2-Stroke for Different Folk: 1959 Yamaha YD-2

031416 Barn Finds - 1959 Yamaha YD2 1

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This 1959 Yamaha YD-2 found here on eBay in Costa Mesa, CA with a current bid under $300 will need a total restoration. However, it’s a rare piece that’s worth saving! This 250cc, 2-stroke wonder was quite a bike in its day and it could be again.

031416 Barn Finds - 1959 Yamaha YD2 3

1959 was the year that Yamaha redesigned their 247cc engine to make assembly easier and it was also fitted with a crankshaft-mounted clutch, a feature that would stick around for the next few years. A new 12-volt system was used to power the Hitachi starter-generator motor. This one will need more than a new battery to start or to generate any power on its own, though.

031416 Barn Finds - 1959 Yamaha YD2 6

But when you’re done with it this is what it could look like! Parts won’t be as easy to find for this bike as it would be for a later model, but you may be able to dig up what you need from a number of vintage Yamaha forums. According to the seller, this bike is missing “the right side cover, chain guard, both levers (perches are present) and the carburetor cover.” The project bike is also black, believe it or not, so this is exactly what it would have looked like when it was new, and what it will look like when you’re done with the restoration.

031416 Barn Finds - 1959 Yamaha YD2 5

The controls here are pretty simple by today’s standards: no heated grips, no cruise, no radio controls, and no GPS. But, this model was the first Yamaha to have electric start, pretty fancy for a 1959 motorcycle, although Honda beat them to the punch with its 1958 Honda Dream. The turn signals are a pretty rare item but you may have to have at least one new cover made as these will be hard to find. The seller mentions that some of the chrome is “still fairly good”, but you’ll want to re-do everything on this bike anyway, so you might as well plan on shipping all of the chrome bits out for re-plating.

031416 Barn Finds - 1959 Yamaha YD2 4

Here’s the heart of this beast, all 20hp and 247cc worth. Needless to say, this 2-stroke engine will need to be rebuilt and refinished but it’ll be worth it once you start collecting best-of-show trophies at any number of vintage Japanese motorcycle shows around the US, or even around the world; this bike is that rare! Here is a YouTube video of a YD-2 running. These early Yamahas used a frame made out of pressed steel with an added tube in front to support the engine. I have a late-60s Yamaha YL-1 with a pressed steel frame and a similar setup to this one.

031416 Barn Finds - 1959 Yamaha YD2 2

You can bring this one back, I know that you can! It’ll be a lot of work but it’ll be a fun challenge and one that’ll be worth it in the end, especially if you like vintage Japanese motorcycles as much as I do. Do you have any old Japanese bikes, or are you a Harley-only person?

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  1. Matt Tritt

    One of the original pocket-rockets! Love the seat.

    Like 1
    • Thomas Parker

      My dad in 1962 had a YDT 1.Nearly identical to this. Not exactly a pocket rocket until he traded up for the YDS 2. Still oil and gas mix but had about 5 more hp. Then the YDS3 in 1965. A YM 1 305 in 66. Then bought a Norton Atlas late 66. Traded it for a Kawasaki (Meguro) 650. Then he got one of my favorite bikes. A YR 2 350. A stoplight to stoplight super quick machine that beat all the bigger English bikes. I rode the wheels off it up to @40,000 mi. Yes 4 top end rebuilds, one bottom end rebuild, a clutch and a 5th gear. Nice memories. Besides only I only weighed 130 lbs then helped.

      Like 0
  2. bob

    Other than the seat I quite like the looks of the unrestored one. A haze of smoke would be a bonus.

    Like 1
  3. HoA Howard AMember

    Like the boat, here’s something you just don’t see. Asian bikes were taboo, and Harley had the market cornered in the late 50’s and ’60’s. And for good reason, they were good bikes. I feel Harley rested on it’s laurels while the world was finding out about these bikes, and paid the price dearly. (almost went under after the AMF deal) These early “ring-dings” were fast bikes. And they were just getting started. A stock 250 Yamaha would eat a Harley for lunch,( in a cloud of smoke, I might add) and that didn’t sit well with most Americans. The biggest downfall of these was mixing the oil with the gas, and in 1964, Yamaha came out with the oil injection, and that changed everything. ( although, it would be years before that was universally adopted, and many 2 cycles still had pre-mix well into the ’70’s). Great find, here, and the nice thing about bikes, is they are simple, as long as parts are around, which could be a problem with this type of bike. Some sites suggest less than 50 were exported and someone on a bike forum was looking for parts for one of these 5 years ago, and still hasn’t found any. Due to it’s rarity, I’d probably pass, but I’m sure someone’s face lit up when seeing this, FINALLY, some parts.

    Like 1
    • mike

      I have one,1958yamaha yd-2 but it needs a gas tank, interested in selling?i have the right side cove but not the left,motor is stuck ,it’s black with a original red/white seat,not as rusty as the one posted

      Like 0
      • Tom

        do you have the carburetor cover for your YD2?
        thank you

        Like 0
  4. crazydave

    Looks like it was designed after the British bikes of the day with shifter and rear brake pedals reversed to what is now the norm.

    Like 1
  5. Doug Towsley

    Really early Asian bikes like this are commanding big money these days and especially in the UK and Asia. I know pickers who are buying up bikes and shipping container loads. I dont care for the styling of this one but appreciate what it is.

