We’ve seen many Japanese manufacturers launch heritage programs in recent years, but Yamaha is taking the idea to a new level. The motorcycle maker has just launched an official heritage club for collectors of their vintage racing machines. The Yamaha Racing Heritage Club will create a registry of historic bikes and give owners a direct line to the very people who built them.
Launched last week at Milan’s Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori (EICMA) show, the largest motorcycle show in the world, the Yamaha Racing Heritage Club is the first of its kind from any Japanese manufacturer. It’s geared towards owners of competition bikes from Yamaha’s storied motorsports legacy, encouraging them to catalog the machines in the YRHC’s registry.
Once they’ve joined, owners will receive discounts on genuine Yamaha parts. If the parts for vintage bikes are no longer available, Yamaha says, they will help with identifying suitable replacement parts. However, the biggest boon to collectors is Yamaha’s promise that registered members will gain access to technical information and support from engineers who were involved in the development or maintenance of these bikes while they were racing. If those individuals aren’t available, engineers currently involved in Yamaha’s racing programs will lend their expertise.
Yamaha outlined the types of bikes that will be eligible for membership into the YRHC. It spans many decades and includes motorcycles from several different types of racing.
From Grand Prix racing the club will admit machines raced between 1955 and the end of the two-stroke era in 2003, while registrations from World Superbike and the Endurance World Championships will be open to machines raced in any of the production classes from 1987 until 2009. From the off-road world the YRHC will be open to motocross bikes raced before 1998 and Paris Dakar machines that raced in Africa prior to 2007.
That basically includes every significant era beginning with the very birth of Yamaha Motor, founded by Genichi Kawakami on July 1, 1955. Ten days later, they entered at the Mount Fuji Ascent Race, marking the start of Yamaha racing.
Yamaha says the owners of these motorcycles will serve as ambassadors of the brand’s racing heritage. They’ll also be able to meet and work with Yamaha’s factory riders both retired and current at official events held throughout the year. Yamaha says the club was designed to protect the company’s racing history and share it with younger generations, and to bring Yamaha collectors from around the world together.
It’s sounds like a brilliant program. It will cost the company very little in the grand scheme of things, but casts immeasurable amounts of goodwill to fans and collectors. With so many Japanese OEMs — Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, Honda, Kawasaki — taking an interest in launching their own heritage programs, we hope to see a carmaker start a similar program.
Yamaha collectors looking for more information on the Yamaha Racing Heritage Club can email yrhc at yamaha-racing dot com.