Home Front end Here’s why the 1990s Yamaha GTS1000 was ahead of its time

Here’s why the 1990s Yamaha GTS1000 was ahead of its time


Automakers are now playing it safe in terms of implementing the technology. But things were crazy in the 80s and 90s and there were all kinds of futuristic features on motorcycles. One such creation was the Yamaha GTS1000, one of the first motorcycles to feature a forkless front end. The “first” tag actually goes to the Ducati-based Bimota Tesi 1/D 851 which increased Yamaha launching in 1990. But it was the GTS1000 that propelled this technology around the world.

The complex front suspension and steering system had many benefits, including more precise handling and reduced stress on the main frame. But it was not without its problems and often offered a “different” driving experience. At low speeds, the steering was hard to shift, and there was the problem of changing the angle and length of the steering rake with braking intensity.

In addition, a never-before-seen technological feature also came with a hefty price tag. The Yamaha GTS1000, when launched, was priced at $12,999. With today’s money, you can get the evil MV Agusta Brutale 800 Rosso for an extra $400! Back then, this Yamaha locked horns with BMW K1100RS, Honda CBR1000F, Suzuki Katana 1100 and Kawasaki ZX-11.

The Yamaha GTS1000 with its futuristic features made jaws drop in the 90s; Still in 2022!

Yamaha GTS1000 had the iconic forkless ‘RADD’ front end

The coolest feature of the Yamaha GTS1000 is its forkless front suspension setup. Yamaha derived it from Ratioally Advanced Design Development (RADD) which was the creation of American inventor James Parker. The front suspension and steering system of the GTS1000 was similar to the cars. The wheel and suspension functions were mostly handled by an upper and lower arm as seen in cars. A shock absorber was attached to the left side of the wheel.

A post was attached to the left wheels but is concealed by the mudguard. The front wheel is attached to a large axle that uses roller bearings for movement. Ball joints have been used to connect the upper and lower arms at both ends of the upright, allowing wheel movement on all axes. The steering system consisted of a steering box that connected the handlebars to the front.

The advantages of this system were numerous. Due to the low-slung design, the center of gravity was much lower than a conventional setup, which helped with cornering and stability. Second, because the forkless system was directly connected to the chassis, it eliminated contact load multiplication. Since the suspension arms were much more stable, there was a reduction in steering mass and the steering was much more precise.

Related: Ranking the coolest ’90s sport bikes on the used market

The GTS1000 had a single frame with a Greek connection

The handlebar is connected to the upright above the wheels via a steering box. All of this setup is connected to a uniquely designed frame that forms two C-shaped aluminum plates with a slight forward tilt. Viewed from the side, the main frame resembles the Greek alphabet Ω; hence the name Omega chassis. The main frame is connected to two steel subframes at each end. The front extension is for the fairing and dashboard and the rear is for the seat and body.

Yamaha GTS1000 Packed A 100 Hp FZR1000-Four in line derivative

Yamaha gave the GTS1000 a detuned version of the FZR1000 inline-four engine. This liquid-cooled, 20-valve, DOHC, 1002cc unit developed 100 hp and 78 lb-ft of torque. Power was transmitted to the rear wheel via a five-speed gearbox. Yamaha pitched it as both a tourer and a sportbike, which was a bit confusing.

The seating posture was a little aggressive with the handlebars set lower. This required a slightly forward-facing position. But the motor peaked at around 6,500 rpm, which didn’t fit the “sportsbike” label Yamaha wanted to give it. Nonetheless, the GTS1000 was a comfortable machine to ride and came with a ready-to-carry saddle for rider and passenger.

Related: 5 Fastest Japanese Motorcycles of the ’90s (& 5 Americans We’d Rather Buy)

This futuristic Yamaha flaunts cool design and features

The GTS1000 still looks futuristic by 2022 standards. Those tri-spoke alloy wheels look sick! The bike was low and long, which again was an indication of its touring side. The fixed windshield was enough to protect you against the gales. It was only offered in a metallic red hue for the United States.

Yamaha used a 5/17-inch rear wheel that was attached to an 11-inch brake rotor mated to a two-piston caliper. The rear part was quite normal compared to the front. It came with a conventional swingarm with a monoshock taken from the Yamaha FZR1000. The front brake situation was quite tricky as Yamaha could not deploy a dual-disc setup due to space constraints.

Instead, the GTS1000 has a big 12.6-inch vented disc mated to a 3.5/17-inch alloy wheel six-piston caliper. Those sold in North America came with standard ABS. Another interesting aspect was the position of its fuel tank. The GTS1000 packed a 5.3 gallon tank upright above the gearbox and towards the rear of the main “Omega” frame.

The Yamaha GTS1000 is an impressive modern classic

Yamaha took a bold step with the GTS1000 and created the world’s first production-ready motorcycle with a forkless front end. But this complex creation could not gain traction as Yamaha expected. It sold for only seven years and there are only a few on the roads right now. But there is a thriving community of GTS1000 owners who still share the same pride and passion for this quirk. And this Yamaha clearly looks like a modern classic.

Source: Yamaha