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Cult bike Yamaha PW 50

Get out of your diaper, get on your moped!

Yamaha PW 50! Forget all about the supposed motorcycle icons. BMW R 90 S, Honda CB 750 Four, Kawasaki Z 900 – all nice, but not really relevant. The only two-wheeler that is (survival) important for our scene comes from Yamaha.

M.on gets wet, masses up her hairstyle and can’t listen to music properly. Not to mention the trouble-free cell phone operation. So why should a 16-year-old start his motorization career with a two-wheeler of all things? Just. Then the slightly overweight father, who is in silly textile clothes and crowned by an embarrassing flip-up helmet, tells him that there is nothing better than riding a motorcycle.

Cult bike Yamaha PW 50

Get out of your diaper, get on your moped!

Yamaha PW 50 with automatic instead of manual transmission

So the thing is guaranteed to be completely uninteresting for the youngsters. And with that fresh blood is lost again for our scene struggling for survival. Logical consequence: we have to get the youngsters excited about motorcycles earlier. Much earlier. Preferably at an age when the bricks are still extremely curious and their parents still have a certain natural authority. Despite embarrassing motorcycle clothes. So at the age of about three years. Out of the diaper, on to the moped – that’s the only way it can work, and Yamaha understood that over 30 years ago and built the Yamaha PW 50.

Of course there were also motorcycles with small wheels for people with short legs before 1980, the year in which a prototype of the Yamaha PW 50 could be admired at the IFMA in Cologne, just think of the legendary Honda Monkey. But up until then no other manufacturer had tackled the topic of children’s motorcycles as consistently as Yamaha: automatic instead of manual transmission, so that the short ones immediately have their sense of achievement and can concentrate fully on driving; Cardan instead of chain and no wire-spoke wheels, so that little fingers or feet are endangered in the event of a fall and maintenance is minimal; Kick starter instead of cable starter, so that the youngsters learn it right from the start; Separate instead of mixed lubrication, so that there is no oil fraud when the two-liter tank is empty again.

Safe, low-maintenance, robust and powerful

The infinitely adjustable throttle stop allows mom or dad to limit the maximum speed in a child-friendly manner; a safety circuit prevents the 39-kilogram load from moving unintentionally when starting; and the exhaust carries an effective heat shield. But the tiny thing, which was initially sold for 1132 marks, was and is not only particularly user-friendly, safe and low-maintenance. Above all, the little speedster is incredibly robust and surprisingly powerful. A child can hardly break a Yamaha PW 50 on his own. No wonder then that the Yamaha can be passed on from generation to generation without major repairs being required. Incidentally, this applies to all PW50 years of construction, the construction has been almost perfect since the first edition. Which also explains why Yamaha was able to save itself on model maintenance measures: very slightly modified plastic parts, somewhat thicker disc wheels, since 1998 hydraulic oil damping for the right fork leg – there were no more changes.

Crab apples

The first edition in 1981 cost 1132 marks. The current Yamaha PW 50 costs 1750 euros.

The typical PW 50 usage time is the kindergarten phase, i.e. the age of three to six years. It is just as typical, however, that the fathers usually cannot help but romp around the terrain with the mini crosser themselves. Over fenced private property, of course, because Yamaha’s smallest is not permitted for road traffic. At least in the city center, it would have a chance of survival, because the membrane-controlled two-stroke engine enables mokick-like driving performance, real 40 km / h are easy. Provided that the reducing cover in the exhaust goes the way of the mundane as quickly as possible, and the throttle stop allows the full range. The vehicle, which is located somewhere between the dachshund and St. Bernard in terms of height, is the most fun in the field. Admittedly: The ground clearance is not exactly ample, but the suspension elements do not immediately bend down on their knees if, for once, 70 instead of 30 kilos of driver weight is 485 millimeters high. From 1983 onwards, you could see very clearly what a PW 50 can carry away, because at that time some Yamaha PW 50s appeared as teams.

Yamaha PW 50 turns children into motorcycle freaks

The Yamaha PW 50 definitely has sporting potential. And that was used particularly vigorously in the 1990s. In the Yamaha PW 50 Cup, the future motocross stars showed their milk teeth. It even went so far that the frenzied dwarfs let it fly in the supporting program of Supercross events. But not only off-roaders learned to drive on the Yamaha. Many of today’s very successful road racers were Yamaha riders at the very beginning of their careers.

But the long-term goal doesn’t even have to be motorcycle world champion to have a reason to buy a PW 50. It is actually enough to show the youngsters as early as possible what is really fun in life. And all of this without any pressure, because up to now every Yamaha PW 50 has managed to turn children into motorcycle freaks by itself. A success that cannot be valued highly enough. Thanks, Yamaha!



Automatic transmission and cardan shaft – a perfect combination because it is user-friendly, safe and low-maintenance.

Data: Air-cooled single-cylinder two-stroke engine, 49 cm³, 2 kW (2.7 HP) at 5500 / min, 3.83 Nm at 4500 / min, automatic transmission, pressed steel frame, weight with a full tank 39 kg, seat height 485 mm, front tires 2.50-10, rear 2.50-10, tank capacity 2 liters, maximum speed. approx. 40 km / h (can be throttled via gas stop)

literature: The first and only test in MOTORRAD is in issue 3/1981; In the highly recommended standard work "Yamaha" by Koenigsbeck / Schneider / Abelmann (Schneider Text Editions, 2004, around 40 euros), a separate chapter is dedicated to mini racers.

Specialists: The Yamaha PW 50 is still being sold new and technically almost unchanged by Yamaha. Obtaining spare parts is correspondingly easy. Tuning parts and accessories are z. B. to be found at the US provider www.peewee Training wheels starting at US $ 89 are available at

Market situation: Most of the Yamaha PW 50 change hands – if at all – among friends and acquaintances, it is a typical “heirloom”. On the open market, even 15-year-old copies are asked for at least 500 euros – and are happy to pay. The majority of the well-arranged used offer ranges between 750 and 1000 euros.

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