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Yamaha’s Last Real Enduro? 1973 Yamaha RT3 360

I was never a big math fan even though I somehow made it through college and was and still am a licensed architect. At least geometry is something that most people can wrap their heads around compared to calculus. Speaking of geometry, this 1973 Yamaha RT3 360 Enduro is listed here on eBay in Belmont, Vermont, the current bid price is $3,595, and the reserve isn’t met yet.

Again with the high prices, but you already know that things are more than a little wacky right now. I don’t know what the reserve is but I can’t imagine that it’s much over $4,000, I hope. And, what’s with the geometry nonsense in relation to a Yamaha enduro bike? No, it’s not happy hour here yet, motorcycle geometry relates to both the front end – rake, offset, diameter, and trail – and the rear end of a motorcycle. Rear-end geometry is important but the early RT1 and RT2 Yamahas were known for having a lack of well-designed front-end geometry, making them a beast to handle off-road. On the pavement, no problem. Off the pavement and riding them as you’d ride another enduro, problem. At least for a lot of riders.

If that wasn’t bad enough, or jaunty enough for most riders, the engine was huge for an off-road bike. More? Above all of that, the kick starter could, would, and did give more than a few (thousand) people injuries from the kickback and ramming your right ankle back up and onto the exhaust shield. I’m making it sound like the RT series of Yamaha enduros weren’t good bikes, they were, they just took a lot of skill to ride them hard which is what they were meant for. This bike only has 2,251 miles on it after 49 years.

The seller has this one listed as an RT1 which is incorrect even though the VIN starts with RT1. They all do. This is the 804th RT3 built for the 1973 model year. The RT1s were made for 1970 and 1971, RT2s were built for 1972, and the RT3 was made for 1973 and they only came in Baja Brown. Back to geometry a bit. For 1973, Yamaha bumped up the front wheel size to a 21″ wheel compared to 19″ for previous models and that helped quite a bit. As a dual-sport bike (off/on-road), you could easily ride this 360 a few hundred miles away and then hit the trails.

The engines were generally rock-solid as with almost any Yamaha and were Yamaha’s 352 CC two-stroke single-cylinder with around 30 horsepower. This bike has more horsepower than almost any five of mine combined and only one of my dirty dozen has a top speed of 80 MPH or more. This one will go 80 but 65 is much easier. It just had a top-end rebuild and other than needing a battery, it’s ready to go. Have any of you owned a big two-stroke dirt bike or enduro?


  1. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    2,251 miles/ just had a top-end rebuild . .

    In the words of the Lost in Space robot; THAT DOES NOT COMPUTE.

    Like 8
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      That’s a good point. That’s only 46 miles a year over the last 49 years, maybe it was parked for several years, or decades? They don’t mention that, though.

      Like 4
    • Piros1

      It wasn’t uncommon to pull the head I’m on these old bikes annually, clean the head, new rings, new gaskets, and a spark plug. I think 72 and newer also had read valves on the intake side. Sometimes those would fatigue and crack. Guys that road them hard would replace them at this same time. More of a preventative maintenance than anything. Those old two strokes were not meant to run 20,000 miles between rebuilds. A top end service just kept the bike running at peak performance. I have done many on my old CT1. It was ported, piston skirt cut, expansion chamber exhaust, aftermarket head. Had more power than most 250’s of the day.

      Like 7
      • stillrunners stillrunners Member

        Correct – did this with my first on a HT-1 enduro – currently in my stock are the HT-1 , LT-2 . AT-1 , CT-1, DT-2 /MX250, RT-2 / MX360 , DT-400 and YZ400. Like most – you got to be ready to ride – to start them.

        Like 1
  2. billy1

    Yes, thank you. More bikes please!!

    Like 11
  3. T

    Before compression release you could break a leg trying to start one of these.

    Like 4
    • Tort Member

      Bought a used one years ago. Found out it was a little too much for me. Gave it to my brother in law and he broke his ankle starting it.

      Like 3
  4. Stan

    Like a big xr Honda kick start, better be ready for take-off

    Like 2
  5. Kenny

    I had a DT3 I sold right at the start of covid for $3,300. This RT3 appears to be a complete survivor. The only issues I can see are the non stock case cover bolts and the holes drilled in the rear fender. Both easily changed back to stock. Hell it even has the rear view mirror, turn signals and upper chain guard which are normally tossed away the first time the bike was laid down or the chain replaced. This should bring an easy $5,000.

    Like 3
  6. Howard A Member

    Cool find, makes old injuries ache one again. I had a ’73 Suzuki TS400, which was the equivalent to this bike. A now ex-friend had a 250 like this, it’s still on the farm and still runs. I say these “farm” stories and “still runs”( like the tractor or Dodge pickup) because farmers generally don’t take care of their machines, cosmetically, anyway, and are usually repaired with some old tractor part. Let me say this about these. Off road riding was in it’s infancy, along with my back, and the trails are always incredibly rough, requiring standing at all times. Little suspension travel, “washouts” are common. Off road bikes have come a long ways, but it was these bikes that took the place of the Honda 50’s( or whatever) we trashed and I had a lot of fun on that TS, got me back to places I never would have seen, and never let me down. The author makes note of the dangers of a kick start, but believe me, new bikes don’t even have them, and when you dump the bike, run the battery down, it’s a long walk, when a kick start would save the day. The way I figure, if you can’t kick start a motorcycle,( wuss) you shouldn’t be on one. Great find, if you don’t live in California, that is, where they banned the sale of new 2 cycle dirt bikes, and you can bet some tree hugger cop will hassle you with this. It’s just not the 70’s, dag nabit.

    Like 16
  7. Rbowman

    Owned both the 360, foolishly ported … scared me silly some times, a ’73 Husky 400,and the TS400. The Suzuki was well mannered … long wheelbase … the 360, well hold on.