    I know a couple guys who found big stashes of NOS parts for early Asian bikes and doing quite well for them selves peddling these parts. My Local VJMCC guru can usually tell me what stuff is valuable and what isnt. I got in a old Honda a while back and he said there was 3 parts on the bike that were worth a small fortune and sadly, that bike was missing ALL 3 so do your research on what you are buying!

    I have a cool little Suzuki TS250 enduro bike street legal and use it sometimes on 2 stroke and small bore rides with local clubs. Have a 4 cyl CB350 Honda (Rare) also a 1972 4 cyl CB500 (Also rare)
    and a Kawasaki S2 350cc 3 cyl 2 stroke (rare) and because of me threatening to bring that one on a club ride the local club reduced the sizes for the ride from 350cc to 250cc. (Kaw’s 3 cyl 2 strokes are well known rocketships although the S2 wasnt exactly blistering fast) Vintage street legal Asian Enduro bikes are getting very popular and collectible so keep an eye out. For a while the coolest event around was the Sang Froid Riding clubs urban Enduro called the “Alley Sweeper”. It made national news and was a victim of its own popularity with thousands of enduros terrorizing backstreets and alley ways.

    “Seizure Later!”

    Like 1
  6. Doug Towsley

    Vintage 2 strokes are epically popular, just not with the people along the route of the Local Alley Sweeper ride. No longer run by the organizing club. Was fun while it lasted.

    Heres our local riding clubs blog on the topic (Scroll down) but lots of other fun events. See: http://sang-froidridingclub.com/

    and one of the BEST Event cancellation notices ever:
    Dear The Alley Sweeper,

    I’m writing you because our relationship is done. You’ve changed so much since we met. I hope we can still be friends. I may love you, but I’m definitely not in love with you. You’re gonna have to learn to accept that. I’m not sure whether we can see each other in the future but, for now at least, I definitely need a break. It’s not me, it’s you. We need to start seeing other people. The SFRC will NOT be hosting you this year, Alley Sweeper. I am not running away from you, I am running towards myself. That being said, I want all of our friends to know that the alleys are public right of ways handed down from our forefathers. Forefathers that granted us all the right of access and freedom to their special gift. Even though we are no longer a thing, the alleys are still open to all and should be enjoyed 24/7/365. Open to our friends who treat them responsibly by nurturing the kale, chard, blackberry brambles, raccoons, rats and feral cats that dwell there; and always respect the shopping carts, compost piles, yard debris, abandoned firearm casings, used syringes and all the other colorful detritus that reside there and makes Portland so Portland.

    Above all else, please, remember to keep all of OUR alleys well and truly swept, often and with love.

    The Alley Sweeper is dead; long live the Alley Sweeper.

    – Sang-Froid Riding Club

    Like 1
    • jim s

      great read, thanks for sharing.

      Like 0
  7. stillrunners

    I love the smell of “two stroke’s” in the morning ! That said I’ll have to pass on this one but driving my 1967 60cc Yamaha to JR High got me my first tickets ! Have many a Yamaha twin in the garage along with one of those triple Kawasaki’s….bonsai…

    Like 0
  8. AlphaRoaming.com

    My parents have a pair of circa-1970 Japan market “Honda Dax 70” (“Trail 70” in USA) in their basement. Less than 500 miles and in perfect condition, except for being in storage for 30 years (tires and fuel system). Not nearly as rare, but look great with original paint and decals

    Like 0
  9. Ed Willaims

    Ah, two stroke bikes! In the 70’s I had a Zundapp Super Sabre that I got as a bunch of parts and then re-assembled. It was considered an “oddball” by most guys then but I wonder if that opinion still persists now?
    Have any of you guys ever had any experience with one of these? I am 82 now. No bikes, Just memories.

    Like 0
  10. Doug Towsley

    Zundapps are still relatively rare in the US and average person doesnt even know what they are. Vintage guys who go to a lot of Bike events will know, but fairly small percentage of general population.
    Horex, NSU, CZ and Even the prewar German Made Triumphs are also rare but show up on occasion. There are people in my area who have some of these bikes and take them to shows but the percentage of people who actually know what they are is small and LOTS of misinformation about them. Heck, even IN Germany a lot of ignorance. I know some guys in the German vintage clubs,. “Was ist loss?

    So, a funny story, a guy gets a call about a Triumph for sale, dreams of a long lost TT bike or something. Shows up and disapointed to find stuck in the mud behind a barn a crusty German made Triumph. Disapointed he leaves, but is struck by the swoopy lines. Calls back and buys it for $100. Being so crusty not much salvageable but being a Triumph guy mates part of it to a mid sixtys Triumph and bobs it. mixs and matches all kinds of parts. Paints an acroynym of his name on the tank. TBR or HSG or something. Creates a BS story about a fictitious MC company. Takes it to bike shows and gets all kinds of puzzled people wondering what the
    F***??? So laughs and laughs while sitting nearby and some self appointed know it all will lecture his friends “Ah yes, these are quite rare but I have seen a few of these, shame it went out of business” blah blah or stories like that. Seems to happen pretty regular.
    For some real laughs, Read up on the Hurley Pugh double gentlemans combinations, and some of the other bikes in the history of the Hurley Pugh made in Scuntthorpe in Blighty. Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge!

    See: http://www.hurley-pugh.co.uk/hpechome.html

    Be sure to read all the pages, some GENIUS stuff there! Cheers!

    Like 0

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