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Yamaha Motorcycle Alert

Take the Lemon TestDo you (or did you) own any of these model motorcycles:

  • 2001 Yamaha Road Star, Midnight Star, Road Star Silverado models (model numbers: XV16, 16AN, 16ASN, 16 ATN)
  • 2002 Yamaha Road Star, Limited Edition, Midnight Star, Star Warrior, Silverado (model numbers: XV16, 16AP, 16APC, 16ASP, 16ASPC, 16ATP, 16ATPC, XV17 P, 17PC, 17PCP, 17PCPC, 17PCR, 17PCRC)
  • 2003 Yamaha Road Star, Midnight Star, Limited Edition, Warrior and Silverado (model numbers: XV16, 16AR, 16ARC, 16ALER, 16ALERC, 16ASR, 16ASRC, 16ATR, 16ATRC, XV17PCP, 17PCPC, 17PCR, 17PCRC)

Burdge Law Office is investigating a potential class action against Yamaha on behalf of motorcycle owners, involving a deadly transmission defect.

Filings by Yamaha with the Federal government’s Safety Recall "department" indicate that between 29,000 and 53,000 Yamaha motorcycles manufactured with defective transmission parts that can cause the transmission and rear wheel to lock up while in motion, which can throw the driver out of control, possibly causing severe injury or even death.

Yamaha has reported to the Federal government that only about 6,000 or so of these motorcycles were repaired.

Repairs are apparently still taking place but many owners have yet to find out if the "repair" will really take care of the problem. Many other owners now question (with good reason) what their motorcycle will be worth when they try to resell it.

Other defects may also exist in these and other model motorcycles.

If you’ve experienced these or similar problems and you are interested in helping us in our investigation, please call 1-888-331-6422 or contact us.


Below is a list of files you can download to find out more details on the Yamaha "locking transmission" defect:


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the number of motorcycles affected ?

The discrepancy in the numbers comes from the numbers which Yamaha is, itself, reporting to be affected. In one place in their documents the number is a total of 29,139 and in another place they break down the numbers and when you add them up the total is 52,193. In another document, Yamaha says the total is 26,829. Part of the problem with the counting process is that the quarterly "repaired reports" which Yamaha has to file with the federal government (NTHSA), are required to be made one for each recall. The more recall numbers involved, the more reports. Here, Yamaha has itemized the defect as "Recalls M2003-011, M2004-001, and M2004-002" (that is a direct quote from a Yamaha "Tech Exchange" bulletin dated 030304 and sent to its dealers). I guess it all depends on how you count, but one thing is for sure: one is too many, 29k is too many, and 52k is clearly too many.

How many motorcycles have been repaired under this recall?

We can only go by what Yamaha itself reports the repair numbers to be. On April 8, 2004 Yamaha filed its quarterly "repaired reports" for one recall (signed by Russell D. Jura, Sr VP) and said that the number of bikes involved in that one recall was 26,829 and only 6,073 had been fixed. Yamaha only has to report numbers once each quarter and the most recent numbers have not yet been posted by NTHSA on its website as of July 14, 2004.

Has there ever been an injury?

Two drivers reported to have survived their crashes and complained about the sudden rear wheel lockup (their complaints are on file at NTHSA and were sent to Yamaha), but no one knows how many drivers did not survive and the crash was blamed on "operator error" or something else. In fact, in a letter sent to Yamaha on August 20, 2003, NTHSA notified Yamaha that it had received complaints from Yamaha motorcycle owners about "sudden, unforeseen, and unintended rear wheel lockup due to transmission failure while the motor cycles were being ridden" and that two of those alleged "a crash with injury". NTHSA sent Yamaha copies of all the complaints at that time. However, years before that, this problem was being talked about by Yamaha owners and denied by Yamaha dealers.

Here's one owner's complaint in May 2001: "PURCHASED YAMAHA MIDNIGHT ROADSTAR, LEARNED THROUGH INTERNET SITES OF TRANSMISSION PROBLEMS (LOCK UPS RESULTING IN REAR TIRE LOCK UPS AND CRASHING - PEOPLE BEING INJURED ETC.) SPOKE WITH YAMAHA DEALERS WHO "KNEW OF NO SUCH PROBLEM" - RESULTING IN FEAR OF RIDING SAID VEHICLE (WHICH WE HAD HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS INVOLVED IN UPGRADES AND ACCESSORIES) RESULTING IN TRADING IN ON NEW VICTORY MOTORCYCLE TO ALIEVE THE FEAR (RESULTING IN LOSS OF HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS). RIDING TWO UP AND WITH OUR KNOWLEDGE UNABLE TO GET ANY RECOGNITION FROM DEALERS OF PROBLEMS WE SADLY GAVE IN AND TRADED OFF AT MAXEYS YAMAHA DEALER IN OKLAHOMA CITY (ALSO CLAIMING NO KNOWLEDGE OF PROBLEM. WE FELT VERY INSECURE RIDING THIS VEHICLE VIN # WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF VEHICLES REPORTING PROBLEMS ON INTERNET CHAT TYPE SITES (ONE IN PARTICULAR BEING YAMAHA STAR TOURING AND RIDING ORGANIZATION). BASICALLY WE LOST LOTS OF MONEY AND DOWN TIME(NO RIDING) (NO FUN) AGONIZING FEAR WHEN ON THE BIKE. RIDING AT LOW SPEEDS IN CASE OF MALFUNCTION OCCURRENCE. IT WAS QUITE A BEAUTIFUL BIKE WITH ALL THAT HAD BEEN DONE TO IT.*AK" (Nhtsa Office of Defect Investigations document ID # : 10037500, dated May 9, 2001).

Is this a voluntary recall?

That depends on your point of view. When the Federal government's Safety Recall "department" (at NTHSA) wants a manufacturer to recall a defective product, it notifies the manufacturer of it. If the manufacturer "voluntarily" does the recall, then the federal government does not issue the recall. If the manufacturer refuses, then the federal government can take steps to force the manufacturer to issue the recall. In this case, Yamaha admitted to the federal government that Yamaha U.S. had reported field failures (involving bikes built as early as December 2000) to Yamaha Japan. If a manufacturer issues its own recall, consumers easily get the impression that the recall was issued purely out of concern for public safety. The manufacturer salvages some good publicity and avoids the bad publicity of the federal government forcing it to issue a recall. If you aren't sure how the recall process works, check out the NTHSA Safety Recall "Compendium" at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/ and see for yourself.

Dependability and Safety.

No matter how long you've been riding a motorcycle, we all want safety and dependability. After all, that's part of what you pay for when you spend thousands of dollars on a motorcycle, new or not. The last thing anyone wants when they are riding down the highway is for the rear wheel to lock up and toss you off your bike. The problem here is that NHTSA documents show reports of this defect existed for years before the recalls started (voluntary or not) and you have to wonder ... if a rider reports the rear wheel locking up for no reason at all, shouldn't the manufacturer get right on the problem and find out what is going on and why and get the word out to get all of them fixed immediately? Of course they should and it shouldn't take two or three years to get it done. No one buys a new motorcycle so they can park it in the garage and watch the dust build up on it.


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