Apparently good things come in small packages. And they don't come much smaller than Yamaha's GR50. ►
Words & Photos: Steve Cooper
YftMAHft r- (r / / pr r?r f ' i * '' ^ ( r r-"
A kill-switch and speedo are all you get
Bike father, bike son?
Only two days previously, editor Den and I had been cooing over a Japanese market-only mini café racer - the Yamaha GR50 -on a Japanese website. It's a rare machine that few on these shores know of, let alone have seen and ridden. But after a phone ca I from Chris at the Motorcycle Restoration Company I'm standing in front of one only a day before it gets shipped to a new owner in Ireland. But I'm getting slightly ahead...
In the golden days of the last quarter of the 20th century Yamaha were very keen to portray a family lineage that drew heavily on the concept of brand loyalty; an early 1970s teenager could relate his 125cc AS3 to the giant killing 350cc YR5. A few years later the same scenario would be played out with machines such as the RD50 or 60 and the 3D350 or 400.
Although the 50, 60 & 125cc mach nes doubtless sold in Japan in one form or another, Yamaha perceived a need for something altogether different and a little more specialised. With the Japanese predilection for miniaturisation it was almost inevitable that something like :he GR50 would be dreamt up and, inevitably, it was. What we have with the GR50 is almost a factory's view of how a 1970s, professionally-built-in-the-shed, café rscer should look like. The seat looks like a Lop-erid aftermarket item arid complements the slab-sided fuel tank and front mudguard that both look and feel like halt-sized RD200-DX units. The side panels and rearguard are finished in satin black that subtly counterpoints the bright yellow paintwork.
Café racers normally have special exhausts and the 3R runs a frankly rather capacious unit that ends aoruptly in a stepped tail pipe that might look more at home on a four-stroke. The compact motor, with its iron barrel, sits in a conventional twin :ube cradle frame that is fabricated from some of the slimmest steel tubing this side of a minimalist dining chair but is apparently up to the job. SLS brakes are mated to tiny wheel rims with basic forks at the front and exposed, chrome coil, conventional shockers at the rear. All the basic riding data is fed to the pilot by a clear speedo with a lOükph maximum (62mph) along with three idiot lights.
So far so good and nothing too out of the ordinary; it all seems to make sense and hang together. Well it does until you run the GR alongside a normal sized machine at which point you might just wonder whether anything this small will actually work. Speaking as someone who has restored and rides a Yamaha Chappy I feel I have reasonable insight into little machines, or 'tiddlers' as I like to call them, but this one may have potentially overstepped the boundaries of good old fashiored common sense.
As soon as we place a restored RD400 next lo the GR, putting the size of the machine starkly into perspective, I begin to have doubts and when mechanic Brice puts his lid on tor the riding shots there's a very real feeling that Yamaha were targeting Lillipjtians with this particular model. The bike fires
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