The fine RD350 middleweight sports bike is released. Its air-cooled 350cc parallel-Twin two-stroke motor is fitted with reed induction and produces an impressive 35 horsepower at the rear wheel.
Giacomo Agostini gives Yamaha its first 500cc World Championship.
In a desperate effort to keep the #1 plate, Yamaha encourages Roberts to try a TZ750-powered flat tracker. He rides it to an epic win in the Indy Mile, but says, “They don’t pay me enough to ride that thing!”
Kenny Roberts becomes the first American to win the 500cc World Championship. He’ll win again in ’79 and ’80, proving that the first one was not a fluke.
The XS650 Special was introduced. This was the first production cruiser built by a Japanese manufacturer.
The hairy-chested RZV500 is introduced. With its water-cooled V-4 two-stroke engine, it’s a Grand Prix replica for the street, but it’s heavy and no match for Suzuki’s RG500 Gamma.
The first production 5-valve-per-cylinder engine is introduced on the FZ750.
Eddie Lawson wins the 500cc World Championship. He’ll do it again (on Yamahas) in ’86 and ’88.
The FJ1200A sets the sports-touring standard and includes ABS.
The YZF-R1 sport bike is introduced to wild acclaim.
Revamps the new YZF-R1, incorporating the cross-plane crankshaft to mimic the firing order of the M1 machine ridden by Valentino Rossi in MotoGP. Unlike traditional engines, each of the four crankpins in the cross-plane crankshaft are offset at 90-degrees from its adjacent crankpin.
Ben Spies, in his debut season in the world superbike championship, wins the title on the new YZF-R1 after a year-long battle with Noriyuki Haga.