I’ve only recently become an acolyte in the Church of Smokers. Growing up, I mostly heard them in the context of dirt bikes ripping up and down our street, and the angry, mechanical-insect noise isn’t really the sexiest… But I’ve opened my mind to the antisocial little things, and this bike might make a great introduction to two-stroke ownership.
Sold between 1984 and 1985 in the US, the YamahaRZ350 was powered by a liquid-cooled, two-stroke parallel-twin that displaced 347cc’s. This long-serving powerplant was introduced in 1983, with variants finding home in select Yamahas until 2006.
Evolved from the RD350, the RZ added liquid-cooling and Yamaha’s torque-enhancing power-valve technology dubbed, originally enough, “YPVS.” Can you guess what that stands for? This computer-controlled system helped to smooth out the traditionally peaky power delivery of the two-stroke, plumping the mid-range for improved street usability.
A terror on back roads of the time, the RZ350 was literally one of the best-handling bikes you could buy at any price. Remember, this was before the GSX-R750 was introduced, and while many bikes made more power, they were usually correspondingly heavy and unwieldy: the RZ was light and nimble, with a powerband that needed chasing and a gearbox that rewarded the rider for doing so, a real enthusiast’s motorcycle.
Fresh Paint about 5 years ago
Frame was powder coated
Couple of chips in front fender and a couple of nicks in stickers but otherwise paint is sparkling. Looks like a new bike!
DG – Pipes
K&N Air filter
Aluminum battery box
In the family since 1990
Bidding is active and there are just a couple days left on the auction, with the Reserve Not Met at $3,900. These can really run the gamut in terms of quality and state of tune. This one is largely stock and has been repainted, but ridden, which is as it should be.
The RZ is the epitome of a “useable classic:” these are fun to ride, with plenty of power. They’re striking to look at with a strong community of experts and amateurs to help you keep your little bumblebee buzzing. Parts availability is excellent and includes a wide range of updated parts, owing to the long production run of these two-strokes into the modern era, with many parts easily retrofitted to improve reliability and performance.
Alright, this might be another example of me using my editorial discretion to include a bike that doesn’t really fit into the traditional image of a “sportbike”: racy ergonomics, roadcourse pedigree, maybe a fairing to tuck in behind… But it doesn’t really take much of a stretch to include something that looks to be as capable as this Yammie on a twisting back road.
The Japanese assault on the US market is remembered now for the range of four-cylinder models from Honda and Kawasaki, but the supporting players were many and varied. While the European manufacturers were struggling through this same period, making evolutionary upgrades to their core products with a very limited range of engines, the Japanese continued to introduce models in a nearly dizzying array of configurations and displacements: two-stroke and four-stroke singles, twins, and triples all made their contributions.
The Yamaha XS650 parallel-twin was introduced in 1968 and featured very modern specifications: overhead cam valve-actuation and unit construction, with a reliable electric start added in 1972. The 360 degree twin was revvier than British contemporaries due to its lighter flywheel and the bike was made, in one version or another, until 1985.
This heavily-customized, flat-track styled machine is entirely appropriate, as the XS650 was used for a while by “King” Kenny Roberts in dirt-track racing.
Has 07-08 Yamaha R1 wheeels. New tires 120/17-200/17. Swingarm off a Kawasaki ZRX1100,front end is a GSXR750. Pro Taper Bars and Platform Pegs. Gold Shorie Levers.L.E.D. Head Light and tail lights.Problem with starter gear,bikes kick starts.Front pipe is a Mac and rear is custom made.Paint done my Devils Candy of Daytona.Two into one intake with a 36mm Mikuni carb.Point style ign.Bike was Featured in Mays issue of Street Fighter Magizine.Stainless brake lines.Vortex rear sprocket and custom made 5/8 off set front sprocket.
While the paint is slightly… individualistic, it looks to be very professionally done and hey, it might be your thing. As they say: “that’s what makes horse racing.” Same thing with the headlight: the LED look might be a bit too modern, but that’d be simple to fix with something more classic, or more in keeping with the flat-track style. Say, a projector-beam poking through a number plate painted to match?
A switch to a classic red/white scheme would make for a classic-looking ride with modern levels of grip from the modern tires. And that swingarm looks terrific while providing rigidity to resist the forces the new wheel and tire combo can likely generate.
What’s this worth? Well the original XS650’s can be purchased for dirt-cheap, but plenty of professional work has clearly gone into this. Bidding is currently at $4,500 with just a day and a half to go, and that looks like a pretty good deal for the fun this bike promises.
