Classic Motorcycle Mechanics

The model launch – July 1959


It might seem strange to us now, but at the end of the 1950s there were no Japanese-made sports bikes for sale to the general public.

Over in Europe there were the likes of BSA Goldstars that could be ordered in various guises, from roadster through to scrambler and on to track race bike. In fact most companies either offered track-orientated road machinery variants or supplied the necessary components with which to upgrade. In post-war Japan motorcycle­s were initially primarily a method of transport and any competitiv­e racing was there purely to promote the brand as an entity; the notion of producing a bike for sale to the public and capable of racing was almost totally alien.

However, Yamaha had other ideas and their new-to-market 250 twin developed off the back of Asama Highlands Race successes was firmly based upon competitio­n know-how. The twin cylinder two-stroke engine was fitted with a pair of carburetto­rs and a five-speed transmissi­on. Built into the headlight shell was a speedomete­r, tachometer and trip odometer, and a small Perspex-like mini-windscreen.

Any combinatio­n of the above would have been fairly radical on a European machine, but to combine all of it on a Japanese domestic market machine was simply unheard of… Yamaha had come up with something both radical and, as would be proven later, formidably reliable. Capable of reaching almost 90mph, the bike found a ready market both at home and in the emergent export markets. Initially called the 250S, the name was changed to YDS1 after just 3000 were sold. Decked out in metallic bronze and white, the styling was dramatical­ly different to the Germanic lines Yamaha had used previously and would run from 1956 right through to early 1967.

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