Yamaha RD350

The Yamaha RD350. A fiercely serious two-stroke
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The Yamaha RD350. A fiercely serious two-stroke

In the 1970s there was a jihad between four-stroke and two-stroke drivers. Take a look in the first Joe Bar Team album. We are not talking about endearing free-range animals such as the then-dated Jawas, but about Japanese bipeds. Motorcycles such as musical instrument manufacturer Yamaha - think of the crossed tuning forks in the logo - made for example. After Yamaha learned the two-stroke trick by first looking very closely at DKW's RT 125 cc and the Adler 250, the brand came with cylinders with five flushing ports and separate oil injection.

The Yamaha RD350. With oil injection

The first resulted in more (because two flushing ports extra) power and thermally healthier running engine blocks. The Autolube oil system put an end to the self-mixing of oil and gasoline and the refueling of questionable mixing lubrication from the pump. Yamaha's technology provided fast, reliable two-stroke engines. And all those machines were a tribute to the world championships that Phil Read scored on Yamaha's. This Yamaha twin, and an 350 cc machine was a medium-weight machine at the time, stands for the peaks of Yamaha's ability in the field of air-cooled two-stroke and a high-quality finish. In their time there must have been buyers who appreciated the tourist qualities and the smooth engine character of the RD350s. The Yamahas were certainly not any machines but an RD350 had more racing genes than many a modern sporting engine.

After all, the letters 'RD' meant 'Race Developed'

The frame alone was practically the same as the TZ250-350 production racers, only the steering angle saved two degrees. The 347 cc block delivered - with Yamaha's 'Torque Induction' - 39 pk. Until a few years before, the now priceless BMW R69S with 42 hp from 590 cc was still the fastest production motorcycle in the world. That was specified for 170 km / h. The same top speed was specified for the Yamaha RD350. And why more Yamaha RDs fell than BMW R69S and died? That's because most of the RD350 pilots thought they were the direct family of the famous world champion Phil Read.

The 'giant killer'

The RD did not get its nickname "Giant Killer" for nothing. When the whip went over it, the two-stroke twin cried like a chainsaw with serious heartache. The owners, who went all the way for 'Death or the Gladiolus', assembled tubs, clip-ons or the famous 'hangoren' handlebars and the expansion exhausts of legendary brands such as Ack Bant, Bullet, Reimo or Gianelli. Those exhausts were the definitive end for the pleasantly wide speed range in which an RD performed, but they yielded a considerable capital gain. In terms of speed, they also often made for the final end of the tough engine blocks. The expansion outlets (often in combination with adapted air filtering) demanded an explicitly different nozzle occupation of the carburetors. That was sometimes forgotten in all haste and usually resulted in burn holes in the piston heads.

The parts supply

The parts provision for this Yamaha is reasonable. But NOS (New Old Stock) is becoming scarce and has its price. The Dutch CMSNL, com is a globally operating parts supplier. Pop to Potz also has quite a few technical parts. But in any case, buy a copy that is as original and complete as possible. For a neat copy, think of amounts between € 2.400-3.000. The price trend is rising.

Some technology

Yamaha RD350: Two-cylinder, two-stroke, 347 cc, 6,2 / 6,6 compression: 1, 2 carburation, Mikuni VM28 SC, six-speed, 39 horsepower @ 7,500 rpm. Top speed: more than 160 km / h


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