1962 Yamaha MJ2 55cc Moped (step-through).
1966 to 1967
My sister Karen's first motorbike
In the photo at far right my sister Karen is seated on the 1963 Yamaha MJ2, registered
number DG-495, which we bought in 1966. The red and white marks on the power pole
indicate that this was the tram stop so she appears to be waiting for a tram! The
hedge behind her was in the front of our home at 166 Victoria Street Ballarat. The
second photo, taken in Scott Street Buninyong about a year later, shows Karen riding my
YDS3 Yamaha past her MJ2, indicating that the MJ2 had limited days ... it was shortly
afterwards traded in on a Honda Dream ... see below.
The day the gearbox broke: one Friday afternoon, while Karen was
riding home from work, the gearbox of the little MJ2 jammed tight. Fortunately it
was only 50 metres from the front gate so it was wheeled home and put in the shed.
Next morning, my brother Mick and I decided we ought to repair the gearbox. It was a
bitterly cold day with a strong wind blowing, raining on and off and a few patches of
sleet to make life miserable. Now out in the back yard at Victoria Street we had a
huge "motorbike shed" ... it was actually large enough to hangar a decent sized
aeroplane if it had been at an airport instead of in our back yard. But the
motorbike shed was too cold for fixing the little Yamaha, so when Mum wasn't
looking, we spread pages of The Ballarat Courier all over the dining table in our
enormous kitchen and Mick lifted the MJ2 up onto the table so that it was easy to work on
and so that we would stay nice and warm right beside the huge black slow-combustion
kitchen range with its roaring coke fire.
We had no manual for the MJ2 so we had to "play it by ear". What our ears
heard we were not actually quite prepared for. When I removed the side case off the
gearbox, we heard a loud "sproing" and the tinkling sound of a myriad of gearbox
internals bouncing off the walls and landing all around the kitchen floor instead of on
the paper-covered kitchen table.
While Mick and I were on hands and knees scrabbling around looking for gearbox bits all
over the kitchen floor, Mum came in and was somewhat horrified to see the Yamaha on the
middle of the dining table. It just wasn't quite her idea of a centrepiece!
As her arguments fell on deaf ears, she retired to the lounge room shaking her head.
When we had recovered all the parts we could find, we then had to ponder how we were going
to get this gearbox back together again - remember, there was no manual. Just
imagine for a moment a three-dimensional jig-saw puzzle for which there was no picture and
which we had never seen assembled before.
Well with a little trial and error we somehow managed to assemble the correct gears and
pinions on to the correct shafts and got all the bits back into the case again. Eventually
we had also figured out how to reassemble the shifting mechanism and the automatic clutch
and were ready to finally pull the cases together again. Trouble was, we had two
small parts left over and we had no idea where they belonged. Finally we shrugged
our shoulders and put the spare parts into the pannier bag in case the bike ever decided
it needed them.
After assembly was completed and new oil added to the gearbox, we started her up, still on
the kitchen table, and tested the gears. It selected all gears perfectly. We
lifted it down off the dining table and since it was far too cold outside for a test run,
Mick decided to ride it up the passageway in the middle of the house. Now just as he
was thinking of doing so, the Jehovah's Witnesses, all wrapped up in thick coats and
mittens, knocked at the front door. I went to answer it and discovered who they were
and gave Mick a nod. He understood perfectly and from the opposite end of the house
he absolutely gunned that little Yamaha straight towards the front door as I opened it
wide. Magnified by the confines of the passageway, the induction roar and the
exhaust note of the accelerating Yamaha combined to howl like a tortured banshee.
Just to add to this cacophony, Mick pressed and held down the horn button as well.
Two startled JW's leapt backwards as Mick was just changing into third gear and the Yamaha
came hurtling out through the front door like a bullet exploding from the barrel of a
At the front step the Yamaha became airborne and completely cleared the front verandah and
the steps down to the path landing neatly somewhere out in the middle of the front lawn
which was conveniently covered in a good mixture of hail and sleet. An experienced
scrambles racer as well as a stunt rider, Mick dropped the flying Yamaha over into a power
slide that would make any speedway rider green with envy. After doing a few
doughnuts, he circled the front yard, scrambled up the ramp at the end of the verandah and
came powering along the verandah sending the JW's stepping backwards again out into the
sleet. Mick jumped the Yamaha off the other end of the verandah and took it around
to the back yard and parked it in the motorbike shed.
Meanwhile, during Mick's superb performance, my Dad, never one to miss a good show, had
come to the door to see what was happening.
With the wildly screaming Yamaha and its huge and lanky six foot plus rider safely out of
harm's way around in the back shed, the two Jehovah's Witnesses gingerly stepped back onto
the verandah, so Dad turned in towards the passage looking towards the other end of the
house and yells out in a loud voice, "Hey boys! These crazy jokers haven't
taken the hint and left yet. You'd better start up the Harleys!"
A stentorian voice from the back of the house, Mick had just come in the back door and
heard Dad's shout, thundered back, "I'll just grab the knuckle dusters first, Dad,
and we'll all be right there with you!"
We didn't have any Harleys inside of course, nor were there any knuckle dusters in our
house, but our unwelcome visitors were not to know that. At that point the two guys
hurried off out into the driving sleet and we never saw them again.
But this still isn't the end of the story. You remember those two gearbox parts that
were left over? Well, the next day when Mum was sweeping the kitchen, she found two
more parts of the Yamaha gearbox under the kitchen cupboard, so we put them into the left
pannier along with the other left-over parts.
And over the next year or so that gearbox never missed a beat and we still have no idea of
why it was jammed or of where those four spare parts should have been. So when we
were trading it in down at Pratt and Osborne Motors we told them about the parts in the
pannier and they just looked at them and shrugged their shoulders. Then we told them
all about the day the parts got to be in the pannier instead of in the gearbox and the
whole staff was just shrieking with laughter.
Motorbikes really are a lot of fun!
My sister thinks the incident with the Jehovah's witnesses was on a different day to the
day we fixed the MJ2 gearbox and that I have mixed two stories rogether. If so, it's
a good read anyway!
Before leaving the MJ2, I simply must relate one hilarious incident that occurred in
Victoria Street, Ballarat. I was riding the Yamaha MJ2 homeward in drizzling rain
when a little old lady in a black coat carrying an umbrella started crossing the road. I
hit the horn and the brakes and instead of getting out of the way she started running
along the road right in front of my front wheel the same way as I was going. I came to a
full stop about a foot away from her, apologised for frightening her and tried to drive
Well, she furled her umbrella and proceeded to chase me belting me over the top of my
helmet over and over again and shouting all sorts of obscenities at me. I was enjoying the
laugh so much that I didn't accelerate; just pottered along between the tram lines in
first gear as she continued smashing her umbrella over the helmet. An oncoming tram
approached. I saw in the rear vision mirror that there would be no traffic to worry about
for a minute or two. I kept riding slowly towards the tram with my assailant
trotting along at my right side, puffing a little, but keeping up remarkably well for a
lady of her age. At the last instant, the tram driver now clanging his bell incessantly, I
did a 90º turn to the left off the tramline and accelerated away over to the side of the
road. I then fell off the bike from laughing after a quick look over my shoulder showed me
the dear old duck now belting the front of the tram with her brolly while the driver
continually rang his bell to try to get her off the tracks.
My experience with that old bird was better than any of the feathered variety!
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