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Red, White and Blue (smoke): 1984 Yamaha RZ350

The RZ market is pretty crazy right now. RSBFS staffers have seen bikes of all types of condition with pricing all over the map. We’ve seen bargains, we’ve seen riders and we’ve seen basket cases. We’ve come across amazing time capsules of authenticity, and seen the results of ambitious projects (sometimes gone bad). The bottom line is that the lowly RZ350 is as close to a sure thing as you are going to get in the current market. Regardless of condition, we are seeing these bikes sell. That must be pretty exciting for RZ owners out there. And for those in the market for the last of the street legal factory smokers, the good news is that we continue to see a good supply of the model. Which brings us to today’s example: a low mileage, red and white example of the breed that seems to have survived the ravages of time and riders.

1984 Yamaha RZ350 for sale on eBay

For those of you who missed the heyday of the two stroke, pull up a chair. You see children, back before people realized that they liked to breathe and came to the realization that vehicles spewing out noxious smoke, visible gasses and other delicious cancer-causing fumes were not a great long-term health plan, pretty much anything could be put on the road. And like any other performance category, sport motorcycles were all about low weight and high power. And pound for pound, a two stroke is a far more potent form of motive power than a heavier, more complicated four stroke. Sure, they sounded like chainsaws. Yes, they often disappeared in clouds of blue smoke. Indeed, they were a pain in the butt at the gas pump – not only did they get crappy gas mileage, riders had to mix oil into the gas in a precise ratio. But the payoffs were (almost) worth it when the tach swung up past 7,500 RPM or so and the power band began. Below that there was nothing, and with only a narrow RPM range of usable power, these were not the easiest mounts to ride in anger. The EPA started cracking down in the 1970s, and by the early 1980s the smoking party was over. But it was damn fun while it lasted.

From the seller:
Up for sale is a 1984 Yamaha RZ350. This bike is in Museum quality condition. Paint on entire bike is original and in like new condition. This bike comes with the dual seat option. exhaust resinators where removed at some point. If you are looking at this bike then I’m sure you aware of its heritage and the somewhat rareness of it. There are only 2 minor flaws, 1- the windscreen has a sratch on the painted area. 2- The tank has one dent on the left side.

The RZ350 is the little bike that could. Pitted against 550 and 600 cc four stroke machines, the little screamer could hold its own. But to even get it on the road, Yamaha had to throw a lot of technology into the form factor. An exhaust power valve automatically adjusted the exhaust port height depending upon specific conditions, making the parallel twin more efficient. Evaporation canisters to capture fuel vapors were starting to appear, and exist on the RZ. But the real secrets were hidden in the exhaust pipes. What looked like two stroke chambers were really a complex series of catalytic converters with air injection. These made it possible to import the RZ into nearly all 50 states for it’s limited run of 2 years (CA only received 1985 model year bikes).

This particular RZ has very few miles on it for the age (4,028). It looks to be in decent condition, although it may not have been an indoor pet all of it’s life given some of the light corrosion. The seller points out the relatively small flaws of windscreen scratch and tank blemish, but otherwise all parts appear to be attached. The pipes are not the stock units, and there appear to be some other small aftermarket additions over time (fuel line and filter, for example). The term “museum” is an ambiguous word that comes up all too often in adverts. Calling this example out as museum quality depends upon the type of museum you frequent. This is not a zero mile, just been un-crated, never been run, never been rode or never been parked outside type of bike. This is certainly a low mileage survivor, and for those that want to ride, this is usually the better option. The seller is asking for some pretty strong numbers for this bike – but the market will pay what the market can bear. You can’t fault someone for asking, and the Buy It Now approach with a willingness to accept offers might just be a great way for the seller and buyer to meet closer to the middle. Check it out here – there is not a lot of text but a good number of decent pictures. And then you just have to answer one more question: Do you RZ? Good Luck!!

MI

22 Comments

  • Does not look like museum quality to me.. Exhaust looks strange.

