DEMOCRACY ON TWO WHEELS
Yamaha’s awesome TZ750 dominated big-bike racing for years, winning 11 consecutive Daytona 200s and six out of seven F750 titles.
The reed-valve inline-four was the most democratic bigbore race bike of all time, because it allowed privateers to beat factory riders. Yamaha sold six hundred Tee Zees (at around £6500 – the equivalent of £35,000 now) which won everything from world championships to club events.
The bike was rugged and relatively cheap to look after. It was also damnably fast, with 140 horsepower on tap – not much less than 500s had a decade later, when tyres, frames and brakes had made huge advances.
Early TZS were terrifying because the engine was too much for the chassis, but Yamaha fixed that when they fitted a monoshock system.
“I loved that bike,” says Baker. “If everything was working right it wasn’t scary.”