Blue Beauty: 1977 Yamaha RD400

040316 Barn Finds- 1977 Yamaha RD400 - 1

This gorgeous 1977 Yamaha RD400 is on eBay with an unmet Starting Bid of $3,500 and no Buy It Now price. It’s located in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Barn Finds writer Jeff showed us a nice 1973 Yamaha RD350 about a week ago that sold for $3,150; another good price for a vintage Japanese bike.

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The RD400 was a replacement for Yamaha’s RD350 and they were available from 1976 to 1980. I’ve always been a Yamaha guy, owning two presently; one younger than this by a year (XS750E) and one a decade older (Twin Jet 100). This blue bomber also has a “D” designation, just for added confusion: it’s an RD400D.

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The seller says that this bike has “excellent condition Metzler tires, good chain and sprockets, and includes toolkit and 2 keys.” They also mention that this one has an “OEM “replica” seat cover and grips installed.” I was wondering why the seat looked a little wrinkly on the sides. That could be fixed by your local motorcycle upholstery shop. The RD400 is the first bike by a major motorcycle maker to have cast wheels, something that we take for granted today.

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The RD-series was powered by Yamaha’s famous and infamous two-stroke, two-cylinder engine. My Twin Jet 100 is orange in color but blue in smoke. I don’t remember these RDs being big blue smokers even though they’re two-stroke bikes. The RD400 has 42 hp, enough to shoot it up to 106 mph; that’s probably fast enough for me being on two wheels. Here’s a similar bike on YouTube. Ahhh.. that sweet two-stroke sound!

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The seller mentions that the “speedometer broke” and that this one is a replacement. The previous owner told him that the bike had about 12,000 miles on it but there’s no way to verify that. You may be able to find quite a few OEM parts for this bike, but finding a speedometer will take a little more searching. This bike supposedly starts on the first or second kick and it sounds like a perfect spring project. How about this little Florida charmer? Is anyone out there a Yamaha fan?


  1. Howard A Member

    Great example of this bike, but to me, it’s half a bike. Never really cared for mid cc road bikes. I’d never buy anything less than a 750. They really didn’t go down the road well, not like a big bike. I suppose just in the city, would be ok, but when you do have to take it on the highway, it’s a long, buzzing ride. With a redline of 8500, this thing is probably turning 5 grand (or more) on the highway. I’d think it’s a pretty rare find, as most, when the engines stuck, were pushed in a corner ( because nobody wanted it) and forgotten. Cool find, if you like this style bike.

    • RobK

      In 2 stroke terms a 400 is a fairly big bike. I would understand your comments in comparing to a 750 4 stroke, but if you like old 2 strokes, then for many these early air-cooled RD’s are where it’s at. Even the later LC models are fetching big money now. You are right about them blowing up and getting put away in a corner though. that happened a lot.

      Like 1
      • Alan (Michigan )

        In my RD200’s case, I suspect that it was parked with less than 1200 miles because of a disappointing performance level. That was due to a manufacturing error. A large o-ring had been pinched/cut when the case halves were assembled. That had resulted in compression and fuel mix being lost out of the bottom. Made a mess, was down on power. Flat out, it would only do 70.
        The period magazine tests indicated a top of 84.

      • Greg A Yancey

        I agree…if you want to go Hwy touring, buy yourself a bigger machine….but if you enjoy some canyon carving and coastal cruising ‘old skool’, this bike is a rider’s dream come true.

  2. Alan (Michigan)

    Either I have been playing Rip Van Winkle regarding the pricing/values for vintage Yamaha bikes, or the seller here is asking a big concession from potential bidders.
    The pointed-to 350 was in a much more original state, and it has been relisted, with bidding at $2750 and 3 days remaining. As far as I am concerned, that 350 is more desirable.

    I own a ’75 RD200 with about 2000 miles, and by comparison the subject 400 is in a condition I would refer to as “clean rider”. EG, far from a display or restored status. This bike would get action if bidding were to be started at $2000, I think, but at 3.5K, I’ll be surprised by any other than shill bids.

    If someone wants to think in terms of true performance and collectibility, I’d suggest replacing the “RD” with “RZ” and going for the 350. Another leap is taken by going to the RZ500, which was a liquid-cooled V-4. One of those just went on eBay for North of $14K. Worth every penny.

    • jim s

      i wish i had kept my RZ350 and bought a RZ500 plus maybe a RD250LC.

      • Alan (Michigan )

        If we knew then….. etc.

        When I had my ’78 Suzuki GS750, one of the riders I crossed paths with had one of the yellow and black KR editions. He mentioned selling it, but I had a bike already that was still nearly new.

        In the mid 80’s I was shown another one in the back room of a small retail shop in an Ohio town, but the owner said it was “not for sale”. (Translation: he wanted twice top dollar for it.)
        That one had a thorny problem. The battery had split, and leaked acid onto the frame. It appeared to be damaged to a significant degree. When I mentioned that a complete disassembly, followed by a skilled repair and reassembly would be required, the conversation ended. My bad; I had burst the inflated value balloon.

