Thursday, November 25, 2010

1980 Yamaha YZ125

I found this image of a 1980 Yamaha YZ125 on the internet,
as I did not own this bike long enough to get any pictures of me on the bike. The bike I briefly owned was purchased from my friend, Steve sometime in 1980 after I had practically raced the wheels off my 1979 RM125. That bike served me well to say the least, but the times were marching along, and the 1980 Yamaha had a motor that could not be denied.

This was a very fast 125 as I found out in one of my last races on my Suzuki, and at the hands of a very fast Yamaha rider, the former mini pilot who dusted me at Roosevelt, Utah. The Roosevelt track was hard and blue-grooved, with an uphill start, sweeping corners, some long straights and one nasty off-camber straight that just went along the side of a ridge. I remember that I was wringing the throttle for all I was worth that day, trying to coax some more speed out of my trusty Suzuki.

The funny thing is, I felt like an old veteran racing against the next generation of 125 experts at that time. I was only 20 years old and had been racing since 1973, but nontheless after being trounced by one of the fast new kids coming up I was starting to feel not so young.

I had the opportunity to buy this bike from Steve, who had done some modifications to the motor and I was super pumped to get a faster bike. Unfortunately, the bike never ran right and I ended up returning it to Steve (blown up, I believe). I think it had an air leak somewhere in the cases or around the intake for the case reed valve induction. Steve, of Marty Smith replica fame, was a tinkerer by nature and he always had modified bikes, trick parts and super clean stuff. We all admired our friend, for even after the Marty Smith era ended, he still always was super stylish and classy with his shiny stuff and flashy riding style.

As with all things mechanical, things were ever evolving. Getting better, faster and more reliable. The 125 motocross bikes we raced in the 1970s and 1980s were special in that they were the result of a determined evolutionary push by the motorcycle manufacturers of the day to prove new technology and one-up each other in the arena that was the expanding motocross scene in the U.S.

It's hard to believe today, with the awesome bikes that are currently raced, just how eccentric and flawed these old 125s were. Those of us who sampled these racers, in the quest for trophies and bragging rights, faced the prospect of sorting through the pros and cons every year. And we chose every year, and raced, crashed, won, lost, broke and fixed as we went. A great time to have raced all things considered!

No comments: