1979 Yamaha Daytona Special

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The world was changing, and when the calendar flipped from 1979 to 1980, one of the things that did not make it was the street legal, 2-stroke motorcycle. This 1979 Yamaha Daytona Special was a one year only production bike which began as a celebration of Yamaha’s success at the Daytona track. It became the last year 2-stokes to be sold for the streets of America.


From the seller

  • One of a kind 1979 Yamaha RD400 Daytona Special.
  • This is the only year the Daytona Special was made and the last year that Yamaha made the RD 400.
  • Fitted with a custom modified TZ250 fairing in factory works bike colors.
  • Other features include: Expansion chambers, fiber reeds, clip on handle bars, custom built rear sets (with buddy pegs), Michelin racing compound tires.
  • Second owner.
  • 16,669 miles.
  • New battery, recent brake fluid flush/bleed.
  • Always garaged and covered. Rarely ridden since the early 90’s. Last licensed 2012.

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Yamaha had first offered the the RD350 in 1973,  and had used much of what had been learned on the race track, and put it into Yamaha street bikes. One of these lessons was the use of a reed valve induction system. This offered the street bike a much wider power band, and additional air/fuel to help keep the piston cool and moving up and down. Nothing ended the joy of riding 2-strokes then a seized piston. 1975 was the fist year of  the RD400 and with the increase in displacement came improvements in the  electrics, handling, and miles per gallon. Further tuning had also tamed the the engine a little more.

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Back of the baseball card

1979 Yamaha RD400F Daytona Special
Claimed power: 30hp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 98mph (period test)
Engine: 398 air-cooled 2-stroke parallel twin, 64mm x 54mm bore and stroke, 6.4:1 compression ratio
Weight (w/have tank fuel): 372lb (169kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4.6gal (40-50mpg)


Kenny Roberts and Mike Baldwin were both Yamaha riders and both were dominating AMA racing in the United States. In 1979 the RD400F Daytona Special was commissioned to celebrate Yamaha’s winning ways at the famous track. But with increased EPA restrictions and regulations, the Daytona was also the end. The new regulations required extra hoses, valves and do dads to cut down on emissions. A large request from an engine designed to create as much blue smoke as power.

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Honest seller notes

Now the bad stuff: Speedo is sluggish (I have been told the oil in them gels from infrequent use), It is missing the headlight high/low switch (it is set on low beam), the seat is starting to separate at the front seam and is showing some checking and one small crack (see picture), one small dent in lower front fender.

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The seller of this 1979 Yamaha Daytona Special added a great full fairing to this last hurrah of 2-strokes in the US. The RD400F had evolved from its early incarnations to become a much smoother and less dramatic motorcycle that could have become so much more. But with the world turning from 2-strokes to 4 strokes, Yamaha ended an era on top. BB

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2 Responses

  1. Terry says:

    Factually, 1985 was the last year for street-legal two-stroke motorcycles in the US. The federal government outlawed them for the model year 1986, with the ’85 Yamaha RZ 350 as the last hurrah for “smokers” in the states. Ironically, it was the very beginning of liquid-cooled two-stroke technological boom that would blossom to great heights and awesome models over the next few years. But, alas, Americans never got them — legally!

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