This was something of a Yamaha payback for Honda's Elsinores, and must have really stuck in Honda's craw.
It was a rather topsy-turvy situation. Honda had stuck with 4-stroke dirt bikes for years, but in 1973 had finally capitulated with the 2-stroke Elsinores. It was a tacit admission by Honda that they would never be a serious contender in motocross with a 4-cycle engine. Still, they stuck with 4-strokes for their dual-purpose / enduro line. While the various CL, SL, and XL 4-strokes were decent bikes, their sales were on the lackluster side, and hardly anyone considered them serious dirt bikes.
Then, along comes Yamaha, an upstart in the 4-stroke market, and they sell every TT and XT-500 they could manufacture! There were waiting lines for these bikes, and some speculators sold them at prices well above list. It must have been a bitter pill for Honda to swallow.
Of course, in the end, the XT and TT Yamahas benefited all of the Big-4 Japanese manufacturers. Honda improved the XL, and released the XR series in retaliation. These matched, and eventually surpassed, the Yamaha offerings in both capability and sales numbers. And Suzuki's DR and Kawasaki's KR line proved that the market for "serious" 4-stroke dirt bikes was big enough for everyone. Without the '76 Yamahas, it might never have happened. Or, would have at least been much delayed without the spark provided by the TT and XT-500.
<next bike in series>
<return to bike index>