Screaming Yellow Zonker: 1984 Yamaha RZ 350

041816 Barn Finds - 1984 Yamaha RZ 350 - 2

Every time that I see an RZ 350 they move even further up towards the top of my master wish list. Thanks to Jim S. for sending this one in! This is a 1984 Yamaha RZ 350 Kenny Roberts Special and it’s found on eBay with a current bid of $4,000 and over five days left on the auction! It’s located in Palm Spring, California; where I should be located.

041816 Barn Finds - 1984 Yamaha RZ 350 - 1

If you’re as much of a two-stroke fan as I am, the Yamaha RZ 350 has to be one of your favorites, too. It seems like I rarely see the red version yet I want one of those just as much as I want the classic Kenny Roberts signature yellow model. This particular example was stored in an airplane hanger for the last decade and has recently been taken out of storage. If there’s a cooler place to store your vehicles than an aircraft hanger I can’t think of it. This bike has it all: it’s a Yamaha, it’s yellow, It’s a two-stroke, it’s hot-as-heck, and it lived in an aircraft hanger!

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The heart of the beast. Known in some countries as the RD350LC (LC = liquid cooled), the RZ 350, is a 39 hp, 115-mph power house. These things are screamers. The seller recommends having it gone over by a two-stroke specialist due to being stored for the last ten years. I would recommend having any vehicle that you buy on the internet looked over by a specialist, maybe even before you bid on them, but that’s just me. I’ve had out-of-state vehicles checked over by a vehicle inspection service prior to bidding on them and it’s been a good investment for me.

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10,761 original miles are on this beauty, less than I have on my current pair of shoes. The rusty key ring worries me a little, but I don’t see any rust on the bike and being in Palm Springs, it probably wouldn’t have any. Is that a 9,500 to 12,000 rpm redline? Nice. You may be on just the rear wheel if you get up into that territory; anything past 6,000 is where the hairs on the back of your neck will stand at attention. The RZ 350 was the first street bike by Yamaha sold in the US to have a perimeter frame which may have helped keep things straight and solid, if I know anything about physics.

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The RZ 350 for the US market was also the first bike to have a catalytic converter on it. It was sort of the last gasp, no pun intended, for two-stroke motorcycles; although about 20,000 RZ 350s were sold in the US. These are absolutely fantastic motorcycles, a true halo bike for any serious collector and serious rider. You bet, there are faster bikes and there are quicker bikes; but this one strikes the perfect balance between weight, handling, power, and innovation. Are you on board with this screaming yellow zonker or are you only into four-stroke bikes?

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Comments

  1. Chris A.

    Great bike that is a core 2 stroke collection must along with the Kawasaki triples. But their not in the same league with a classic MV Agusta 750S (or price range).

  2. John K

    One of these was sitting in a dealership down the street from my apartment while I was attending college. Sat there for all four years: first on display in the window, then singled out on a pedestal deeper within the building, and by my 4th year it was collecting dust in the back.

    I lusted after that RZ and a year after graduating I grabbed the cash I had been saving and drove 2 hours back to that dealership to pick it up. It was sold a few weeks before.

    I ended up with an FZR400, and later went to a Honda CBR600F2. The FZR was very good, and the F2 was great. But I still wish I had been able to jump on that RZ.

    What a lovely bike.

  3. San Jose Scott

    Everything about what you can buy in a bike today is better, but it’s not.

    These were such great bikes. Unfortunately I didn’t realize it at the time. Several bikes led up to an RZ. Went from an RZ to an FZR and on and on to the latest and greatest. Not a collector so these are memories.

  4. DirtyHarry

    This thing has a very high “smile to dollar ratio.” I rarely see any two strokes on the highway any longer. What fun!

  5. Jeff Staff

    “…where I should be located.” You and me both, my friend…you and me both.

  6. The Chucker

    This was my first-ever sport bike in 1985. Great times, albeit a bit quirky amongst my Ninja/Interceptor riding brethren-which suited me well. Alas, the required riding position no longer holds the appeal it once did. :-)

  7. Daren

    Im quite sure this is the motor that Yami used in their ever so popular dune champ, the Banshee…. Heck of a motor, sounded beautiful in the Banshee, would love to give this one a spin around the state!

    • Steven C

      It is

  8. Blindmarc

    My best friends uncle owned Taos cycle works in New Mexico back then. He sold Kevin one of these at his cost, and we had a lot of fun on the mountain roads for the year I was back home. My 700 nighthawk didn’t stand a chance.

  9. jim s

    now at $ 4350 with no reserve and more then 5 days to go. someone is going to get a nice bike. nice to see it still has the stock exhaust with cats. most of these have been hot rodded, run hard and not taken care of. i too bought mine new for less then retail as they did not sell well when new. i used mine as an every day rider which the bike worked well as. they have a 9500 rpm redline, but no need to run the motor that fast as you would already be past your HP and torque peaks.

    • Blindmarc

      I was going to say the same about the pipes……..

  10. Bob S

    Quite like this. Wonder if the RD400 would be better for daily driving? Mine was very comfortable.

  11. some random 2 stro guy

    Love my 84, gets ridden very very regularily. rz trumps the aircooleds in every way aside from simplicity and looks depending on preferences, and yes i own those as well. its like cheating, they are that good (for the era).

    can ride all day and still power wheelie, carve corners, whats not to like? fox shock, progressive springs and modern tires with toomeys make it just right

  12. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    yep sat on these when they were in the show room ….they were the tits….think about $2200in the year 1980 think these were 1979-81 production….had already bought my first house and just wasn’t ready to take on the water….

  13. sdwarf36

    “The RZ 350 was the first street bike by Yamaha sold in the US to have a perimeter frame which may have helped keep things straight and solid, if I know anything about physics.”
    Same year as the Yamaha FJ1100–which is far more of a preimeter frame-it actually was outside the engine.

  14. Starline58

    I raced one of these back in the day – and I’ve got the limp to prove it!! It was so long ago that we still had push start races. These Yamahas started so easily that I didn’t even have to get off the seat – I could just paddle it into life with my legs. We used to get a good jump on the four-strokes that way.

  15. You did What?

    Just a awesome machine, not a garage queen but a good looking weekend rider. Wish I looked that good 30 years on. But if I had that bike Id feel like I was time warped back to 1984, everything was nice & easy back then. Oh what a bike! I bet that lil bike stops traffic and makes middle aged men tear up.

  16. z1rider

    Like so many others (CBX) these weren’t great sellers new, but now they have taken off. Wish I’d bought one cheap then.

  17. Joe Howell

    Still have RZ and it is a blast. The RD350LC was a different bike and never sold in the US. I picked up the white RD350 LC in Canada. The LC was sold in 2013 to another collector in North Carolina. Horsepower for the RZ was 48 for the catted US model and 53 without the cats in the rest of the world IIRC.

  18. Blindmarc

    It’s at 5300 with 2 days left.

  19. gearheadinLA

    It sold for $6760.
    I wish I had saved mine…

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