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California Dreaming: 1985 Yamaha RZ350

Today’s find is a rare and wonderful thing. Not only is it a fantastic Yamaha RZ350 in classic racing colors, it also appears to be completely stock and original. And this is the funny bit here – in that this is perhaps the rarest of the RZ350s, given that this is an original California model. When released this would have been the heaviest and potentially most choked up model due to the additional EVAP canisters and extra-stringent emissions rules. But today the stock bits that made the RZ350 C.A.R.B. compliant in California are all but unobtainable – making this bike such a rare example of originality.

1985 Yamaha RZ350 for sale on eBay

The tech used to make the RZ350 50-state legal was substantial, but rather well known in automotive circles. Since we all know (and love) the blue smoke that emanates from a two-stroke, it should come as no surprise that the smoke is unburned hydrocarbons from the oil mixed in the gas. The oil is necessary to lube the bottom end, as two strokes do not have a crankcase full of oil. Additionally, two strokes have very dirty exhaust gas as some of the intake charge goes right out the exhaust port at the best of times. The smoky exhaust is evidence of greenhouse gas and particulate matter that are two major causes of pollution – which, in LA at least, caused a horrible brown haze that blanketed the valley and persisted throughout the year. By introducing catalytic converters into the heavy exhaust pipes, Yamaha sought to burn off some of the excess fuel ejected by the cylinders. The converters required an additional air bleed to aid in burning, which is some of the additional exhaust tubing (and reason why expansion chambers are the #1 performance mod made to these bikes). In California there is the added fun of the evaporative canister, which aims to capture any escaping fuel vapors. This is why CA bikes have a veritable spaghetti bowl of rubber tubing out of the tank. This was a lot of work for Yamaha, and the complexity meant that CA was a one year only bike.

From the seller:
Here is your chance to own one of the cleanest, unrestored Yamaha RZ 350s out there.

The Good:
– Darn near showroom new
– 11,000 miles, but you would believe me if I said 3,000 miles
– Body work (9.5/10)
– Has never been repainted
– Frame paint is close to mint
– Never been dropped
– Bolt plating looks factory new
– Forks look new
– Wheels look new
– Stock pipes are mint, no scrapes or scratches
– No rust in the gas tank
– All original decals, even on the gas tank and gas cap
– California RZ so it has the extra smog canister
– Motor has never been out of the bike
– Comes with its original tool kit
– Still has the rubber headlight gasket
– On original top end
– Runs fantastically

More from the seller:
The Bad:
– Bit of wear on the handlebars from tie downs and the key on the ring
– A little paint coming off the right hand brake caliper and brake master
– Rubber piece that goes around the fairing is kind of dry and needs some glue

The Neutral:
– The owner before me had cleared the side covers, front fender, and fairing years ago because he wanted it to match the tank better

More from the seller:
Please look at the pictures to see how clean this bike really is. I included a photo with the fairing swung down so you can see how clean it is underneath. I know there are cheaper RZs out there, but they aren’t as clean or original as this one.

So there you have it. What was likely the least desirable RZ when new due to the additional emissions equipment has turned into a time capsule and an ultra rare offering today. This bike looks far, far better than a 36 year old motorcycle should, especially when you consider some of the more, um, well-used examples seen on these pages recently. The price reflects the condition and originality, with an auction already above $8k (reserve not met) and a Buy It Now of $16,500. It will be interesting to see how high the bidding goes on this California special. You can check out all of the details here. Good Luck!!

3 Comments

  • I can’t remember why I thought I should save all the California emissions parts that were routinely removed from several bikes over the years. They ended up in a box in the garage that I just threw out last month. I guess I understand the idea of complete originality, but I’m still not feelin’ it. Nice to see a super clean RZ, though.

  • You don’t them like that very often all stock

  • I have noticed completely stock unmolested vintage motorcycles definitely bring higher prices than modified ones.
    I purchased a used RZ350 years ago that I searched out and purchased the removed stock exhaust and emission equipment that mostly ended up in the landfill, now the parts are rare, hard to find and worth money.
    I always save stock parts but I am also a packrat.

Comment rules: Add something useful and constructive, and don't be a jerk. Comments that don't add value will be deleted. Comments will automatically close after 30 days. Thank you. -dc

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