Cycle World Flashback: 1971 Yamaha JTI Mini Enduro

Long before the Honda XR75, Yamaha had the Mini Enduro.

Yamaha Mini Enduro static side view

It's a dangerous place, the Cycle World library: You go in there looking for something specific—say, a photo of a Yamaha RD400 crankshaft—and you end up disappearing for a couple of hours going through file after fascinating file, many chock-full with vintage black-and-white photos of bikes we fondly remember or wish we still had. And in some cases, the material is just so cool it demands to be shared. Case in point: the February 1971 folder for the Yamaha Mini Enduro, which I stumbled upon today.

Remember those little Yamahas? If you're a kid who started riding just as On Any Sunday came out, you most certainly do. The Mini Enduro, a scaled-down DT1 of sorts, started showing up everywhere in the early 1970s , and with good reason. The little 58.2cc two-stroke machine, which sold for $299 and weighed only 125 lb., represented a good step up from your suspensionless Taco minibike, but was way more fun to ride, even if its rotary-valve engine, with 4.5 hp, had less power than some minibikes of the era. The transmission, a four-speed with neutral located at the top of the pattern, helped teach legions of us how to shift a motorcycle.

In our article about the bike, from Cycle World's February 1971 issue, we praised the new Mini Enduro, calling it a "motorcycle in miniature that a microbopper can handle," thanks in part to a broad powerband that allowed riders to just let out the clutch and go. In addition to the 15-inch wheels (fitted with Nitto trials-pattern tires), we liked the quick one-kick starting and the quiet exhaust, which was fitted with a US Forestry-approved spark arrestor. Yamaha's Autolube took the mystery out of mixing gasoline and oil, and a toolkit was provided beneath the seat, held in place by a rubber strap. To help Yamaha keep the price down, the company used only one spring in the fork, on the right, with rebound damping handled exclusively by the left tube.

Yamaha Mini Enduro static rear 3/4 view

To quote our story: "Interestingly, the Mini Enduro can negotiate fast turns just as fast or faster than full-sized 100cc machines, because the balance and geometry allows the rider to point it hard into a turn without washing out the front wheel." With that in mind, one of our staffers even entered the Mini Enduro in the 100cc Expert class at a local motocross track called Huntington Beach Cycle Park. But at 6-foot-tall and 160 pounds, the Cycle World staffer dwarfed the machine, which we wrote "somewhat limited his success."

Although I never did find a suitable image of an RD400 crankshaft on my visit to the Cycle World library, I'm glad I came across the Mini Enduro folder and these black-and-white shots, which show the little Yamaha in pristine, unmolested condition. Not many stayed that way for long, though, because the little two-stroke machine practically begged to be modified for competition, even in the capable hands of a freckled little kid named Jeff Ward. But wouldn't you just love to see (or, better yet, have) a Yamaha Mini Enduro in such beautiful original condition today?

Static left-side view.

Static rear 3/4 right-side view.

Static front view.

Static rear view.

Engine (left-side).

Engine (right-side).

Group static shot.

Static right-side view #1

Static right-side view #2