Yamaha RZ350 History
Are you the proud owner of a Yamaha RZ350? Or maybe you're a motorcycle enthusiast wanting to know more about this legendary motorcycle?
Whether you possess this great bike or not, strap in as we take you on a whirlwind ride of the history and rundown of the RZ350 through the years! Don't forget to check out our FAQ section too, for more fascinating information about the Yamaha RZ350!
A Legendary Bike For The Track & Streets
One of the most admired and popular motorcycles of the 80s, the RZ 350 bikes could be seen frequenting the streets and racing tracks of the United States. It's not hard to see why, they were powerful, versatile, and good-looking. With that in mind, let's take a more in-depth look at these classic models!
When Was The RZ350 In Production?
Yamaha launched the brand new RZ 350 in 1983, as a successor of the RD350 motorcycles and closely related model to the RD350LC series. The bike rapidly gained popularity and became known as a great value for money motorcycle.
It boasted the perfect mix of stunning looks and lots of power. It even became worthy of a Kenny Roberts signature yellow and black colourway. The 1985 Yamaha RZ350 model was the beginning of the end, with production slowing down and sales were sadly discontinued after 1986.
The Yamaha RZ350 had a 2-stroke 347cc parallel twin cylinders' engine equipped with liquid-cooling system. Its reed-intake engine produced 52 horsepower at around 8750 RPM!
The RZ 350 is one of the most stunning bikes ever created. It had a narrow body and the parallel twin engine was exposed. It was minimalistic but sporty and the steel frame and fuel tank ran across the chassis, surrounding the engine.
The 18-inch wheels featured three pairs of dual spokes, and Yamaha decided to keep the belly pan small to match the paint job.
Pros and cons
Incredible looks, tons of power, and a simple but iconic design are just a few of the positives of the RZ350. However, other factors let it down slightly.
With all the power it had, there was one problem that stood out. The difference between the best performance at 8750 RPM and an average performance at a lower RPM was far too high.
This meant the bike's engine gave faster and sudden propulsion rather than a gradual acceleration. It made the bike harder to ride and resulted in some accidents where people fell off the back.
The RZ 350 had a 2-stroke, water-cooled engine with a 347cc capacity. Engines these days are typically 4-stroke. This means the pistons perform 2 up and down movements per cycle, resulting in 4 strokes in one cycle.
In bikes with 2-stroke engines, the pistons only perform 2 up and down movements in a single cycle. This means the power was more impromptu. Although you'd get a slower top speed, the acceleration would be better.
The RZ 350 had a cubic capacity of 347. Cubic capacity, known as the cc of motorcycles, generally ranges from 50cc to 1500cc. It's believed that the larger the chamber on the bike, the more powerful it is.
The capacities of motorcycles are measured the same way as the capacities of four-wheel vehicles are. The 347cc of the RZ350 means that it doesn't offer the best mileage, although it's still very powerful.
Another spec that the RZ350 boasts is an engine that's cooled by liquid rather than air. Liquid cooling engines circulate the fluids, evening out any hot spots in the cylinder. This is much better for emissions and detonation control.
It also means the combustion chamber surface can be kept at the perfect temperature for complete combustion. Liquid cooling is better for durability in the long run because it allows for better build tolerances.
Liquid-cooling engines also transfer heat to the front of the motorcycle, making long journeys more pleasant for the rider.
Yamaha Power Valve System
Because of the sudden and unexpected propulsion of the RZ350 causing havoc for some riders, the manufacturers created a variable exhaust port called the Power Valve System or YPVS.
Simply put, the YPVS minicomputer detects how much the throttle has been opened and electronically changes how high the exhaust port is. This allowed the motorcycle to have a high torque amount even at lower RPM, whilst keeping the same high RPM peak.
The RZ 350 was the first motorcycle of the series to have a sporty shaped tank, along with a steel frame that ran the length of the engine. The tank capacity is 5.28 gallons, with fuel consumption of 43 mpg.
What's The Kenny Roberts Edition?
The Yamaha RZ350 Kenny Roberts special was a tribute to the American racing legend. He was known as "King Kenny" and his race bikes carried the signature yellow and black bumblebee colour scheme, officially named "Speed Block".
It seemed only fitting to make this tribute to Roberts, and the black and yellow colourway certainly stands out and turns heads!
Is a Yamaha RZ350 hard to find?
Since the RZ 350 was discontinued over 50 years ago, it's become pretty rare to find one. If you do find one, be prepared to pay a substantial amount, as they are something of a collector's item.
A 1985 Yamaha RZ350 would probably set you back several thousand dollars!
Which version of the RZ350 is best?
This depends on your personal preference. Each version was produced for different markets, so it depends on each buyer.
For the collectors out there, the 1983-1985 versions are the most collectable.
What are the benefits of a two-stroke engine?
Just a few of the benefits of these engines include:
- They have double the amount of power strokes as models with 4-strokes at the same speed.
- For the same power, engines with 2-strokes are lighter, more compact and take up less space.
Was the RZ350 used in racing?
The RZ 350 was one of the most popular models in the club racing scene in the 1980s. It remains a firm favourite, being a bike that many people would remember for years!
1983-86 Yamaha RZ 350 spare parts
As most of the original spares are obsolete, we offer you high quality aftermarket RZ 350 parts. We stock a large variety of OEM spare parts as well as reproductions that were made to the exact specifications of OEM parts.
Air Cleaner Parts
If your motorcycle loses power, it is usually a sign of an intake issue. We stock most of the essential rubber items for air box repair, such carb to air box joints and carb manifolds.
Stand, Footrest & Brake Pedal Parts
If exposed to element, footrest rubbers crack, we therefore stock front & rear footrest rubbers, gear lever as well as kickstart rubber. We also have footrest mounting rubbers, stand stopper, rear cush drive dampers and various nuts and bolts in stock.
Oil Pump Parts
Rebuilding an old oil pump is certainly easier than finding a new one on the market. Through we don’t supply hardware for it, we have a full kit of seals and gasket to help you restore your classic Yamaha lube pump in no time. We also stock a blanking plugs if you decide to remove the pump altogether.
Fuel Tank Parts
Whether you need to replace just the rubber tank dampers or doing a complete restoration, we have the parts you need. From new rubber cushions to a petcock repair kit or various rubber gaskets.
Plastic Parts & others
Besides all the rubber items, we now added some perishable plastic parts such as rear light lens covers, indicator lens covers and reflectors. We have bulbs and oil seals, paper gaskets, cables and many more.
The majority of these parts have been discontinued for decades! We don’t aim to provide a complete list of spare parts, but if you can’t find a specific part on our website to fit your restoration project, or you need a parts list, please contact us via email address or the contact-us form below. We also offer free shipping on orders over certain value.
We now have over one hundred RZ 350 parts now in stock and keep adding more. If you can’t find the part you are looking for, please email us as we will do our best to source it out.
Technical Specifications of Yamaha RZ 350 Motorcycles
Model: Yamaha RZ350
Motorcycle Type: Street Sport
Dry weight: 168 kg
Fuel tank size: 20 litres (5.28 Gallons)
Engine: Twin, two-stroke, reed valved (related to RD350LC)
Top speed: 111 mph
Fuel system: Two Mikuni Carbs VM26ss/2
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Gearbox: Six speed
Transmission type: Chain drive
Exhaust system: Twin chrome
Frame type: Steel tube
Front suspension: Telescopic forks
Rear suspension: Dual shocks
Front brakes: Double disc brake
Rear brakes: Single disc brake