Yamaha's terrible 2 strokes in the early 90s

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#1
I was just thinking back to my racing days (local, and not particularly good) and I realized that Yamaha was really in the toilet circa 1991/92 or so. Think about it.

You had the YZ80, which inexplicably failed to change since 1986 and was no longer even included in most mini shootouts.

You had the YZ125, still running the YPVS rotary drum setup and an engine not radically removed from the 1986 case reed motor...remember the 91 YZ125? MXA insisted that their pre-production bike had 2 more hp than a stock bike off the showroom floor? There was a whole controversy...I remember every magazine saying the stock bike sucked compared to the pre-pro test bikes. I still don't get how the 90 YZ125 was a magazine shootout winner but the 91 was hated so much...they seemed awfully similar to me.

You had the WR500...a YZ490 engine stuffed into a crappy reworked YZ250 frame. They didn't dare call it a YZ. Total parts bin engineering. How bradshaw went so fast on one at Mammoth Mtn is beyond me and true testament to his riding ability.

You had the WR200...a mild street legal DT200 2 stroke JDM import with the electric power valve..the KDX200 ate its lunch. More parts bin engineering. Cool looking bike, though.

Weren't the RT100 and RT180 introduced around this time? More parts bin engineering straight out of 1976. Take a 70s MX100, rebadged as the RT100. 4" of travel at most. The RT180? What was that, a 78 DT175 minus lights? How the heck did Yamaha even still have tooling to make these things?

The one saving grace was the YZ250. It was always well liked and a popular sight in the pits or on the line. Powerful and took turns being a favorite over the years with the CR250. Seems like YZ250s 1985-1992 were always pretty popular.

What was going on with Yamaha back then? It seemed like the tide turned with the 93 YZ80, and the entire 94 YZ lineup was very competitive...plus Bradshaw's showings in 91/92 and Emig winning the 125 title in 92 seemed to be the beginning of the rise to prominence..
 
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#3
I spent many hours on a early RT100 (we called it the Retard100). My friend had a KX80 and I spent most of the time trying to keep up with him on the RT. It had as much horsepower as my push lawnmower and it started about 75% of the time, but I had fun. I took it off of enough jumps to know the suspension on the KX80 was a lot lot better :)

I remember test riding a YZ125 around this same time and I seem to recall it scared the crap out of me. Maybe the amateur racers knew Yamaha sucked those years, but I don't think the average joe thought that.
 
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#4
Ok, ok... let's not turn this into a flame-post for Yammi's...

I have a 93' RT180, Yamaha ran them from 93' to 98' and they were pretty solid. The main reason they stopped making them was that the TTR's started gaining popularity, plus... nothing was really interchangable off the RT. Yes, the motor and electronics were adapted from the 70's DT175 and Europe/Mexico actually have DT180's that are identical to the RT180, only they have lights and speedo and are dual-purpose.

The RT180 was marketed as a trail bike.. and that's what it is. I think it's plenty strong, really easy to find parts for, the parts are cheap, and it'll go anywhere you want it to.

The RT100 was kinda pointless... Drum brakes, short seat height... big minibike.

My only quarrel with the RT180 is the rear end. The monoshock rear suspension is soft, barely adjustable, an in-frame design. Due to this the rear-swingarm is HUGE and snags a lot of branches and high grass in the crevices. Kind of a pain. That and the drum brake is pretty much useless unless you have brand new pads in it.

But as is... it's solid. I'd love to own another one if I could find one cheap.

I dunno like Mox said, maybe racers find these early bikes slow and clumsy, but for us average joe's... they're fun and affordable :)

It serves it's purpose :).

Dan
 
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#5
Yeah
I understand the intended use of the RT bikes and its not fair to include them in my wondering about the mx bikes of that era...I do know the RTs were meant to steal XR sales, and I kinda figured other markets still got 2t dual purpose bikes (I remember when you could still buy a DT80 etc here in the US!)..

And you might not gather it from my initial post, but I am a longtime YZ fan. I started on a 1983 YZ60, and has YZs right through the conclusion of my racing in 1994...except for 1 season on a 90 RM80.