For Sale: 1984 Yamaha RZ 350 and 1985 Yamaha RZ 350
It’s really hard to miss these bumble bee yellow RZs. With their bright Yamaha / Kenny Roberts graphics and twin cylinder, 350cc two stroke engines and boy racer good looks, they continue to be very popular on this site and over on RSBFS. Here we have not one, but TWO nice examples of the breed.
This ’84 model bike is very clean, and looks to be quite original. It still has the original exhaust system, which has catalytic converters hidden in the exhaust pipes to help it squeek past the EPA. Those pipes are heavy and far from the optimal expansion-chamber shape for maximum power, so they are usually the first casualties when the modification man comes to visit. The bike has 17k on the odometer – which is more than we usually see on these bikes – but the condition is such that one wouldn’t really notice it; the cleanliness speaks for itself.
From the seller:
This is a clean original 3 owner1984 Yamaha R350 Kenny Roberts Edition in excellent condition with 17,490 miles and runs excellent. This bike is in 99.9% OEM condition, the only parts not OEM are the stainless steel braided lines, the carb vent hoses, fuel lines, a fuel shut off, and the “warning” sticker is missing from the wind screen. The carburetor was completely rebuilt with new internal parts including OEM metal reed valves, floats, hing pins, needle valve sets etc…. In addition to this, all of the coolant lines have been replaced, the rubber inserts in the foot pegs were replaced, I replaced the handle bars because the black coating was rubbed off, the rubber on the kick start was replaced, and any clamp or screw that was not perfect was also replaced. All replacement parts were Yamaha OEM parts and I have ALL of the parts that I took off the bike. The power valve controller along with the ignition module both work flawlessly. The bike speaks for itself. This bike runs strong and the engine has not been rebuilt. Every cable and hose is run properly per the Yamaha OEM spec and every zip tie, hose clamp, rubber bands, vent hose, etc is run per the Yamaha OEM specification. The fairings look beautiful, the tires are near new with virtually no wear. I will also include a 3 ring binder with the Yamaha micro fiche copied for this bike, the original manual under the seat, and the Yamaha Factory Service Manual.
The flaws: the coolant lens on the dash has 2 small cracks in it, the paint around the brake master cylinder is partially missing from coming in contact with the fluid, there are 3 small paint chips in the gas tank (one on each side and one on the top).
While there is no doubt that this RZ is in fine looking shape, there is an anomaly with the appearance of the engine: The cylinder jacket on this particular bike is unfinished, where on a stock RZ it is painted black. Often, this is the result of an engine teardown and top-end rebuild. The seller claims that a previous owner “cleaned” off the cylinder, but I will leave the judgement up to you. Aside from that issue and the loads of spare parts (seems odd to have that many mods and “spares” for a 99.9% OEM correct bike), this looks to be about one of the best RZs that I have seen in a while. For more information, more pictures, and a chance to own this beauty, check out .
The second RZ today is also a yellow/black model, but is from 1985. Not much changed on these bikes over the 2-year span of their existence in the US, but this bike is a little different than the first. Note the aftermarket exhaust system, which places the bike in a higher state of tune. If done correctly, the carbs will have also been re-jetted to take advantage of the pipes’ breathing ability. Note also that this one has a solo seat cover, which does give the bike a more sporting look.
From the seller:
The bike we are offering here came from a collector in his early 60s. He never raced the bike and always kept it out of the elements. It has 12,000 miles on it and runs and rides magnificently! Cosmetically it is beautiful. There are some small paint checks under the decals (very common for these). These are getting impossible to find that haven’t been trashed. Great investment!
This bike also looks great. The expansion chambers are a period correct modification, and really make a substantial difference in power. The solo seat was a factory/dealer available option if I recall correctly, and enhances the bike’s looks and value. This one also has some engine curiosities, however. Note on this ’85 bike the engine is painted entirely black – which is how it came stock – but the head has also been painted black. Normally, there is a white rectangle with the letters “YPVS” (Yamaha Power Valve System) in black, but here they have been painted over. Again, this points to a possible top-end rebuild somewhere along the line, although not a guarantee. Those interested should contact the seller directly for more information.
For more information, more pictures, and details on how to contact the seller, check out .
Since these were not terribly expensive machines, most of them have been thrashed within inches of their lives. It is nice to find two great examples still around. Prices are definitely on the rise for these little screamers, so if you are in the market to collect one this might well be your chance. Good luck and don’t forget to stock up on 2-stroke oil!!!
We have seen TZ and Rob North separately here on CSBFS already, but this has put them together. To sweeten the deal they also added Kenny Roberts and Kel Carruthers.
From the seller
78 Rob North Yamaha TZ350 ,( developed with Kel Carruthers and Kenny Roberts with Rob North for his championship in 1978),
The two men, Roberts and Carruthers, are well known separately for their racing careers. Kel for winning the 1969 World Championship on a 250cc Yamaha and Kenny Robert for his many championships in multiple disciplines. The two of them joined forces in 1978, Carruthers was the elder team boss, and Roberts the rider and took off for Europe. They entered their Yamahas in 250cc and 750cc races, but their focus was on the 500cc Championship. Barry Sheen may have regretted labeling Roberts “no threat” prior to the start of the season.
From TZ350.net history, Rob North and famed land speed racer Don Vesco got together to develop a frame that would lower the center of gravity of Kenny Roberts TZ. They called it the “lowboy” and TZ350.net claims there is some talk that Carruthers had copies made by and English frame builder and sold them out the back door. Could this be one of those of those frames? Did someone get a 350 engine and put it into a 250 frame?
From the seller
this machine has come from Italy ,It comes with the Jacky Germain JPX Wheels These machines were Also used by Franco Uncini and Patrick Fenandez, I believe that with the french wheels this bike was Patrick Fenandez’s machine,As you can see they really set the trend for the low boy frame, (G model)
The 350cc Yamaha engine found in the frame could produce up to 64bhp at 10,500rpm, but looking at the race results in the 350cc class in 1978, it looks like Yamaha was beat out by Kawasaki that year. The good news for Yamaha was Kenny Roberts did win the 500cc title that year becoming the first American to win a Grand Prix Championship.
This is a classified add, so there is no winning bidder, it is offered at the equivalent of $10,251. If you are one of the 221 visitors from England, this might be the bike for you, if not tell your friends. BB
From a sharp reader over on RSBFS (thanks Matt) comes this CA-based Craigslist advertisement for a Yamaha RZ500. Our readership shows a particular affinity for this model of smoker, and it’s not hard to see why. When originally released in 1984, the RZ500 (known as the RD500LC outside of Canada and Australia) was an instant hit. EPA regulations in the US prevented the bike from hitting our shores – but that did not stop a few enterprising folks from legally importing them from up North.
The motive power behind the big RZ is a twin crank 500cc V4 two stroke. Induction is via reed valves, and the Yamaha Power Valve System (YPVS) is present in the exhaust port to ensure the broadest power band possible. Expect a stock RZ to put out in the order of 85 HP in stock trim, and significantly more in modified form. The chassis is fairly conventional mild steel (except for the Japanese market RZV500R which sports an trick aluminum frame), although the RZ does have a 16 inch front wheel – which was GP-spec stuff back in the day.
From the seller:
COSMETICS: * Upper fairing in great shape w/ Zero gravity windscreen,
• Mid fairing and belly pan are brand new
• Gas tank in good shape w/ 3 pencil size chips
• Rear side panels are in good shape,
• Frame has been powder coated,
• Rims been repainted gold.
ENGINE: * Built by Rick Lance from www.lancegamma.com
• 1-GE CDI/ ignition
• 520 series o-ring chain,
• Petcock replaced,
• Uni-pod air filter,
• Replace fiber glass insulation for GP Carbon fiber Jolly motto pipes,
Designed to evoke the Kenny Roberts and Eddie Lawson victories in Gran Prix racing, the RZ500 was a GP replica that really worked. They are highly sought after in today’s market, and continue to bring good money. This bike, found on a San Francisco area Craigslist, is a relative bargain at $9,000 – especially when you consider the California title (Golden State residents probably don’t have to be told how draconian the DMV can be on imported hardware), the recent work done, the Jolly Moto pipes and the Rick Lance powerplant (Rick is *very* well respected in smoker circles).
CL pictures are not the best, so as always, we recommend that you do your homework carefully and ask questions. If all turns out as advertised, this looks to be a pretty good deal on a pretty great bike. Good luck, and tell ’em you saw it on CSBFS!
Fresh from last week’s posts on a few nice RZs (see Two for Tuesday here), comes this beauty – pointed out by a sharp-eyed RSBFS reader. From the number of cool bikes we have been seeing up for auction lately, it is clear that the winter doldrums are behind us and spring is here!
A good indicator of an RZ’s overall condition is the top of the tank. The black stripe tends to fade easily, and any errant gasoline spills only make this condition worse. This particular bike has been resprayed in classic Yamaha colors, and the results are certainly worth the effort! Readers with better eyes or bigger monitors might be able to make out the mileage in this photo; this information was not provided by the seller.
