The Yamaha Motor Company was the idea of Genichi Kawakami in 1953, and its first model, the 125cc YA-1 street bike was launched a year later. The company went on to debut the world’s first true off-road motorcycle in 1968, the 250cc single cylinder, 2-stroke DT-1 Enduro, and the model had a huge impact on motorcycling in the USA.
Today, the Yamaha off-road range features five motocross models – the YZ85, YZ125, YZ250, YZ250F and YZ450F. The YZ450F, which was ridden to victory in the MX1 World Championship in 2009 by Antonio Cairoli, was completely reengineered in 2013 to rave reviews, with a new EFI engine, an entirely new frame, minimised bodywork, and new suspension components, resulting in 450 power with 250-style handling.
This new 450cc machine is used by a number of leading riders in the MX1 class of the FIM World Motocross Championship, including Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek, who, with one round to go in the 2014 season, lies in second place overall. Also using the bike are the Bike It Yamaha Cosworth team, and its rider Rui Goncalves, and David Philippaerts’ DP19 Racing.
Over the last decade, Yamaha has also had success in the MX2 class – the YZ250F was ridden to victory in the World Championship in 2005 and 2007 by Cairoli, and it has also won EMX2 and WMX titles. The MX2 factory team for 2014 features Christophe Charlier, while other Yamaha riders are Kemea Yamaha’s Petar Petrov and Luke Styke, and Bike It Yamaha Cosworth’s Max Anstie.