The Birth of the Yamaha production Racer.
Richard Tracey is a long-time Yamaha Collector with also a passion for the history of the race-bikes in particular.
Copyright by Richard Tracey
In all the books and articles written about the early bikes, little has been documented about the very first “over the counter” racers to bear the Yamaha name. The evolution of the production racer seems to have been forgotten or lost over the annals of time. I hope to fill in that blurred over gap with the history that I have collated in my quest to reveal the history behind my own TD1 Yamaha Production Racer.
This picture shows Junichiro Uno, who participated at the 1st Japanese GP in 1962 in Suzuki together with Motohashi, re-united on his original TD1.
Junichiro Uno with 1962 factory TD1
In the past, it had been written that the early TD1’s were “hopelessly slow and unreliable” and some people even claimed that the TD1 was not even a real model. But the facts speak for themselves; it certainly was a true model and it was definitely no bad-handling slouch.
The availability of “over the counter” racing machines in the early sixties, gave the good privateer a real chance of mixing it with the factory teams. It also gave rise to a new breed of tuners and race developers, who soon learnt how to get the most from these simple two stroke engines. Names like: - Frank Sheene, Ted Broad, Geoff Monty and the Padgetts really put Yamaha on the map throughout the country, as well as making names for themselves.
By 1972 the air-cooled two stroke TD twins had evolved into the all-conquering water-cooled TZ series.
The Asama and Kit Part Racers
July 1959 saw the birth of Yamaha’s first sports bike, the 250cc YDS1. A 20hp twin cylinder two-stroke engine powered the steel tubed, duplex-framed machine. Featuring a five-speed gearbox, twin carburettors (both firsts in the Japanese markets), flat handlebars, combined speedo/tacho, fly screen, metallic gold paint and a top speed of around 85 mph. It was really quite a refined sports bike for the day.
The YDS1 or 250S as it was also known, was loosely based on Yamaha’s 1957 250cc works YD racers.
These themselves (the YD-A & YD-B) were highly successful “knobbly tyred”, high handle bar scramblers. They were built specifically for the racing on the volcanic ash circuits in Japan, such as Mount Asama. These works machines looked incredibly similar to the German, Adler RS250 race machines of a few years previous. Although given the freedom to design their own machine, the Yamaha engineers unsurprisingly choose to study the Adler MB250 for their first road 250cc, the YD1, built also in 1957. The crankcase design being the only real “copied” parts.
At this period in time, Yamaha were the race leaders in Japan. Like most other manufacturers of the era, Yamaha saw that victory on the racetrack created popularity amongst the motorcycle buying public. Race winning machines sold road-going motorcycles. And so, the YDS1 and it’s less sport cousin and predecessor, the YD2 sold. In 1961 Yamaha actually started adverting these two models in the Motor Cycle magazine in the UK. The YDS1 was even shown in road or race trim. This was long before they actually imported any machines.
For budding racers of the day, and those wishing to copy the victorious volcano racers, Yamaha produced a set of tuning parts or “Kit Parts” as they called them, to turn the YDS1 into a Clubman’s racer. Kits were also available to make a full Scrambler version. Actually, bikes became available pre-kitted from the factory at one point. The race spec. engine was be factory designated YX24.
The Kits Parts YDS1 became known as the YDS1R, and later adopted the tag “Asama Racer” in recognition of their previous history at the volcano circuit.
The basic Race Kit itself consisted of: -
· A huge 6-gallon fuel tank. Painted a dull brown-red, almost like red oxide.
· Solo seat. Coloured reddish - pink!
· Clip on handlebars
· Tuned Alloy barrels (some though, were iron)
· High Compression Cylinder heads
· Special Pistons
· Chromed Expansion Chambers
· Magneto Ignition - Hitachi MC-2RY
· Mikuni - Amal 276 27mm Carburettors, with remote float chambers that attached the rear frame down tubes.
· Speedo/tacho bracket
· Racing tyres
Also, other optional parts were available: -
· Rear set foot pegs
· Rear set gear linkages and brake lever
· Fly Screen
· Full fairing
· Racing Tachometer
With this fitment, the YDS1R was now a 30 hp, 100 mph road racer. It was though, unreliable and too heavy to be a winner in the western world of motorcycle racing. The first Alloy barrels had chrome linings, which at the time were by no means perfect. The plating would lift off from around the ports, causing seizures. Ported iron barrels were also used on many Asama’s, before or perhaps while alloy ones were not available, or indeed to stop the seizures!
The bike also suffered from poor handling, as if a seizing engine wasn’t enough to contend with! This was primarily caused by the weight of the bike and retaining the standard suspension units that were only just adequate on the sports bike! All of the components were heavy. The frame, the fuel tank, the chromed wheel rims, the chromed mudguards and all of the special brackets were all made from steel and were all really heavy. The special full fairing had heavily braced steel brackets that were attached to huge steel plates than ran down the inside of the fairing. I seriously doubt whether the aerodynamic gains would have had any effect over the weight gain of actually fitting it!
As a matter of fact, the pressed steel framed YD2 tourer I mentioned earlier, did in fact see the race circuits believe it or not! This would have been in a Flat Track or West Coast TT event. The tame 14 ½ hp motors were “tuned” and all of the non-essential steel and bodywork removed. A set of cowhorn bars replaced the flats, and the electrics were reduced to a direct loss system. It would have made a reasonably good introduction to two-stroke racing in the junior events, but not a winning combination.
In 1960 England got it’s first visit from a Yamaha. Californian, Sonny Angel brought over a YDS1R to compete in a few mainland short circuit events and the IOM TT. He had been pretty competitive in the States and expected similar here. Unfortunately things turned out a little differently.
He raced the bike at Silverstone and Brands Hatch, without success. In fact, eyewitnesses claim he was lagging some way down the field. His entry in the TT was also somewhat of a disappointment, actually running out of spare pistons before reaching the Island. He had to resort to matching the original pistons with another makes, which turned out to be from an MV scooter. They were somewhat modified to fit, but appeared to work ok, as the bike gave a top speed of around 116 mph on one section of the gruelling mountain circuit.
Sonny’s YDS1R was pretty well modified by the time it came over to the UK. He had fitted a Norton front brake, a different seat, home made rearset’s and a fairing, in aid to improve handling and “ridability”. It still retained its’ muddy brown-red fuel tank though!
