Field Find: 1968 Yamaha YR2C

Found sitting in a field since the 1970s, this Yamaha YR2C is back on the road after a complete restoration.

| September/October 2016

1968 Yamaha YR2C
348cc air-cooled 2-stroke piston-port parallel twin, 61mm x 59.6mm bore and stroke, 7.5:1 compression ratio, 36hp @ 7,500rpm
Top speed:
96mph (period test)
Two Mikuni 28mm
5-speed, chain final drive
12v, coil and breaker points ignition
Dual downtube steel cradle/53.2in (1,351mm)
Telescopic forks front, dual shocks w/adjustable preload rear
7.2in (183mm) TLS drum front, 7.2in (183mm) SLS drum rear
3 x 18in front, 3.5 x 18in rear
Weight (w/half-tank fuel):
361lb (164kg)
Seat height
: 32in (813mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG:
3.8gal (14.4ltr)/NA
Price then/now:

Collectors and restorers of old vehicles are always on the lookout for that elusive “barn find.” We dream of finding an old bike tucked away in a forgotten shed or barn, just waiting for us to come along to awaken it from its years of slumber. It’s as if it was our destiny to cross paths with these long-lost machines.

For my son, Craig, and I, the dream was not quite the perfect barn find but more of a “field find.” Craig knew that a friend’s grandfather was in possession of a couple of old bikes. All we knew about them was that one was a Norton; the make of the other bike was unknown. The bikes weren’t for sale, as the grandfather was going to restore them someday. It’s a story full of good intentions, one that we’ve all heard before.

We bided our time, and then the day came when the grandfather had to move and the bikes had to be dealt with. I got a call from Craig after he’d gone to look at them: “One’s a Norton and the other is an old Yamaha. They’ve been sitting outside in the open since the Seventies.” Forty or so years. That’s a long time for any bike to be sitting outside.

We agreed on a price, and my son’s friend said he would deliver them both to us. I didn’t know what to expect. At this point I was excited at the thought of restoring a Norton Commando, if we were lucky, and as for the Yamaha, I wasn’t too interested at the time.

A few evenings later, my son and his friend backed the truck into our driveway with our new-found treasures on board. It was dark and difficult to see at first, but as the truck got closer to the light from the open garage I was a bit shocked to see what had arrived. Yes, one was indeed a Norton, but not a Commando; it was a 2-cylinder 400 Electra. The other one was a Yamaha I had never seen before. Now I was interested. I was also shocked to see that both bikes were in horrendous condition — they were worse than I had imagined. Importantly, they were mostly complete, so we knew they could be brought back to life.

11/22/2017 6:45:24 PM

Good find. I am restoring the same model but in red wich I purchase from Wayne in Illinois and shipped ,along with 4 other bikes to restore to Australia where I live. I have a couple of questions I would like to ask and we could communicate direct via email to make things easier. My email is Would love to hear and we can swap stories. Eddie

11/22/2017 6:44:14 PM

I have a red YR2C I am restoring. I have some questions I would like to ask if I may. My email address is I would appreciate an email thanks so we can communicate direct. I am in Australia and we are pretty isolated here. Regards Eddie

8/18/2016 8:24:38 AM

Cool story! My first bike, which I bought when I was 13, was the YR2C's little brother - a '68 AS1C 125. It took me many memorable places - including my one and only trip to traffic court. What a tough little bugger!

bike on highway

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