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Yamaha: All Factory and production Road-racing two-strokes from 1955-1993

By Colin MacKellar
review by Paul Peczon
unclepaul@dot.com.ph

This book review was originally writtne for Sportrider Magazine. However, around the time it was on deck, Nick Ienatsch, Lance Holst, Angela, and half of everyone there left, leaving poor Kent Kunitsugu to do the whole thing by himself. Meanwhile I moved to the Philippines time went by, the review got old, and well, anyway, it's still a good book. Check it out.

Even if you are one of the rare few who already know all this book contains, it will be a satisfying read. And for most of us who just know a little bit, it's a brilliant history of some of the best bikes ever. Against the background of Grand Prix racing, the book provides in- depth technical descriptions of the evolution of all of Yamaha's finest. In fact, if you are relatively naive of current cutting edge two stroke engine design like myself, the book is quite educational, since it documents the evolution of current racing engines from their humble beginnings as little German streetbikes with funny names like DKW. You should, however know the basics to fully appreciate this book. You might also want to have a vague idea who Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts, Kel Carruthers, Erv Kanemoto and Giacomo Agostini are.

The writing is in the direct, refreshing style of English as practiced by the British, which means it moves quickly and is often funny. Author Colin MacKellar pulls no punches, and gracefully lays accolades at the feet of some of racing's heroes like Jarno Saarinen who really shouldn't be forgotten just because they died racing. But the book is really about the bikes, and the technical writing shines. Along the way it tells the amazing story of the TZ750 (did you know Kevin Cameron tuned a TZ750 for Mike Baldwin that almost took an AMA championship in 1983?) and tells the story of how TD1's grew into TZ250s. For hard core race fans, perhaps the story behind the big budget development of 500GP bikes is perhaps the most exciting.

There is a certain crowd that will buy this book the second that they hear it is available, and should it ever go out of print, you can be assured it will be quite collectible. But in the same way that motorcyclists by and large are mechanically oriented, anyone who follows roadracing is a bit of a historian, and for this larger crowd, the book is highly recommended. It has spec sheets and lots of nice pictures. The tremendous access the author had to racing's great was not wasted, and it contains a lot of great quotes where the people that were involved tell it most succinctly. So go out and snap this one up so you can impress your friends and beat them in bench races.

191 pages, hardcover. 25 color pictures, 160 B&W. Published by the Cromwell Press, Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 2HR, England. It is available in the US from Garage Company at 1-800-39DESMO or (310) 821-1793.

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