Yamaha YM1 305
I really do enjoy early to mid sixties motorcycles no matter what country they came from. To me though, what is great about that time period is the Japanese and the Italians had the most unique styling…odd in some people’s view, and they were the most mechanically inventive.
I’m sure that many will disagree with me about that, but think about it…in America you had / have Harley Davidson…nothing has changed much in nearly 100 years and when they did want to have a different image, where did they go? Italy. In Britain, motorcycles from that side of the pond also hadn’t changed hardly, hence the demise of the British motorbike industry until John Bloor came on the scene. And Germany was, well…Germany. Those didn’t change after the war disappeared and BMW didn’t change much for another four decades.
So,back to my original statement about the Italians and the Japanese. The Italians were about styling and did design some truly beautiful motorcycles (remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder), but mechanically they were still using older designs (the Ducati Desmo notwithstanding). The Japanese however, were using a combination of older Euro styling along with some more modern styles of their own. Technologically, they were playing catch up to the Europeans but also being more adventurous, especially with the two stokes and multi cylinder designs.
Leading the way in the two-stroke world was Yamaha. Honda went on to multi cylinder four strokes. Yamaha’s history is a great one and there is all of it on the net…how it went from being (and still is…) a music company and the founder needing something to fill up the time and space they had for manufacturing, into a motorcycle business. From small single cylinder bikes to world beating twins, Yamaha led the way.
Through the development of the race bikes, Yamaha’s street bikes and you and I, were the lucky recipients of the technological advancements. These advancements came fast and furious, most importantly for the time was the ‘auto-lube’ system. Prior to Yamaha’s development of the system, oil had to be pre-mixed with the gasoline to lubricate the engine internals. With Yamaha’s invention, now the rider just put gas in a separate tank and let the motor do the work itself. Pretty soon every had a variation of Yamaha’s auto-lube system.
As Yamaha was growing, the theory of ‘if 125cc is good, 250cc must be better. And if 250cc is better, then 305cc must be much better’. Very American don’t you think? We have always believed ‘bigger is better’. Hence, the street going YM1 305. The 305 came in two versions, the standard street model and the more popular ‘Big Bear Scrambler’. The Scrambler was a one year model however. Within three years the YM1 305’s were replaced by much more advanced 350’s but the 305 really did move Yamaha ahead in the American street bike market.
I found a really nice YM1 on ebay today that really would be wonderful to have and ride. It is in great condition it appears and is ready (?) to ride. I imagine that because it has been sitting for 10 years that it will need the standard stuff…carb clean, new tires, battery, etc but hey, you can pick up a very clean little classic for not too much money. Now, this is one of those bikes that I would tell you to buy a plane ticket, go get it and ride it home but, if you’re not too far away, hop in your truck and go get it. If you live more a couple of hundred miles away, call Forward Air and have ’em pick it up. This is a very fun little bike that you can ride almost right now.
Click on the pic’s below for a little more info and more pictures. Oh, and one more thing…the seller lists it as 1969, the 305 stopped being made in 1966 though some were still being sold new and titled as late as 1968.