Yamaha RZ350 - Best Used Bikes

Yamaha RZ350 studio 3/4 view

YEARS SOLD: 1984–'85

MSRP NEW: $2399 ('84)


BASIC SPECS: A two-stroke, power-valve-equipped 347cc parallel twin with 26mm slide-valve Mikuni carbs, oil injection and six-speed transmission. A steel-tube frame with an aluminum swingarm rolls on 18-inch wheels with triple disc brakes. Its simplicity allowed it to be a light 371 pounds with the 5.2-gallon (!) gas tank half full.

WHY IT'S DESIRABLE: The RZ350 is the most modern and last legal street-going two-stroke sold in the US. In the first full test, we said our July 1984 cover bike rated a "perfect 10" on the fun scale. On Jerry Branch's dyno, the stock RZ350 made 42.7 hp at 9,000 rpm; redline is 9,500. Below 6,000 rpm, the engine "doesn't make enough power to pull the skin off a bowl of rice pudding," read the test, but power came on strong after 6K. Hey, welcome to the fun zone! The RZ350 turned in an impressive quarter-mile time of 13.19 seconds at 99.22 mph, and that was with the OE catalyst exhausts. Fun and nimble handling are improved with fitment of modern tires on those classic '80s wheels. A surprising number of these bikes come up for sale at reasonable cost, but original, low-mileage examples in excellent condition can go for double blue book. Aftermarket parts support remains very good.

THE COMPETITION: Not really. Yamaha's own RZ500 V-4 two-stroke was sold in Canada, and many made the gray-market journey south, but prices are quite a bit higher. Kawasaki's Ninja 600R was the most high-performance middleweight of the time, but it was significantly heavier.