When Was the Motorcycle Monoshock Introduced?

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I have been thinking a lot about what my next motorcycle restoration project will be after I finish the 1972 Shovelhead.  One possibility that is getting significant consideration is a vintage dirt bike or enduro.

When picking projects, my rule of thumb is generally – older is better.  I am a sucker for a classic.

However, in this case, there is a huge dividing line in the history of these sorts of bikes – the development of the motorcycle rear monoshock. 

Motorcycle Rear Monoshock

The first dirt bikes were essentially street bikes modified for off-road travel – different tires, a little more travel to the suspension, etc. – but they still retained the dual rear shocks on either side of the rear wheel.

It wasn’t until the introduction of the rear monoshock that dirt bikes and enduro’s morphed into the highly capable, jumping, hill-climbing, wheelie-machines we see today. 

The monoshock essentially doubled the travel of a motorcycle suspension overnight.

When was the monoshock introduced?

I began asking the question – that way, I could focus my search on that year and slightly forward.

Based on my research, the very first motorcycle rear monoshock was introduced on a 250cc competition bike by Yamaha in 1971.

The monoshock became available to the public consumer in late 1974 with the introduction of the 1975 Yamaha YZ250.

motorcycle rear monoshock

For a full history on the YZ250, check out this awesome link.


3 thoughts on “When Was the Motorcycle Monoshock Introduced?”

  1. OK for the racing and comercial scopes but, as a concept, mono-shock absorbers goes back to the early of the 20 century.
    Flying Merkel, PV, NSU, BAT, etc, already had such idea and realized it.

    1. Christopher Pumo

      You are 100% correct and actually not the first person to correct me. A reader once sent me a scan of a blue print that clearly came from the early 1900s. I guess shame on me for not updating my post to say the “modern” or “mass-produced” monoshock. I became obsessed with the Yamaha DT-1 a while back and began reading more and more about the technology that went into it.

      Anyways, thanks for visiting the site, following me on Twitter, and being an active participant.

  2. Not entirely accurate,Vincent motorcycles such as the black shadow had a mono shock suspension system decades before Yamaha did

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