top speed: N/A
Carburetion: Two 20mm Mikuni VM 20
Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 12v, flywheel magneto ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Dual downtube steel cradle/50.7in (1,288mm)
Suspension: Telescopic fork front, dual shocks w/adjustable preload rear
Brakes: 7in SLS drums front and rear
Tires: 3 x 19in front, 3.25 x 18in rear
Weight (dry): 291lb (132kg)
Seat height: 30.75in (781mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4.09gal (15.5ltr)/71mpg
Price then: $649 west coast; $659 east coast (1960)

Today the name Yamaha is synonymous with racing.

Yamaha Motor Corporation was originally created in 1955 as a repurposed company from long-standing Nippon Gakki, a conglomerate with roots dating back to 1889 when Torakusu Yamaha formed the musical company Yamaha Organ Manufacturing; thus the famous tuning fork logo. The new motor company’s mission was to develop and manufacture motorcycles.

Fittingly, Yamaha’s race history begins with the very first Yamaha, the YA1, launched in May 1955 and powered by a nondescript 125cc 2-stroke engine based on DKW’s RT 125 piston-port single. Two months after releasing the YA1 to dealers, Yamaha’s factory race team, itself still in the embryonic stage, entered a small squadron of the 125cc roadster for Japan’s most prestigious domestic race at the time, the Mt. Fuji Ascent Race. This marked the third year for the event that featured a one-way 24.2-kilometer (15.1 miles) course snaking its way partially up Mt. Fuji before reaching an altitude of 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) at the finish line. Racers were timed on the course to determine the winner; Japan’s fledging motorcycle industry paid close attention to who won — and who didn’t win.


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