Elsewhere in the world, the first Englishman was to race a Yamaha in the Far East. After his time as a Tank Landing Craft Officer posted in Singapore, Ken Roberts decided to live out there for a while. He was keen on motorcycling, so bought himself a racing bike, a race ready YDS1R Asama. Ken, now living in Leicester, recalls his first Yamaha racing experience:-
“The bike was an absolute pig!….. The pistons were the main problem; if you spent time lapping them in to the correct tolerance as described in the manual, the bike wouldn’t run when it got hot…and if you didn’t lap them in, the bike would seize instantly!” The problem being that Yamaha hadn’t got the silicon content right in the pistons, to control the expansion of the alloy. Ken went on “I bought the bike from a Chinese dealer, it was second-hand, but it was a fully kitted bike. I used to race it at the Gap Hillclimb, run by the Singapore Motor Club. I also raced it in the Singapore and the Indonesian Grand Prix (both the same place though, as the country went into independence, and changed it’s name). The circuit was really just a barriered off section of a runway. We were taken across to the Island, with the bikes lashed onto the decks of a local fishing boat!” That makes the annual pilgrimage with the IOM Steam Packet Company seem like a luxury cruise!
Ken described some of the opposition at these races “I remember an English RAF officer posted over there who was given a Works Honda 4 to race, a chap called Chris Profit-White. Like many of the Servicemen over there, he got involved with the local race clubs, most of which were run by rich ex-Pat’s who owned tea or rubber plantations. The Officer’s Club had a large representation at the racing clubs.
The Gap Hillclimb was a major event in the area and was an event for both two and four wheelers. The ex-Pats turned up their Jags and Bentleys, while the local Chinese rode their modified rode going bikes.
I remember I was at the 1961 Singapore GP when Yamaha turned up with their small black van. They wheeled out two race bikes also painted black, which were the works RD48 250 twins. Both machines never actually finished the race, breaking down with mechanical problems. Honda were also there, but no sign of any Suzuki’s.”
“I had a REME Engineer to help as my mechanic” Ken recalled, “after several seizures, we soon learnt to fit a different type of piston to avoid it! It seemed to work much better after that!
Ken still owns an Asama racer, amongst other early Yamaha’s and is still active in the racing scene today.
Now, the YDS1 had a crankshaft mounted clutch. Some say, the “Achilles heel” of the early Yamaha’s. Running at about 7500 rpm with a mere 20 hp going through it (as the standard 250S did) it was perfectly adequate. But! When speeds of over 9500 rpm were produced and over 30 hp were being transmitted, thing tended to work …… how shall we say….less smoothly!
The centrifugal forces acting on the clutch running at engine speed, obviously increases as the revs increase. This made the clutch less efficient to separate the plates. The clutch plates were effectively forced “outwards”, restricting sideways movement thus not allowing the plates from opening when the clutch lever was pulled. The ultimate effect of this was that the gearbox would not slow down enough to allow smooth gear changes. This created a “clonk!” when changing gear, At race speeds however, this was exaggerated yet further. A forced, rushed gear change could turn the harsh “clonk” into a crankshaft failure or disintegrating clutch basket!! It has been rumoured by a racer of the day, that an American company produced a metal band, which wrapped around the clutch basket to try to avoid these exploding clutch catastrophes. But, I am unable to find any evidence of them (yet!). These clutches though, could be set up to work very smoothly indeed. It took careful preparation to get it bang on, but the better mechanics and tuners soon found out the tricks of the trade. Namely, this was carefully selecting and balancing out every single component.
The YDS1 was produced up until early 1962. Yamaha had in their now typical way, studied their product, listen to feedback from their customers and tackled the reported problem areas. During 1961 development took place on the new model, the YDS2 which was officially launched in March 1962.
In the same way that the Asama was available as a Kit Parts Racer, they continued to produce a Kit Parts model known as the YDS2R, and separate kits were also still available.
The main improvements on the new model were in the engine and the brakes. The YDS1 looked good for it’s day and was a best seller, so the style remained very much similar on the new machine. The brakes were bigger, the rear mudguard was beefed up a bit, the fuel tank knee grips grew, the chain guard tidied up and the battery box was put into a more conventional position, but apart from that the bike looked very similar indeed. The colour scheme was also widened, with a choice of metallic colours instead of just gold. The fuel tank was now endowed with Yamaha’s round “tuning fork” logo, a corporate identity which has made a comeback on the 750cc road legal racer, the R7 or OW02.
The engine gained 5 hp, mainly due to improved porting and combustion chamber. It also had a new “labyrinth” seal fitted between the 180 degree out of phase cranks. The actual crankshaft initially remained similar, although con-rods were modified on the later YDS2’s. The bore and stroke remained the same at 56 X 50 mm. Crankcases were modified slightly to allow a newer gear ratio, and modifications to the big ends.
The clutch remained the same design, although weaker clutch springs were fitted and the primary drive was also slightly altered to slow the gearbox speed down to aid smoother gear changes.
Initially carburettors remained the same as on the YDS1, Amal- Mikuni VM20H with “ticklers”. But from August ’62, newer Mikuni VM20SH carbs were used, these had lever operated “cold starter” chokes and were more efficient.
The full width wheel hubs were improved with water and dust proofing grooves, and the front wheel gained a twin leading shoe brake. Both hubs were now polished and lacquered to enhance cosmetic appearance.
The YDS2 has a really significant interest in the United Kingdom, as it was the first Yamaha to be imported into the country, alongside the 125 single YA5. It was the YDS2 though, that really put Yamaha on the map in England. Fortunately for Yamaha, it was better than any British 250cc of the day! Far more sophisticated than the contemporary British lightweights. Well, it had flashy paintwork, a 5 speed ‘box, reliable electrics, sporty looks, combined speedo/tacho, steering damper, optional fly screen, a smooth and lively 25 hp engine and a genuine 90 mph top end, as fast as many of the 500’s.
Contrary to modern popular belief though, Japanese bikes were not cheap copies of “British” bikes. At £266 the YDS2 was expensive. Compared against some other similar sized machines of the era :-
· Royal Enfield Continental £239
· Ariel Arrow £187
· Panther 250cc £189
· Jawa 250cc £119
· Matchless G2CSR £234
· Norton Jubilee £243
· Honda CB72 £259
Unfortunately though, the most concerning traits of the YDS1 stayed. It still retained the crank mounted clutch and the unadjustable rear suspension units.
The advertised top speed for the YDS2 was 91 mph. This was no idle boast, they really were that quick, although the claim “Twin cylinder, smooth as a four!” was dubious. Apart from the Ariel Square four, what other four cylinder bikes were there to compare to ?? I’m sure riders of the era would not have ridden many others. I guess it is fair to say though, that the bikes were very smooth, there was no distinct power band as a modern two stroke has. I suspect that the smoothness was due to having two carburettors feeding a fairly low state of tune engine.
