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Yamaha August 19, 2022 posted by

1985 Yamaha RZ500 in Toronto

Here’s a really clean Yamaha RZ500 with less than 10k miles! We always celebrate the RZ500 on RSBFS because it was of course never officially offered in the U.S. and really represents one of the most collectible two stroke models of the era. The engineering and packaging represents the best of the industry in 1985 and is head and shoulders above more pedestrian sportbikes of the year. 37 years later, it still provides an amazing and powerful riding experience. This example is in Canada and the seller has identified a shipping company that will assist with the paperwork to the U.S. Good luck to buyers and seller!

Happy Friday, -dc

1985 Yamaha RZ500 for sale on eBay

From the seller:

Excellent Condition Turn Key 1985 Yamaha RZ500

8.5/9 out of 10 condition bike. Repaint / clear coat is in excellent condition.

Bike runs great – lots of power – sounds great – nothing beats two stroke smoke.

Two minor flaws – hairline crack (about 1 inch) at front fender and tiny chip touched up on white paint (both shown in pictures)

NOS stoneguard will go with the bike (not currently attached) – pictured

Mileage is 9,608 or 15,464 kilometers

Documented Rebuild of the motor by a two stroke specialist – minimal mileage since (stored in a collection and run periodically)

Aftermarket pipes – originals also come with the bike

Steering dampener added – other than that and the pipes the bike is stock.

Don’t buy a bike that needs work and wait – this is the one for your collection or reliving your hooligan youth!

1985 Yamaha RZ500 in Toronto
Yamaha June 5, 2021 posted by

Long Term Relationship – 1984 Yamaha RZ500

After Kenny Robert’s 1978-80 MotoGP crowns, Yamaha worked for a few years to bring a two-stroke 500cc V-4 to the showroom.  Here’s a Colorado example with touring bike miles but a recent engine rebuild and excellent cosmetics.

1984 Yamaha RZ500 for sale on eBay

Yamaha couldn’t exactly present their dealers with a $1,000-per-pound MotoGP bike, and had to incorporate production two-stroke cylinder tech, much of which came from the off-road side of the house.  Still the RZ’s V-4 ( or more exactly, pair of parallel twins turning the clutch input ) was a marvel, with 88 hp at 9,500 rpm.  Carburetors fed in from the side after foam filters gave the air a lick and a promise.  The powertrain architecture stipulated a cassette gearbox, which was filled with a robust set of close ratios.   The small tube chassis was executed in steel, with 267mm brakes and staggered 16-inch front/18-inch rear tire sizes in style for the 1980’s.  Air-adjustable forks and monoshock had multiple adjustments.

The surprising number of miles on this RZ differ with its spotless presentation and fresh-looking paint.  The  re-built engine at least partially offsets the high mileage, and the expansion chambers’ music will compete with any band.  Comments from the eBay auction:

These were never inported to the USA  by Yamaha  due to the EPA –
this bike was brought in from Canada  about 17 years ago. 
 
Blue printed motor by Wilson performance  a few years ago (world renowned RZ 500 performance).
 
GP stainless expansion chambers  and aftermarket bodywork last year!
 
This bike has 87,000 KM on it (Canada) which is roughly 54k miles.
 
The complete engine rebuild was done at 83,000 kilometers.
 
The bike runs flawlessly, we just put in a new battery.  Brakes work well , tires are fairly fresh with low miles.
 
Very rare Bike , imported properly to the USA one owner since its arrival.

Yamaha was never going to get their development costs back from the premium RZ, and retired the road machine after 1986.  The RZ continued to do well on the racetrack, but competition in the showroom was brutal.  Congratulations to the soon-to-be-previous owner for what seems to be an incident-free mileage record.

