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Early Japanese Trail Bikes

 If you go back and read any cycle magazine from the mid 1960's, you will notice that most bikes intended for on road/off road use were referred to as either trail bikes, or street scramblers. Trail bikes were built specifically for use off road, but some had enough lighting and instrumentation to make them street legal. This category also encompassed everything from lawn mower engined mini bikes, to Rokon's, to 50CC light weights with off road tires fitted. This was an exploding market at that time, and everyone wanted a piece of the pie. Just pick up a period popular mechanics, or any cycle magazine, and look at the advertisements, and sometimes the tests them selves.
    Then there is the street scrambler, which can be defined as a street motorcycle, with high exhaust pipes, braced handle bars, and universal or trials tires fitted...yep, that Yamaha YR-1 350 went on to become the YR-2 in 1968. As a road bike, it was awesome, but then Yamaha released the YR2-C Street scrambler.....and the mind reels at the thought of how a 380lb modified street bike handled off road! 
    These early trail bikes made use of a lot of components from other models, which kept the cost down. Most of the smaller displacement models employed a chassis made of pressed sheet metal, usually with a tubular brace running from the steering collar to the bottom of the engine as a support. These are also the bikes that experimented with dual rear sprockets to give two ratios for street and dirt riding.  The magazines of the time would do complete sections on trail bikes, listing their many features, ect, but they never seemed to touch on anything too technical, in other words, if you read the article the impression you got was that they were all equally great, no flaws or limitations, my guess is that a lot of people were dissappointed when they paid $275.00 for a Bennelli trail bike that quit the next week. Historically, this was the beginning of dual purpose motorcycles, or enduro's, at least for the Japanese, and one must start somewhere when developing a product, but technology moved on, and these early machines became obsolete fast as new, much improved motorcycles became available. I added this page simply because this is where it all started, and it seems to be a forgotten part of off road history.