Yamaha didn’t really sell that many YDS2’s in the UK. But it did make a big impression with all that rode them. If it had been a dud, I’m sure Yamaha would never have been the success they were in the country. The motorcycling all press all gave the YDS2 a really good write up, whenever it was tested. They commented on it’s “startling performance, excellent quality” and “general reliability” amongst other things.
It is unknown how many of the 30hp YDS2R racers or kits were sold. A few made it into Australia and America and there are unsubstantiated rumours of a few making it into the UK. But it was certainly advertised. There is a YDS2R full specification and set-up guide in the road going YDS2’s service manual. The running in procedure includes careful lapping in of the pistons, how to check ignition timing, checking crank accuracy, plug selection, carb adjustments and all the necessities if you didn’t want the bike to seize up. I wonder just how many engine failures were due to not carrying them out !
As well as the road going YDS2 and the YDS2R’s, the model was also available in Scrambles Guise, as YDS2CM and a fully kitted out US only Flat track Racer known as the YDS2M “Ascot” Scrambler. This bike was factory designated YX74, and was only produced in limited numbers, so much so, that in fact when Cycle World magazine wanted to test one, they struggled to even find one in 1963 !
The Ascot was reminiscent of the earlier volcano racers, with high bars, undershot expansion pipes and a short solo seat. They were painted bright red with a white flash on the fuel tank and featured many of the special parts fitted to the YDS1R and Scrambler. The frame was basically a standard YDS2 frame, although some claim it was made of a lighter gauge steel, which I think is not the case. The welding though, appears to be much tougher than the standard bikes welding. Perhaps this was to make the bike that bit more rugged for the rigours of the West Coast TT’s and quarter mile tracks at Daytona and indeed Ascot Raceway.
The special components consisted of :-
· Twin cock fuel tank
· Mikuni VM24 mono-block type carburettor.
· Rigid Footpegs (flip -up on the later bikes)
· Solo Seat (allowing rider to move around body weight)
· Alloy Rims
· High Bars
· Racing Tachometer
· Number Plate & Tacho Brackets
· Race Spec Engine
· Magneto Ignition
· Expansion Pipes
These Ascots were immensely successful and popular. Nearly all of them though were destroyed in the course of the sport. Around 90% of them received serious modifications by the time they had even hit the cinders. Rear suspension was the first to go, with steel struts replacing the units. Front brakes were disconnected and rear brake modified to be controlled by the front brake lever on the handlebars.
Whilst sales had been growing, Yamaha’s Race Department had been more than busy. The factory team had made their debut in the Isle of Man and the Grand Prix Circus led by Fumio Ito and Yoshi Sunako.
In fact Ito competed in Yamaha’s first oversea’s event on the Island of Catalina, USA in May 1958. The Catalina GP was another off road circuit, very much similar to the volcano circuits. The machine he used was again one of the YD racers fitted with high pipes and high bars. He rather surprisingly finished sixth after falling off twice! It was a very encouraging start for the up and coming team from Japan.
After Catalina, the bikes were taken to mainland USA to compete in the West Coast TT’s and oval track events. It was an American named Rocky Rockwell who was the first man to race a Yamaha in a mainland Road Race in the US, on one of these works bikes. He actually won the lightweight event at the Dodge City airport races in Kansas, 1959.
Australian Kel Carruthers was also given rides on the 250 Yamaha over the following season.
By 1961 the factory had produced their second generation 125cc single cylinder road racer named the RA41 and a twin cylinder 250 version known as the RD48 (or YX47). The RD48 had six gears, autolube, and disk valve induction, while the 85kg 125 produced 20 PS, both had a 56 X 50 bore and stroke.
The first of the Road Racing classics that Yamaha entered was in May 1961, the French GP at Clermont- Ferrand. The disk valved 125 came in eighth, ridden by Noguchi, whilst Ito also came in eighth on the 250.
They were then taken to compete in the Isle of Man, where Ito finished sixth, somewhat overshadowed behind Honda’s domination on the first five places. It was still a remarkable achievement, earning him a Silver Replica for the performance. Yamaha’s first silverware at the road racing capital of the World!
Following the IOM TT came the Dutch TT and the Belgian GP. Fumio Ito came in sixth at Assen with Noguchi in 8th, both in the 250 event. Whilst at Spa, Ito and Sunako came in 5th and 6th respectively.
These races gave Yamaha their first tasters of the Grand Prix world. Although not immediately successful, their efforts had certainly not been fruitless. They could now go away with some idea as to what was required top be able to win in this highly competitive sport.
The European rounds though, were not the only activity during the ’61 season.
During the 1962 season though, Yamaha did not compete in the GP’s, instead they concentrated very hard on improving the works race bikes. The period also saw the company face dire financial problems.
Production Racers Trials
Up until 1961 Yamaha had been selling these race kitted or converted road models. They decided that a true, thoroughbred race ready machine should be available to the bike buying public, instead of them having to buy a road bike only to bin half the pieces. There was probably some leverage to aid this decision, as mentioned earlier Yamaha really did listen to their customers.
The first development along this line started late in 1960. With the idea of keeping the new bike reasonably affordable, they utilised the already available YX24 (YDS1R) motor. They fitted one of these over the counter engines into one of the works YX47 (RD48) chassis. With several other minor modifications, such as a single sided twin leading shoe front brake and making the rear wheel accept the right hand drive transmission chain, the bike was ready for trial. In fact, the factory entered two of these machines in an event at Daytona on the 12th February 1961. Yoshi Sunako and Fumio Ito again piloted the bikes, they finished fifth and eighth on the red painted machines. According to eye witnesses, the machines both had the words “production road racer” sign written across the rear of the seat unit. The factory christened the machine the RR250.
A batch of about 10 or so of these RR250’s were produced for sale in the US, as an interim model. The factory had not yet finished designing the “full” specification racer they had initially envisaged, so numbers were strictly limited.
The bikes were sold at a few key outlets. On the East Coast, the franchise went to a distributor named George Caswell based at Broomall, Pennsylvania and Frank Cooper in Los Angeles became the official Yamaha Motors main agent. At this point, Yamaha themselves had not actually started up their own headquarters within the USA.
The first bike to arrive at George Caswell’s, was delivered in April 1961. It came as a surprise for Caswell, and he had no knowledge of the price or future availability. He kept this first machine and sponsored Harold McMullen, also of Pennsylvania to ride it in four races. The first race was at the Vinelands raceway, New Jersey on May 14th 1961. McMullen finished a rather successful third place in the Amateur event. He also later raced at the Laconia circuit on this bike.
In June a second racer turned up at the Broomall dealers. This machine was sold to a Mr Jim Munz who entered the bike in an event at the Indianapolis Raceway that same month. A few other machines were seen about the circuits on both the West and East coast circuits.
