From a styling standpoint, motorcycles of the 1980's were going through a bit of an awkward, adolescent phase... But continuing with that analogy, major growth and changes were occurring under the skin, and Japanese race replicas like this Yamaha RZV500 featured all sorts of wild, innovative technology.
Yamaha's GP bike for the road pulled out all the stops and featured liquid-cooling, 50° between the V4's cylinder banks, a pair of crankshafts, magnesium cases, a balance shaft, YPVS powervalves to boost midrange power, and the obscene-sounding Autolube oil-injection system to keep the smoker spinning happily. The factory claimed 88hp from the cutting edge engine.
The rest of the package was no less sophisticated, with a six-speed gearbox, anti-dive forks, and a rear shock slung under the engine to allow space for the rear cylinders' expansion chambers, with a 16" wheel up front and an 18" hoop in the back.
Designed to compete directly with Suzuki's RG500Γ, the RZV500 was never actually imported to the US because of the two-stroke engine's emissions output, but many have found their way down to us from our friendly neighbors up north across the Canadian border. This particular bike was originally the Japanese-market version that had the much lighter aluminum frame but was detuned to 64hp. Happily, the seller rejetted the bike and fitted the headers from the UK's version, the RD500LC.
And check out those vented brake discs! I wonder how hard it is to find replacements for those...
From the original eBay listing: 1984 Yamaha RZV500R for Sale
Take that tax return and put it into something that’s going to go up in value while you ride it, like this 1984 Yamaha RZV500R! That’s right kids, this is a factory-produced GP replica street bike. Inspired by the dominating YZR500s of Kenny Roberts and Eddie Lawson, and manufactured during Lawson's 1984 World Championship-winning season, this 2-stoke, liquid-cooled, 500cc sport bike duplicates the configuration of the factory team's YZR500 Marlboro Yamaha GP machines.
This bike is a blast to ride. A firm kick and the mighty reed valve, GP-derived, twin crankshaft V4 fires instantly and settles into an idle that I can only describe as an army of angry hornets. Put on your favorite helmet and gear and next thing you know you’re channeling Roberts, Lawson, or Rainey while giving the beans to a genuine, GP-derived V4 2-stroker the likes of which will never be seen again. The 500cc engine has some torque to get you going, but really comes alive in the 6-10k rpm range. The engine was completely rebuilt in 2008 by well-known RZV/RD/RZ engine specialist Wilson Performance of Lee’s Summit, MO at a cost of $4000. It has done little mileage since. I have receipts for the work, which included Wilson’s “Blueprint” rebuild plus “Phase 1” performance tuning. To see what is included in the work, click here. In summary, the performance build included new RZV Performance cranks, new Wiseco pistons, port and gasket matching, plus a lot more.
The paintwork is very nice, although there are a few nicks, scratches, and rock chips; all decals are cleared into the paint, the base of which is a pearlescent white. The bike is clean, but not show clean. The stock magnesium wheels were professionally refinished and the Dunlop Aeromax tires are in very nice condition. The oil tank leaks some from the level sensor. The upright foam seat bolster has some worn spots around the edges (see pix). There’s some surface corrosion on some bolts here and there. I have tried to describe and photograph anything that really stood out on the bike condition-wise, but this is now a 30+ year old motorcycle with some light wear and tear, so I cannot be held accountable for every single scratch, chip, crack or ding.
Apparently, this bike was up for auction previously, and the seller indicates that the auction was ended early because he'd incorrectly listed the year of manufacture, although he also freely admits to having ended other auctions in the past due to a "change of heart." Well at least he's passionate about his bikes, and it sounds like he knows his stuff!
Like Suzuki's Gamma, these are very desirable bikes and, if you're looking for a bike that's likely to continue to appreciate in value, this one's a good bet. I'm not the biggest fan of the styling, although you can't argue with 500cc's of snarling, two-stroke V4: they ain't pretty, but it's hard not to love the truly epic cacophony of that engine...