They’re Only Original Once: 1968 Yamaha DT-1

Super-fan Al Brotz wasn’t looking for a perfectly original 1968 Yamaha DT-1, but when he found one, he knew he had to be its next custodian.

| March/April 2019


1968 Yamaha DT-1
Engine: 246cc air-cooled 2-stroke single cylinder, 70mm x 64mm bore and stroke, 6.7:1 compression ratio, 21.3hp @ 7,000rpm (claimed)
Top speed: 71mph (period test)
Carburetion: Single 26mm Mikuni
Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 6v, magneto and coil igntion
Frame/wheelbase: Dual downtube cradle frame/53.8in (1,366.5mm)
Suspension: Hydraulic fork front, dual shocks w/adjustable preload rear
Brakes: 5.9in (150mm) SLS drum front and rear
Tires: 3.25 x 19in front, 4 x 18in rear
Weight (w/half-tank fuel): 235lb (100.6 kg)
Seat height: 29.8in (757mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 2.5gal (9.5ltr)/35-55mpg
Price now/then: $580/$2,500-$5,000

For most of his motorcycling life, Al Brotz has spent the majority of his time looking through a slight haze of 2-stroke exhaust.

His first bike, at the age of 14, was a used 80cc 1966 Yamaha YG-1. Al and his brother chipped in to buy the little 2-stroke, which ran, but needed some work. Al was excited, his brother, less so. “He rode it once, and then sold his half to me,” Al laughs, adding, “Me? I was hooked.”


King of the field

There was a 40-acre field behind the Brotz family home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. In the future, it would be developed and a Catholic high school would occupy the site, but at the time, the dirt became a different kind of learning ground as local teens congregated with their minibikes and Honda 50s for a bit of offroad fun. With his YG-1 Yamaha, Al says, he was, at least for a short period of time, the king of the field.

3/15/2020 12:21:23 PM

DT1 as an "Adventure Bike"? Not the usual application but several were used for traveling in Africa and the "overland route" from Singapore to Europe. And they were a great bike for those travels. A friend and i bought 1971 DT1's in Singapore that year. After traveling around Malaysia & Thailand he shipped his to Africa and traveled extensively there. I shipped mine to India and rode on to Europe. 8 months and 25,000 essentially trouble free miles on that great machine. Running out of money i had to sell it in Holland - talk about bikes you wish you'd never sold! A few years ago the young (at the time) fellow who bought it tracked me down. He had it for a while and then sold it. In recent years he has tried to find it but to no avail. For photos of the DT1 fitted out for traveling check out I haven't been able to find one of those Mandarin Orange '71s to satisfy my nostalgic feelings but make do with a "73 DT3...

3/7/2019 2:21:05 PM

This bike was introduced right in the middle of "my era." I rode, worked on and worked at MC shops that sold just about every motorcycle around back then, of all shapes and sizes. And in my opinion the Yamaha DT1 was, absolutely, the Perfect Motorcycle. It was simple. Not too small and not too big. And it did everything. Thinking back, it's difficult to recall any one of my road-racing and flat-tracking buddies who DIDN'T own one as a play bike. I wish they still made them. I'd buy one in a flash.

3/7/2019 11:38:50 AM

Lot of Dirttrackers bought 68 DT1's and installed the Engines in Sonicweld Rigid Tail Racing Frames. Former National Number 10 Neil Keen was probably the 1st to do this. I have photos of him at Sturgis,S.D. Short Track in 1968 with 2 Sonicweld DT1's ... Yamaha sold a ton of these 250 singles. Having a Shifter Shaft that made it possible to Shift your Bike on the Left or Right was a nice touch also

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