The US RR250’s were all painted bright yellow, a paint scheme that was to stay with the American Yamaha race bikes for many years! The story behind this is also worth a mention; it was said that this colour was chosen because it was Frank Coopers favourite colour, and he was given the choice by the factory as to what colour they should be painted!
The front forks, triple clamps (or yolks), front fender, fuel tank and seat hump were all painted yellow, with the frame and swing arm black. Some of the machines came pre-fitted with a fairing and some with just a number plate. The front forks and unadjustable, rear suspension units were unique to the machine. A small racing tachometer was also fitted to the top pressed steel, triple clamp.
There was no provision for a rear mudguard or splashguard. Consequently, oil and petrol would get blown back by the carburettors, onto the rear tyre! .
Because of the distinctive colour scheme, these bikes became affectionately known as “Yellow Tankers” or “Yellow Road Racers”.
The performance of the Yellow Tankers was much better than the pre-kitted bikes. Weight loss, handling and braking were the biggest improvements over the Asama racers.
At least one of these RR250’s saw British soil, although not in the Yellow colour scheme. A black coloured machine was depicted in an old ACU archive and believed to have come into England as a personal import.
The RR250 was without doubt, the direct link between the works and production racers. By the end of the 1961 season, development of the “full” production racer was completed. With its’ engine based upon the new and improved, road model YDS2s’ the TD1 was born. Both were ready to be launched early in the following season.
Yamaha TD1 brochure
There is a strong believe throughout the Yamaha enthusiast’s community that the evolution of the early production racers merge from model to another. This certainly appears to be true in the whole, as the early TD1’s look very similar to the RR250’s or Yellow Tankers. In fact, sales brochures of the day even show bikes that appear to be RR250’s labelled as TD1’s as late as 1964! Even the engine numbers on some of the Yellow Tankers share the same prefix.
The new TD1’s though, had several “improvements” over the previous model: -
Firstly the frame had brackets tacked on the rear down tubes, to allow a small fibreglass rear splashguard to be fitted. The Kayaba forks were improved, the brakes gained meshing over the air inlets and the expansion pipes attached onto the frame differently. A new type of tacho was also fitted, made by Yazaki. One or two of these that were destined for the Western World were actually calibrated in letters, from A to G. The machine also came with a full GP style fairing as standard.
The basic rolling chassis though remained similar to the RD48. The colour scheme was though to change. The majority of the new TD1’s were painted in the new factory race colours, with bright reddy-orange fuel tanks and a white seat hump. The rest of the machine was painted metallic bronze-grey. The fuel tank had “Yamaha” in white lettering along the side of the fuel tank. Again, some machines though were sold in the old works colours of gloss black throughout.
The newer TD1’s fuel tank had its’ filler cap moved from the centre of the fuel tank, to nearer to the front and slightly to the left. This allowed the rider to lay flat across the tank without being poked in the ribs! It now also had a screw cap and not a monza type.
As you have probably now realised, Yamaha were guilty of fitting whatever parts they had available in the factory at the time to whatever bike they needed to finish. If a bike needed a part, they fitted a part. If they didn’t have one of the newest parts available, they fitted one they did.
The engine of the TD1 retained the Hitachi magneto (with red HT leads) and the 27mm Mikuni 276 carburettors. Improved “low expansion” pistons were fitted and the barrels were now anodised. It was the pistons that now had to be carefully run in, as the bores were not easily re-boreable. The gearbox received an improved ratio and the clutch was the same as the standard YDS2, but with stiffer springs. The kick-start was removed, and a blanking plate fitted into the outer crankcase.
The new racer was extremely expensive. In the UK it cost £494, nearly twice the price of the already expensive, top of the range YDS2. In today’s money that would probably equate to somewhere around £15,000!
In some markets, to qualify as a road racer, the machine had to be road legal, with lights and silencers. The TD1 was no exception. It was advertised, displayed and available with electrics, front and rear mudguards, full length silencers and indicators!
The TD1 was advertised alongside the YDS2 and strangely enough the YDS2R Asama. The trio took centre stage on Yamahas’ display at the Tokyo Motorcycle show in 1962.
The American magazine Cycle World published their test on a TD1 alongside a YDS2, in January 1963. The test riders were really impressed with it. They even entered the machine in a sprint race, and won! The only criticism given was that it was “a trifle crowded for an over six foot rider” and the gear ratios “felt a little widely spaced”. Yamaha gained a lot of respect from these test riders, who gave their bikes so much praise. It was praise they certainly needed in the new critical market of America.
The constructive criticisms that were given, were exactly what the Yamaha engineers wanted. It was something they could work on to improve their product. The basis of the machine though was exactly what the people wanted. A fast, quality machine that had the potential to beat the traditional regular winners.
The actual racing department at Yamaha was only a very small part of the huge company.
This necessitated that many of the components for the race bikes had to be built by sub-contractors. Designs were sent out to several companies, often to produce the same components. This led to slight variations in many of the similar components. The race shop, unlike the rest of the factory, was staffed with the only qualified engineers. As a matter of interest, the road bikes’ assembly line was mostly staffed by women.
Nearly all of the alloy components on the TD1 were sand cast items. The frames were all hand welded, high tensile light gauge steel. Many people had in the past thought that the frame was identical to the road frame, except that it was made from a lighter gauge steel. This is not the case. At first glance it does look similar, but there are a few major difference. The main ones being: - the rear section around the shock absorber mounts, the headstock, and the pressed steel plate footrest hangers. The earliest TD1 frames had tubular fittings that mount the steering damper assembly and fuel tank. The later bikes had a domed stud to attach the fuel tank and a welded stud to locate the steering damper stay.
I mentioned earlier that the bikes were fitted with a single sided version of the works type brake. The front hub itself had an eight inch diameter brake, with an oblong air scoop cast into the front. Opposite the brake-plate, the hub had six holes bored into it to allow the hot air to escape. The hub itself was heavily finned, to aid the dissipation of heat.
Both front and rear wheels were fitted with WM1 X 18” alloy rims, made by DID, with the model name TD1 stamped into the flange. The front wheel was equipped with a 2.50 tyre and rear had a 2.75 fitted as standard.
The actual engine of the TD1, as previously mentioned, was based upon the YDS2. The inner crankcases had parts of the casing milled off to make room for the bigger remote float carburettors and to allow easy access to the front sprocket. The crank itself was common to the YDS2, although it was set more accurately. The two ringed pistons were connected to the crank via conrods with extra oil slots milled in the big ends.
The carburettors remote floats were attached to the rear of the engine by a steel bracket with each bowl held in place via a foam rubber mounting. This was rather an unsuccessful attempt to stop the fuel frothing up.
