1982: Everything changed with the arrival of the Yamaha
Powervalve system, rear suspension linkage and liquid cooling. This was an awkward year for everyone.
1986: The YZ motor was completely revamped in ’ 86 and
would remain almost the same for over 10 years.
Rick Johnson’s success was legendary, but only the early
years of it were with Yamaha and the YZ250. After he left,
there was a void that didn’t get filled until Damon
Bradshaw came along. The most striking thing about
Bradshaw’s career was his knack for not winning championships, despite winning races. He still sits in eighth place
on the all-time Supercross winners list, but he doesn’t have
a single national title to his credit.
Jeremy McGrath is probably better known for his years
at Honda, but in 1998, 1999 and 2000, he won Supercross
titles on a YZ250. In that time, his closest rival was fellow
Yamaha YZ250 rider David Vuilliman. The last national
motocross championship to be earned by the YZ was the
2004 Supercross title with Chad Reed.
The Yamaha YZ250 was and remains a bike held in high
esteem by both the motocross and off-road communities. In
fact, no other bike has proven so capable in both worlds. It
won three GNCC championships with Ed Lojak, Fred
Andrews and Barry Hawk. It won two National Enduro titles
with Randy Hawkins and Ty Davis, three WORCS championships with Davis and Nate Woods, seven National Hare
Scrambles championships with Jason Raines and Doug
Blackwell, and it even contributed to a National Hare &
Hound title with Ty Davis, who rode the 250 in select events.
If you go strictly by the numbers, the YZ is more of an off-road bike than a motocrosser. It has 15 off-road championships and only 14 motocross titles. Add them all up and
the YZ is the winningest cross-platform racer in America.
1975: The Monoshock arrived in showrooms. It had been
developed in Europe by Hakan Andersson.
1985: The most significant change of the year was the color.
From this point on, U.S. Yamahas would look just like the Euro
Rare photo: This is none other than Roger DeCoster aboard
Bob Hannah’s works Yamaha. This shot is from 1995 when
Roger was on the Dirt Bike staff—the bike is currently owned
by Terry Good.
ICONIC DIRT BIKES