1964 Yamaha Trailmaster 80

Taking it to the trails

| January/February 2009

Yamaha Trailmaster 80 
Years produced:
Claimed power: 6.2hp @ 10,000 rpm
Top speed: 41mph
Engine type: 81cc 2-stroke, air-cooled single
Weight (dry): 63.5kg (140lbs)
Price then/now: $367/$1,000 - $2,500
MPG: 170

When you think of a vintage small-bore Japanese motorcycle for running in-town errands or slinging mud on a weekend camping trip, what comes to mind?

For many it’s a Honda Trail 90. But if you want something different, the Yamaha Trailmaster 80, might be the bike for you, and in many respects it surpasses its more heralded competition. 

Out of the shadows
In the early 1960s, Yamaha was best known in America for its larger YD series of machines. It wasn’t until the introduction of the YG series in 1963 (and the lesser-known YJ series of 1964) that the small-bore crowd was treated to Yamaha’s wonderful mix of style, sportiness and 2-stroke innovation.

The Yamaha YG1 was the more mainstream street-oriented machine, with a full front fender, two-place seat and sporty two-tone paint schemes. Today, the occasional YG1 comes up on eBay and would prove an excellent street machine on its own merits. But it’s the YG-1T, or Yamaha Trailmaster 80, that is getting our attention, as it deserves a little spotlight of its own, out from the shadows of the all-powerful Honda Trail.

First introduced in 1964, the Yamaha Trailmaster 80 combined Yamaha’s then-new rotary-disc-valve 2-stroke engine, with a few well-chosen functional modifications to make it better suited for the occasional off-road journey. Items like the cut-down front fender, the small rubber mud flap, the solo seat with a sizeable luggage rack on the back and a skid plate mounted under the engine all work together to shout “Trail.”

In fact, when sitting next to their similar vintage Honda Trail 55 and 90 counterparts, the Yamaha Trailmaster 80 fits right in, yet looks more refined. While the Hondas were based on the step-through Cub C100 series and flaunted their raw look with exposed components, the Trailmaster was based on a sportier street bike, and therefore carries over a few more stylish cues like the gleaming chrome fuel tank and low-mounted
chrome muffler.

1/12/2015 9:03:25 PM

Hello, I have a really nice little YG-1. It is a 1963 Trailmaster, if anyone is interested in buying it? It is not currently running, but has good compression and wouldn't take much. Please write, iadocumentary@yahoo.com Thanks! KC

6/27/2011 11:19:20 PM

A couple of minor points... the "F" light is actually an indicator for the optional turn signals... and there was an 80cc rotary valve model that looked a lot like the Honda Trail 90 with the step-through frame. It was the MG-1 "Omaha Trailmaster"... my first bike.

Jim Shaw
1/17/2009 3:13:26 AM

I have a Yamaha YG1.I bought it new in 1964. It was my first motorcycle.They were actually 73cc.It is stamped in the side of the cylinder by the exhaust port.

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

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