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Cult bike Yamaha RD 350 LC

Yamaha RD 350 LC

The two-stroke theme was through forever. Exhaust gas, noise, yes, yes, it’s okay, must be. Then at the end of 1979 Yamaha came out of cover and showed off the outrageous Yamaha RD 350 LC.

Kawasaki and MV Agusta could also have won 50 world titles, for knowledgeable contemporaries is the name of the most successful 350cc racing machine of the 1970s Yamaha TZ. This production racer, whose row twin simply passed on 70 hp from the box, dominated nationally at will, as did the 250cc model, the starter fields were like a one-make cup.

Cult bike Yamaha RD 350 LC

Yamaha RD 350 LC

Yamaha RD 250 and 350 are reborn

But in the fall of 1979 the first rumors came out of the intensive care unit in Iwata: He’ll get through again, the slot-controlled. Shortly afterwards, Yamaha received a MOTORCYCLE delegation and confirmed: That’s right, the Yamaha RD 250 and 350 are reborn and are based on the TZ, production will start in winter. With a happy smile, the Japanese gave their visitors a few more pictures, and just printing them was enough to turn Yamaha dealerships into places of pilgrimage. 49 hp at 132 kilos dry were promised for the 350, water cooling and cantilever rear swing arm as in the racing machine on top of that: Hosanna, where is the sales contract? Working people ordered the large, students and low-income earners the low-insurance 250. Anyone looking for an explanation for this exuberance today only has to look at the then common four-cylinder four-stroke engines, among which a Honda CB 900 with a performance curve suitable for excursions, 95 hp and 250 kilos of softly sprung combat weight claimed the triumphant nickname Bol d’Or.

Even when stationary, the new Yamaha RD spreads more aggressiveness, dispensations with pompous chrome and fat self-importance, promises a great deal of lean angle with its skilfully and beautifully laid exhaust system and great handling with an appropriately narrow gear train. Bingo. The exaggeratedly comfortable spring elements earn less approval, even less the swing arm mounting, each consisting of a plastic bush. The programmed wear and tear after a few thousand kilometers each time resulted in an embarrassing egg dance, Yamaha donated bronze as standard in 1981.

The visually unchanged new edition also promised a fuller performance curve, but it’s all relative: Either way, the traffic light start requires a good 3000 rpm, only just below 6000 rpm does the booth get going. But then the Pope rocks over it. Those who do not prepare for it – and some forgot that – shoot into the field in third or fourth gear. Whoever has the hang of it, lets it blare up to a little over the nominal speed of 8700, after which the performance curve bends away. Shift up in the wonderfully precise six-speed gearbox, all connections fit, further, further. Towards the next hairpin. Caution, the engine hardly brakes, the moderately adjustable double disc requires caution. Flip it over, so easily, so precisely. Man, this RD falls under the narcotics law, it has never been more fun to drive, and only its 17-liter tank saves you from the total flash that the 28-mm Mikunis suck empty on a brisk 200-kilometer journey.

With the clever power valve exhaust control, a close-fitting full fairing, 63 hp and a firmer chassis, Yamaha continued to perfect the RD 350 until it finally withdrew in 1990. As a memorial.

Data and information

Data: Water-cooled two-cylinder two-stroke in-line engine, 347 cm³, 36 kW (49 hp) at 8700 / min, 40 Nm at 8200 / min, six-speed gearbox, double-loop frame made of tubular steel, weight with a full tank of 161 kg, front tires 3.00 S 18, rear 3.50 S 18, Tank capacity 17 liters, top speed lying down 178 km / h, 0-100 km / h in 5.4 seconds.

Literature: In German there is – after all – the "Repair Instructions Two-Stroke" by Franz Josef Schermer, which is also interesting reading material, for 29.90 euros. Things get more special with the English-language work “Yamaha RD 350 LC / YPVS” in the Haynes Great Bikes series by Phil West, price: from 16 euros.

Specialists: The last RD 350 were sold in 1990, so veteran Yamaha mechanics still understand something about them. The proven specialists include Marco Bohmer in 95233 Helmbrechts (Internet: and Rolf Listl in 49124 Georgsmarienhutte (

Scene: Two-stroke friends have grown closer together in the last 20 years, and now they not only hold oil-covered meetings, but also maintain an upscale exchange of experiences or joint racetrack excursions. Of course, well-preserved RD 350 LC are among their more sought-after devices, and prices are rising accordingly. Good specimens are hard to come by for less than 2000 euros, rare top-quality goods easily cost 500 euros more.

Internet: People meet at, and in a larger group at

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