Community Classic and Custom Motorcycles Rider’s Library | Yamaha by Mick Wollett

Rider’s Library | Yamaha by Mick Wollett

Rider’s Library | Yamaha by Mick WollettMotorcycle Library Retro Review

Maybe it was the fact that Mick Woollett’s book about Yamaha was published in 1984 that interested me since a lot of great bikes were built in the eighties; or maybe it was that two of my favorite motorcycles were Yamahas.

Or, maybe it was simply that Woollett produced a dandy little book that chronicles the growth of the company of crossed tuning forks from building organs and pianos to producing innovative road and dirt motorcycles and world-beating racing bikes.

In the space of only 63 well-illustrated pages, Woollett traces the company’s origins from its founding as a musical instrument producer under founder Torakusu Yamaha to creation of the motorcycle division in 1955 that produced the first YA1 125 cc two stroke singles.

That model established the company’s engineering credentials with reliability and even racing success.  It was soon followed by the 175 cc YC1 and by 1957, Yamaha designed an all-new twin, the YD1.

By 1960, production reached 138,000 units, primarily on the strength of domestic sales. By the mid-1960s, production for export markets to Europe and North America soared and interest in the brand was fanned by racing success of privateers riding the TD1 production road racing bike and the introduction of the Autolube system, which ended oil/gas mixing hassles for their two-stroke bikes.

In 1973, Yamaha motorcycle production topped one million and during the decade, emphasis began to shift from two-stroke to four-stroke engines.  Results on the early four strokes were mixed with the TX 500 and 750 twins, XS 750 triples not being particularly successful commercially. In the early 1980s, the Yamaha line did find success with the XV V-twins and XJ DOHC inline fours.

Woollett covers Yamaha’s striking successes in racing quickly but well, including some great images of Yamaha’s early road racing world champions Jarno Saarinen, Phil Read, Giacomo Agostini, Kenny Roberts, Steve Baker and Johnny Cecotto.  Motocross champs Danny La Porte and Neil Hudson are featured as well.

The book does an efficient job covering Yamaha’s contemporary road-going two strokes and four strokes, motocrossers, trials bikes and even finds room for the three-wheeled ATVs so popular back then.

Book Data

  • Title: Yamaha
  • Author: Mick Woollett
  • Published: 1984
  • Publisher: Arco Publishing, Inc., 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
  • ISBN: 0-669-06165-0

Note to readers: many of the books that we’ll feature here may be out of print and some may be difficult to find.  That could be half the fun.  The Internet should make the search relatively easy but ironically, none of the books currently scheduled for eventual retro-review for the Rider’s Library section were found with the help of the Internet.  They all were found at book stores, used book stores, antique shops, motorcycle shops, yard sales and so on.

Cardo Packtalk Black and Prototype Headset Review: Racing Intercom

Cardo has been well known for its high-quality helmet-to-helmet communication systems for over a decade. Cardo uses Bluetooth technology in both is Packtalk and...

2021 Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition First Look (8 Fast Facts)

The triumvirate of 2020 AMA 450MX National Champion Zach Osborne, 2018 AMA Supercross Champion Jason Anderson, and Dean Wilson will all be racing motorcycle...

Shoei RF-1400 First Look: New Motorcycle Helmet

The folks at Shoei made the best of our pandemic situation with their unique launch of the new Shoei RF-1400. They shipped us the...

2021 Ducati Monster First Look [13 Fast Facts + Specs]

Amid these unique times when OEMs are usually launching their lineups at EICMA, Ducati spent the past five Wednesdays releasing new models. Many, like the...

2021 Ducati Monster Lineup First Look: 4 Models; 2 All-New

There’s a big shakeup in the Ducati Monster lineup for 2021. Say goodbye to the 797, 821, and 821 Stealth. Those three models are...

2020 Ducati Monster 821 Stealth Review (15 Fast Facts)

Upgraded in 2018, the Ducati Monster 821 was joined by a Stealth version in 2019. Not merely a matte black extravaganza with exclusive graphics,...