Yamaha began producing motorcycles in 1955, starting with small-displacement bikes and then a developing a strong line of sport bikes. The Japanese motorcycle manufacturer introduced the PW 50 in 1981 and made virtually no changes to it in the ensuing years, except for replacing the original yellow-and-black paint scheme with Yamaha’s racing colors, blue and white. The bike was designed to introduce off-road motorcycling to the youngest members of the family, children aged five to seven.
Powered by an air-cooled, 49cc, two-stroke single-cylinder engine, the PW 50 has a reed valve configuration and an easy-to-use single-speed automatic transmission. Parents can limit the amount of power available to the young rider by adjusting the throttle-stop screw. The engine is also designed to run very quietly, so it won’t enrage the neighbors when a youngster practices his or her riding skills in a large backyard or nearby empty lot. Two things about the 2007 model show the bike’s age: it has a kick starter rather than an electric one, and it must be warmed up to operating temperature on a center stand.
The little off-road bike stands 28.1 inches tall and is just over four feet long. With a dry weight of 82 pounds, it’s too heavy for a small child to pick up on his or her own. The seat height is 19.1 inches. Front and back drum brakes furnish plenty of stopping power—but not so much that an inexperienced rider comes to grief—and both are operated with handlebar levers, like a bicycle. The knobby 10-inch tires offer good traction; they are mounted on mag wheels rather than spokes, making for easier maintenance. A telescopic fork and twin-sided swing arm, along with the well-padded seat, cushion the youngster’s ride.
Most Yamahas come with many optional accessories. The PW 50 does not—but of course you can buy your child all sorts of Yamaha clothing and a helmet in the manufacturer’s racing colors to go with the tiny dirt bike.