This particular bike is an amalgamation from two Japanese factories. The frame is a replica Honda 162, whilst the engine is a Yamaha 250cc 4 cylinder 4 stroke, which revs to 16,500/17,000 revs per minute! (NOT a misprint!). The engine is from a Japan home market production road bike.
The Japanese licencing laws meant that large capacity super bikes such as Honda’s Fire Blade and Yamaha’s R1 couldn’t be sold in Japan. In order to capitalise on their Grand Prix successes, the factories produced these 250cc 4 cylinder bikes expressly for the domestic market. Very few made it to the west as “grey imports”.
My bike runs four separate megaphone exhausts, which are loud and produce an authentic and some say, nostalgic flavour of how these bikes sounded back in the day. Many modern spectators will never have had the opportunity to hear these high-revving, multi cylinder classic race bikes before. I hope they appreciate it!
Why the original builder of this bike chose to combine frame and engine from different factories remains a matter of some speculation. The bike has a double sided, twin leading shoe front brake, typical of those used in classic Grand Prix racing of the 60’s. I have little knowledge of the bike’s origins, as it unfortunately came without any historical documentation. I have only recently acquired this bike – I found it on the Internet and subsequently purchased it from a fellow enthusiast in Holland.
It was in such good condition it only needed a thorough service, polish and the attention of a good friend, looking at the electrics, to get the bike up and running. I believe the bike was built in the 1990’s and is constructed to a very high standard and it certainly looks and sounds like an authentic period race bike. Ownership of a genuine ex-works Grand Prix racer is financially prohibitive; you would have to pay between £100,000 and £250,000 – if you could find one, so this is an ideal and affordable alternative.
The competition between the Japanese factories in the 60’s (as it is today too) was intense,particularly between Honda and Yamaha. Honda fielded 2, 4, 5 and even 6 cylinder four strokes with riders such as Mike “the bike” Hailwood, Jim Redman, Luigi Taveri and Ralph Bryans, fighting for honours against Yamaha’s 2 and 4 cylinder two strokes, ridden principally by Phil Read and Bill Ivy. Many regard this period, rightly or wrongly, as the “Golden Age” of Grand Prix racing.