  • Another wildly optimistic and very imaginative seller. That seems to be the new normal lately.

    There is absolutely no chance that the odometer is actual mileage. All you need to do is look at the ignition switch and the front master cylinder. Plenty to question if you are a buyer. Pipes look like AllSpeed.

    Suitable for a very small and dimly lit museum.

  • Non-cat stock pipes/cans, double wall and the most crash worthy pipes you can get for an RZ350. Not bad power either, and pretty quiet. I think all Canadian spec RZ’s came with these…

  • What is with every bike being described as “Museum Quality” It looks like it is in very nice shape but it’s got some obvious wear, scratches and needs a good detailing. Not ready for any Museum. What’s with the weird pipes?

    I had two of these in the Black/Yellow, fun bikes but I can’t see paying 11k for it LOL You can a lot of bike of 11k. Plus, if you are gonna ask insane prices it should be in the CORRECT Yellow/Blackcolor…….

    The seller should take a trip to Alabama and visit the Barber Museum to see what real Museum Quality bike looks like..

  • Hmmm, “VPVS Power” that must be a new Yamaha power valve thingy LOL

    Seems every bike these days is “Museum Quality” which no includes scratches, dents and incomplete exhausts…….

  • “Museum Quality”…….the modern equivalent of the old Cycle Trader (paper copy) terms “immaculate” and “mint.” 😄

  • Love the corrosion on this museum piece.

  • Definitely not the stock pipes on any Canadian RZ350 that I’ve seen or owned.

  • These are museum quality bikes http://www.classic-motorbikes.com/en/moto/motos-de-course-en/

  • The RZ forum has been all over this thing.

    Really poor condition for something described as museum quality. Corrosion on frame, scratches through the paint on the bodywork. Mirrors and pipes have scratches.

    The pipes are NOT stock pipes from any market. They are not double walled nor are they CDN market originals. They look like factory brand or allspeed pipes that are missing bits.

    Not sure what Robert A is on about. This is a CORRECT color scheme. This and the Yellow/black are the 2 options in the states.

    The RZ market moved by a leap a couple years ago. Price have been relatively flat since. Here you are looking at a seller misrepresenting a bike and listing on eBay because it is essentially free to do at any price you choose. Unfortunate they have recieved many additional views due to these posts and will likely continue to operate in this near fraudulent manner…

  • Thanks for the link! Cool bikes there for sure! Wish they had prices but can’t blame them for not.

  • I had the same color scheme ’85 RZ350 in California back in 1988. I bought all new plastics for it at the corner Yamaha dealer then sold it with 7500 miles on it. K&N pods, Toomey pipes and I forget what else. Wrapped the speedo way past 120mph on the 101 late one night. Sold it for $2500 in 1989 and it looked perfect and ran perfect. I still remember the power wheelies it would do. BEST BIKE EVER.

  • !00% NOT the original exhaust

  • “Not sure what Robert A is on about. This is a CORRECT color scheme. This and the Yellow/black are the 2 options in the states.”

    i was joking as I and many folks prefer the Black and yellow color scheme. I am aware it came with both from the factory but in my opinion you just can’t compare the 2, Yellow and Black all the way for an RZ

  • Not Factory (FPP), Bassani, or Allspeeds, They are Yamaha pipes with the cans gutted. Google it…

  • Although I agree with the assessment that it’s not “museum quality, I think responders on this forum are often too quick to accuse sellers of being dishonest and misrepresenting their bikes. I honestly think in most cases the sellers are either misinformed or simply don’t know any better and are maybe a bit biased by their ownership.

    My first street bike when I turned 16 was a Kenny Roberts bumble bee RZ which I had for over 20 years until my father and I sold our bikes (his a 1981 Canadian model RD-350) as a package for 6k five years ago. With the current market, I’m really kicking myself now for making that decision being that I could probably get at least that for just the RZ these days. I rarely regret selling bikes, but that is indeed one of them!

