Teaching your kid how to trail ride has never been easier than on the Yamaha PW50 as this bike has the know-how to put in value qualities you didn’t even knew junior had. Designed for short kids situated at the bottom of the learning graphic, it is the most inviting offerings out there.

  • 2009 Yamaha PW50
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    air-cooled 2-stroke; reed-valve inducted
  • Transmission:
    Wet centrifugal automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    2.0kW (2.7 HP) @ 5500 rpm
  • Torque @ RPM:
    0.39kg-m (2.8 ft-lb)@ 4,500 rpm
  • Energy:
    VM12 Carburetor
  • Displacement:
    49 L
  • Top Speed:
    30 mph
  • Price:


What makes it that great is the fact that it is designed around the small rider’s needs. So it has a low seat height (19.1 inches), automatic transmission and adjustable throttle control. It needs it indeed as the small 50cc two-stroke engine features reed-valve inducted, and offers enough pant to surprise.

Far from being a toy, but not the closest thing to a real dirt bike, the PW50 doesn’t miss its target with not a single inch and the proof is that it keeps on going as a 2009 model year after that many years of production.


2009 Yamaha PW50
- image 259585
1981 Yamaha PW50

First introduced in 1981, the Yamaha PW marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship between young riders and the trails. It was all the result of a wonderful idea that gave children the joy of riding and carried them towards the larger bikes in the class. Have a 49cc two-stroke engine fitted on a small, light and versatile motorcycle that offers all the benefits of trail riding on a smaller scale and you’re qualified to long-live on the market. And that is exactly what happened.

A story of decades, not just a few years, the PW would have first featured Yellow and Black color scheme. This was to be changed in the bike’s relatively recent history and have it pained Blue and White, just how suits a Yamaha best.

Beloved both for its features and easy maintenance, the early PW isn’t that much different of what you can actually buy today, something that tells us that Yamaha thought well ahead of its time when designing it.


Having been the first manufacturer to offer such an impressive and yet small-sized motorcycle, Yamaha enjoyed all the possible benefits, including no direct competition. Other manufacturers simply preferred to go for a little bit larger bikes, the ones which can be ridded long after the throttle limiter was removed. A modern day example of such a bike is the Honda CRF50F, but yet again, Yamaha has another bike prepared for that, the TT-R50. You can call the Yamaha PW50 unique and make no mistakes there.


2009 Yamaha PW50
- image 259549
2009 Yamaha PW50

Even though the bike didn’t feature a radical revision all through its existence, the looks have been changed, but not the shape. They got it all right from the start and a single color chance was enough to revive it in the public’s eyes. It got it from those championship-winning machines so you really couldn’t ask for more. Oh, you actually could as there were also new decals involved, and which have changed concomitant with the evolution of Yamaha racing dirt bikes.

But still, the bike isn’t the nicest thing on two wheels as they still had to keep weight down (not too much plastic) and just look good enough to sell. All the mechanics are black painted so the PW creates a powerful contrast between the white, three-spoked rims, and white “number plates”.

Test Ride

2009 Yamaha PW50
- image 285060
2009 Yamaha PW50

Due to obvious reasons, riding Yamaha’s PW50 by adults is against all nature’s rules so we headed to the motorcycle training course to watch the little fellows enjoy their Yamahas and get a share of their impressions.

From where we were sitting, the Yamaha PW50 looked like the adequate beginner motorcycle for the average sized 4-year-old kid. The 19.1 inches seat allows them to touch the ground with the greatest ease while the handlebars, complete with the front and rear brake levers, are at quick reach.

The two stroke engine doesn’t require the owner to pre-mix the fuel, but only to fill the oil reservoir once the tank is filled up and the mixture will be done by the bike. It is recommended to get the engine up to running temperature before starting to ride, but due to the fact that the PW has an automatic transmission parents have to lift the bike on the stand so that the rear wheel could spin freely as the engine worms up.

Thanks to the throttle limiter which consists in a screw, parents adjust the throttle opening and junior will be allowed to exploit more and more of the engine’s capabilities as he gains experience. Unlike bigger two-stroke engines, this one doesn’t require a widely opened throttle as there is enough torque from the bottom of the rev range. Kids gain speed smoothly and there is no loud exhaust noise to intimidate them. Also, with the engine and exhaust being positioned with safety in mind, children can concentrate on riding rather than preventing from burning themselves.

Kids love the Pee Wee, as they like to call it. The find it great fun, very maneuverable and they are actually aware of the fact that the throttle limiter is one of the most important features of the bike even though most of them considered they were ready for the next level. The general answer to the question “What do you like most about your bike?” was “The wheels”. Riding on a pair of mag 2.50x10-inch wheels, the PW is indeed awesome looking and, backed up by the 2.4 inches of travel front and 2.0 inches of travel rear suspension, they actually deal with small bumps easily.

Parents consider it the best solution for junior trail riding initiation as they are more preoccupied of safety rather than performance. And the fact that they can even mount helping wheels and have no worries about small crashes is the best for their piece of mind. Should I even mention how they agreed with the throttle limiter? I thought so!


For a bike that has got no competition, I must say that the Yamaha PW50 is one cheap piece of machinery. It simply carries you all through a very important evolution period and it does it over and over again for only $1,199. Maintenance is also cheap and reliability is a first at Yamaha so all your kids will be riding it.


The 2009 Yamaha PW50 stands as the easiest thing to buy and ride, but not the easiest to leave as it proves offering a decent bang even after experience is being gained. There’s no wonder it sold successfully for 27 years and it still does. And, most importantly, it didn’t change too much, giving Yamaha engineers of the time a well deserved A.



Engine and Transmission


Displacement: 49cc
Type: air-cooled 2-stroke; reed-valve inducted
Bore x Stroke: 40.0mm x 39.2mm
Compression Ratio: 6.0:1
Carburetion: VM12
Ignition: CDI
Transmission: Wet centrifugal automatic
Final Drive: Shaft


Chassis and Dimensions


Suspension/Front: Telescopic fork; 2.4-in travel
Suspension/Rear: Unit swingarm; 2.0-in travel
Brakes/Front: Drum 
Brakes/Rear: Drum
Tires/Front: 2.50-10-4PR
Tires/Rear: 2.50-10-4PR
Length: 49.0 in
Width: 22.6 in
Height: 28.1 in
Seat Height: 19.1 in
Wheelbase: 33.7 in
Ground Clearance: 4.1 in
Fuel Capacity: .53 gal
Wet Weight: 85 lb




Key Features:


  • Fully automatic transmission means no shifting required; the PW50 is a total twist-and-go package.

  • Torque-tuned, spunky little 49cc two-stroke is built to thrill without intimidating beginners.

  • A seat only 19.1 inches high makes this one the logical choice for the littlest rider in the group.

  • An adjustable throttle stop screw lets the adult in charge gradually increase speed as skills improve.

  • Shaft final drive makes chain maintenance a thing of the past.



  • 49cc air-cooled case-reed–inducted two-stroke single is tuned to deliver predictable power that gently eases the new rider up the off-road learning curve.

  • Single-speed automatic transmission means the rider simply twists the throttle and goes, allowing him/her to concentrate on the ride ahead.

  • Class-exclusive shaft drive system is virtually maintenance-free and comes fully enclosed for added durability.

  • Exclusive autolube oil injection system eliminates the need for fuel/oil premixing.



  • 19.1-inch seat height allows most kids to put both feet down for handling-enhancing and added confidence.

  • 22mm telescopic front fork with 2.4 inches of travel smoothes out the bumps for responsive handling.

  • Mag-style wheels mean there’s no need to tighten or replace spokes.

  • Dual rear shocks with 2.0 inches of travel smooth the trail to deliver confidence-inspiring ride quality.

  • Front and rear drum brakes provide smooth, predictable stopping power.

  • 10-inch front and rear knobby tires provide excellent traction and superior wear.

  • Quiet exhaust pipe, complete with removable baffle, is routed away from the rider.

  • Rear fender, seat and side panel unit removes quickly for ease of maintenance.

    Additional Features:


  • A thick seat cushions the trail’s blows and allows maximum rider movement.

  • Team Yamaha-inspired colors, graphics and front and side number plates create styling just like the bigger off-roaders.

  • Large, folding footpegs with rubber grips provide excellent footing.

  • Standard centerstand for added convenience.

  • An adjustable throttle stop screw lets the adult in charge gradually increase speed as skills improve.
  • What do you think?
    Show Comments


      (359) posted on 09.29.2010

    I also think that Yamaha has the same design and concept. Pretty boring.

      (798) posted on 08.10.2010

    I think so, same with the YZ125.

      (406) posted on 07.27.2010

    "Yamaha PW50 unique and make no mistakes there" Aren’t they crazy to put much pressure on these kind of small bike?

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