The 93 YZ125 was my favorite...esp with a MT racing cylinder ('90 cylinder), dual layered cut stock reeds etc...it was F-A-S-T...but very pipey.
 
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#6
You think thats funny........you should see Yamaha's entry in snowmobiles. Lightweight 4 cylinder four stroke? 1000cc's in 600 class? 2 strokes are getting the same mileage and weigh 140 lbs less! (last time I checked ski doo had more 2 strokes with EPA2012 than yamaha had 4strokes, and thats with good old carbs) I got a YZ250 and I'm quite happy with the bike, but they're funny. Now if BRP made a nice little 2stroke dirtbike we'd be set.
 
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#7
Ha, I've had half the Yamaha's from that era.

First bike was a 1990 RT100
Second was a 1993 RT180
Third was a 1994 YZ125

I loved them all when I had them. Looking back, the 100 was an excellent starter bike, the 180 sucked, and the 125 was a pretty good steed, although not particularly fast.
 
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#9
SKIDOOrider800 said:
You think thats funny........you should see Yamaha's entry in snowmobiles. Lightweight 4 cylinder four stroke? 1000cc's in 600 class? 2 strokes are getting the same mileage and weigh 140 lbs less! (last time I checked ski doo had more 2 strokes with EPA2012 than yamaha had 4strokes, and thats with good old carbs) I got a YZ250 and I'm quite happy with the bike, but they're funny. Now if BRP made a nice little 2stroke dirtbike we'd be set.
Wow, so the dirtbike world isn't the only one where 4-strokes are given cheater displacement advantages? :bang:
 

MXFastGuy

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#10
Yes, that '91 YZ125 was an absolute dog. You know what's funny though? I had YZ125's '87 thru '92, and the '91 stands out as my favorite! Must've just been the times.

The '92 YZ250 would have to be my all-time favorite bike, bar none. I'm sure by today's standards it's a relic, but back then it was like a dream. I hated the '93-'95 era YZ's, btw.

The early 90's were good times. Now with a career, family & kids, I gaze back on those years as probably the "funnest" of my life. Cutting school early to go ride, waiting by the mailbox for the latest MXA (no internet!!!) basically just living 100% mx. Missed a lot of typical teenage type stuff, but wouldn't trade the mx experience for the world.
 
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#11
I've got an 89 YZ250 that rips along pretty good. It's all set up for woods, flywheel weight, rad guards, skid plate, pipe guard hand guards, which is good cause thats only what I ride. It's a fun bike but i'm thinking of selling it and buying a 1994 YZ250 what do you guys think?
 
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#12
MXFast guy-
I liked my 90 and 93 YZ125s best. The funny thing is that they both used ported 1990 cylinders...the 93 rear linkage dragged in deep ruts/whoops..I had some kind of devol or boyesen or something linkage and we ran less rear sag as well. The 90-92 were more comfortable to ride, but felt top heavy and wide compared to the 93 - to me anyway.

I'm still a 125 guy...couldn't tell ya much about the 250s.
 
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#13
I have a '92 WR200 and I can tell you, I'm more than happy with it.
You have to be aware that this was not built to be a racer. It was built to be durable.
I have the April 91 issue of Dirt Rider with a test of this bay and they claim it smokes KDX200s in any department. I'm not surprised! Nowadays I keep smoking guys on much newer and powerful bikes like CRFs, WR-Fs, KTMs, etc, etc. And here in Portugal almost everyone is riding a 450.

I want to buy a new bike, but I'll never get rid of the WR200. :)
 

dirt bike dave

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#14
So Yamaha recycled some '70's bikes to make some sales in the early '90s. It's not like it was the best they could do.

The RT180 is basically a detuned/softly sprung late '70s IT175 (a fine bike in its day, BTW).

The RT100 is basically a mid 1970's DT100. Entry level bike all the way.

On the flip side, the early '90's WR250 was a great motor! It's a wide ratio YZ with a big tank. Those things rip. Even a modern 250 2 stroke does not have much (if any) motor advantage on those old WRs.
 
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#15
We have a 89 WR250 with the Noleen/ Ohlins 360 kit on it and it's a great bike. Fun, fast and controllable. Keeper! :cool: