Yamaha RD350

For some reason riding a Yamaha RD350 still sends chills down the spine and that exhaust note is as melodious as anything – all this when the technology has evolved manifolds during these decades. If you are unaware, our road tester Shiraz owns not one but two of these gems! We are revisiting this (edited) article after a gap of few years to reinvent and cherish the brand that was “RD” specially for you the new gen bikers to inform you of something which was often termed as “Racing Death“.

Back in the 1980s, the RD350 was the very first super performance offering for the Indian motorcycling enthusiasts at a time (1983) when the only bikes we had were the Bullet 350, the Jawa (Yezdi) 250 2 stroke and Rajdoot 175 2 stroke. The other two wheeler commuters were geared scooters like Bajaj Priya, Chetak, Allwyn Pushpak, Vijay and Lambretta.

The original Japanese RD350 had 39-40 bhp on tap but the Indian Editions were detuned to 31 bhp due to lower fuel quality and to improve fuel economy (which, despite that was dismal – but then who cared 😉 )

Yamaha RD 350

Yamaha RD350 Variants – HT & LT

The RD was produced from 1983 to 1990 in India. The first edition was called HT (high torque) edition which produced 31 bhp of power. A few sets of RDs were given to the Indian Traffic Police to help them nab criminals (and compare that with what they get today 😀 ). The Indian Police were used to Enfield Bullets prior to that and the RD proved to be a handful for them but it also resulted in a lot of accidents by the officials.

The first HT edition of the RD350 had too much power for the average Indian Rider as, back then our market was not used to such a performance product. The RD was a crotch Rocket capable of hitting a top speed of over 160 kmph in 6th gear (despite the claimed top speed of 130-135 kmph by the company).

Such was the power emanated by the motor that it used to frequently wheelie at the hands of inexperienced riders, being a high revving 2 stroke the bike was uncontrollable except in the hands of experienced and matured riders. This prompted Yamaha to bring a detuned version – RD 350 LT (low torque) which had 27 horses to play with and which came with lesser pick-up, performance and slightly better fuel efficiency.

Yamaha RD350-(2)

Talking about “kitna deti hai” the RD used to return fuel efficiency of anywhere between 6 to 23 km/ltr depending on how it was ridden. Initially, the RD350 was fully imported but later, the bike was manufactured completely by Escorts Yamaha in India. The name RD stands for “Race Derived” (and not Racing Death – now you know 😀 ) performance and had technology from the Motogp bikes of the 1970’s. The bike had cult status all around the world since it was produced from the early 70’s in Europe, Japan and America. Yamaha stopped production of the RD350 in America in early 1980s due to stricter emission and sound norms.


Yamaha RD350 – The Indian Scenario

Unfortunately, the RD did not enjoy massive success in India in terms of sales. The running costs were the greatest deterrent for the Indian rider to buy the RD and the reputation of it being a “Lethal” bike ensured cautious dads putting the condition – “Buy any motorcycle but RD” to their young sons!

Yamaha promoted the bike with the line “For the few who dared to Dream and be different” but that’s what happened literally in reality. The Hero Honda CD100 (read user review) which was launched in the 1985 further dented the RD’s sales – yes, which simply means that there were no defined “segments” back then – people just had options to buy.

Yamaha RD350 Meet Bangalore by Abhilash Bharadwaj BikeAdvice (6)

Yamaha still continued to offer the RD350 LT. The RX100, another milestone and icon was later launched in 1985 and it continued to sell better than the RD. Finally the RD350 was discontinued by Yamaha in 1990 after some years of frustration. The “Fill it, Shut it, Forget it” era marked the demise of the RD350.

The RD350 was a bike way ahead for its time and especially in the Indian context, the motorcycle was not suited for the Indian consumer. It had way too high power for an average bloke to control and results were disastrous!

Yamaha RD350 Technical Specs:

For you number nerds here are some technical specs of the motorcycle. The RD was a twin cylinder “Reed Valve” air cooled 347 cc engine with each cylinder having a displacement of 173.5 cc. It had a slick 6-speed close ratio gearbox with 1 down 5 up pattern. The RD also featured “Torque Induction” ignition technology of Yamaha. The motorcycle could do 0-100 in about 7 seconds (which goes along with its top speed mentioned above) in its heydays. The RD could touch 150 km/hr in just 16 seconds and was the first bike to have a tachometer in India.




Unlike international models which had disc brakes, the Indian RD always came equipped with 150 mm drum brakes both at the front and rear. Coupled with those skinny tires the RD had scary high-speed handling and braking.

Despite everything, the RD is still the performance benchmark of any production motorcycle in India and even after 25-30 years no comparable Indian entry performance bike has even come close to it… yes not even your Duke and RC390s, which could be called as the new-generation affordable performance monsters for the masses.

Race-Spec RD350

The RD350 was modified for track use at the MMSC race circuit in Chennai and ran on Aviation fuel. The Race RDs were turbocharged and had smaller sprockets and wheels, which pushed the power upto claimed whopping 85 bhp. The top speed was in excess of 220 km/hr. The bike had just the chassis, suspension, large 25 ltr fuel tank, disc brake on both ends and a thin sponge cushion for seat as everything else was removed to reduce weight.

Yamaha RD350 Meet Bangalore by Abhilash Bharadwaj BikeAdvice (7)

The Race RD was very light and agile and was very different from the Stock RD. The Race RDs had modified powered up exhausts and the sound would be intoxicatingly addictive as well as deafening when they would zoom past on the track spewing blinding smoke all over it. I was in complete awe of the action taking place on the race track. The Race RD was the “Undisputed King of the MMSC Race Track” before it was discontinued from racing.

Salute the Grand-dad of Indian Performance Bikes

The RD was the first proper performance Sportsbike in India and it still enjoys a cult status in our country. Performance Purists still swear by it and we can find many RD clubs all around our country. The Yamaha RD had many editions like RD400, RD 500 LC (liquid cooled) all of which enjoyed considerable success through out the world.


Yamaha RD350 Meet Bangalore by Abhilash Bharadwaj BikeAdvice (1)

Related Articles

Truly, The RD350 was the Greatest Landmark bike of India, which paved the way for performance biking in India and Yamaha’s greatest offering for our country’s performance enthusiasts. None of the modern day entry level performance bikes can imbibe the same adrenaline rush as the RD did. The RD350 is a Legend and if you have not ridden one – beg, borrow, steal but swing a leg over before calling it a day…

Click To Expand

110 COMMENTS

  1. Amazing YAMAHA …… still i can see lot of YAMAHA RX100 roaring in our city roads , no other bike can compromise to its power and reliability ….. their engine quality is of high standards which run for long time… hats off yamaha motor ……..nice article
    I have seen very few RD 350 bikes in my life … but i dont thought it would create this much of perfomance from its mill … i am now eager to have a ride in RD350 in my life … but i dont believe to get one …..

    • I’m sory that you see a few Rd bike. I thing if you want to know more a bout RD bike and want to see good condetion i sagest you to came to MIZORAM STATE. you will find a lot

  2. Nice write up Deepak. There is no denying the fact that the RD 350 is the best thing to have happened to Indian biking. A magazine had done a comparo of the RD 350 with the Kinetic Comet which was quite an interesting read.

  3. dude, i had three RDS . in which one is japanese of 83 model ht made in japan one in 100 % original counditions n its still runing on unsleved blocks of 1 st over size, n its of blue colour ……. n the scound one is of silver colour thats also a high torque of 84 mobel but its made in india …… its also in full original coundition ………. n the 3 rd i had buyed now in a junk coundition n i m going to restore it … it will take 6 months atleast !!!!!!!!

    the pic which u had mentioned above does not have original signal lights and did not have original rear shock ups n did not have the original switches …. and the leg guard seems a bit tiltted

    • Hi. Yes true that no one can ever compare to the power of the Yamaha bikes long ago. Only the Shogun and the KB 125 had enjoyed limited success.
      Could any of u guys give me some knowledge where i could purchase an old still working RD 350 in India? I have a 86 model Yamaha which i ride till no. Love the Yamahas

      • hi,i am also RD350 lover now i still got one here in my place here in Mizoram NE India,i,ve own this bike for 8 years still now i dont like any ather bike yet! its really common here in my place for me and some of my friends and we use to have a drag race every month.If you are really interesting i think you should come and visit and i am sure you will enjoy being riding 350 with us.350 lover

  4. guys RD is god of indian bikes i still remember how it scared wen i first saw the bike but i dont knw that was a RD after i growed up and wen i was in 6 th grade the owner of the bike passed away i saw the name of the bike frm that time i hve a unique respect fr that bike bcoz that guy had a love fr the bike and the way he ride was amazing the sound frm the twin engine is rthym to hear’s the way every one see us in road wen v across them with screeeeming engine sound of RD say’s it iam the king leave me the way iam the ruler ……..i still wonder will pulsar and karizma will come near it to the glory of RD

  5. ya deepak the pic which u had kept now is of the american rd …… they are all high torque bikes ….. with front disk n rear drum ….. and in the starting of the engine number and frame number the alphabet B is added …… with the help of that we can verify that its an american model !!!!!!! but i oblige u as u had tooked out the topic about rd as in this digital era the coming generations is forgetting the most popular cream of POWER !!!!! Its a BEAST …. but slightly taineed !!! LT means [LOW END TORQUE] & HT means [HIGH END TORQUE].
    The difference between LT & HT is there powerband , means LT power starts from 3000 rpm & goes till 6500 rpm & for HT power starts from [5500rpm or 6000rpm] and goes till [8000rpm or 8500 rpm].

    LT is suitable for city condition’s because it’s power starts in less rpm.
    HT is suitable for highways because it’s power starts in high rpm.

    Next time when u test ride a rd 350 observe at wat [rpm] it become’s monster , i mean wen it starts making power.
    Gud Luck bye.

  6. ya it is a very simple and a easy way to see the difference between a HT and a LT ……… the other factors are the tale end shape of the silencers in different and in HT the blocks are having two gap lines and in LT there are no such gap lines we can see the gap lines only after opening the head ….. and a HT dosent comes in idealling nicely and a LT is very good in idealling

  7. Hey, I just brought the Yamaha Rd 350 (Single)
    It Looks alot nicer than the example the website gave,
    A kind of maroon. This is the first I have ever heard of
    a twin RD. LOVELY JUBLY!

  8. hi….

    i am fan of RD -350 HT and willing to buy

    please let me from where can i get my dream bike….

    u can call me 09326152122

  9. power starts in less rpm as it adds good point acoording to nature also…low end torque and high end torque ,dey jus have a technical difference of jus gap lines ,nothing else..so dot worries guys n njoy d rd sereis….

  10. thanks a lot for the great article.could u tell me were i will get one rd350.its my ambition to buy one rd350.could u help me.

  11. HI I M ONE OF THE GREATEST LOVER OF RD350
    ITS MY DREAM BIKE
    WEN I WAS SMALL MY FATHER HAD THIS BIKE
    I HAVE SOME PICS OF MY FATHER ON RD350
    I WANT THIS BIKE ONCE IN MY LIFE
    CAN I GET IT!!!!!!!!
    LOVER OF YAMAHA RD350

  12. Hi Punith, I know a mechanic in N.Kerala who owns an RD350 and willing so sell. He will take nothing less than 70,000 rs/- despite one of its engines has stopped running.

  13. Superb Article, I am a die hard fan of RD, I am looking for RD HT which is in original stock maintained condition
    Please let me know if any one is willing to Sell the legend
    9986034353

  14. NICE WORK DEEPAK. ZAFIR, GOOD 2 HEAR U HAVE 3 RDs.I HAD AN 85 MODEL RD HT, BUT SOLD IN 2001. I WAS GOING ABROAD THATS Y I SOLD THE BEAST.BUT I DIDNT GO.TIL NOW I WAS TRYING 2 BUY BUT IT IS GOING FARWAY 2 REACH. THE ONLY RELIEF IS THAT, NOW I’M HAVING 2 YEZDI ROADKINGS,[1 POINTS,1 ELECTRONICS]AND AN ENFIELD,BUT KEEN 2 BUY AN RD. MY CLOSE FRIEND NAMED JOMY[PRESIDENT OF RD CLUB COCHIN] HAD 13 RDs AND NOW HE IS HAVING 5 BOTH HT & LT AND A RD 400.ONLY A EXPERT RIDER CAN TAME THE BEAST. GOOD 2 SEE NOW ALSO THERE R FANS WHO NOT ONLY LOVE RD.

  15. i am crazy about this bike, will get it soon. have heard that there were different models in it, like high torque (HT) and low torque. i dont know much. but will get my hands on it.

  16. Hi,

    I have grown on RD’s from my childhood days and i currently own a standard sleeved bike,in full og condition and teh same is up for grabs for 1 Lac.The bike still has orignal handle bar,indicators,lights,coils,rectifier and is fitted with brand new tyres and battery and bears the yamaha stickering.

    U can get in touch with me on 9821120088 / tabbyn1@gmail.com

    regards
    Rasik Narula

  17. dear friends,after reading the article about rd350,i became a bit naustralgic.when i was a student at late 80’s,one of my friends used to ride rd350.from those days i alway deamt to have one of my very own.but at that time it was like a day dream to me.and when i become able to buy one.. the prduction was stopped. i still look for informations about rds’ and dream to storm the road on one.

  18. ICE WORK DEEPAK. ZAFIR, GOOD 2 HEAR U HAVE 3 RDs.I HAD AN 85 MODEL RD HT, BUT SOLD IN 2001. I WAS GOING ABROAD THATS Y I SOLD THE BEAST.BUT I DIDNT GO.TIL NOW I WAS TRYING 2 BUY BUT IT IS GOING FARWAY 2 REACH. THE ONLY RELIEF IS THAT, NOW I’M HAVING 2 YEZDI ROADKINGS,[1 POINTS,1 ELECTRONICS]AND AN ENFIELD,BUT KEEN 2 BUY AN RD. MY CLOSE FRIEND NAMED JOMY[PRESIDENT OF RD CLUB COCHIN] HAD 13 RDs AND NOW HE IS HAVING 5 BOTH HT & LT AND A RD 400.ONLY A EXPERT RIDER CAN TAME THE BEAST. GOOD 2 SEE NOW ALSO THERE R FANS WHO NOT ONLY LOVE RD.

