Yamaha Corporation, is a Japanese multinational corporation and conglomerate with a very wide range of products and services, predominantly musical instruments, electronics and power sports equipment.
The former motorcycle division became independent from the main company in 1955, forming Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd, although Yamaha Corporation is still the largest shareholder.
Nippon Gakki Co. Ltd. (currently Yamaha Corporation) was established in 1887 as a piano and reed organ manufacturer by Torakusu Yamaha in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture and was incorporated on October 12, 1897.
The company's origins as a musical instrument manufacturer are still reflected today in the group's logo—a trio of interlocking tuning forks.
After World War II, company president Genichi Kawakami repurposed the remains of the company's war-time production machinery and the company's expertise in metallurgical technologies to the manufacture of motorcycles.
Yamaha's initial product was a 125 cc two-cycle, single cylinder motorcycle, the YA-1, which was a copy of the German DKW RT 125.
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.
Not until 1976 would Yamaha answer the other Japanese brands with a multi-cylinder four stroke of their own. The XS-750 (and later 850) a 750cc triple cylinder machine with shaft final drive was introduced almost seven years after Honda's breakthrough bike. Yamaha's first four-cylinder model, the XS-1100 followed in 1978, again with shaft drive
In 1998 Yamaha marketed a 1000cc four cylinder road bike called the YZF 'R1', this model introduced a new style of gearbox design which shortened the overall length of the motor/gearbox case, to allow a more compact unit. This, in turn allowed the motor to be placed in the frame further forward, designed to improve handling in a short wheel-based frame