TWO-STROKE TUESDAY: BEFORE ALUMINUM WAS COOL

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yamahyzmYamaha didn’t put an aluminum frame bike into production until 19 years after the YZM500. This bike was truly ahead of its time.

The full works Yamaha YZM500 of 1987-88 was a work of art. It may very well be one of the trickest bikes of its time. Yamaha had the bike in the works five years before it was put on the race track. It was a Euro-spec’ed, water cooled engine that featured an aluminum frame with a monocoque rear subframe that had an airbox integrated in. This was the first water cooled bike that Yamaha put on the track. It also had a four-speed transmission and magnesium hubs.

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Are any of these eight YZM500’s still around? Yes! It wasn’t easy. We had to travel to the other side of the world to Yamaha’s museum in Japan to capture the above picture. 

It was claimed that the bike weighed 227 pounds, although it was still two pounds over the AMA minimum. Only six YZM500’s were made in 1987 and two in 1988. These bikes were raced by Leif Perrson and Kurt Lundquist in the GP’s. They were also used for beach races, with Leif winning the Le Touquet. These one-off bikes could have made their way over the pond to the States if it wasn’t for the AMA production rule.

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The aluminum framed Yamaha YZM made the cover of the 1987 July issue of MXA.

Watch Leif Perrson race the YZM500 at the Sweden GP in 1987. 

Engine ICE

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