  19. i have driven a rd 6 months ago am tryin damn hard to find one… but not findin one!!! i stil cant forget the ride!! i left a zma in dust on the highway!! was doin 145 with ease!!!

  20. Nice write up. But personally, though most say RD stands for Race Derived, I dont think it stands for anything. Same way that RX does not stand for anything. Also, You’ve mentioned it as ‘Torque Induction Ignition’. Torque Induction has nothing to do with ignition mate 🙂
    Nice article.

  21. Please let me kno if neone interested in selling their RD… i need 1 desperately..

    my number is 9833179404

  22. Yamaha RD350 is a very good bike no doubt. bur the yamaha rx100 is a very bad bike… it doesnt roar like the rd350… it screams!!;)

  23. hey i m a single hand owner of rd350 my dad brought it in 85 ahh lucky still runs amazin good .. we have have alot of rds here down in bangalore n rides on weekend on our machines must say no indian bike can still beat a RD350 !! top speed without any modificaton 160km/hr has 6gears

  24. Hi. I live in Mumbai. I am interested in purchasing an RD350. If anyone is willing to sell, please contact me on +919769433364. Thanks.

  25. Hi,

    i think i am late for asking about the sale of your 5 rds, but i am desperate to get one. my budget is around 70,000. if you have any for this price. please mail me.

    • Hi naseer. Your budget is not robust enough for an RD 350. Its not that you cannot find one that fits your budget, just that it will not be in great condition. So eventually, you will have to spend another 20k to transform it to running condition. The points ignition system is the first thing you should change on an RD, replace it with a TCI (Transistor Coil Ignition) system available on Bullets. Suggest you increase your budget to 90k if you want a good RD. Cheers.

  26. For as long as i remember i too like most my mates here, have dreamt of owning an RD. My number is 08826560008 & Im based in Delhi. Though my budget isnt as robust but im willing to go the extra mile for an RD. Please let me know if anyone has a decent babe up for sale. Gaurav
    P.S – Im sure most of you who have advertised “FOR SALE” here have either got a sms or a call from me already…thats how desperate i am!

  27. Dear friends, was anytime Yamaha 350 lanuched with 5 gears.. acutally there is gentlemen selling his Yamaha 350 but it has only 5 gears with all other thing same as RD 350 such as the meters, headlights, seating, silencers, head etc.. Please advise

  28. really ,The rd350 has greatest bike record in india . My cousin brother have the rd1986 mpdel and this time he work to maintain it.

  29. Hello, I am in search of RD 350 HT engine in running condition. Only engine not a bike. If any body having it pls contact on 09423425218.

  30. I am lucky that —–I own a RD with a front disc and imported US spec cylinder kit
    Its like the old sierra advertisement ——–YAMAHA RD 350 – its not owned owned its possessed

  31. RD is no doubt an excellent bike when in production and still now,,but only a tamed rider can really maintain its top condition.and derive the best out of it. i have both LT n HT models in my garage.

  32. hi………i am the very deepest fan of yamaha.i am also wiiling to buy RD350…i am having ss125 and fazer 150……both are very nice bike compared to bajaj and honda….even i can easily over take pulsar 220 and karizma zmr with my lovely fazer(black with green)…..i can also go race with my ss125 with honda shine and pulsar 150…….pulsar 150 is a very worst bike…even apache also having shaking in high speed.but in fazer not having and going smooth even in above 140 also

  33. Dear all,
    It’s true.When I was age in 15y. old,one english man coming from Bangalore to after 65km to Thiruvannamalai with in 2hrs in the 250kms.The engine sound was now also remember will come.I really thanks to the RD350 Yamaha Rajdoot Technical Designer.Because it is amazing 2wheeler flight. I want one blue colour bike.If anyone sell with good condition it,kindly conduct with photo & full details to me my mail id at: indiasiva79@gmail.com

    Thanks!

  34. I read the review. It is gud. I love to buy a RD 350. Anyone know any places to get RD350 in/near Tamilnadu? Anyone willing to sell RD350 Yamaha contact me. 09498090559. I m very eager to buy one soon. Kindly help me guys. 🙂

  35. hi this is primrary gear enterprises we can provide u all tyep of spares parts of yahmaha rd 350 rx 100 rx135 rxz anybody wants to buy contact propriter 08003511617 08233713676

    • RD 350 HT Banglore registered , 1985 model in Fully restored condition , For sale. Price : 1.5 lacs .For more info contact 9818103324,Bike is in Gurgaon,

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here