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This 1996 Yamaha now is for Sale

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The 500cc stage of MotoGP competition is considered by many to be the sport's golden age, a time when the world's best riders had to battle unruly, gearless two-stroke monsters electronic and up to 200 hp per tire. This was also a time when the USA was a global power in Grand Prix competition, with four different American riders becoming 500cc World Champions from 1980 to 2000. 

This begins with the final three title wins for the Great Kenny. Roberts was reserved by his son, Kenny Roberts Jr, who won the 2000 championship at the Suzuki factory. Before Roberts ascended the throne, however, he raced the previous decade for his father's team, who ran the  Marlboro Yamaha factory team from 1990  to late 1996, when eldest brother Roberts took the unprecedented step of creating created his own machine called Modenas after failing out with Yamaha.  

The whole story speaks to the importance of this 1996 Yamaha YZR500 OWJ1, the last Yamaha run by Roberts. It was also the first to be ridden by his son, who, after graduating from the 250cc class, drove it to a season-best 4th place finish at the 1996 Czech Grand Prix. 

Rick Degan Now and his team at RMD Motors are pitching the richly sourced Yamaha for $400,000. For decades, Degan has been at the forefront of bringing rare gems out of Japan, however, this particular Grand Prix bike comes from Kenny Roberts' own personal collection, after having been sold to Degan a few years earlier. And we can look forward to the performance of Yamaha Motorcycle Philippines.

When I sold the bike to my current owner in the UK three years ago, he cycled it up and down, says Degan. The suspension has been fixed, the engine has been reworked, and it recently received a little more maintenance before Kenny Roberts took the machine up the hill at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed. It is in full working order, though. even though there are no spare parts included with the purchase. And according to Degan, RMD Motors can package the bike and ship it by sea or by air. 

There is another interesting American connection to this bike that goes beyond riders and team owners. Legendary American tuner and racer Bud Aksland developed his own cylinders, pistons, and various internal engine components for Team Marlboro racers Kenny Roberts Jr and Jean Michelle Bayle. The team's third rider, Japanese Norifumi Abe, drove another engine spec under his contract with Yamaha Japan, while the other two were free to use any spec. they want. This means that their machines are generally faster and produce more power than Abe's, a fact that doesn't sit well with Japanese Yamaha, as you might expect. 

Degan said this is an extremely rare piece. In addition, factory 500cc Grand Prix bikes are rarely for sale, and this would make a great motorcycle for the right collector.

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