- Written by webmin
Schenectady, New York, was once the “The City that Lights and Hauls the World,” – an industrial powerhouse and home to General Electric’s headquarters as well as the American Locomotive Company.
These days, the Electric City has fewer bright spots; GE, largely thought to be on its way out of town completely during the Neutron Jack Welch era, is again hiring and hosting heads of state. Moreover, future movers and shakers can be found attending classes at Union College, which is consistently ranked among the nation’s best Liberal Arts schools.
A small footnote in the city’s proud manufacturing history is the Yankee Motor Company – maker of a rugged dual-purpose motorcycle that marked its first year of production 40 years ago.
The short-lived Yankee Z was powered by a two-stroke vertical twin displacing 488cc, based on two OSSA 244cc singles. The Yankee used an unusual (for the time) six-speed transmission, and also had a rear disc brake, which was not only odd but of questionable value, given that the bike had a front drum.
The Yankee’s chassis was designed by Grand National Champion and Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee Dick Mann. The frame was made of 4130 chrome-moly steel with a hefty 2-1/4-inch backbone, and a 1-1/2-inch engine cradle. Not surprisingly, given Mann’s reputation, the Yankee was widely praised in its day for its handling, though it wasn’t lightweight at 335 pounds.
Yankee was the brainchild of John Taylor, an ISDT bronze medalist and Ossa importer who was looking to build a high-quality dual-purpose bike that could compete with the European machinery of the day.
Today, Yankees are a sought-after collectible and are difficult to find intact, as less than 800 were made.
There’s a good profile of the Yankee Z in the November 2007 issue of Hemmings Motor News, and some decent background information in this reprint of a 1977 Motorcyclist article.
You also can find an interesting retrospective about the Yankee, with photos here and read a vintage Popular Science review of the Yankee Z on Google books. There’s also some interesting first-hand info and pictures at yankeetwin.com.