-donn 

Long Term Relationship – 1984 Yamaha RZ500
Yamaha May 27, 2021 posted by

Get Your GP On: 1985 Yamaha RZ500

Hot on the heels of the big Gamma we posted earlier this week, it only seemed fair to post the other 500cc competition – the Yamaha RZ500. Seeming more readily available than the Gamma, the RZ500 is another of the GP replica two strokes that were never officially imported into the United States. Today these smokers bring big bucks when presented in decent condition, and it’s easy to see why: Rare, fast and very exclusive, the Yamaha RZ500 was the closest you could come to channeling your inner Roberts, Lawson or Rainey on the street. And who didn’t want to do that?? Today, 35+ years removed, the world of ever-tightening emission and noise restrictions make these screaming banshees icons of a past era, never to be seen again. But today’s example shows that these icons can live on in the used bike market.

1985 Yamaha RZ500 for sale on eBay

Unlike Suzuki’s square four arrangement, Yamaha lined up their GP replica in a 50 degree, V-4 formation. Both brands utilized a twin crank setup – more out of two-stroke necessity than anything else. That meant that this is actually two twin-cylinder engines powering the bike, rather than one bigger four banger. Power from the two engines is harnessed and consolidated in the clutch & gearbox areas, making the whole thing seamless to the rider. The rest is pure two stroke wizardry, with reed valves, exhaust power valves and four individual tuned-length pipes for maximum HP (approaching 90 HP when new and stock). The chassis is a rather pedestrian mild steel affair. The Japanese home market offered a power-restricted version with alloy frame – the RZV – which shaved about 20 pounds off the total dry weight – but those are even more rare than the rest of the world model we see here. The swing arm for both models is aluminum. As per the fad of the times, the front hoop is a mere 16″ to reduce the gyroscopic effect and speed up transitions.

From the seller:
Also known as the Race-Developed 500cc Liquid-Cooled motorcycle or RD500LC, the RZ500 was produced in limited numbers from 1984-85 as a road legal production version of the YZR500 2-stroke V-4 Grand Prix factory racer. This rarely seen replica racer was not sold in the United States, and the1985 RZ500 stands as one of the most collectible road-going motorcycles of its era.

Very rare V4
Light and powerful
2 stroke Sports Bike
Liquid cooled, 6 speed
High performance with speed of 148 mph
499 cc
Odometer: 26604 km (16530 miles)

Bike is all stock and original, with the exception of the upgraded exhaust system (stock exhaust system will be included with the bike purchase). Original paint; see picture for a few minor flaws.

Bike is in excellent running condition with everything working.

Given the rarity of these bikes in the US and considering the short life span they had in market when new (model years spanned 1984 – 1986), it should be no surprise that prices on these big smokers are wafting up like the blue smoke they create. Still, these are a pretty good bet for long-term value appreciation since they are popular, approachable, and in limited supply. I don’t see any of those factors changing in the foreseeable future, although the availability of spares might become an issue at some point.

Today’s bike looks pretty good for an older girl (even with low-res photos). There are some unfortunate nicks and cracks in the plastics, but everything appears to be in place. The JL exhaust out of the UK is a nice addition, and the seller notes that the stock pipes come with. Definitely a bonus for the collector. The red handgrips look to be aftermarket, but the rest comes across as an honest example of the breed. With 16,530 miles on the clock this is not a garage queen, so somebody please buy it and get out there and ride! Check out all of the details here, and Good Luck!!

MI

Get Your GP On: 1985 Yamaha RZ500
Yamaha October 28, 2020 posted by

The Clean Side of Dirty: 1985 Yamaha RZ500

The legendary Yamaha RZ500 – the twin-crank, V-4, 500cc two stroke GP bike for the street – never officially came into the United States. By the late 1970s the EPA had their sooty little hands in, well, everything, and raucous power plants such as internal combustion two strokes were strictly off the list. Yamaha tried for a couple of years with the 500s baby brother, the RZ350, but ultimately shelved the clean air catalytic converter project. They didn’t even bother trying with the bad boy 500, and perhaps it was better that they didn’t. The RZ500 was a down and mean smoker, and never tried to apologize for that fact. It landed on the shores of North America and rolled on Canadian soil, but such was as close as it came for eager and lusting American riders. Thankfully many were unofficially imported into the US as used bikes, which brings us to this particular example.

