For Sale: 1985 Yamaha RZ500
If you find yourself wanting a RZ500 (or heck, any killer two stroke) but don’t have the bones to pony up for a perfectly preserved stocker like this one, a well-used example might be your best bet. This can be the most rewarding route to a grey-market bike, but unless you are mechanically inclined and willing to scour the internet for parts (if they are available at all), this can also be the most frustrating route to follow. Thankfully today’s bike runs (see video below) and appears to have most of its parts attached.
The RZ500 – as has been well-reported in the pages of RSBFS – is a wonderful combintation of 500cc, V-4, two-stroke power housed in a basic yet adequate mild steel frame (only the Japanese-spec RZV received the aluminum frame treatment). These bikes were never brought to the US shores, so those that exist in the country today are likely imported from our Canadian friends and neighbors. This particular bike is still on the other side of that aforementioned border, so plan to play the import game unless that’s where you are too.
From the seller:
Extremely rare exotic factory street legal replica of the OW series Yamaha world championship GP bike. V-four water cooled two stroke with electronically controlled power valves. If you are not familiar with the RZ500 (also known as RD500), google it, there is lots of information out there.
This one is best described as battle scarred. Mechanically it is OK except for the carburettors which need rebuilding – they have been cleaned but they leak. There are just under 36,000 km on the odometer, which translates to about 22,500 miles. Compression is 100 pounds on all four cylinders as tested with an old school hand held compression tester. It will need a new front tire, and probably steering head bearings. It has new front brake pads, new fork seals, new battery, transmission oil, fork oil and the coolant have been changed.
I am not the original owner, and I don’t know much about the history of it, a neighbor had it, who got it from a guy who owed his dad money. I talked him into selling it, cleaned it up, registered it in my name and insured it. Like the girl with curl, when she is good she is very very good, and when she is bad she is horrid 🙁 The main issue will be getting it to idle consistently, it works great for a while, then the carbs dump a mess of fuel into the air intake and it stops idling and responds badly to throttle below about 4000 rpm. Whatever, I am too old for this bike, and it needs to go.
RZ500s and Gammas are getting some crazy money these days. I must say that I love the livery on this bike (reminds me of Lawson at his best) and despite the seller indicating that it is a bit of beater, it definitely has a 50 foot appeal. Sounds like some carb work might be in order, and you might consider hammering out that expansion chamber for maximum power. Throw a new set of sticky buns on, and ride it like it was meant to be ridden. Purists might wave a rattle can at it and brighten it up, but paint won’t make you go faster (assuming that is your goal).
This Canadian project is waiting for you! The starting bid is a very reasonable $4,000, which is far, far less than most of these bikes. With a little elbow grease and some know-how, you too could be riding a GP-inspired two stroke. Click the link to jump over to the auction, and start those internet searches for parts and carb kits!