’72 Yamaha R5
There is almost nothing in the world that can put a smile on a motorcyclists face than blowing by a another motorcycle through a twisty road waving as you go by. That smile gets especially big when you realize that the motorcycle you just passed is bigger, newer and faster than your little 350…except here, on this curvy bit of pavement. Such is the smile on your face if you’re the rider of that Yamaha 350.
Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s roadracing was dominated by the European and British powerhouses; Triumph, BSA, Norton, MV Agusta, Ducati and others. Then along came Yamaha and it’s little 2 stokes. David and Goliath if you will. In the hands of the likes of Kel Carruthers, Jarno Saarinen, Phil Read and Kenny Roberts, the 350 Yamaha’s stood the racing world on it’s ear. Light, good handling and blindingly fast, the Yamaha’s were a racers dream. The TA, TD, TR and TZ series racebikes were winning races and championships all over America and the world. Club races, National’s and European races all fell to the little Yamaha’s. In 1972 my friend Don Emde won the Daytona 200 aboard a Yamaha TR3 350. That win set off a string of thirteen wins in a row for Yamaha and their 350, a feat that will likely never be repeated. If you’d like to hear more of Don’s story about the Yamaha and the Daytona 200 visit our website www.themotoworld.com click on the podcasts button, scroll your way down to the Don Emde interview, click on it and listen to great story.
The Yamaha TR3 racer was developed from the R5 roadbike. The racer was very much a production based motorcycle. Same basic chassis and motor, all that was done (for the most part) was some motor work (nothing too exotic), suspension work and a race body. Voila…successful racer. And all that brings us to the Vintage Motorcycles ebay bike of the day…drum roll here….A 1972 Yamaha R5.
Most motorcycle enthusiasts, particularly vintage motorcycle aficianado’s, are familiar with the RD350/400 series Yamaha’s and probably either had one or know someone who did. My father in law had a beautiful RD that he loved more than his pickup truck and gun reloading stuff. My former racing partner, Scott Spears, had a nicely cafe’d out R5 that was a real sleeper until he got into a canyon, then it was bye bye Scott. Those 350’s lent themselves to easy and relatively inexpensive mod’s that would humble most 750’s. The R5 and RD Yamaha’s are ‘high giggle factor’ motorcycles.
I found a really clean ’72 R5 on ebay today. Very low miles (only 4800) and 100% stock. The owner say’s it’s 90% restored, in like new condition and the chrome is near perfect. Well, everybody has their own definition of ‘near perfect’ and truthfully, I’d put the chrome on this bike in the ‘really, really good condition’ category…and that’s really good. It does have quite a bit of light surface rust, the fork tubes have some pitting and the cases have some simple corrosion…hey, the thing is 38 years old. I had corrosion at 38 years old, so I certainly can’t hold it against a motorcycle now can I? All in all this is a really good motorcycle and truly one that will have you laughing out loud in your helmet every time you ride it. A couple of suspension mods, some new tires, maybe find an RD front end with the disc brake, some GP touring handlebars…Champagne fun on a PBR budget, what more could you ask for?! Click on the pic’s for more pics and info.