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Yamaha RZ 350 1983

24663

Make: 

  • Yamaha

Model: 

  • RZ 350

Year: 

  • 1983

Transmission type: 

Chain

Frame type: 

Tubular, double-cradle

Cooling system: 

Liquid

Category: 

Sport

Engine type: 

Twin, two-stroke

Front brakes: 

Double disc

Rear brakes: 

Single disc

Overall height: 

1,175 mm (46.3 inches)

Overall length: 

2,120 mm (83.5 inches)

Overall width: 

710 mm (28.0 inches)

Starter: 

Kick

Displacement: 

347.00 ccm (21.17 cubic inches)

Bore x stroke: 

64.0 x 54.0 mm (2.5 x 2.1 inches)

Fuel system: 

Carburettor. MIKUNI VM26SS/2

Gearbox: 

6-speed

Color options: 

Yellow/Black White/Red

Clutch: 

Wet, multiple-disc

Front suspension: 

Telescopic fork

Rear suspension: 

Swingarm

Front tyre dimensions: 

90/90-18 51H

Rear tyre dimensions: 

110/80-18 58H

Front brakes diameter: 

267 mm (10.5 inches)

Rear brakes diameter: 

267 mm (10.5 inches)

Wheelbase: 

1,385 mm (54.5 inches)

Fuel capacity: 

20.00 litres (5.28 gallons)

Reserve fuel capacity: 

2.00 litres (0.53 gallons)

Lubrication system: 

Separate lubrication (Yamaha Autolube)

Seat height: 

800 mm (31.5 inches) If adjustable, lowest setting.

Compression: 

6.0:1

Ignition: 

C.D.I.

Weight including oil, gas, etc: 

168.0 kg (370.4 pounds)

Front suspension travel: 

140 mm (5.5 inches)

Rear suspension travel: 

100 mm (3.9 inches)

Ground clearance: 

175 mm (6.9 inches)

Trail: 

96 mm (3.8 inches)

Exhaust system: 

dual exhaust

Rake (fork angle): 

26.0°
Oh yes! A water-cooled, two-stroke, parallel-twin motorcycle featherweight of 150kg knocking out over a 100mph! It’s little wonder that some of these pristine machines are fetching some handsome prices these days, although the team at Shepsters Towers is always a little melancholy at finding a perfect RZ350 – as wonderful as it is unearthing a gem, the two-stroke heart sinks a bit knowing the owner never used it to it’s full potential. Channelling our inner Trump: Sad.
 
The RZ350 had a twelve-year run between 1983 and 1995 and as expected there are a lot of variations over the years on the bikes with naked and racing versions, but it’s the early 84-85 models that will draw our unforgiving gaze. Despite the motorcycles being appended with RDs for most of the world, in North America and Australia they were called the RZs – so if you find an RD or RZ in an attic somewhere, don’t worry, you’re on the right path! Due to emissions regulations in the US the exhaust had a catalytic converter fitted, one of the first motorbikes to fit one, which the Australian versions didn’t require. The RZ350 was also the first Yamaha street bike to be sold in the US which had a perimeter frame which essentially means the frame is made from single piece of pressed metal rather than welded, making the bike stronger, more stable and with better handling.
 
The RZ was the last in the line of the famous RD350s, also known as the RD350LC (Liquid Cooled, to differentiate from their earlier 70’s air-cooled motorbikes) and the RD350 YPVS – the Yamaha Power Valve System! The RZ350 was the first RD series to receive the YPVS developed for the racing bikes, which by all aspects is a little bit special. By niftily altering the size and height of the exhaust port as the motorcycle went through the rpm range, the Yamaha engineers realised they could optimise the power and torque. It sounds simple enough, but Yamaha were the first company to produce consistent results with the technology across their race bikes and gave them a great advantage in the 70’s and 80’s. Incorporating it into a roadgoing motorcycle was simply pant-wetting. It has a prodigious racing following too, with its own RZ Cups racing league in Europe.
 
For the American market though Yamaha had an ace up its sleeve: a ten-year relationship with a homegrown dirt-bike rider cum 500cc world champion, Kenny Roberts. There were two 1984 models in the star-spangled-banner red, white and blue, and bumble-bee yellow and black colours, some with the Kenny Roberts Special signature on the upper cowl.
 
When hunting for these old sports bikes, everyone is constantly alarmed at the price-tag attached, but the RZ350 is particularly special. They were bare-knuckle brawlers that left other riders dawdling along in haze of daze and confusion. Well, a haze of daze and confusion along with a heavy smell of petrol wafting through their helmets. Although every motorcycle has its foibles the RZ350 were famed for discarding out as much petrol as they were burning, which presumably no one cared about as you weren’t buying these rockets for their miles per gallon ratio. About 20,000 were produced for the US market and they are, as you can imagine, incredibly rare to find in mint condition. One spotted in raresportsbikesforsale.com (the name tells you everything) fetched $7000 to $10,000 USD a few years ago, so don’t expect this classic to come cheap!
 

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