1974 Yamaha YZ125A

Model Information

Suggested Retail $819

The introduction of the YZ line in 1974 was a game changer for Yamaha; in fact the YZ moniker lives on to this day. The earlier ATMX 125 model was a half-hearted attempt to offer a 125 motocross bike that was little more than an AT1 enduro minus the lights and signals. Even with the aftermarket GYT Kit that included a chrome bore cylinder, single ring piston, 26mm Mikuni carb, and a better magneto, and delivered 18hp in total was a trail racer by comparison.

The ATMX now had become the 125MX and was more suited for the intermediate or beginner. The YZ model benefited from a non-Autolube design, Hitachi CDI, Takasago alloy rims, 28mm Mikuni (vs. 26mm), magnesium backing plate’s front and rear, closer ratio gearing, and more aggressive porting. For one year only, 1974 YZ’s came with the awesome silver, black and red color scheme and the notorious nylon and Velcro strap that held on the gas tank.

With its 5-speed gearbox the YZ was considered by some to be more rideable than the class-leading Elsinore. The up pipe was also less vulnerable than the down pipes on TM, KX, and CR. However, the Achilles heal of the YZ was it’s mediocre suspension which was better suited for trail riding than motocross. Other complaints were the grips, Yokohama tires and lack of waterproofing.

As Dirt Rider stated “if you get the works bike concept out of your head, straighten out the suspension and some other design flaws, you have a bike that will sling you blurring around corners and at worst give everyone a run on the straights.”

1974 Yamaha YZ125A

This was the first vintage motocross bike that I purchased and the official beginning of my collection. I acquired this bike in December of 2003, but it seems like yesterday. More importantly, the person I purchased it from (Ron Carbaugh) helped shape the collection I have today.

This bike and a YZ250A were to be loaned (for a fee) from a collector in Houston to Yamaha Motor Corp to be included in a rolling vintage display for the public. Yamaha had intended to incorporate the exhibit into a tractor-trailer semi for display at all MX Nationals. The concept fell apart when Yamaha decided that the cost was more than they had budgeted. The displeased collector/builder traded both bikes for a new KTM at Richard Sanders' Cycle Shack North and Ron later purchased the YZ's from Richard.

Finding a pristine original first year YZ125 is becoming nearly impossible; I’m glad I got it when I did and am pleased that it’s from the Carbaugh collection.