Is it possible for “design intent” to exist in a motorcycle when mechanisms and engineering are the primary factors in its creation? That was the question and the challenge Yamaha boldly tackled with its first motorcycle. While keeping the beauty of the DKW RT125’s frame that they worked from, they created original designs for the machine’s other parts, like the fuel tank, seat, pedals and handle grips.
The resulting form was elegant and had a decidedly Japanese aesthetic sense, and would become the foundation of Yamaha Motor Design that would come in subsequent years. The vibrant maroon color created in the image of a chestnut-colored steed was in fact created after seeing the color of a chocolate bar wrapper. Along with the machine’s light and agile ride, the color won the YA-1 the affectionate nickname of Akatombo (Red Dragonfly), and it became a bright spot of color on the still dark streets of postwar Japan.