The motorcycle division of Yamaha was founded in 1955 and was headed by Genichi Kawakami. Yamaha’s initial product was a 125 cc (7.6 cu in) two-cycle, single-cylinder motorcycle, the YA-1, which was a copy of the German DKW RT 125. The YA-1 was a competitive success at racing from the beginning, winning not only the 125cc class in the Mt. Fuji Ascent but also sweeping the podium with first, second, and third place in the All Japan Auto bike Endurance Road Race that same year. Early success in racing set the tone for Yamaha, as competition in many varieties of motorcycle racing has been a key endeavor of the company throughout its history, often fueled by a strong rivalry with Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and other Japanese manufacturers.
Yamaha began competing internationally in 1956 when they entered the Catalina Grand Prix, again with the YA-1, at which they p
laced sixth. The YA-1 was followed by the YA-2 of 1957, another 125cc two-stroke, but with significantly improved frame and suspension. The YD-1 of 1957 was a 250cc two-stroke twin-cylinder motorcycle, resembling the YA-2, but with a larger and more powerful motor. A performance version of this bike, the YDS-1 housed the 250cc two-stroke twin in a double downtube cradle frame and offered the first five-speed transmission in a Japanese motorcycle. This period also saw Yamaha offer its first outboard marine engine.
Yamaha Motor Company was incorporated on 1 July 1955 (Japan). Highlighting its presence in the performance motorcycle segment, the company announced that in 2020 they will be celebrating their 65th anniversary on the 1st of July, 2020 with a holiday they call “Yamaha Day”.The theme for Yamaha Day 2020 is “heritage” – Yamaha plans to use this holiday to enhance the brand’s connection with their customers.