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Bonhams Motorcycle Department


1972 Yamaha SC500

In the running for most fearsome dirtbike of all time has to be the Yamaha SC500, a 496cc two-stroke single that channelled its prodigious power through a four-speed gearbox. Intended as more of a desert racer than a pure motocrosser, the SC could easily get up to velocities that overtaxed its period suspension, leading to tense moments for its wide-eyed riders. Produced for just two years, the SC500 is one of the rarer Japanese dirtbikes.
In it’s day, the SC500 did not get the best reviews and was certainly recognised as a better desert bike than Scrambler. Some described it as having brutal power that if not careful would rip your arms out of their sockets but it may be that those that were critical of it were actually scared of riding it. Once the power came on and the rider relaxed a little (remembering to keep their weight forward, eventually ‘the beast’ could be tamed.
Produced in limited numbers and probably one of - if not the most powerful motocrosser ever produced, these machines are rare and good examples (if you can find one) are now commanding over £2.5k. Spares are available, mostly in the US and Australia but good examples are few and far between.

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