Apart from the kick-start being blanked off, the clutch side outer casing remained the same. I have come across clutch adjuster covers made out of lightweight sand cast alloy, instead of the usual road bikes’ die cast heavy zinc-alloy. Also some machines had a larger “Yamaha” lettering cast into them.
Some of the earlier Asama’s were even supplied with just a tiny steel plate covering just the adjuster.
The magneto cover also saw some differences. On some machines, it was identical to the road going bike, but on the majority, the rear section covering the front sprocket was machined off, to only cover the magneto itself.
The claimed output from the TD1 was 31 bhp at 8500rpm. This was regarded as being pretty accurate by all those who rode the bike. Coupled to the lightness of the bike at 95kg, it was indeed as quick as many 500’s. It was destined to start proving its worth.
The controls of the bike were fairly standard. The clutch and front brake levers were attached to clip-on handle bars, and had the cable adjusters built in. The tachometer was mounted onto the front fairing bracket, via rubber mounts. The tacho bracket itself went through several stages of evolution. On the early bikes, it was a mish-mash of angle steel and tubing, forming a horseshoe shape. The later bikes had this unit made neatly out of tubing only.
Another difference between the earlier bikes, is that some were equipped with a change over option, that allowed the bikes to be set up for left foot braking and right foot gear change. A threaded tube was welded into the rear down-tubes to anchor the rear brake cable stay.
Also below it is one of the works TD1's at Suzuka December 1962 - my old TD1 and the works bikes as shown here were exactly the same. All TD1 but with longer exhaust pipes (but fix onto the frame differently than that the later TD1-A).
Yamaha factory TD1 at Suzuka, 1962
The new machine soon started to make a name for itself. The factory entered the works TD1s into an event at Karinosu near Kyoshu, Japan in July. They won the Clubmans race. Later in the year the team was entered into the first All Japan GP races at Suzuka. The factory entered teams in both the 250cc Novice and 350cc Novice classes. The bikes entered in the latter were bored out 255cc and renamed TE1’s.
Minoru Mihashi won the 250cc race and Yoshimi Katayama came in second, both on TD1’s. The 5th, 6th and 9th places were also taken by the TD1’s. The hot favorites for the race were the CR72 Honda’s which had slightly more power. But the wet condition’s suited the Yamaha’s far better.
As this was the novice class, the machines were not allowed to be equipped with full fairings, only a number plate was to be fixed on the front.
Again the favourites in the 350cc events, the CR77 Hondas were beaten by the new Yamaha’s. The TE1’s took the 1st and 3rd places on the podium, Katayama taking the victory.
These works bikes were visually identical to the publicly available machines, except that were fitted with a more advanced type of expansion pipe. These were longer and more tapered, with a 1 inch diameter outlet. They were a successful experiment that would lead to the subsequent model having them fitted.
Another high profile victory for the TD1 was in mid December, where one took the honors at the Indonesian GP in Djakarta. Motor Cycle News reported that Geoff Monty was to be entering a similar machine over here in the UK the following season.
The modern rumours that the TD1 production racer was slow, unreliable and bad handling should now be proved otherwise! If it had been that bad, they would surely have not have had these wins and Yamaha would have probably redesigned the machine completely.
TD1’s enter the UK
The first sighting of a TD1 in the UK was at the London Motorcycle Show in December 1962. Yamaha had a display stand which displayed their entire road range of machines, along with the new production racer and a scrambler YDS2CM.
Geoff Monty of Monty and Wards motorcycles, then of Twickenham, purchased the entire stand from Yamaha. They subsequently became the first official Main Dealers for Yamaha. He kept the TD1 and sponsored riders to race it. Dave Degans rode the machine on several occasions and was scheduled to race the bike during the 1963 season, but the collaboration never took place.
Geoff Monty imported a further two TD1’s after purchasing the original example.
Bill Ivy was also one of the riders to get several races on the Yamaha, but he never succeeded in winning a race on it. His best result came on 22nd September at Brands Hatch, where he came second to Tommy Robb on a Honda CR72. For most of the rain sodden race, he was dicing with Joe Dunphy on a 27 hp Greeves Silverstone. There was though, another Yamaha in this race, ridden by a Canadian named G. Kellond.
I also attach a picture of Pete Kellond on his brothers (Geoff) YDS1-R at Silverstone in 1963 also. This bike was raced in the UK from 1962 - 1965. So, we had 2 YDS1R's racing in the UK not just Sonny Angel.
Pete Kellond, Yamaha YDS1R, Silverstone 1963
It is not known which model Yamaha this was, it may have been one of the other two Monty imported or it may well have been the previously mentioned RR250, or indeed another import, even a later TD1A.
Geoff Monty, being a special builder and tuner modified his TD1 a fair bit, to try and gain that extra bit of performance. He fitted better expansion pipes amongst other things, which allowed the engine to rev a bit higher than the recommended 9500 rpm redline. Mr Monty also took some of the ideas that the Yamaha had and fitted them into his own machines. Some even made it into production inside British two strokes. Photo’s of Bill Ivy of the Monty TD1, at the Silverstone race, clearly show the longer expansion pipes, which have led some people to think that this was actually a later TD1A.
The UK’s motorcycling press got their first test ride courtesy of Geoff Monty. Vic Willoughby of Motor Cycle tested the TD1 and again YDS2, at Brands Hatch early in 1963. The test was issued on the 28th March ’63. The road bike got a very good write up, being labelled “a dream”, but the TD1 got a rave review, being classed “a veritable vision!” Mr Willoughby stated “It’s a little beauty, fits the rider like a glove and handles light as a feather. And, does it go!” It seems hard to believe that with write ups like these from the day, that some people today look back on these machines and claim they were never any good.
Motorcycle 280363, TD1 test
Two of the Geoff Monty TD1’s were sold early on in the ’63 season. One went to a chap called John Field, who didn’t have a lot of luck with the bike. He later switched to MV’s. At the end of the ’63 season, Monty sold his remaining TD1 to a Terry Springett.
Mr Springett had some success with the bike, winning a race at Brands Hatch in late July 1964.
At that London Show backing 1962, another persons eye was caught by the little Yamaha racer.
At the time Robin Denny had been campaigning a Bill Lacey prepared ex-Mike Hailwood Manx Norton, which was powered by an NSU Sportmax. He also owned the Supercharged EMC 350cc Split Single, which he raced with the supercharger piston disconnected. Incidently, he was threatened with a ban from the ACU for entering a supercharged bike, even though it was not technically working!
