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Old 06-20-2009, 05:17 PM   #1
mscuddy
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Default 1971 Yankee 500Z

In the late 1960s John Taylor of Schenectady, New York decided to build a US manufactured dual-purpose motorcycle, that would be more powerful, better handling, more reliable, and faster than the European competition. The result of this quest was the 1971 Yankee Z 500cc, a Twin Cylinder dual sport machine that used two Ossa 250cc motors stuck together, on a common crankcase.



The original design came from Ossa in the form of a road racer, with the 500cc twin stuck in a trick frame, that ultimately killed the founder of Ossa’s son, Eduardo Giro.



This tragedy didn’t stop production of the US built YankeeZ, which had some novel design features, such as an easy way to configure the firing order of the twin, (either 360 or 180 degrees), an six speed box, with a lock out for the last cog (AMA rule) and was first to use a disc brake on a dirt motorcycle. Smith & Wesson produced the forged aluminum upper and lower triple clamps for the Betor legs, and the motorcycle also sported a chrome-moly frame with an oval swingarm (like the Ossa Phantom years later).

Alas, the production delays on the bike proved its downfall, as by 1971 the weight and girth of the YankeeZ made many potential dual sport buyers shy away from the powerful machine. A total of only 760 YankeeZs were produced, making it one rare bird in today’s vintage scene.



It was a very fast and heavy motorcycle, tipping the scales at right around three hundred pounds, with a top speed of around ninety miles an hour. It also had a wide power band in the 180 degree configuration, and could mud slog with the best of ‘em. It was a very unusual American-Spanish dirt bike hybrid for the time, being twin cylinder. D!ck Mann had a hand in the original design, as Yankee produced some fast short track bikes for him in the 250 class, in the late sixties.


The road racer the YankeeZ was derived from.
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Old 06-20-2009, 06:00 PM   #2
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Too bad we've nearly run out of John Taylors
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:11 AM   #3
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My dad is John Taylor, if they'd have named me John I'd be the fifth one in my family, unfortunately they didn't and I had daughters so ......

I never have seen a Yankee but I remember reading about them when they came out, pretty cool idea and a runner from all accounts, too bad they didn't make it. Him, the Pentons and Eric Buell show that small companies with good ideas can still stand up against the big guys, if only for a little while.
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Old 06-22-2009, 04:03 AM   #4
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I would have killed for one of those in high school. I saw a couple at the Berkshire Trial in '72 or '73.

I eventually had the chance to ride one a few years back. Don't ever do this. The reality is, it was too heavy to be really competitive, although there were some good ideas there. Great power, too.
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Old 06-22-2009, 08:10 AM   #5
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And how about that exhaust system? The dual pipes went into some douche bag looking deal under the motor that rusted out quicker than a '72 Vega, and exited on either side of the bike with those goofy silencers. The road racer had some REAL 'chambers on it. That must of cost some HP on the Yankee Z. Also, Ossa had a street bike version of the motor too, was plenty fast, 'cept of course for those miserable IRZ carbs that made a Quadrajet look simple by comparison.
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