Basement for 31 Years: 1973 Yamaha RD350

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Barn Finds reader Jim S. spotted a long-stored sport bike from the 1970s here on eBay in the form of a classic 1973 Yamaha RD350. It’s good timing on his part, since we recently featured another relic of the early sport bike era in the form of a highly original Kawasaki H1 Mach III. While many consider the current landscape to be the golden era of speed, these early two-wheeled rockets set the bar high when introduced. 

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According to the seller, he purchased this RD350 from the original owner, who only drove it a tad over 6,000 miles. After acquiring it, the bike was stored securely in the seller’s basement for the next 31 years! He didn’t even drive it, which does make you curious as to why he bought in the in the first place. Regardless, it remains in very presentable condition today and looks road-ready.

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Like the Kawasaki bike, the Yamaha was born out of success in racing and a consumer demand for faster bikes. The RD350 had about 40 b.h.p. and could almost crack 100 m.p.h. While the Mach III was undoubtedly more raw and powerful, the RD350 still held its own against bikes like the Honda CB400F back in the day. Frankly, after binging on some YouTube videos of classic motorcycles, I’d take any of them.

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As near as I can tell, this RD350 presents like a preserved original bike with nothing much more to do other than enjoy it. That’s because the seller has already performed some of the maintenance necessary to put the bike reliably back on the road, including cleaning the carbs and setting the float level; replacing the brake master cylinder and brake fluid; installing new spark plugs and setting the points. With 12 bids totaling just over $2,000, this seems like a solid buy for a fun project.

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Comments

  1. mark

    Wow, great example of a 2 stroke screamer. Lots of the Kawasaki triples (3 cylinder 2 strokes) were lost 2 the drag strip. These Yamaha’s were not as fast as they were smaller and were considered a street-
    able pocket rocket. Great find.

  2. john montgomery

    I had one of these in high school…I weighed about a buck and a quarter, and this thing would fly! As I recall, I paid $895.00 for it brand new. That was a lot of grass cutting money back then! Wonderful memories.

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  3. sparkster

    Mine was a French Blue 1977 Yamaha RD 400 bought in new in Sept 1976 for $1284 I put almost 49,000 miles on it before life happened. Still have in my shed. Ran when I stopped riding.

    • jim s

      is it time to get your bike out of the shed and get it running again. my last was the RZ350 which did not sell well when new but bring a lot of money now. i wish had kept mine.

  4. geomechs

    I remember the fore-runner of this one back in ’67. They were quite impressive until someone showed up with a Suzuki 500/Five, then someone else brought the Kawasaki 500 Mach III to town. By that time I was astride either my Norton Ranger or my H-D 45 trike so I didn’t pay a lot of attention to them. Although I respected others’ choices, I liked what I rode…

  5. angliagt

    Two words – Torque Induction.

    • brakesevo

      Well, as I’m sure you’ve heard many times before – torque is cheap!

  6. Rich Van Teeffelen

    I had one the same color and everything when I was in highschool around 1980. Fun, fast, and pretty durable. I got after my mom wheelied it learning to ride the motorcycle. A front fork bent back to straight and all good. Miss that bike.

  7. Steve K.

    RD350’s are great bikes especially road racing one. I campaigned one of these in AFM in the mid 70’s. This one brings back memories. Sweet bike!!!

    • jim s

      how did you do racing them, what tracks, and any photos? thanks.

  8. Jubjub

    My brother had a beautiful, orange one back in the 80s. It was peppy but he was always breaking down and calling for a ride or a truck. I think he sold it for more than he paid not long after.

  9. John H. in CT

    To me, the first monster bike was the ’74 Kawasaki 900 Z1. Suzuki had some high revving 2 bangers and Honda had come out with the 750 4 cyl. This bike was a real widow maker it had so much power.

    I remember going to a biker bar in Poughkeepsie NY with my respectable 450 twin and parked it next to a new 900 Z1. I began talking with this girl who was maybe five feet tall and 100 lbs soaking wet. She asked me what bike I had, and I asked her the same question. She owned that 900 outside! I still til this day wonder how at her size she ever handled that thing.

  10. stillrunners

    My dad wouldn’t approve of such a “big bike” in 1972/73 as I hung around the Yamaha dealer at about 16 yrs old and wanted to move up from the AT1 I had at the time….have a few now and moved two over to the new place over the weekend still have some 400’s to go. I remember those KR special’s in the show room – looked and looked just couldn’t go with the water cool and price – think it was a little over $2000 in 1981….missed out on a 400 Daytona Special….love em…..

  11. bob

    Great bikes. Test drove one before buying my new RD-400 when they came out. They handle great and want to be flogged. Durable too. Can’t go wrong buying one of these.

  12. Joe Howell

    After having a 74 RD350 back in the day I rekindled my love affair with Yammie two stokes about 10 years ago. The white one is a 1981 RD350LC, never imported into the USA. I went to Canada to get it after purchasing on EBAY. Not in the picture was a red RD400, just wanted the 350’s in the picture. The RZ is the only one I kept.

  13. Harvey

    I had the smaller brother to this, a 1969 180 Yammie 2 cyl 2stroke. The only way to get power out of it to haul the full size chassis was to remove the baffles from the exhaust pipes. Then you had a screamer that could be heard several miles away. good thing we lived 10 miles from town. That was in 1977 and parts were hard to get even then. It had a shift fork gone goofy and sometimes you missed a shift……that was a lot of noise. All my buddies wanted a test drive on it , and then went back to their dirtbikes. Not sure what happened to it, I think my dad sold it to the first comer after I left home. Never missed it.

  14. Howard A

    I had a friend with one of these. I remember, it smoked like a “Vegas call-girl”. I don’t remember it being particularly fast, but then again, his brother had the Kawasaki 500. Not a bad bike, but again, kind of a “stepping stone” bike ( thanks geomechs) on their way to bigger bikes. Sitting so long, it may need work ( crank seals?) and if the electrics give out, I hope you can find replacement stuff, as I heard Asian bike dealers were told to scrap a lot of older stuff, but what a cool find.

  15. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    My first bike was a ’75 DT400 Enduro. Sold it and moved onto a 750 Triple. I’d take either bike again.

  16. Andy Frobig

    I had a ’72 R5, the pre-RD. It had no reed valves, a 5 speed instead of 6, and a drum brake instead of disc up front, but the frame and the rest of the engine were the same as the RD. The year my bike was built, Yamaha 350s came 1-2-3 at Daytona, the first and only time 350s would win the race. Mine didn’t smoke after it was warmed up. It went like crazy for a 350. I can only imagine how the 3-4 extra HP in the RD would feel. It also handled great, which wasn’t normal for Japanese bikes back then, but it was probably because it wasn’t that powerful. I sold it to my neighbor and didn’t buy it back when he offered a couple years later, and I’m still kicking myself. I bought the bike for $200 in 1994 or ’95; they’re getting up around 10X that now. More for a “real” RD.

  17. Randy Robinson

    I bought this about 10 years ago for $500. Rode it for 5 years basically stock except for clubman bars, rearsets and expansion chambers. I picked up the fairing weeks after buying the bike and finally decided to transform the bike to what it is today 5 years ago.

  18. Kavi

    I still have an RD 350 & ride it in the streets of Mumbai, India. It’s high speed stability is awesome.

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