Our buddy, Brett Smith at We Went Fast, just released a longform article on the PW50 and it’s fantastic. He sent us a snippet of the article, but you can read it in full here.
It’s also in podcast form if you want to listen to it.
This is my earliest memory. It’s December 1982 and I’m three years old. We walk up an exterior set of stairs to a second floor corner unit of a mid-Michigan apartment building. A man opens the door, greets me and my father and invites us in.
Inside the living area, toys are piled up against a wall. But no one else is in the apartment. Outside a sliding glass door, I see a playground. I’ve been told I took more interest in the toys than the motorcycle that brought us there.
I can still see the man starting the bike. He grabs the tiny black grips and contorts his spine into an arc to position himself to depress the kick starter. After several swipes of the lever, the bike idles with a hollow ‘chug, chug, chug’. He rolls open the throttle and blue smoke spews from the exhaust. The bike has sat for a while. It sounds like a throaty weed whacker.
These images have been consistent in my memory for nearly 40 years. Today, I wonder why the man sold it. He seemed to have a child still young enough to ride the gently used bike. The fenders still had warning/safety stickers and the number plates had the black/white Yamaha #1s.
Maybe the parents got divorced. Maybe the kid didn’t like the bike. No matter; one man’s desire or need to sell was another man’s impulse buy. A few days earlier, my dad and a co-worker pored over The Flint Journal classified ads and discussed touring motorcycles. The man pointed out an ad for a Yamaha YZinger and said, Here’s a bike for your little boy.
“I didn’t know what a YZinger was,” dad says today. “But I was all excited. I was a young dad with a little boy I wanted to get into motorcycling.”