The motorcycle division of Yamaha was founded in 1955, and was headed by Genichi Kawakami. Yamaha’s initial product was a 125cc two-cycle, single cylinder motorcycle, the YA-1, which was a copy of the German DKW RT125. The YA-1 was a competitive success at racing from the beginning, winning not only the 125cc class in the Mt. Fuji Ascent, but also sweeping the podium with first, second and third place in the All Japan Autobike Endurance Road Race that same year. Early success in racing set the tone for Yamaha, as competition in many varieties of motorcycle racing has been a key endeavor of the company throughout its history, often fueled by a strong rivalry with Honda and other Japanese manufacturers.
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