Mr Denny was actually at Silverstone, when Sonny Angel made Yamaha’s debut. He recalled seeing the brown bike “plodding along at the back” and wasn’t at all impressed. But, he recognised this bike to be something different. Anyhow, Robin was well impressed with the huge brake drums, and thought that if the bike warranted brakes like that, then it must be good! He enquired to Monty and Wards straight after the show, and placed an order for one in Mid-December. He received the bike on May 30th 1963.
Robin Denny with Yamaha TD1
When his TD1 finally turned up, he took it to his local circuit, Brands Hatch to run it in. Knowing how prone to seizures two strokes were, he took meticulous care in mixing the Castrol R with the fuel. This seemed to pay off for Robin, as he never recalled having any major seizures. Perhaps the way he treated the bike helped as well, for he never exceeded the 9500 rpm limit and he always kept a strict eye on the ignition timing.
It was in only his second race that Robin gained his first win on the bike. It was the British Motor Cycle Racing Clubs’ “Norwich Trophy” event at Snetterton, on the 30th June 1963 that Robin won.
Robin Denny winning at Snetterton, 30th June 1963, Yamaha TD1
This made him the first Yamaha rider to win a race in the UK and indeed Europe! This was a National level race, so it was Yamaha’s first important win in Europe, only one week before Ito and Sunako’s famous 1-2 GP victory in Belgium.
That win was not his only victory on the bike. He gained several other good results up and down the country. His favourite circuit was Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough, where he thought the Yamaha was ideally suited to the tight hairpin and narrow corners. He raced there in ’63 and ’64.
Robin Denny on his TD1
Robin still has fond memories of the bike. At one race he recalled overtaking a Honda with both tyres sliding! “it still felt stable and under control” he remarked. Indeed he thought the bike always handled well and felt stable at high speeds and throughout cornering. A bonus was that the TD1 was good in tight corners and hairpins. This was due to the very low first gear and not having a pronounced powerband, like the later machines. “Its’ power delivery was very smooth” he went on to say.
Robin was lucky enough to gain backing from Mitsui, in the form of technical assistance from Frank Williams their UK chief. He kept Robin informed of all the necessary technical details such as ignition timing, plug selection and piston design. Mitsui also supplied Robin with a set of front forks after a spill at Charlie’s Bend, Cadwell Park in late ’63. He came off at about 90 mph and bent the forks, twisted the yolks, dented the fuel tank and damaged the seat unit. Luckily he came off better than the bike.
At first, he tried to get the parts repaired, but his local dealer had not seen forks like them before and was unable to strip them apart. In desperation the dealer hack-sawed the bottom of the sliders off and hence destroyed them! A similar fate awaited the fuel tank, as the dealer tried to blow out the dent with compressed air. This only caused the seams to split and the fuel tank was ruined.
Because the spares were not available off the shelf, Robin wrote a letter to Mitsui explaining his predicament. They responded to Robin, by flying him over a complete new front end over from Japan, free of charge as he had been doing so well. Mitsui took a keen interest in Robin after that event. The forks he received were the new improved TD1A type.
Because he could not get a genuine fuel tank, he fitted a fibreglass unit. This was to stay on the bike for the rest of its’ racing life! Whilst the bike was being rebuilt, the new fuel tank was painted orange and the frame received a coat of blue paint.
In the ’64 and ’65 seasons he also gained sponsorship from Reynolds chains and Girling Shock absorbers. He said the original unadjustable shocks were not completely worn out, but any free parts you could get were well worth having!
In October 1965, Mitsui – Yamaha telephoned Mr Denny and offered him the pick of the bunch from the first batch of 5 new TD1B’s. A new TD1B was duely added to the stable, which now consisted of the TD1, TD1B and an EMC 125 that he swapped with Joe Ehrlich for the 350 split single.
For the final few races of the 1965 season, the TD1 was entered as a 350cc, where it was still able to perform surprisingly well.
Robin was competing in the 1965 Race of the year on the TD1, laying in second place behind John Cooper, when he suddenly lost power. He couldn’t rev the bike more than about 7000 rpm, so decided to retire. After the race, he took the bike along to Mitsui’s to investigate. At the time, Nick Nakamura had come over from Japan to visit Yamaha and Mitsui’s UK headquarters. Mr Nakamura cast his eyes over the TD1 and soon found the problem to be the ignition timing having slipped.
The TD1 was sold on during the winter of 1965 to finance the other bikes. But Robin never felt as comfortable on the later bike, and he didn’t get on with it as well.
The following year he noticed his old bike at a meeting. He saw that the new owner had fitted bracing tubes across the frame. It was a modification that Robin never thought necessary, but it was all the rage at the time. Many frame makers such as Colin Seeley were making these type of frames and they were very successful, but not really necessary on a 95 kg 31 hp machine.
Robin later switched to racing four wheels, driving for the works Simca team, in races such as Monza.
Photo’s of Mr Denny’s bike when it was new, show the bike to actually have the works type expansion pipes fitted. This coupled to the keen interest from Mitsui and several other subtle differences in cycle parts, suggest the bike was a works bike that was reconditioned and sold on as a new machine. Yamaha at the time, were still under guidance from their Nippon Gakki parent company, and so were forced to sell whatever they could. Photo’s of the Suzuka bikes appear to be identical, and compared to the Geoff Monty TD1, the Denny bike shows many slight differences.
The original Geoff Monty TD1 that was at the London Motor Cycle show was frame number
T1–007. The Robin Denny bike had frame number T1-052, but there were many differences that suggest it was actually earlier than T1-007.
The first batch of TD1’s consisted of 20 machines, of which at least 10 must have been the works bikes as used at Suzuka. The second batch of bikes produced had the plate type of footrest hangers replaced in favour of a steel tube type. Still around now, Frame number T1-034 from this batch has this type of hanger arrangement, as does frame number T1-059. T1-052, the Robin Denny bike, has the early plate type…
Roy Boughey, TD1A, IOM 1964
There has always been some confusion as to the total number of TD1’s built. Yamaha themselves did not keep any official records. Some people believe that up to sixty were built and some people think only around a dozen. Again, that theory about fitting anything they could, may account for this confusion. It seems that some kind of artificial number increasing may have taken place, perhaps for homologation purposes. But whatever the actual numbers, three were imported into the UK, a similar number went to Australia a few made it to the US and several were scattered around the far East and in Japan.
The confusion seems to stem from the constant improvements to the design of the machines. I would like to state that the first batch of 20 were the early “original” type of TD1, and there were a further batch of anywhere up to 30 – 40 later type built, which bore a resemblance to the early bike, but were not yet to TD1A specification.
The later type of TD1’s were though, still fitted with the stubby Asama type pipes.
