'Don't feel bad. You're not the first 750cc rider to get blown off by a Yamaha 350cc,' said the Yamaha RD350 ad in 1975, showing a dazed rider. The Yamaha RD350 has been the most revered performance motorcycle in many countries. Renowned for its prowess on road and track, the Yamaha RD350 with its stock output of 39 horsepower at 7500rpm.
The Yamaha RD350 is infamous for its terrible handling. At its heart is an air-cooled parallel twin two-stroke engine displacing 347cc, fed by twin carburettors and reed valves. The Yamaha RD350 owes its origin to Yamaha R5, one of Yamaha's first attempts at making a street legal racer. Yamaha modeled the frame along the TZ-series of racers in the production guise. An extended front rake-compared to the TZs was main cause for the lazy turn-ins. What makes it an icon is breakneck acceleration in straight line and power-to-weight ratio closer to race motorcycle than street motorcycle.
Ride a well maintained Yamaha RD350 and the piercing exhaust note befitting a guided missile also sends chills spine-wards. Open throttle and the Yamaha RD350 leaps out like bullet leaving a gun rendering the passing scenery to blur in no time. Mated to six-speed gearbox with closely bunched ratios, acceleration is quick throughout. The Yamaha RD350 feels best while cruising highways at 160km/h.
Though shod with great brakes initially, it's not so on restored RD350s due to unavailability of spare parts, unless you find one shod with an aftermarket disc brake. The Yamaha RD350 is popular with enthusiasts the world over.