  • Not sure what you’re looking at on Google Big Bang, but they are not stock Yamaha pipes. This bike is a US spec 48H 1984 NON-California model and it should have cigar shaped pipes just like every other RZ350 sold that year. I have owned, built, and restored every model year of RZ350 sold in North America (1983-1990) and I assure you that no Yamaha RZ350 ever made came with those pipes as standard from Yamaha. All 1984 and 1985 models in the US came with cigar shaped pipes (with catalytic converters for 1EL California models), as did the Canadian 1983 and 1984 RZ350. The pipes are very obviously aftermarket. The springs are clearly visible at the end of the head pipes at the cylinders.

    The pipes are Allspeed with the baffles removed. You can see them here https://www.ebay.ie/itm/281478054007

    Google RZ350 Allspeed pipes and you’ll find many examples exactly the same as the pipes on this bike.

    Anyone unfamiliar with the RZ350 really should check out the facts at http://www.rd350lc.net The entire history of the RZ350/RD350 YPVS is there, including details and photos. It is the main resource site for restorers and anoraks.

  • […] view as to what it is and what it is worth. As such, we find this second red/white RZ350 in a week (see the first one here), and are all too happy to share what looks like an original example of the […]

  • Thanks for the links, JR. I always wondered why the US bikes had that odd looking “heat shield” on the pipes. Is the extra catalytic converter the sole reason for the hp drop vs the Canadian versions and can this be gained back by simply swapping pipes?
    @Robert A, Too bad the Yellow/Black bikes were the slowest! – just kidding. I wish that colour scheme would have been available on the ‘86 full fairing model sold in Canada.

    Really enjoy the posted comments on this site, cheers all!

  • Cigars were catalytic converters, with fresh or new air to aid in un-burned emissions. Non cat pipes were double wall (in critical heat areas of the pipe/s in non cat models. These fresh air systems were engineered with reed(flap) valves in the body, thereby resulting in a way to “reburn” the exhaust that the cat did not consume until 1250 deg. Hence the warning buzzer on the Cal. spec (and I believe the 49 state model, as well) Color had nothing to do with engine configuration or performance, given the model, unless of course we are talking about the non YPVS model, which of course would be an LC, not an RZ, The LC models are easily distinguished by the wheels, assuming they were stock fitments. in the 349cc powerplant. The RZ Cup bikes that I followed at Westwood, B.C. and Seattle Intl. and Portland Intl and the few that showed up at Sears Point Intl. had these pipes, double wall, one piece pipe/silencer exhaust systems we lovingly refered to as “cast iron chambers”. These were all one color, and made of steel, with no aluminum cans. I hope this bit of info helps…The sheer #’s and models of the RD/RZ/LC’s are staggering, especially when you consider number of continental markets they ended up in. Question for you? How many displacements and cylinder configurations were made of the liquid cooled YPVS/LC models? Betcha can’t guess… By the way, there is an RZ 50… Yep, a one lunger, and yep a water pumper…

  • Thanks for the response, Big Bang.

    I am still confused, but my colour comment was a joke that obviously failed. The yellow paint scheme was only available in the US, and it appears all US bikes had less hp than the versions offered in Canada, no matter the colour. It seemed to do with the different OEM pipes the US bikes came with, but I was unsure if this was the only factor attributing to the hp difference?

    Sorry to beat this pipe issue to death.

    Cheers!

  • Hi Canada72. At the time the US had the most restrictive emissions laws in the world. The US also had different gasoline formulas than rest of world. The catalytic converters helped meet EPA regulations, but they added weight. And they don’t work all on their own. They are very sensitive to what they ingest, meaning that US bikes were detuned a bit to keep everything functional. I would guess carbs, jetting, and possibly compression, porting and the movement of the YPVS valve were all different in US bikes.

    All the standard two stroke mods work on US bikes – pipes and re-jetting carbs for Stage I, all the way to porting work (mild or wild) and compression changes to really maximize power. The US bikes simply had a lower starting point with which to work.

    – Mike

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