The Bike That Got Away: John Devlin’s Yankee Z

“I went for the “Z” because I wanted to do street and dirt riding (think On Any Sunday).”

Classic Yankee Z enduro
Yankee Z Owner: John Devlin©Motorcyclist

Editor's note: Tell us your story! Send us plenty of words (“Why You Bought It, Why You Sold It, Why You Wished You Still Had It”) and a few good photos of the bike and if we use your submission, we’ll send you a magnificent Motorcyclist t-shirt and some other random swag. Email your submissions to: mcmail@bonniercorp.com

Why I Bought It: When I got married in 1971 I had a 1967 Bridgestone 175. The new wife got the gifts, and I got the cash. Torn between a Triumph Bonneville and a Yankee Z, I went for the "Z" because I wanted to do street and dirt riding (think On Any Sunday). I picked the "Z" because it was bigger than most others, was different, and was absolutely beautiful. It was my first new bike. It was a beast and could go anywhere. Few people could even start it with the twin cylinder compression release. Funny how the bad times on it seemed to fade with time.

Why I Sold It: My garage was small and I was more into street riding. The "Z" was parked way more than ridden. After 20 years I had gone through many bikes and my first new Harley-Davidson was on the way. Same wife, new (expensive) bike on the way, and it was time to clean out the garage.

Why I Wished I Hadn't Sold It: Yankees are rare today. That old beast was fun to ride and I still think it's one of the best looking bikes ever made. Now that the (same) wife and I are retired I have a bigger garage, more tools and time and rebuild lots of bikes. I finally got my Triumph (1973) as a project bike and think fondly of my old "Z." I am actively trying to get one but they are rare as hen's teeth. While it won't replace the new Harley or K1600GTL parked in the garage it would certainly be a welcome addition.

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