It featured a reliable air-cooled, parallel twin, 6 speed (in some markets, such as the UK, the first model was sold in 5-speed form), reed valve equipped intake tract two-stroke engine. Available in either a dark green or brandy red with white and black side details with metal emblem “Yamaha” on the tank RD350 (1973), the RD350A (1974), simple purple tank with “Yamaha” decal on the tank, and the orange with white RD350B (1975). The B model (in the UK at least) also featured a silver and black colour scheme.
All models were equipped with “Autolube” automatic oil injection, relieving the user from the need to mix gasoline and two-stroke oil.
Rim sizes were 18″ WM2 (1.85″) front and 18″ WM3 (2.15″), both being of chromed, wire spoked steel construction. In the UK, rim sizes were 1.60 front and 1.85 rear.
Brakes were: single front disc brake and a rear drum brake, a combination described by Cycle Magazine as the best in its class.
The frame dimensions of the street 350 were very similar to the famous Yamaha TZ250 and TZ350 series factory road race bikes, differing mainly in weight and front fork rake – the RD being ~27 degrees and the TZ being ~25 degrees. The frames appeared similar, side by side, with the street frame adorned with many brackets for the street equipment. The weight difference was substantial though, with the street going RD frame weighing almost twice as much as the “TZ” roadrace race frame.
The stock bike made about 32 to 35 true rear-wheel HP at about 7500 rpm – very fast for the time. A contemporary of the RD was the Kawasaki H2 750cc Triple, said to make 72 to 75 true HP (tested by Cycle Magazine at 55 bhp).
The 350 evolved into the more refined and cleaner running RD400C in 1976, the “D” and “E” in 77-78 and the final model, the white 1979 RD400F.
Indian Rd350 History:
The RD350B was assembled in India between 1983-1990 by Escorts group under the brand name Rajdoot 350. It did not repeat the worldwide success of the RD350B in the Indian market. Its lackluster sales figures can be attributed to high purchase price and poor fuel consumption. However, it established Yamaha as a performance bike manufacturer in India. There were two models for the Rajdoot 350 – High Torque and Low Torque. Compared to the Yamaha RD350B that made 39 crankshaft bhp, the Indian-made HIGH TORQUE made 30.5 bhp (22.7 kW) and the later LOW TORQUE made only 27 bhp (20 kW), all in quest of better fuel economy. By the time the production ended in 1990, the bike was completely indigenized with very little Japanese part content.
The flagship model was a top of the line High torque road ripper, in other words a true mean machine. Capable of speeds up to 160 kmph and with an acceleration of 0-60 kmph in 4 secs, this bike is easily the fastest bike ever to be launched in India. However extremely high fuel consumption made this bike very unpopular amongst the common masses or the “Janta” which formed about 80% of the population, as a result the sales dropped drastically. In 1985, to make amends Escorts came out with the second flagship model, which was a toned down version of the first model. Although this bike had enough power to lick any other bike on the street, it was no match to the powerful bikes launched in ’83 and ’84.This model was clearly aimed at the more economy conscious segment of the population. However around that time came about the advent of the sub-100 cc 2 stroke and 4 stroke motorcycles. These bikes were not only economic in terms of fuel consumption, but were peppy enough to satisfy the needs of the average speed-freak. As a result the RD 350 sales nearly came to a stand-still and soon the production of the bike had to be discontinued.
Sad but true, the RD 350 is no longer available for sale, however there are plenty of second-hand bikes around in real good condition waiting to be picked up. So if you are one of those guys who has the need for speed, but doesn’t have a big fat wallet to buy the ultra-modern, super-sophisticated super bikes, then the RD 350 is the bike for you!! With good care and certain useful alterations this bike can prove to be a good companion for those long rides, for a real long time. I am a die-hard RD 350 enthusiast and have owned 3 RD350″s and ridden this 2stroke-wonder for the past 12 years. There is one thing that you have to remember though, this bike has one of the most versatile engines, hence with the right modifications this bike can even outperform bikes twice its size. So keep that in mind!! No wonder this bike is amongst the top 10 bikes of the century (Ranking by cycle world USA). Great going RD350 .
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