The feedback gained from the 1962 TD1 led to Yamaha making some alterations for a new improved model. The frame was the first thing that got beefed up. The headstock reinforcing webs were relocated to inside the frame down-tubes and the swinging arm mounting plates were now box sectioned. The foot rest hangers were fabricated from steel tubing instead of the plate steel as on the earlier bikes. The steering damper assembly now located directly onto a welded stub under the headstock as per the YDS2. Also the reinforcing plates that ran down the front down-tubes were extended slightly and the rear splashguard mountings were now threaded into the frame. The fuel tank mounts also became round-headed studs on which to attach the rubber bands. The seat unit also mounted slightly differently compared to the earlier bike.
The front forks and yolks (triple clamps) also underwent a complete make over. The fork sliders lost a reinforcing band from around the mudguard stays. The stanchions gained a milled top edge that located into the top yolk, unlike the TD1’s where the forks only butted up against it.
The front mudguard was made shorter and slightly wider and hand two “Y” shaped centre brackets. The TD1 had a one-piece steel centre bracket that also acted as a brace.
The expansion pipes were now of the works style but mounted slightly differently.
Cosmetically the bike remained similar, with a red fuel tank and grey frame, although the “Yamaha” lettering along the fuel tank, was now gold coloured.
The engine was still based upon the YDS2 and remained similar to the previous models’. The pistons now though, were fitted with only one piston ring, in order to reduce friction. The magneto cover was now a specially cast one-piece unit, instead of a milled off road unit and the gearbox ratio’s were once again altered. The only other difference was that the engine gained a kickstart.
The new models engine was claimed to give a further 4 hp, giving 35 hp.
The TD1A s were fast. In the 1963 Daytona Lightweight race, Al Gunter set a qualifying lap of 128 mph around the 2 1/2 mile circuit. This speed was fast enough to qualify on the front row of the 750 class! The net result of performances like this, was that “small” two strokes became banned from the main Daytona classic. The AMA chose to ban them, because of their links and “support” from the major influence of US motorcycling, Harley Davidson.
The first batch of 16 TD1A’s came into England in February 1964, at a cost of £520 each. Unlike in the US though, the TD1As did not have the same immediate success. Many riders rated the engine, but just didn’t like the frame.
Bill Nelson was one such rider. He campaigned a TD1A engine, grafted into a Ducati rolling chassis, which he named the Doncaster-Yamaha. Geoff Monty and Frank Sheene also bought TD1A’s and both had Bill Ivy race them on the odd occasion.
Ted Broad was another top tuner and developer who bought one of the first batch of TD1A’s. At around the same time, an up and coming rider named Reg Everrett was looking for a ride. The two stroke racer had just fallen out with the works team manager at Greeves, after a three year partnership.
Reg had gained works interest from Greeves after being extremely competetive and often winning with a home made Greeves special. There was considerable speculation that Reg was secretly using using works components, and even Greeves thought that someone may have been supplying him with parts from the back door! Anyway, Regs’ success on his machine led to Greeves themselves borrowing it for study. They must have been pretty impressed, as shortly after they actually making their own prototype racer!
In 1963 Reg was offered the works prototype, thus gaining support from the factory. The machine though was not as good as it was cracked up to be, ending in an uncontrolable, tank-slapping crash! After this incident Reg and the Greeves factory had a difference of opinion regarding the quality of their machines! The remainder of the season was spent riding Brian Woolley’s Greeves Silverstone, and early ‘64 a Reg Orpin RAS, described by Reg as “the Worlds slowest Greeves”! This machine he raced at the TT managing an 8th (and last place) at a mere 20 mph slower (!!!) lap time than Jim Redmans winning Honda. This was the end for the Everrett - Greeves partnership, he needed something with a bit more go and reliablility. Finishing two places above Reg in that TT, in sixth place was a rider named Roy Boughey, who was riding a standard Yamaha TD1A.
Richard Tracey's early Yamaha's
Reg had heard that Ted Broad had bought one of these new Yamaha production racers and decided to track him down and ask him for a ride. This resulted with in a test ride at Brands Hatch, where Reg put the Yamaha through it’s paces and impressed Ted enough for a “You’d better race it then!” response.
The first few races saw the Broad-Everrett team experiencing the traits of the early Yamaha racers, mainly in the form of the crank mounted clutch! Reg recalls about three or four crank failures due to this. This again was caused by the over revving effects caused by Ted’s tuning. But Ted came up with the idea of making a heavy gauge crankwheel shaft and bigger main bearing to stop this happening. The new crankwheel was actually machined from a Jaguar car halfshaft! It seemed to work though, as after this modification the problem never occurred again. It was actually this kind of crank strengthening that Yamaha applied to the later TD1B and YDS3 bikes.
The first win came in July 1964 at Snetterton, followed by several more wins, 2nds and 3rds. 1965 saw Reg taking the runner up position of the 250cc UK Championship. Also, taking the coveted 250cc King of Brands title, a race he’d dearly wanted to win. That year also saw him gaining a ride on one of the Works Yamaha 250’s, partnering Bill Ivy. Unfortunately though, the RD56 blew a small end bearing whilst laying in 2nd place behind his team mate! Bill’s RD was to also suffer the same problem, slightly later on in the race.
Between races, the Factory teams Works bikes were often stored in Private Workshops or Motorcycle Shops. It was due to this, that Mr Broad had the opportunity to “study” the RD56’s! This resulted in Reg’s TD1A gaining a set of RD type expansion pipes. With the strengthened crank, Broad tuned motor, works expansion pipes and numerous other mods, the engine was now capable of revving to 12,000 rpm. By the way, it was the original TD1A that was kept and uprated to keep the competetive edge, up until the 1967 season.
To get a bit more racing in, Ted Broad bought another Yamaha and bored in to 270cc, allowing entry to the 350cc Class. That bike appeared to be a TD1B, but as I said previously, Ted kept on modifying the bikes as time went on. This extra machine gave Reg a bit more race action and valuable track time. The 270 gave the 350 Manx’s a good run for there money, for Reg thought that they were heavy and sluggish compared to the lightweight Yamaha.
The 1966 season ended, gaining another runner up position in the 250 UK Championship for Reg. Early 1967 started well, but turned out to be a disaster for the team. Ted had built a totally new bike, based on a TD1C engine and a home made frame. Other competitors of course, were using TD1C’s in various forms and were doing well with them. Reg’s bike though was unreliable, ending up with DNF’s in nearly all of the races. It wasn’t until it was too late to win the title, that the fault was found. Restricted airflow from a slimline fairing, causing the engine to overheat! The offending article was duly removed, and reliability restored. But, the damage had been done to Reg’s confidence and his desire to race. He annonuced his plan to retire the following year. Reg again, came in as Runner up in the UK Championship in his final seasons racing. He had one last race on a Ducati, partnering Paul Smart in an endurance race at Barcelona, finishing 2nd. Reg retired from racing in 1968, with 31 wins to his credit, making him one of the best privateers of the day and of course, the most successful UK rider of a Yamaha TD1A production racer.