From the seller:
This is a 1985 RZ350 that has been professionally restored. All components have been rebuilt or replaced with the intent of making it a reliable weekend toy and a show at my house.
Here is a list of some of the notable upgrades:
Braided lines and new brakes
New Dunlop tires
Showa rear-shock upgrade
GP suspension fork rebuild
Pre-mix only conversion
New Yamaha Yellow paint w/pearl clear
Professionally cleaned and coated fuel tank
This bike is stunning and has been part of the International Motorcycle Show display, Corazzo Advertising campaign, and local art shows.
If you are looking for a stone stock RZ350, then this is not the bike for you. There is no doubt that it has been modified in many ways. The resulting package is very pleasing to the eye; this does not appear to be the ordinary rat-bike that we commonly see. And while a lot of money and effort went into making this RZ really rip, it is not likely to have a marked impact on the overall sale when compared to a more stock model. Still, this bike does have great curb appeal – which should really help it sell.
This auction just started, so here is your chance to snag a really nice two-stroke for your collection. This is a bike that you can ride the wheels off today, and it will still look like a collectable classic years later. When you think about it, that’s not a bad deal!
For your chance to bid on this RZ – or just to look around – . Tell ’em you saw it on CSBFS!
From two different parties come these two fantastic Red/White 1985 RZ350 two strokes!
The RZ 350 was the spiritual successor to the RD series two-stroke lineage. Powered by a parallel twin, liquid cooled two-stroke with Yamaha Power Valve System (YPVS), the RZ350 was originally released in Yellow/Black livery with Kenny Roberts’ signature on the fairing. Long regarded as the last major two-stroke imported into the United States, the RZ came stock with catalytic converters hidden in the twin exhaust pipes to try to squeeze the bike through EPA testing. As these pipes are heavy and impede performance, they are often the first to go; it is rare to find an RZ complete with the original OEM exhaust system.
In terms of performance, the RZ was admirable – but not exceptional. It struggled to keep up with period 550cc middleweights of the day. Modified bikes (porting, carbs and expansion chambers) pull far stronger than stock, however, making a well-tuned RZ a potent performer despite the diminutive displacement.
It all ended too soon: the EPA choked off the last of the factory two-strokes after only a short 2-year run in the US. While other countries and regions continued to enjoy the RZ (also badged as the RD350LC) for several more years, the RZ is relatively rare in the US. There were a fair number of them sold during their brief heyday, but to find one in decent condition today is difficult. As a result, values on the RZ continue to slowly rise. We have seen RZs on our sister site RareSportBikesForSale.com to go between $3500 and $9,000 depending upon conditionn.
The first RZ in today’s post is a 1985 Yamaha RZ 350 in the red/white color scheme. Sporting some minor modifications (note the steering damper on the left side as well as the aftermarket exhaust), this bike has less than 13k miles on the odometer and looks to be in very clean shape.
From the seller:
Great little bike,fast. Frame number JYA48H000FA012575,Engine number 1WT016510. Everything works. Clear title in hand.
You will see that the seller made a mistake and listed this bike as a “Kawasaki RZ350.” That apparently has not stopped the rabid RZ fans from finding it – there are already more than a dozen bids on the bike at the time of this writing! The current bid is just above $2,500 (reserve not met) and the BIN is set at $4,295. Both numbers are entirely reasonable for the current market. For more details on this bike and to see all of the pictures, click the link and jump over to the !
The second RZ in today’s lineup is another 1985 model in the same Red/While livery. Again, this bike has been modified from stock via the addition of Toomey exhaust – and likely has some jetting changes as a result. The aftermarket for the RZ was initially very big, and Toomey was one of the top brand pipes of the day. Sporting less than 12,000 miles on the clock, this RZ appears to be well taken care of and ready for a new riding partner.
From the seller:
Super Clean, all original 1985 Yamaha RZ350 Kenny Roberts Special. This bike has been carefully stored and maintained. The bike runs perfectly and carbs have recently been cleaned, you will not be unsatisified! There are only two small scratches on the bike that were diffuclt to photograph but are available upon request. The motorcycle has less than 12K miles on itand a Toomey Racing Pipe Kit. This 2-Stroke street machine is a thrill to ride and offers a ride that is difficult to equal.
This bike is also available now via auction, and it has also proven to be popular with bidders. At the time of writing, the bike was at $3,500 with no reserve – so this one is going home to some lucky buyer! There are more details and pictures available. Click the link and jump over to the !
We hope you enjoyed our Two for Tuesday selection this week. Don’t forget to tell ’em that you saw it on CSBFS!
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