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Yamaha 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.



  • Is it the lighting, or do I see 2 Honda CBXs?

  • sure enough, and he mentions more to come in the comments… 🙂

  • RZ/RZV, 50’th anniversary,and the R7 are the best paint schemes to ever roll out of japan as far as Yamaha’s go! The V/H FZR (purple and yellow) 600’s on the other hand…….

  • this owner had a matching helmet, home taped I think, wish he’d put it in more of the pictures… 🙂

  • The rz500 was the first street bike I ever owned. It was 1998 and I was still in highschool. It was a great beginner bike, even did my motorcycle pilon test on one. It was a pussy cat under 5000rpm. Above it was a rocket ship, easy power wheelie.

  • I remember getting a lift back to a train station from the local motorbike shop on one of these after I traded my car for a VFR750 in 1990. Fk me! The sales guy wasn’t being gentle! I recall many wheelies and I’ll bet the dude remembers many bruises on his hips from my knees! Great bike!!

  • Heavier than a Honda goldwing with less power and worse handling. Wish Yamagata would have released a real gp like Suzuki did with the rg500. Still a collectible investment, but expect it to perform

  • Seriously? Heavier than a Goldwing? What an absolutely ridiculous claim.

    The RZ500 weighs 452 pounds dry. The 1985 Goldwing weighs 728 Pounds dry.

    The RZ500 handles and performs just fine. Most that claim it doesn’t have never ridden one properly. I have 2 of them, as well and as RG500 and NS400R.

  • In 1988 I worked at a Ford dealership in San Luis Obispo, Ca. A technician rode in on an 85 RZ500 and parked next to my 85 RZ350. He kept asking me to trade him straight across, but I wouldn’t do it. I remember his bike ran a little rough and smoked quite a bit.

  • I’ve owned 1 RZ500 and 2 RZV500’s (one heavily modified to a YZR500 replica) . I’m a Yamaha fan, just think they could have built a more powerful and lighter bike. Ok, maybe its lighter than a goldwing, it just feels heavier. All the same, they look the part of a GP replica which counts for something.

  • It certainly isn’t a light machine. Yamaha could have made it lighter, but with the V4 engine it would have been difficult to make a significant difference. They did a bit better with the RZV500. The RZV500 alloy frame is exactly 10 pounds lighter than the steel frame. Shame they didn’t use the alloy frame for the RZ/RD500.

    Building a YZR rep gives you the freedom needed to take weight off. Get rid of the boat anchor pipes and anything else not needed like the complete airbox assembly. Use lightweight rear sets, stock clocks, etc. If you use an RZV frame as well you are making real progress. Did you weigh your YZR rep when completed?

    The RG500 is a full 60 pounds lighter. 60 freaking pounds!

  • My RZR (RZ 350 MOTOR in an aluminum deltabox Yamaha FZR 400 frame) weighs 299 lbs dry! Not dyno’ed yet, but pushing high 70’s as duplicate modded Banshee motor mods have proven. By far the best marriage of motor to frame that is painless to register, the mountain of engine mods, power/weight/reliability ratio, and general hooligan fun. It is NOT a weekend bolt in but worth the pain in the ass, considering some other swaps Iv’e tried. Wondering if anybody has tried shoehorning a V-4 into the 400 frame? It looks like it might fit…And yes, I had to have the chambers custom fabbed, but used a cone kit from Doukas, and the thing does rip!

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