Yamaha, having reached the top echelon in motocross, decided that enduro, cross-county, and hare-scrambles were the next hurdle.
It was a niche market, largely sewn up by small players like Bultaco, Husqvarna, and KTM / Penton. These small manufacturers were already at something of a disadvantage, being unable to match the economies of scale enjoyed by the Japanese. Coupled with an unfavorable exchange rate, this made the European bikes very expensive compared to the Japanese offerings. However, the usual Japanese practice of marketing a bike with 80 to 90 percent of the competition's capability at half the price had proven unsuccessful in the serious off-road competition market. Off-road competitors needed that last 10 to 20% in performance, and were willing to pay for it. No, to be successful, Yamaha would have to match the capabilities of the Euros in all regards. Enter the IT line.
While it would be hard to argue that the IT's truly met, or exceeded the European bikes' performance, they were supremely capable machines. They were at least 98% as good overall, I believe, and in certain areas they did surpass the Euros. Yamaha's suspension, especially the rear monoshock, was world-class, unmatched by anyone else. The IT's main weakness was weight; they were significantly heavier than the European bikes. And on a greasy uphill riddled with tree roots, light weight can be a huge advantage!
But for the most part, the IT line had what it took, and legitimized Japanese machines in what was perhaps the last area of motorcycle competition which they had not yet come to dominate.
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