1984 Yamaha RZ350LC
Yamaha’s successes can be traced directly to the 1972 Daytona when Don Emde, aboard a factory 350cc 2-stroke took on the 750 4-strokers and won! Instantly, the middleweight was the weapon of choice for the privateer looking to embarrass the competition with twice the capacity. And, of course, race it Sunday, sell it Monday and the RD350, then RD400 successor was a formidable street bike for the weekend canyon racer.
The 1980s were brought in by the all-new RD350LC. Another naked 2-stroker with liquid cooling. Powerful and with great handling, Don Emde race success bore more successful offspring and “cult status”. After a couple of years in production, the mark 2 version was released. Known as the Power Valve, the bike was outwardly simple, the RZ’s six-speed, 347cc parallel-twin needed some technical assistance to sneak past the U.S. government’s exhaust sniffers, namely a two-stage catalytic converter in each muffler, the first time this technology had been applied to motorcycles. The “Power Valve “was Yamaha’s race derived YPVS, an electronically controlled variable exhaust port system, meant to broaden the engine’s powerband. Likewise, the RZ350 was among the first roadsters to use a perimeter-style frame, now common for sportbikes, though in steel tubes.
The RZ proved to be the last of a breed. Street legal 2-stroke machines fell to the ever-tightening EPA regulations in the US, who, for some reason, didn’t quite enjoy the plumes of smoke and the smell of a good 2-stroke oil. And so, the giant killer was condemned to the racetrack.
The motorbike offered
The 1984 Yamaha RZ350LC YPVS on offer here, comes to us from a Southern California collector. Showing 15,787 miles from new, the bike is offered in fine running condition, having just been fully re-commissioned. Variations from stock include the full fairing, indicators, Toomey Racing exhaust system and Fox rear shock. Also, an lengthened aluminum swingarm was installed in an attempt to keep the front wheel on the ground. Also included is the factory seat cowl that fits over the original seat upon removal of the grab rail, and an aftermarket seat with racing hump and logos. Presented in good overall condition, the bike fires up readily and makes the perfect ding-da-ding noise… and is certainly a blast to ride.