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Yamaha posted by

60th Anniversary Colors – 1985 Yamaha RZ-350 Kenny Roberts


This post is in our archives. Links in this post have been updated to point to similar bikes available to bid on eBay.

Updated from the RD350 in 1983, the liquid-cooled RZ350 was a pint-sized powerhouse for the company, and though it wasn’t sold after 1986 in the U.S., it stayed another 10 years in other markets.  Yamaha has returned to the Kenny Roberts-era yellow and black for their anniversary this year, but you’ll need connections to get that signature on your new R1 or R6.

20151228 1985 yamaha rz350 kenny roberts left

1985 Yamaha RZ-350 for sale on eBay

20151228 1985 yamaha rz350 kenny roberts left front

20151228 1985 yamaha rz350 kenny roberts right rear

Putting a big fun factor in the small displacement end of the dealership, the RZ350 put 60hp under a 375 lb. motorcycle.  The two-stroke twin had oil injection and YPVS, Yamaha’s electrically variable exhaust port which helped stretch the power delivery somewhat.  Each muffler had a catalytic converter, and a temperature alarm to keep the cats under control.  The frame had four light tubes around the engine, a forerunner of the perimeter frame to come.  The lightweight theme continued with aluminum wheels same size front and rear.  Forks are conventional with rear monoshock, and brakes are dual front disks of 267mm with single rear.  The bodywork is beautifully designed, handlebar-mounted bikini with chin fairing trying to send some air over those pipes.  Side covers and seat fairing stretch the color scheme to the taillight.

20151228 1985 yamaha rz350 kenny roberts cockpit

20151228 1985 yamaha rz350 kenny roberts engine

The RZ350 on offer looks great for its 30-plus years, with expansion chambers and Rizoma handlebars.  Bodywork appears undamaged and smaller plastic bits appear to be all there, must’ve been garaged a ways from the south Florida sun.  From the eBay auction:


20151228 1985 yamaha rz350 kenny roberts radiator

20151228 1985 yamaha rz350 kenny roberts right rear wheel

At least looking lighter than the fully faired F1 model that followed, the RZ350 reviewed as a sweet handler and despite the YPVS, a little sleepy below 5000 rpm, but then pulled nicely right to the 9500 rpm redline.  The peaky Yamahas were wrung out on the street and track, and it’s rare to see one in this kind of shape.  A bargain at more than double the 1985 MSRP, like you needed an excuse to go to Naples this time of year…



  • By far the most iconic, exotic U.S. bike of the 80’s. The Banshee market will hopefully keep these screamers alive for more decades to come. But sigh, they didn’t put out 60 horses stock, more like 45 at the rear, but the mods you can afford will liven things up a bit! With the cat’s installed in the later models, they were the biggest “fuck you” to the E.P.A. ever! If Yamaha were to ever introduce another 2 stroke with a modern chassis and displacing more than 50 cc’s, they would fly off the dealer floors like eagles! I absolutely love these bikes and have owned 3, including the one I have now in an fzr 400 frame. Yes, it fucking rips, and no, it will never be for sale. I would ride an RZ to the moon and back just for fun. Long live the RZ350!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Yeah. That bike was really fun when I was 17. I’m 44 now and 45 horse at the rear doesn’t do much anymore. I’ll always have an affinity for these bikes as I was a 2 smoke fanatic and crazy kid in my teens, but come on… For a ripping bike this won’t do. It’s not even very collectable.

    • The most iconic exotic bike of the eighties?? LOL. No that would be the real two strokes, ie the 500cc variants, ie the bikes for the real men.

  • Wow. Fanboy much?

  • I owned and rode an RZ350 YPVS back in the 1980’s. The reality is that it was a fast unstable bucket of crap in stock form. The fork mounted clocks and headlight made it an uncomfortable headshaking horrible ride at speed. The only decently handling RZ’s all had money thrown at them to sort the handling.

    The Suzuki RG250 Gamma I had afterwards may have been slower in a straight line, but it more than made up for it in the twisties..

    IMHO this model RZ350 is really just a good source for a killer motor. The later full faired FII is just a better overall bike.

    • “The later full faired FII is just a better overall bike”.How so? RC45

  • A steering damper, Fox twin clicker, progressive springs, a fork brace and metzlers f/r would fix the handling woes many snivel about. Yes the flexi-flyer frame didn’t make it a TZ by any means, but consider what class they raced in, and pretty much spanked everything on the track… Until the FZR 400 hit the scene. Shit, I entered mine in 600 classes against fz’s fj’s, srx’s, and even hurricanes and finished mid pack on raceday. The most crucial part about setting one up for speed was to get it handleing EQUALLY crappy at both ends, and a set of nuts when it wobbled like a shopping cart. My opinion, I know, but when they (them) killed the two cycle street based M/C’s I knew the world was going to hell.

