1973 Yamaha TX750

It was the dreariest part of the winter of ‘03. I was thinking (always risky), “I need a big 4 stroke twin from the tuning fork folks, but XS650’s are too common”, when I happened across an obscure, probably obsolete listing for a TX750 which sparked some real (masochistic?) interest. Renowned as the worst bike that Yamaha ever built, they blew up like hand grenades. The problems were serious and numerous. Oil got into the points case, ending spark production. Balancer chains were non-adjustable, and broke: major internal shrapnel. If the balancer chain didn’t break, then the balancers were likely to churn the motor oil into froth, much to the demise of rod and main bearings. If the oil didn’t turn to foamy froth, it would soon leak past the head gasket, making a real mess. I had never seen one that ran.

For a motorcycle related diversion from the cold winter, and some quality time with the missus, we took the pickup truck. My wife happened to have a bunch of money in her purse. Can you see where this is going? We found it. It ran and in fact sounded healthy. Somehow it had accumulated nearly 30,000 miles, a record for sure. I test rode it ½ mile in the snow, loaded it up and took it home. I just had a feeling, and I’m glad I did.

During my research, I happened across a web site detailing every bit of known information on the model: a fantastic find. I soon discovered that before bailing out, Yamaha had methodically updated and improved the model to bring it up to their usual high standard. New crankcases, balancer chain adjusters, a deep oil sump with anti-froth baffles, factory installed oil cooler, doubled up oil seals for the point’s compartment: every flaw had a cure. These updates were performed along with the usual work needed to rekindle the flames idled by time. So fine, now we have ourselves a TX750 that runs as designed and blows up much more slowly than before. What’s it like to ride?

Quite pleasant, actually. The electric boot makes starting this lusty twin a breeze, although a kick starter is retained. The sound is typically Japanese: better than the original. It sounds more British than a Brit bike. Nice. Setting out, one quickly finds that the 5 speed gearbox is a bit more notchy than most, but not too hard to live with; remember to select neutral before the wheels stop turning. Torque is very abundant, you need not spin the motor. And she’s smooth. That would be the ‘omni-phase’ engine balancer talking. It really works. The rigidly mounted 750cc parallel twin, potentially the worst of shakers, has been civilized. No wonder other manufacturers quickly began to develop balancer systems of their own, but Yamaha was first, with the TX750.

The handling is very nice too. The stock front fork is decent, and has been improved with shimmed springs to stiffen things up a tad, and more viscous oil to keep dampening in control. The rear shocks are Hagons: effective if unremarkable. Brakes are adequate, with a disc in front and a solid drum in the rear. Another well copied British trait is the fine handling, the result of a stiff frame, and well thought out steering geometry. The seating position is very relaxed, with high wide bars, feet slightly forward, and a very long saddle. Electrics were ahead of their time.

Enigmatic, perhaps, but the TX is a joy to ride, can be confidently pressed hard in the twisties, and it definitely turns heads. Frequently, this somewhat obscure model draws more attention from other enthusiasts than supposedly more collectable wheels. Usually, comments range from, “I’ve never even heard of that model” to “I can’t believe the motor still runs after 40,000 miles. Believe it.