    Like 6
    • Dave Peterson

      Wasn’t the ported head called a “Git Kit”?

      Like 1
      • Greg Hustafson

        It was a GYT KIT

  8. Melton Mooney

    I always wanted an RT3 like this, but never ran across a bargain. I have a prepped Yammer IT465 that I can barely start any more without fracturing or lacerating something, and a nice ’72 Zook TS185, but I really miss that great Yamaha DT torque.

    Like 4
  9. Piros1

    I never owned a 360 back then I couldn’t afford one but I did own a 1968 Honda CL175 that I bought new as my first bike, it weighed more than this 360 and handling wasn’t its best attribute. I learned how to ride off road on a heavy bike and did quite well. It was a great hill climb bike. My second bike was a 71 CT1 175 that I still own. Learning how to ride on a bike like these makes you a much better rider. I won a number of amateur races and out road a lot of guys with much better handling machines. Those were good times and wish I could still ride. I have had a few street bikes since then but gave up riding after breaking my back on my last dirt bike a 2007 WR450 with a hit kit. 5th gear wheelies. It was anemic I factory stock configuration. I still have three bikes and should probably sell all three. That’s a story for another day.
    Interesting people are buying up this old stuff at 3-4 times or even more than what they sold for new.

    Like 6
  10. JCH841

    How do you do a “top end” on a two stroke? Scrape out the carbon and replace the head gasket and spark plug?

    Like 3
  11. Rob

    I had one of those. Forgot to hit the compression release once before trying to start it. Almost threw me off the bike and dented the sole of my boot. It was a lot to handle off road but it was a blast. I’ve been looking for one for years but no way will I pay $4K for one

    Like 1
  12. Dave Peterson

    My Enduro was a 175 of 60’s vintage that cost this 15 year old $500. In northern Idaho and eastern Washington there were several freight railroads that wound throughout the area. These had maintenance roads next to the tracks, I could leave at 10 on a Saturday morning and traverse two states and several mountain ranges (well, hills) and not be on a public road. Owned it for years and never bit me or quit. I didn’t realize how good I had it.

    Like 5
  13. Jay Park

    The 360’s did have a kick back problem, which was reduced by the decompression valve that was located on the front of the cylinder. You just had to man up when starting it and follow through to the end of the stroke. I’ve never heard of starting one with a compression release, the decompression valve was used for this. I’ve seen both case 1/2’s cracked along with the right-side case, not to mention other internal parts damaged by allowing the kick starter to kick back. It only takes one time for it to happen. Yamaha would cover this as a warrantee issue or at least they would when I was a Yamaha mechanic in the 70’s. I owned a 1972 360 with an MX cylinder, piston & head added to it. I could get it going down the highway with a passenger @ 95 MPH. I ran it many times at a steady 15.39 in the 1/4 mile and had over 75,000 miles on the clock before selling it.

    Like 4
  14. RexFox Member

    I had a 175 Enduro in high school, but sold it to buy 305 Scrambler, which was better for street riding. After graduation, I seriously considered a new Yamaha 360 to ride the 400 miles to WSU, but my best friend strongly recommended a bigger 4 stroke for that long highway ride (good advice that I heeded). The 360 still appeals to me though (wrong coast fortunately). I believe the Yamaha enduros are among the best looking bikes ever made (and I have some beautiful Harleys), that Yamaha gas tank is a work of art.

    Like 4
    • Dave Peterson

      So, was it Montana or Oregon for your teens? Wazoo was 100 miles for watching Larry Eilmes and Tom Roth and Doug Flansburg in my day.

      • RexFox Member

        Dave, it was Longview, Washington

  15. John Albera

    Bought a RT360 back when I was around 14 years old, sometime in the late eighties. Was completely torn apart, the engine was in two 5 gallon buckets with the cases split and the crank and trans out. Think I paid $50 for it. Had a broken kick gear that even back then we had to get from a cycle salvage yard. Was a low budget project, knurled the original piston, new rings and gaskets and put it all together. That kick starter would hit the back of my leg so hard I would see stars. Made me hate to start it. Learned a trick from the owner of Deam’s Hodaka shop that made a huge difference. Drilled a small hole from above the exhaust port at an angle down into the port itself. This let enough compression bleed by when kicking it over to make starting it way easier but had no noticeable effect on performance. I was lucky, my Pop was there to guide me through it. Assembled in the house ( kitchen and family room) while my Mom was away. Good times.

    Like 2
  16. Kenn

    After the first painful kick-back starting mine, I ever after stood beside the bike and started with my left foot. It never slipped off. Had it geared down (larger rear sprocket) for better performance in the woods and hills since I didn’t need the top speed. Rode the Jack Pine route – after the race – and had a blast. Lived in the area so lots of happy memories with this awesome machine.

    Like 2
  17. Howard A Member

    Thanks to all for the great stories, and to Scotty for helping “blow the dust off” those memories. It’s pretty clear, most motorheads got their start with a motorcycle of some sort. Since we were introduced to 2 wheels from the get-go, naturally, a MOTORIZED 2 wheeler had to be the ultimate. What’s cool, is there seems there was no rhyme or reason for the make of motorcycle, one thing was universal, regardless of the make or type, we all had a blast, fun I’m not sure you can have today, and to quote the great Bob Seger, “Those are the memories, that makes us wealthy souls”,,

    Like 1
  18. Terry Bowman

    In 1970, I rode a 360 on our local dirt track. At 15, it was too much power for me, as mine was a 125 Rapido, HD. I did handle it much better than the owner. Yes Howard, most of us started with Two Wheels. Mine was a Moped (Sears) at 12.

  19. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this Yamaha sold for $4,350.

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