1985 Yamaha RZ500 for sale on eBay

The seller of today’s bike has quite a bit to say, and I will let him pick up the tale from here:

From the seller:
Yamaha Other. 1985 Yamaha RZ500 2 stroke. Low miles. Speedo is in KM and bike has 5300 miles. I purchased this bike from the 2-stroke guru Rick Lance a few years ago before his passing. http://www.lancegamma.com He gave it a once over inspection and replaced the crank seals and gave it a tune up. Those who knew Rick can attest to his competence regarding two strokes and his integrity. He was aware of the history of this particular machine and stated he believed the engine had never been apart and was a great example of a stock, unmolested low mileage RZ500. I’ve seen numerous RZ500s over the years and have even raced them and this is one of the nicest, cleanest survivors. Upon receipt, I took it for a quick test ride to ensure everything was working properly. Lights, turn signals, horn, brake lights, etc. function as designed. The bike shifted through the gears and there were no mechanical issues. The bike even has the original tool kit and fuel tank service cable. The interior of the tank has no rust and the bike has new tires and battery. Because of the altitude of my location (4200 feet MSL),the bike did tend to bog and was in obvious need of a rejetting as it was running rich. After consulting with Rick, he said the bike had run clean at his altitude in North Carolina before shipping. Not having the time to work on it, I drained the float bowls and tank and put the machine into storage with the intent to rejet the carburetors and ride it in the future.

More from the seller:
Unfortunately due to work and personal commitments, I never did rejet and have decided to sell off several of my collector bikes. Not knowing where the machine would be shipped, I decided to leave the jetting for sea level instead of taking the time and effort to set it up for my altitude. Overall, this is a classic machine in great condition. It does not appear to have had any crash damage. Check out the YouTube link below of the bike running. It fires up on the first or second kick. Please feel free to ask any questions. When I sell on Ebay, I try to be as honest and forthcoming as possible. If you have a shipper, I’ll work with them on pickup or dropping the bike off at a location in the Salt Lake area. Please feel free to ask any questions. The bike has a clean Utah title. $500 non-refundable deposit required in 24 hours and full payment in 7 days. Bike is sold as is with no warranty although honestly, it’s in great shape and Rick Lance gave it a clean bill of health. The bike and title will not be released until payment clears. Thanks for looking.

If you doubt my earlier statement about “Ole Smokey” the 500cc two stroke, allow me to share the video created of this bike by the seller. I can practically smell the castor and revel in the sounds (and undoubtedly the lack of mosquitoes!).

This bike looks clean, clean, clean. The fact that it went through Lance Gamma’s shop is a real plus as few people knew and lived this era’s smokers like Lance. This bike has been wonderfully photographed, and shows its originality proudly. The miles are low, but I’m sure the riding smiles are off the charts! These big RZs are getting harder and harder to find in clean and original condition, and prices are definitely on the collector side of the fence these days. If you want one, the time to get in was yesterday – but better late than never. The current auction bid is up to $14k with reserve still in place. Check out all of the details here, and Good Luck!!

MI

The Clean Side of Dirty: 1985 Yamaha RZ500
Yamaha May 1, 2020 posted by

Formation Flight – 1985 Yamaha RZ500 with 4,600 miles !

With a pair of 250cc engines driving a common output shaft providing two power strokes on every revolution, Yamaha’s RZ500 pushed nearly 200 hp per liter, even in street trim.  This sharp Michigan example has been in storage but was recently freshened up for riding season.

1985 Yamaha RZ500 for sale on eBay

The RZ’s engine is almost a cube, with four 26mm Mikuni carburetors looking out to the side-mounted airboxes from the valley of the 50-degree V.  Individual expansion chambers wend their way back, with the upper cylinders’ pipes tucked into the seat fairing.  88 hp was available at a wailing 9,500 rpm, with the torque band was stretched by the YPVS power valve system.  The chassis was steel tubing and the forks were right-side-up, though the monoshock was underneath the engine to make room for the exhausts.

