Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

Yamaha MADE road-racing

Discussion in 'Racing, Motorsports, and Track Days' started by hornet, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. A bold statement, but one well founded in fact.

    While all the manufacturers were building special race bikes for Europe and the World Championship, Yamaha alone was building 'replicas' for any palooka who could stump up the cash to race, anywhere in the world. This was especially so of Australia.

    Between 1974 and 1980 they built a customer race 125. Initially air-cololed it was later updated to water cooling and became the bread and butter of every 125 grid.

    Between 1973 and 1982 Yamaha built 10 incarnations of the water-cooled 250 twin. Read any race programme from those years, and later, in Australia and you'll find 250cc race grids with nothing BUT variations on the TZ theme. Every year Yamaha came out with the newest, and every year privateers scrabbled to buy the superseded 'gun' bikes from the top-liners as they upgraded as a matter of course.

    Between 1973 and 1981, the same scenario prevailed in the 350 class, as Yamaha built and sold thousands of the 7 official variations of the twin-cylinder, water-cooled weapon.

    While the World Championship was for 500cc bikes, between 1973 and 1979 Yamaha produced and sold hundreds of these fearsome four cylinder watercooled monsters, originally created out of mating two 350cc engine barrels together, and then spec-built to 750cc from 1974 onwards. Many made their way to this country and featured in ALL the classic racing of the era, from Boulden's win at Bathurst, to Ike Takai's 186mph speed on Conrod, to Bobby Rosenthal's awesome win in the streaming rain at Hume Weir in the the King of the Weir meeting and everywhere in between. (The TZ-750 customer bike, with spares kit and all, cost around $3,500 for the customer; the OW-31 was double that!)

    In 1977 Yamaha released the legendary OW-31 TZ-750 (with which Takai set his record speed) and although some earlier TZ-750s were updated to near OW-31 specs, it was a discrete model, running through 6 variations till 1982. The richest of Aussie racers got hold of a few of these too.

    In response to the growing need for customer 500s, Yamaha in 1980 produced a customer version of their World Championship racer, the TZ-500. It only ran for a couple of years, to 1982, but again, many hundreds were built, and many came here.

    Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki dabbled disinterestedly in customer bikes, but Yamaha can truly be said to have defined road-racing, here and around the world, with this incredible series of customer race bikes; bikes just like (but nothing like) the ones being raced at top level round the world. Hundreds of Aussie racers got their start on customer Yamaha's; I dare say some rode nothing but for their entire careers.

    For full technical bumpf on these machines (and many of their riders) I wholehertedly recommend Greg Bennett's definitive TZ Yamaha site, http://www.tz350.net/index.htm
  2. I havent read your whole post But wasnt it HONDA as he dreamed of competeing in the IOM TT as the first jap racer..
    How Im going to have to dig my Honda books out of cobwebs...HMMM who reads books when you have the net..lol
  3. I know what you mean, but read the whole post, I'm talking about something quite different.
  4. Interesting read ..Would you say Suzuki dabbled tho
  5. Thanx Paul. Reading that stuff was so worth it . Always wanted that.
  6. As their dominance in 500 GP racing increased, Suzuki DID build customer 500s, but no manufacturer mirrored the GP classes by producing customer bikes in every capacity class, and in huge numbers, like Yamaha did.

    In all, 527 TZ-700 -750s were built, for example. Suzuki's output of customer 500s would have been lucky to have exceeded 100.....
  7. I see what you mean ,I looked on the site .I don't no if any other company made a road bike that was delivered without lights etc ready to race but not a pacifically designed track bike ...Good find Im going to have to take a closer look tonight ... :cool:
  8. Probably fair to say that Norton did the same, for the Generation before us.
  9. I think you're spot-on there Roger. I've tried to find total production figures for the entire TZ series, but they seem to be unavailable. Suffice it to say that if there was 576 705s built, you could probably add a nought to that for 250s and 350s, with probably fewer for the 125.

    Traviss the TZ-series had its genesis in the YDS series road bikes, that's for sure, but these were purpose-built racing bikes out of the crate; it was for Yamaha, a genuine INDUSTRY.
  10. Just dragging a few details out of the old brain.
    I seem to remember the TA125 was produced for only 2 maybe 3 years. It was essentially a ready kitted AS3 road bike (kit parts had been obtainable for years) and still had some road brackets on the frame. The swingarm was mounted in rubber blocks so it was possible to grab the seat and tyre and twist the rear wheel sideways! Engine numbers all started AS3.... The 2LS front brake was however from the 250 DS7 road bike. OTC 125 racer production ceased for a few years and was resumed with the water cooled single TZ125G about 1979 I would guess.
    As for the bigger racers, the TZ250 and 350 have their origins in the air cooled TD3 and TR3 which had the new horizontally split case that superseded the 2 series and shared with the new DS7 and R5 road bikes. Interestingly the water cooled TZ250 was held back from production after a difficult year in Europe with lack of speed and reliability on the works bike so the water cooled TZ350 was offered alongside the now very rare TA250. This air cooled bike came from the factory with radiator mounting lugs.
    The first TZ700 was, as I recall, fitted with reed valve barrels right from the earliest. West Aussie Brian Cull had one here in '74 and didn't like it, being a 250cc specialist. Andrew Johnson did run a home made 500 conversion with 250 barrels in the ARRC series around 1979.