  3. sparkster

    Don’t knock it until you’ve ridden or owned one for 40,000+ miles like have. Great bikes and their value will keep going up. Powerband became a lot smoother and wider in the RD400’s. I rode a friends RD 350 back in the mid 70’s. as well as friends Kawasaki H2 750. Still love mine the best and still own it $ 1284 out the door new

  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    By the time these came out the tendency toward the four-strokes was picking up steam. I remember the local dealer being stuck with a bunch of these and having to blow them out at cost. You could buy a 500 four-stroke for not much more and you could ride the 500 all day without feeling like you had to get off and scratch yourself from head to toe. I might add, though, that the 500 was notorious for speed-wobbles.

    Like 1
  5. sparkster

    I rode a friends Honda 500 4 cylinder once and wondered when the power band was going to start coming on. You know the ” power band” where the front wheel pulls itself off the ground in the first three gears. The Honda 900 F that’s a whole different story.

  6. Blindmarc

    I owned and raced many of these in the mid eighties. The good points on this one is its stock, the bad points is modifying it to your taste and needs. Love the power band, and handling, but my knees are to old for rear set pegs and small tight bikes…..

    • jim s

      what tracks did you race at, what clubs did you race with, and how did you do? thanks

    • Blindmarc

      Ontario, and the old el toro air field were two, and there was a place out by sun city in southern cal. I was a privateer so no club affiliation was needed. You paid a price, signed a medical waiver, and raced. My Daytona special was close to 500 CC’s Safety wired everything. Including clubman bars. My friends father who worked for Cushman help me redo the rear sets. I wrecked it after putting on metsler lazers with no steering stabilizer, and opening it up going to work in 1987 on the 91 freeway that was concrete with the “rain grooves”. It ended up in the trees, and me with all the tendons in my right hand cut. I rebuilt it after that because it hit a tree so hard it broke the aluminum triple trees. When I was almost killed in 1988 by an idiot on my friends bike, the Daytona disappeared when I was in the hospital. Later heard it was seized sitting by someone’s garage. I later got 100k after attorney’s fees, and bought a v-max. Best I ever finished was 3rd.

  7. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    Funny, my boss was talking about riding sport bikes years ago, I told him my first cycle I bought in high school, around 1975-76 was a early 70s orange/white RD350, I almost fell off the back of it the first time I tried speed shifting. I think I got it for $350 to $400, the Road King I have now fits my bigger body a lot better now. I also have a project 1980 Kaw KZ1300 straight six, now that may be interesting if I ever get it back on the road.

  8. Neal

    A buddy of mine had one of these, dont remember the year,but block to block he was a handfull for me on my Kaw 750……

    Like 1
  9. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    yep the R5/RD 350’s and RD400’s spanked allot of ass with that 6 speed – Suzuki also had 6 speed’s but Yamaha’s were where it was at and with the reed valve – dang do we say more – oh these little beauties RD400 came out in 1974 with the twin disk brakes – first – so they could stop as well….Jim correct me if I’m wrong…..last I rode my blue RD I ran a home made tag on it like a dealers – to a buddies about 20 miles away – he still laughs about it…he was my triple Kawasaki riding buddie….

    • Fungus

      I had the Kawasaki 750 2 stroke & those had no control… wobble wobble… but they could get off the starting line like no other!!! Young & foolish back then.

    • Fungus

      I loved my Red RD 400 and how it handled around turns!!! Blew away the Honda 550’s easily. Beat Honda’s 750 off the line but not on a 1/4 mile though. Pocket Rocket’s were their nick name!! I kick myself for not keeping it… switched up to the Kawasaki triple head 2 stroke 750… mistake. This was a suicide bike! Good for straight away, bad handling around turns… something with the forks not being able to handle the force & power of this bike.

      • Fungus

        Oh Yeah, bought my bike at Boston Cycles on Route 9 in Brookline….. 1977 Yamaha RD400…. too bad it closed up.

  10. Joe Howell

    Sweet bike. I’ve had them all, RD350, RD350LC, RD400 (red) and the notorious yellow and black Kenny Roberts RZ350 which I still have :) The RD400 was a great bike, much more refined, than the RD350 and felt more like a bigger bike. It compared favorably to it’s garage mate aTriumph Bonneville, down on torque a bit but just as quick if you played the gears right. The mag wheels gave it a very solid feel. My RD400 is now is in my nephew’s budding collection along with the Bonneville. The RZ350 is destined for his collection too when I’m too old to ride it.

  11. MikeW

    With the high starting price the seller must not of wanted to pay $17 extra for the reserve. Nothing like a free auction to check out the market.

  12. Alan (Michigan)
  13. Bob S

    I loved my RD 400. Was so excited the day I took home that pride and Joy. Should buy another when I hit 60 in a couple of years. I found mine to be a great highway bike. Very comfy, right in the power band at 75 mph. You could easily do an extended tour on one of these.

  14. Richard Rivera

    Awesome vintage bike — I should get an RD before their prices get to high..

    The carbs look exactly the same as the one’s on my 1988 Banshee..

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