With just over 4,600 miles, this RZ had to be in storage before the present owner.  Just some stress cracking on the chin scoop is apparent, with none of the usual garage rash and corrosion.  The seller waited seven years to re-commission it for the road, and has the following comments in the eBay auction:

New Battery
New Tires
New Chain
New Wheel Bearings
New Tapered steering head bearings
Changed transmission Oil
Cleaned float bowls on carbs
New Shut off valve for fuel
New front Brake Pads
Amsoil Dominator Synthetic injector oil
New fork seals, Race tech Springs, Gold valves, Modified damper rods (per Race Tech) 20 wt oil
With modifying damper rods the Anti Dive units are inactive (left them for stock appearance)
 
This is a very nice mostly all Original RZ, Starts first kick most every time hot or cold, shifts and clutches fine, pulls all the way to redline.
 
All lights work, horn, blinkers, brake light, gauge lights

The RZ500 waited more than 10 years to hit the streets after the YZR500 race machine’s 1973 introduction, but by then the U.S. and a good part of Europe had declared two-strokes unwelcome.  So every RZ500 seen will be a gray market import with limited history, and a KMH speedo with MPH sub-titles.  This one’s about as nice as they come without claims of a collection or museum, and the auction’s at $11K with five days to run.  With recent sales in the low $20’s, a lot of us will just be watching, at least to see where the reserve is set.

-donn

Formation Flight – 1985 Yamaha RZ500 with 4,600 miles !
Yamaha July 6, 2019 posted by

Kentucky Bourbon: 1985 Yamaha RZ500RN

How is this for international intrigue? Take a smoking two stroke iconic super bike built in Japan. Export said bike outside of the home market into Europe, the Pacific Rim or Canada. Later years on, that bike finds its way into the US and now lives in the state of Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Buffalo Trace. OK – so maybe not mysterious, but the migratory path of this particular example of Yamaha’s last big street going two stroke is certainly circuitous, and part of its appeal. Since Yamaha never imported the RZ500 into the US (with riders desperate for the GP bike with lights), dreams and schemes ensued to liberate these models from our fortunate norther neighbors. Today’s example shows the fruits of those importation labors.

1985 Yamaha RZ500 for sale on eBay

Need we go deep on the RZ500 details? Although this crowd undoubtedly already knows, the RZ500 was a V-4, 500cc two stroke meant to invoke Yamaha’s legendary 500 GP machines ridden by the likes of Roberts and Rainey. History will show that these bikes were not quite as sharp as the silhouette would suggest, but it was still a very potent motorcycle for the day. Dichotomies exist throughout: While utilizing a GP-inspired 16″ front wheel to quicken steering inputs, the RZ500 makes due with a mild steel (not aluminum) frame and contained a passenger pillion. Hardly GP level stuff. Still, the twin-crank V-4 configuration made decent power (estimates put a stock bike in the 85+ HP range) and with Yamaha power valves in the exhaust ports the powerband was wider than the traditional, peaky two stroke. Weight was a seemingly portly 450+ pounds – “seemingly” only because of today’s standards. At the time, this was 10-15 pounds lighter than the Kawasaki GPz550, which was down more than 20 HP on the big RZ. That should give you some indication of how hot the RZ500 was in the day.

From the seller:
1985 Yamaha RZ500R. This bike has 15730 original Kilometers and runs great. This bike has a Clear Ky Title in my name. This bike has been well taken care and was stored for a few years. This bike has never been Modified or worked on other than regular maintenance. It does have some corrosion-rust here and there The carbs and fuel system have been cleaned. The brakes have been serviced with new brake pads. This bike starts right up, idles and runs perfect. Transmission and clutch shift smoothly. All lights, Horn and signals work as they should. Inside of the gas tank is rust free. The tank has a couple marks on it. The Plastic is new aftermarket. (The OEM Plastic has some damage and is included in this auction). Please Ask Questions. I have plenty of pictures if need.

