WITH much of the focus in vintage Japanese motorcycling on the large-capacity "superbikes" that dominated the market from the 1970s on, we forget that it was their smaller bikes that also cemented Japan's permanent spot on the top of the sales charts. Even from the late 1960s, lightweight Japanese two-strokes in particular could often show much of the Pommy stuff a clean pair of heels, despite giving away more than half the capacity and most of the moving parts.

Yamaha’s first bike was a 125cc single-cylinder two-stroke BSA Bantam knock-off called the YA1, which went on sale in 1955. The 250cc parallel-twin

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ENGINE Air-cooled four-stroke 50-degree side-valve V-twin; twin chain-driven camshafts, two valves per cylinder; 65 x 75mm for 498cc; 6.5:1 comp; single 15/16-inch Amal carb with remote fuel bowl; 6V Lucas battery/coil ignition; dry sump; shaft prima
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