Total Motorcycle’s interview with Yamaha Motorcycle Canada:
by Mike & Andrea Le Pard.

Yamaha Brendan KeysWith motorcycle production starting in 1955, Yamaha is no stranger to building motorcycles. 2005 marks their 50th Anniversary and they have a lot to celebrate with huge past motorcycle series successes behind them, like the XS, XJ, FZ, YZF and today’s R series. From traditional motorcycles like the 20th Anniversary V-Max to new designs such as the MT-01, Yamaha continues to build legends.

Total Motorcycle interviewed Brendan Keys, Yamaha Motorcycle’s Sales Manager for Western Canada, at the 2005 Calgary Motorcycle Show. Brendan has been involved with the motorcycle side of Yamaha for over 5 years and has seen many changes in the motorcycle lineup. He also knows his Yamaha history and is a great resource to learn where Yamaha is going in the future.


TMW: Brendan, what sets Yamaha apart for the rest of the competition?

Brendan: What we feel sets Yamaha apart are the quality and reliability of our motorcycles and products that we offer. Yamaha’s motto of “Exceeding our customers expectations” is what we strive for everyday. We build desirable products that the customer wants and introduce new innovations that allow Yamaha to jump out of the box compared to other Japanese motorcycle manufacturers.


TMW: What were Yamaha’s most successful models for 2004?

Brendan: Yamaha is very proud of our great lineup of motorcycles and 2004 was another great year for our supersport motorcycles. Our Yamaha R6 and R1 won the number one position in both sales and on the racing tracks. The R1 was refined in 2004 to be an even better motorcycle and we sold out all of our 2004 R1 models.
For our cruisers, our 2004 Yamaha V-Star 1100 Silverado was our top seller. The 1100 Silverado sold so well thanks to the factory custom look and great looking options like the standard adjustable windshield and studded touring bags. The V-Star 1100 Silverado offers motorcyclists big-time torque, big-time style and loads of comfort.
2004 was also a great year for our scooter sales thanks to our expanded Yamaha scooter lineup. We were quite proud of the fact that the Yamaha BWS was the number one selling scooter in Canada.


TMW: Out of all Yamaha’s 2005 models, which ones are Yamaha most excited about and why?

Brendan: There is no question that we are extremely excited about the brand new 2005 Yamaha Royal Star Tour Deluxe. The Royal Star Tour Deluxe is like having two motorcycles in one. All you have to do is pop on the quick-release touring windshield, passenger backrest and standard touring bags, and in a matter of a few seconds you’ve magically transformed your cool cruiser into a long-haul touring bike. We were able to engineer these features into the bike with no compromises in style or comfort.
With the re-introduction of the Yamaha Road Star Warrior and Midnight Warrior for 2005, we are offering another two-for-one motorcycle for the rider. Whether you want classic cruising R&R or sportbike-like excitement, the Road Star Warrior and Midnight Warrior is for you.

Although not for North America… this year… the introduction of the Yamaha MT-01 for Europe in 2005 is a sign of things to come…


TMW: What is Yamaha currently focusing on in the market and why?

Brendan: Yamaha has always been focused on offering desirable products that offer excellent quality and reliability to our customers. 2005 is Yamaha’s 50th Anniversary and this year is a big year for our new product announcements as well. In October 2005, we will be having a 50th Anniversary celebration party.


TMW: What do you foresee Yamaha focusing on more in the future?

Brendan: Yamaha wants to bring the fun of motorcycling to more kids, so we have introduced our Yamaha Riding Academy starting in June 2005. The Yamaha Riding Academy is great place for kids to learn to ride on a track, giving them a chance to ride PW50’s and PW80’s while being supervised and trained by Yamaha instructors. The best part is the first night is free, while further nights of instruction are available for a small fee. Dates, locations and times follow the CMRC schedule here in Canada.

Yamaha’s “think outside of the box” philosophy shines through by offering uniquely designed and multi-purposed motorcycles like the new Yamaha MT-01, TTR230 (the two-wheel drive dirt motorcycle), Royal Star Tour Deluxe and Majesty 400. Yamaha will also be expanding our scooter lineup.


TMW: What things might we expect to see in the future from Yamaha?

Brendan: We have already mentioned the expanded Yamaha scooter lineup for the future but there are other things in the works. In both June and September 2005, we will be announcing some pretty exciting product releases.

TMW: Are there any future models in the works?

Brendan: As with any motorcycle company Yamaha has to keep our secrets safe so I just cannot come out and tell you what is going to happen. But I can give you some hints and you can draw your own conclusions from there.

Everyone has been asking if this is the last year for the legendary Yamaha V-Max. Well, I can tell you that “change is needed.” Remember the Virago? It lasted 20 years, from 1982-2002 in the lineup. The V-Max was created in 1985, so this year it will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a limited edition model. This year, we have brought the Yamaha MT-01 for North America and the limited edition 20th anniversary V-Max to the show to again gauge customer interest. So far, customer response for the MT-01 has been very positive, and along with Cycle Canada having the MT-01 on the front cover, it has really helped to peak interest in it as well. Yamaha MT-01 pricing is expected to be between the 2004 V-Max and the Warrior. In 2004, Yamaha brought the Majesty 400 to the motorcycle shows to gauge customer interest, and in 2005 it was introduced into our lineup. This could be an example that will show you what may come in the near future.

Yamaha is also going to be introducing a larger retro version of the Vino 125 scooter for 2006. The 2005 Yamaha TTR230 two-wheel drive off-road dirt bike is a great technological accomplishment to show Yamaha innovation but I do not foresee it being offered to Canada in the future due to its high cost.

This concludes our 2005 Interview with Yamaha Motorcycles. We would like to thank Yamaha Canada and Brendan Keys for allowing us to interview them and for their time. We look forward to our next interview with them.

Unbiased, helpful, personal, friendly and useful motorcycle resource