Today’s example is relatively mild on the scale of what we have seen. Mods are few, and this bike has apparently seen nothing in the way of hop ups; only usual maintenance items have been covered. Plastics are aftermarket, which makes this unrestored specimen appear to be much newer and cleaner than the rest of the bike. Some corrosion is evident – and not unremarkable for a bike of this age. The seller claims the bike starts and runs without issue, and has had some recommissioning by way of the required carb and fueling system cleaning – again, no surprises there given the rancid state of today’s gasoline formulation. Possible concerns include the reasons for the replacement bodywork (the seller indicates the original pieces will come with the bike), and the state of the (presumed original) internal engine seals after sitting for an extended period of time. Two strokes will develop air leaks (air gets sucked into the crankcase) as seals age, resulting in a lean running condition, increasing the temperature as well as the potential to seize. An air pressure test would be recommended prior to wringing the neck of this beautiful beast, as the condition is most detrimental at high RPM.

The market for RZs has been a bit all over the place lately. We have seen crazy asks in the $30k range for perfect examples, and bargains well below market value. This particular bike appears to be most original – which is a great foundation for a collector. However the step from 34 year old original motorcycle to a 34 year old restored motorcycle is a big one indeed. This particular bike is priced based on the original condition – with a $9,100 opening ask. We have seen much cleaner examples in the $12-15k area, but given the lack of bidding on this one thus far it would appear it may struggle to break the $10k barrier. It’s a runner – which is a plus – and you won’t have to undo somebody else’s mods to get to where you want to go with it, so as a resto project this might be the perfect start. There is still a long way to go on the auction so check it out here, and then let us know what you think. Good Luck!!

MI

Kentucky Bourbon: 1985 Yamaha RZ500RN
Yamaha April 6, 2019 posted by

Sorted: 1986 Yamaha RZ500 for Sale

Compared to a modern superbike, the fire-breathing performance of vintage two-stroke race replicas maybe isn’t quite as wild as their reputation would suggest. At the time, they were light and very powerful, but weren’t exactly at Grand Prix extremes of either even then. Modern machines have levels of rigidity, suspension response, and electronic assistance an old smoker like this Yamaha RZ500 could only dream of, back in the hazy 1980s. But an RZ500 still has the goods to be hustled along a canyon road, and this example has had a couple of updates to the running gear to help it hang with newer bikes.

Also known as the RD500LC in Europe and the RZV500R in Japan, the RZ500 was powered by a a liquid-cooled 50° two-stroke V4 that featured twin cranks, a pair of YPVS power valves, a balance shaft to smooth things out, and magnesium components to reduce weight. Lubrication for the two-stroke was handled by Yamaha’s Autolube oil-injection and the transmission had six speeds. At the front was a 16″ wheel and a set of anti-dive forks matched to an underslung rear shock and an 18″ hoop out back, limiting a modern rider’s access to good performance rubber.

The Yamaha RZ500 made a claimed 88hp and weighed in at 436lbs wet, while a 1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 of the same period made a claimed 106hp and weighed 465lbs wet, so performance was pretty similar on paper. However, the character of the two bikes couldn’t be more different. With heavy two-stroke smoke dripping out of the four exhaust tips and the crackle and zing of the engine, you have to work the RZ500 much harder, in spite of a pair of power valves designed to improve midrange response.

Interestingly, the Japanese market bikes received an aluminum frame to offset the reduction in power required by government restrictions. I always wonder why, since this was a premium sportbike to begin with, they didn’t just fit the aluminum frames to all of them. Certainly, if you wanted to build your dream RZ500 and throw originality to the wind, that’s what you’d probably do. This particular bike follows the path of “thoughtful evolution” and includes some components from later machines that should help the bike’s cornering prowess.

It’s maybe not a purist’s museum piece, with the later YZF750 front end and 17″ wheels. But, while the RZ500 was commendably light and agile by mid-80s standards, an update to the fork and brakes should help bring the bike closer to modern feel, while the ZX6 wheels will make tire choice much simpler, and give the new owner access to modern levels of grip.

From the original eBay listing: 1986 Yamaha RZ500 for Sale

We are a Yamaha dealer selling this bike for a 2 stroke collector’s estate. This is a great example of a 1986 Yamaha RZ500. It has a clear Pennsylvania title (has been here since at least 2006) but was originally sold in Canada. VIN is JYA52X007GA007150. The odometer reads 73 miles but since the KM speedo was replaced the actual odometer is aprox. 7500 km with about 1000 km since rebuild.