    • In other words, you had to throw money at it to stop it feeling like a wet noodle in the wind. My RG250 out the box was just a better bike than the 350 was. Lighter, better handling and those with some extra money could toss the RG250 parallel twin for the 350 YPVS motor and call it a Yamagamma. The crazy prices asked for and paid for the 350YPVS here are just the nature of the limited legal production run – then again its old enough to legally import and there are thousands of cheap 350 PowerValves around the world waiting to be imported LOL

  • bought a red and white 1984 RZ350 with Toomey pipes when I was 15, owned it for 5 years. Sold it to my friend who promptly crashed it in less than a week. Not the fastest, or best handling bike I’ve ever owned, but still my favorite bike I’ve ever owned.
    This one is super clean and has the right pipes!

  • 500 2 strokes were never offered for the U.S. market. There is a yellow/black KR RZ 350 with .02 (yep 2/10’ths) of a mile on it on a wall in Ca. How much is it worth? Hint: whatever someone is willing to pay for it… But you can bet your aunt Minnies bum it will command ten times what the bike went for new. Why? Because they stopped makin’ ’em in 85 or so. And that’s just the way it is…

  • Sorry. I meant .2 miles.

  • I seen to remember this bike being on one of the other boards, closing on ebay for around 10K, back up for sale again. Problem with these bikes is they have fallen into the uncanny valley of pricing…you either own a $2500 one or a $10000 one. There is less of a middle ground as the market matures towards collectors who only want bikes they can rub with their diapers. I run mine, and frankly don’t understand paying $10K for a bike that’s modded with 17K miles. It sure photographs well but there’s a reason she is up for sale again.

  • @Shane: do the nicest RZ350s really get $10K now? I didn’t realize they sold for that much- I thought the best ones sold for around $7500 tops, unless it was a special case near 0 mile example. If so, in spite of the comments about inherent handling flaws, they have clearly become appreciating investments. Whether you hate the bike or not, that seems to be the reality.

  • they only sell for 10 k if you find a buyer with more money than brains

  • Having recently parted with my ’84 RZ350 black/yellow KR, while not an expert I have some knowledge of the market on these bikes and I’m genuinely surprised this particular one has been bid up to this level, the reserve not met none the less. While mine was no museum piece it as a well sorted “rider”, 13k total miles with about 1800 miles on it’s 1st oversize with all genuine Yamaha parts, loads of recent maintenance and replaced parts. I sold it for $4500 which admittedly was a bit of a short sale on my part because I wanted to make room for my newly acquired TDR 250. I was thinking maybe there was $500-$1000 more in it had I listed it on ebay in the spring but watching this auction has me scratching my head. It is very clean but as stated it’s not 100% original and has 17K miles with little detail of history. I tend to agree with Shane that top of the market is about $10k for a super low-mile all original with all emissions equipment intact. Were I to be asked my opinion of this particular RZ’s value I’d say around $5-6k, you know what they say about opinions though. Best of luck to the seller.

    Mr. I miss my RZ

  • If memory serves, there were RZ’s that sat on dealer showroom floors because many couldn’t justify the sticker shock for a 350, and a 2 stroke none the less.
    When it became apparent that the epa was about to give smokers the axe, things (willingness to shell out the bucks) changed dramatically! Now what do you suppose a 2016 v4 2 stroke aluminum frame usd forked 500 cc STREET bike would go for? Even with 2 stroke technology lagging behind about 30 years or so, it would be a horrific price, and they would sell every damn one made for the U.S. market. RZ 350’s are about as close as you are gonna get unless you want to play the grey bike game, i.e parts availability, registration woes, etc. A mint RZ is relatively hard to find, ergo the cost/value/asking price/selling price.

  • the gb suzuk vintagei site has rgv vj21 and 22 parts in stock and any licensed aprilia dealer can get rs 125/250 parts. reg can be a pita depending on your state, and the epa is lame as hell about importing bikes from canada if they arent old enough. last I knew two stroke snowmobile and pwc tech wasnt lagging behind 30 years. no one has bothered to invest money to adapt it to a street bike

  • Looks like it was briefly relisted with a $10,700 buy-it-now.



  • Back on eBay, now with a $14.9k buy-it-now listed!



  • One sold at mecum Las Vegas auction for $10k, $11k if you add the auction fee. It was nice shape, but in no way perfect. Bottom fairing was cracked, non original mirrors. The fact that two bidders put it up to $10k shows that some 80s bikes are starting to draw collectors. Why pay $10k for a 30 year old bike when you can have a new new Ktm 690 duke (or any number of others) with better handling, more power for less money.

  • The only people spending 5 large for these bikes are the ones who can’t ride them. I will admit it will look stunning parked next to the Edsel – hehe!

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