Yamaha made a name for itself in the US building giant-killing two-stroke parallel twins that powered the RD and later RZ models like this 1985 RZ350. The 347cc engine reatured liquid-cooling and made over 40hp stock, with plenty more available with careful tuning. While Honda largely focused on their heavy, but very sophisticated two and four-cylinder CB motorcycles, Yamaha’s whippy little two-strokes terrorized backroads and race tracks all over American and Europe, creating a cult following that persists to this day.
Two-strokes have never lacked top-end power, but their light-switch power delivery left something to be desired for street riders and, in th 1980’s Acronym Wars, the “power valve” was born. Yamaha’s version was, of course, known as the YPVS that used a computer to adjust the exhaust ports. The “Yamaha Power Valve System” plumped up the midrange of the raspy little two-stroke, meaning you could have your cake and eat it, too. Assuming you didn’t mind a little blue smoke in your eyes…
From the original eBay listing: 1985 Yamaha RZ350 for Sale
The 1985 Kenny Roberts Edition RZ350LC offered here is one of the quite rare leftover models with revised graphics that somewhat resembled the 1983 UK versions, but with gold rims and the Kenny Roberts signature, originally sold as an RZ350NC2 in California only from late 1985-6. It has been owned from new by only two enthusiasts and has been very tastefully modified with an original 1985 full fairing and Corbin Gunfighter single seat. Mechanically, the hugely desirable Pro-Design Cool Head was installed for increased cooling, and a Toomey exhaust.
The bike runs exceptionally well. It starts easily, idles well and has great power delivery. It shifts through all gears perfectly with a good clutch. Suspension feels taut and the brakes work very well, front and rear. Cosmetically the bike is in good condition with the usual scuffs of a bike with 17,000 miles, that is 32 years old.
The bike comes with a clean, clear California title and a substantial box of spare parts, including stock fairing, original exhaust pipes, turn signals, etc.
These are not bikes for the inexperienced or faint-hearted, with huge wheelie-popping performance on tap when the revs rise.
This particular RZ350 features a very stylish full-fairing that I’ve seen on several bikes for sale recently. I’m not sure if it was a factory option or not but, painted to match, makes for a very nice machine with light weight and bike-bike style. Parts availability to keep an RZ running should be no problem, but the included spare parts is just icing on the cake.
A price of $6,900 means you’re looking at the higher-end in terms of pricing for these, but it looks like you’re getting a well cared-for, thoughtfully-improved, and very practical classic for your money.