Cosmetic condition as you can see in the pics is excellent. Bodywork is all OEM including solo cowl. We’ve included a owner’s manual and service manual – all in good shape. There is 1 original factory key and 1 copy. Frame up restoration done in 2006. At that time, all seals were replaced, cylinders honed (std bore)

We’ve had our resident two-stroke tech go through the bike after a short storage. Air cleaner was replaced, tank drained, carbs removed and thoroughly cleaned, etc. Plugs replaced, fresh trans oil. Bike started easily and runs well with no clutch slippage. Left fork seal has slight seep and as any two stroke, it could take more fussing to get carburation perfect. Trans shifts very well but clutch pull a bit heavy (upgraded springs?). Brakes solid and chatter free. This is a well sorted RZ.

Upgrades and mods include but are not limited to:

  • YZF750 complete USD front end and brakes.
  • JMC custom polished swingarm
  • Penske remote reservoir rear shock
  • Alex Mayes chambers – Rare!
  • Carbon Tech low tension reeds (porting is stock)
  • ZX6 wheels (both wheels powder coated red)
  • Magnesium left engine cover
  • Braided brake lines
  • Hindsight mirrors
  • MPH speedometer
  • Zero Gravity windscreen
  • Carbon fiber meter panel

There is NO reserve or buy-it-now price on this item

Other RZ brochures and some parts are available but are not included with this bike.

Pick up at our dealership in Pennsylvania (19512) has no charge of course, but delivery by truck or international shipping is the responsibility of the buyer. 

As the seller describes it, “this is a well sorted RZ,” a daily rider that captures the feel of an earlier era of performance, with a couple modern touches. Unfortunately, there are no takers yet at the $13,000 starting bid, with just a few hours left on the auction. Is it too early in the season? Were the modifications just a bridge too far? Has the interest in two-strokes plateaued?

-tad

Sorted: 1986 Yamaha RZ500 for Sale
Yamaha March 3, 2019 posted by

Engine Contract – 1985 Yamaha RZ500

Sold before we went to press, still worth a look –  Donn

Like buyers of a Gulfstream business jet refer to their Pratt & Whitney engine maintenance agreement that just happened to come with an airplane, the Yamaha RZ500 was built around their smashing V-4 two-stroke.  This one has some miles but looks to be in special condition.

1985 Yamaha RZ500 for sale on eBay

Yamaha had some very good years in the 500cc MotoGP days, and the RZ500 ( known elsewhere as the RD500LC ) used a lot of race-derived ideas.  The engine is a masterpiece with the clutch gear-driven from twin crankshafts.  The Yamaha Power Valve System tailors exhaust port position electronically, helping widen the power band and lower emissions on the way to 88 hp.  The airbox surrounds the engine feeding four side-draft Mikunis, and water cooling is used to stabilize temperatures and limit noise.

The race bikes had gone to an aluminum DeltaBox frame, but the RZ kept the steel chassis, with semi-adjustable suspension on both ends, even anti-dive forks.  Strong tire stagger of 16-inch front and 18-inch rear should make turning in just a thought exercise.  A pillion is offered, but likely the painted cover doesn’t get removed often.  Starting is kick only, engaging the rider right off the bat.

Appearing pretty stock, there’s no readily apparent damage, but with the 1999 registration sticker inactivity might be an issue.  The ask is up there but in the middle of recent sales.  The senior rider from Michigan gives a few thoughts in the eBay auction:

All original. Never messed with. Been in my collection, stored inside with all fuel drained. Miles are 22,691, odometer as you know reads kilometers as these were never imported into the U.S. due to the EPA. She’s a great ride and gets lots of attention. Time to let her go as I am turning 70 soon and have been letting a few of my prized bikes go. Tires are great.

After being built for only a few years and selectively marketed, the RZ has an outsized reputation and a has had nice amount of import activity.  Yamaha stayed with the 500 two-stroke racer until 2002 when the FIM made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.  It would’ve been nice to see more years of development in the street machine as well.

-donn

Engine Contract – 1985 Yamaha RZ500

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