by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 208
finished 1-2 at Daytona in the hands of new Yamaha signing Giacomo Agostini and Roberts. Suddenly, everyone wanted a TZ750. Yamaha produced 266 of them as quickly as they could make them. With a twin- shock rear end, skinny wheels and tyres and absolutely no warranty, you could buy one in the USA, with a spares kit, for $3600 – about the same price as a Chevrolet Camaro. But there was some caution; realising the potential downside of unleashing the fastest motorcycle ever offered for sale on an unsuspecting marketplace, you could not ‘just buy’ a TZ750. You had to be vetted by Yamaha, and if your racing credentials were not up to scratch, you would not get a ‘Teezer’. The bike was quickly developed. Yamaha threw away their conser vatism and quickly unleashed an extra 20 horses, taking it to 110. By the time the bike was retired, it was over 140. Then the engine got bigger, to a full 750cc. The forks got thicker, and so did the rubber (thought that is all relative to the time; the bigger hoops that the TZ750 ever raced on are smaller than those in use in Moto2 now). The ‘door-closer’ rear shocks were quickly binned, replaced by its Monocross monoshock rear end that made suspension tuning much easier. Yamaha would not be beaten at Daytona for a decade. One year, its 750s filled the first 16 places. In 1975, Gene Romero won, followed by Johnny Cecotto, Steve Baker and Roberts. All raced for Yamaha’s official American team, but in 1979 and ’81 privateer Dale Singleton won, his two wins split by Patrick Pons. In 1982, Kiwi Graeme Crosby won on a late-model TZ, designated OW750, that was built from Yamaha USA’s stock of TZ spares... The TZ750 democratised winning. After Barry Sheene’s 1973 F750 title, the TZ750 ruled the class, but no single rider dominated, with John Dodds, Jack Findlay, Victor Palomo, Steve Baker, Johnny Cecotto and Pons taking the crowns. In spite of the different champions, so dominant was the machine that it virtually killed the class. The bike won everywhere; at Daytona, and every other track in America (including, believe it or not, at Long Beach in 1977, Skip Aksland leading a thundering herd of TZ riders, plus Barry Sheene’s Suzuki, sliding their bikes between the concrete barriers.) It conquered the classic and not-so -classic tracks of Europe, and elsewhere. Even Mike Hailwood won on a TZ750 – at, of all places, Bathurst, taking the 1978 Australian Unlimited Grand Prix on a TZ750 fitted with a 36-litre tank. One of the strengths of the TZ750 was the amount of modification that could be made to it. Carruthers looked after Roberts’s bikes, of course, but tuners such as Bob Work and Erv Kanemoto got great results out of the bike. Findlay based his bikes in Italy, and with third party brakes and suspension and 54mm TZ250 barrels mounted on his engine, he dragged his ‘TZ500’ onto the podium twice in GPs in 1975. But there is one thing that the TZ did that – so far, at least – Honda’s RCV1000R has not managed. It allowed talent to shine and, on occasion, win. There is no better example of this than what occurred on Good Friday in 1980, when Kanemoto brought Gary Howard’s silver TZ to Brands Hatch for the annual Trans-Atlantic Series. An unknown 18-year-old, seeing the track for the first time, beat the factory Yamahas of Roberts and the semi-works example of Sheene. Freddie Spencer started the day in relative anonymity and ended it as the hottest motorcycle racer in the world, after two wins on Erv’s well-developed, but other wise privateer TZ750. Yamaha had stayed a year or two ahead of its own customers, but men like Kanemoto showed that, with a talent like Spencer’s, he could still win. So far, nobody has managed to do that on Honda’s Open Class ‘production’ racer. But hey, so far this season no one on a factory bike has beaten Marc Marquez, either... According to factory records, a total of 527 TZ750s were built, the last one delivered to a customer in 1983, at a cost of more than $10,000. How many others were built out of spares, with third-party frames and bodywork, is anyone’s guess. For nearly a decade, it ruled as the fastest racing motorcycle not a lot of money could buy. There will never be anything like it again. MOTOGP >>> FEATUrE LeFT Pons Power: Patrick Pons won the 750 World title in 1979 and started 1980 with a win in the Daytona 200. Tragically, he died in a crash in the British 500cc GP at Silverstone a few months later. ABOVe Yamaha even commissioned a dirt-track version of theTZ, which was banned immediately after Kenny Roberts won the Indianapolis mile on it in 1975. KR was reunited with the bike at the same track five years ago and, even in his late 50s, showed that he only knows one way to ride... 26 GPWEEK.com // 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: