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Yamaha posted by

Inflation: 1985 Yamaha RZ350

The collector world is on a tear. After years of pandemic caution, the floodgates are open and trading has resumed with gusto. With that activity comes excitement, renewed interest in classic models, and the commensurate rise in pricing. Yes, values are going up; and that is not just conjecture. As Blair, Tootie, Jo and Natalie will tell you, it’s the facts of life. At the sharp end of the market shift is the RZ350. Always popular with readers and riders, the RZ350 highlights the post-pandemic collecting frenzy with $20k + auction results as proof. As a result, we are seeing more and more RZs on the market, with all sellers looking to ride the pricing wave.

1985 Yamaha RZ350 for sale on eBay

Rather than regurgitate the same details and specs of the RZ, let’s highlight some model differences and what makes a collector bike a collector bike. We have seen a TON of lesser quality examples in the past, and even these are enjoying a pricing boost. But the $20k and above examples need to be clean, low mileage and *original* specimens. With the RZ350, the opening performance surgery to be done was to drop the heavy and restrictive catalytic converter mufflers and replace them with a lightweight set of performance expansion chambers. This required some upstream changes in the form of air filter and jetting. Often the oil pump was disengaged or completely removed, reducing parasitic mechanical drag and forcing the bike to run on pre-mix. Heads could be milled for greater compression, ports could be massaged, bores could be increased. All of this boosts HP, and all have a serious impact on long-term values for collectors.

From the seller:
This is my 1985 Yamaha RZ 350 that is unrestored and original right down to its Yokohama tires that it rolled out of the showroom on! Seriously a quality Museum motorcycle, It has 2694 miles on it and has not been ridden since 1987! Original unused tool kit in tail section, I have the two original keys one on a Kenny Roberts key fob from Modesto, CA. It also has a Kenny Roberts license plate frame! This RZ was purchased at Kenny Roberts Yamaha in Modesto, Ca.! I have the original manuals and a Brochure.. I have a clean California title in my name, It has been non-popped since 1990… Very Collectable and definitely a quality addition to someones Man cave….

Perhaps the most rare of the RZs are the California models. CA requires additional evaporative canisters and fuel tank plumbing to minimize the environmental impacts of any internal combustion petrol engine. (Say what you want about the complexity and power-robbing functionality – but Los Angeles air is noticeably cleaner since the California Air Resource Board mandates). The CA-required pieces are often the first to cast off the bike. That raises the stakes for a CA bike that claims to be 100% original. And THAT is what makes today’s bike so interesting. A very clean 1985 model, this CA bike looks to be complete as if from the showroom, including all CA emissions equipment and stock exhaust. And with just 2,694 miles on the clock, the seller claims the tires are original as well!

A great looking, original condition California bike, I expect this particular example to pique the interest of those looking for this model in preserved condition. The seller notes that this bike has been sitting since 1987, which is echoed by the overall condition. The obvious caveat for those who want to ride the rails off of this thing is that it may require some re-commissioning in the form of a leak-down test (for crank seal condition) and tires as a starter. But that is minor work that would surely be worthwhile for an RZ in this stunning condition. Pricing is directly in line with condition, along with the 2022 premium based on past auctions and high aspirations. If the near $30k Buy It Now ask seems too high, the seller is open to offers. Check out all the details here, and then let’s sit back and watch how far the market has moved upwards on clean and pristine RZs. Good Luck!!

MI

13 Comments

  • Another speculator jumping on the RZ 350 bandwagon. Shades of the “California Gold Rush”. . .
    I wonder what condition those crankshaft seals are in?

  • Memo to me. READ THE DESCRIPTION FIRST! Sorry . . .

  • The biggest bummer for me about the arguably ridiculous prices these are commanding these days is I would be afraid to ride the damn thing.

  • Here is sort of a riddle for you guys. Collector bikes were climbing in price steadily, and when the China Virus hit, prices started going up even more. Now we have complete insanity. Is this a “last hurrah” from rich retired white guys, as petrol fueled vehicles will cease production soon? What will the market be like in 8 years when the ban hits? I’ve read it’s not just old guys driving up prices, but Millennials are in bidding wars over old Bronco’s and 240Z’s. They must figure fuel will be available and affordable as gas stations become charging stations?

    • I dont see access to fuel going away. Will it become more expensive, sure. Will that drive people to use it sparingly? Absolutely. And if you were going to burn the limited liquid, why not save it for an interesting experience like a collectable vintage motorcycle?
      Millennials are not kids anymore. They have good jobs, money and access to credit. They are at the age that they want to start collecting and have entered the market in force.

      $30k might sound like a lot of money, but it is FAR less then the price of an average new car so in relative terms it is very attainable. The issue is the memory of some long time enthusiasts. They remember the pricing when these were just “used” bikes, not the sought after collectable.

      The average boomer was 45 in 2000. What bike was he spending $20k on that year that sounded crazy, but ended up being the right move? Could you get a 1973 Ducati 750SS? What was a Black Shadow?

  • Don’t mean to be a Debbie downer but I can’t help to think we could be in for a crash, It seems like we are overdue, especially the crisis with Russia that is happening now. I hope I am wrong because I have a nice collection of cool two strokes but I enjoy them more than the money I could sell them for. Stay tuned.

  • Yup, our friends the Chinese and the Russians are conspiring right now to replace the US dollar as the global reserve currency. Watch out if that happens.

  • Hahahahahah $30,000. Some people have more money than brains. That bike is worth $5,000 not a penny more. I bought my first RZ at Grenada Hills Yamaha in 1985 for $1,999. Yes they were fantastic machines, as all two strokes are. But these prices are nuts

  • Vince, it has been at least 8 years since these were $5,000. But there has been a silly buying frenzy as of late. I wonder what the RZ500;s will start going for. ?

  • Insanity. This seller is just testing to see if there is someone out there who doesn’t know better. This bike might be worth $14-16 in today’s market. If it was a yellow/black version, then add a few thousands to the price.

  • I remember when these were bag boy bikes.

  • The main problem seems to be the same as with the vintage muscle car market in that a high percent off the buyers appear to be interested in the return on investement rather than actual motorcyclists thus depriving those who wish to ride them and use them as intended in the first place. I learned to use my tires right to their edges on 1985 RZ 500. About 8 years ago I searched for one to get back into riding after being away for 15 years ,becuse off family obligation and such, I fell off my seat when I saw the prices ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 just for a decent one without to much mileage and reasonably roadworthy!

  • ha, just saw a RG500 Walter Wolf version on a craigslist type site, here in Canada. Fella was asking $60,000 Canadian

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