1964 YDS3 Autolube and TD1B
As previously mentioned, Yamaha were continually trying to improve their products; and as a result the YDS2 sportster was to be fully redeveloped into a new machine. 1964 saw the first 250cc to carry the “Autolube” self mixing oil system. The YDS3, was not just a YDS2 with a few refinements though. It was a totally new bike, although it still retained the same styling.
The main improvement to the engine was a stronger crankshaft. An improvement taken directly from the feedback gained from the racers like Reg Everett! Unfortunately though, the clutch remained on the crankshaft. This I find slightly odd. The very first Yamaha 250. the YD1 was fitted with it’s clutch on the gear shaft. All the following models up to this date had the clutch on the crankshaft, even though the feedback was all in favour of the clutch being mounted on the gear shaft. Still at least the crankshaft itself was less likely to snap!
The other main improvement to the engine was of course, the autolube system. This utilised a mechanical oil pump driven via a gear on the gearbox shaft. It gave the YDS3 a distinctive bulge on the side of the crankcase. This form of oil pump drive though had it’s drawbacks:- if a throttle happy boy racer sat at the ‘lights with the bike in gear, clutch lever pulled in and revving the engine, the oil pump would not be driven. Should the ‘lights change and the bike speed off, and oil-less engine would rapidly seize up causing as much damage to the rider as the bike!.
As the TD1A was based on the YDS2, the YDS3 lent its’ improvements to the TD1B.
The first 1B’s retained the 1A’s round orange-red fuel tank (known as the watermelon tank in the US), seat unit and general chassis. The rear shocks were improved to stiffer, adjustable units and the forks were again up-rated.
The engine was of course now based upon YDS3 crankcases, with tuned, chrome lined alloy barrels, racing heads, single ring pistons and racing crank. The bulge on the side of the crankcase, which housed the oil pump on the YDS3 was now empty, behind it was only a blanking off plate. The redundant alloy of the oil pump housing was often removed by racers, trying to save that extra bit of weight.
The gearbox received improved ratio’s and the engine still retained it’s kickstart! The TD1B was again fitted with Amal 276 clone carburettors and initially, the floats stayed bolted onto a bracket at the rear of the engine. As mentioned in the earlier chapters, the TD1B was to gain one of the major improvements Yamaha had been working on, a better expansion pipe. The pipe was now much fatter, with a narrower “pea shooter” end pipe. This allowed a higher revving engine, with more top end power and a distinctive power band. The pipes were still chromium plated. A newer type of magneto was fitted to the 1B, this time it was a MF2-RY, differing only in a minor way.
The new model was almost an immediate success. Gaining lap records and race wins on both sides of the Atlantic. Again though, the bikes were more popular and successful in the US.
Around about early 1965, the bike was cosmetically changed. It was given a long, pointy white fuel tank and a more square sectioned seat. While the frame and chassis still remained the same metallic grey colouring, the bike appeared much more modern looking and sleeker. The frame was actually modified, to suit the new body work. Another subtle improvement was the introduction of having wider tyres. The front now took a 2.75 X 18, while the rear took a 3.00 X 18.
The carburettor float bowl bracket was moved , to try and stop the fuel frothing. It was now mounted onto a bracket hanging down from the frame, under the fuel tank.
As with all of the Yamaha models though, other variances appeared on the TD1B; a whole batch of bikes identical, would have been a miracle!
The final variation of the 1B ended with the addition of a new alloy top yolk and improved rear suspension units. This model lasted until 1967 and was then updated. The long awaited then happened.....the old style crank mounted clutch was ditched !
The TD1C was without doubt, the racing bike that made it for Yamaha in the UK. It was so effective at winning races and, because of its’ new clutch layout, had evolved into a fast and reliable machine.
The bike started winning big races and gaining lap records all over the country, and indeed the rest of the World. Don Vesco actually won the Daytona GP on his works TD1C, known as the YZ607.
The 1967 sports model, the YDS5, was the basis for the engine.
Apart from the engine/clutch differences, the basic machine was identical to the last of the TD1B’s. The only real cosmetic differences were the expansion pipes; these were now painted silver, as opposed to chrome plated.
Don Padgett ran a TD1C in the Manx GP, in 1967. Brian Ball won the 250cc UK Championship in 1968 on his. Charlie Williams won the Lightweight Manx Grand Prix on his TD1C, in 1971. Marty Lunde, took the Brands Indy circuit lap record on his 1C.
As tuners got more and more power from the engine, the traits of having an old frame, began to show. The frame was essentially the same as the mid production TD1B’s of 1965. It was just about adaquate back then, but the new motor had proven itself as a strong unit, and prime for tuning to the max. The only problem was that the frame could just not handle the extra power or speed. This may seem reminiscent of Japanese road bikes of the early - mid seventies ! The engines were developed to give top performance but the frame was not developed to match. The most a TD1C saw, was a bracing strut welded between the headstock and swinging arm mount.
The Padgett’s of Batley, North Yorkshire, (Peter and Don) also were not limited to Road Racing, with their machines. They sponsored a Sprint Racer, named Des Heckle to enter in Sprints and World Record attempts. They loaned him a Padgett tuned TD1C engine, to power a new bike Des had built. In keeping with the Padgett race team, they insisted the bike be painted in the familiar Padgetts race colour. So, the whole frame was painted Yellow.
Mr Heckle was one of the top flight Sprint Racers of the era, already having numerous National and World Records to his credit. His previous mount was a Villiers Starmaker powered bike that had featured many times on the front cover of Motorcycle Sport.
Des raced the new machine several times taking several National Records, including the Standing Start 1/4 mile, but the main achievement came in late September 1970, at the National Sprint Association’s World Record breaking attempt at Elvington Airfield organised by George Brown.
Des broke 4 World Records that weekend. Two on his 125 Yamaha and two on the TD1C. The 250 took the Standing Start 1 km and the Standing Start 1 mile, the latter actually remaining a World Record for well over 10 years !
MCN covered the event, with Des in action on the TD1C as the main photo subject. He took the Standing Start Kilometre Record to 22.83 Seconds, at 97.95 mph, and the Standing Start 1 Mile to 33.26 Seconds, at 108.23 mph. With the machine, he also held the UK SS ¼ mile at 11.6 seconds.
Copyright by Richard Tracey