Japanese Spec Superbike: 1984 Yamaha RZV500R

Made only for the Japanese market, this 1984 Yamaha RZV500R was created to pay homage to a similar motorcycle – the YZR500 – that well-known motorcycle Grand Prix racer Kenny Roberts rode to victory in the early-1980s. The seller has this incredible bike listed here on eBay in Saint Augustine, Florida, the current bid price is $18,900, and there is no reserve. This is a two-stroke V4, need I say more?

I have a couple of Yamahas but nothing like this and I’ve never owned a motorcycle in this genre, a sport bike made for one reason and one reason only: winning races. The Yamaha RZV500R is a detuned tribute bike similar in spirit to the YZR500 that a gentleman named “King” Kenny Roberts rode. He was a fan favorite and the first American to win a world championship motorcycle Grand Prix race.

One big difference with the RZV500R is that it’s lighter having an aluminum frame compared to a steel frame on the YZR500. It also used many specialized, upgraded components, some of them made from aluminum, and it resulted in at least a 20-pound savings. You can see by the front braking system in the photo above that this is not a running-to-the-grocery-store type of motorcycle. Although, I guess it could be used for that if a person wanted the coolest vehicle in the parking lot.

The seller says that they have owned this example for eight years and it had been restored by a company called RG500.com. They also had the famous motorcycle builder, the late, great Rick Lance, do some work on it including rebuilding the front forks, adding his petcock kit, and a new suspension with a Rick Lance rear shock as shown in the seller’s photos. The seller kept the original parts and they go with the sale.

It’s hard to see the engine but this bike has an incredible liquid-cooled Yamaha 499-cc V4 two-stroke (that gives me goosebumps) which for production was detuned to 64 horsepower. This motorcycle does have one crack in the bodywork but is otherwise in great condition according to the seller who says that it runs beautifully and sounds great with its Lomas GP-style exhaust. Have any of you owned a motorcycle like this RZV500R?


  1. Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

    Kenny Roberts changed racing with his knee on the tarmac.

    Like 7
  2. Lyman

    Only 2 words come to my mind, widow maker. Yamaha was an innovator back in the day, some of you might remember the mono shock on the YZ series dirt bikes, a guy that went by the name of Hurricane Hannah rode a stock YZ125cc from the show room floor to 10 victory’s in a row against the other guys $100,000 race bikes

    Like 3
  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    This bike is far from a “widow maker,” at least as much as any motorcycle in the hands of an inexperienced would rider. This is a race designed and tuned machine. A widow maker is a 70’s Kawasaki H2 750 2 stroke with a weak flexy frame.

    I love this offering. It brings back memories of the days of being at the track watching Stevie Baker, Kenny Roberts, Barry Sheene, on their factory 2 stroke whips.

    Like 10
  4. Jay E. Member

    Gone, $22,100.00. Must be a thrill to ride hard.

    Like 4
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Jay E.!

      Like 1
  5. David Wayne Krum

    I have had a few rz350’s this is the bike I’ve always wanted. They were available in Canada and I always thought of bringing one across the border. Wish I had they are a blast to ride. I came from a dirt bike and road racing background so I knew how to handle these bikes.

    Like 2
  6. erik johnston

    nice bike. A guy i worked with in a machine shop was a rider of this type of bike. He special ordered a honda vfr1000{ i wight be wrong on the correct callout } that was in the 80″s. took him 6 months to get it! He took me for a ride once and pulled the front wheel off the road. scariest ride i ever had!!!! He rode the bike in isle of man-his dream. later he rode for bmw as a factory rider. His facebook picture is him in a corner during a race-knee scrapping the tarmac-bad to the bone picture. phil sharpe is the name.he had no fear. Sad that he finely found ,a women-love of his life!! she died of cancer and took all the wind out of his sprit . last i herd he just lives day after day drinking.so sad. a big bear of a guyHeart of gold if he liked you-if you where a -decent! he treated you with ultimate gold-if not stay away and dont anoy him saw him one morning in the shop , a stupid arrogant dude did a joke to him- hit him 3 times till he hit the floor-funny and that guy deserved it. Miss him

    Like 1
  7. Dallas

    “having an aluminum frame compared to a steel frame on the YZR500”

    YZR500 (GP race bike) had an aluminum Deltabox frame starting in 1983. Maybe you mean the street-going RZ500/RD500LC which had the V4 in a steel frame.

  8. americanpursuit

    This is a full-tilt race bike that was sold in Europe, Asia and Canada but never in the USA. They weren’t emissions-legal here, at that time. There were some states that would title them (Texas was one). I had a friend that I worked with at Cycle Sport in NoVa that had one. These are the baddest bikes ever produced, along with the Suzuki RGV500 Gamma…it was the same type bike, made to compete with the RZ500V except the Suzuki was a SQUARE FOUR 2-stroke! Either one of these bikes makes a sound like you have never heard before. They are freaking insane to ride. Hands-down the baddest mo-fo’s on the planet. I would give my left you-know-what for either one.

    Like 1
  9. Brad460 Member

    Awesome bike. Being in North Dakota we were able to get a few across the border back in the day. My brother had a rz500 like this and another guy in town had a Suzuki rg500 gamma. I was fortunate to spend a fair amount of time riding the yamaha.

    I know for a fact it made much more than 64 hp. One night on a ride I merged with another road to find myself next to a 900.Honda 4 stroke. He saw the 500cc graphics and indicated that he wanted to make me look foolish.

    Of course I agreed and off we went. It was near dusk and I remember seeing his headlight getting smaller in my mirrors, shining through dual plumes of beautiful 2 stroke blue smoke.

    I waited for him at the next rural intersection and he had a new appreciation for the RZ.

    These and the similar Suzuki Gamma were the ultimate pinnacle of 2 stroke street bikes back in the day.

    From my vantage point this is worth every penny of what it brought

    Like 1

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