Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Yamaha RZ350

Tue, April 6th, 2010

1984–85 Yamaha RZ350
It could blow away bikes three times its capacity off the line, in the quarter mile, and around a race track. Pull the catalytic pipes off, and it just got meaner. And unlike many two-strokes, it held together and had a reasonable power curve.
Light weight, reasonable quality suspension components, a frame that was remarkably stiff for being narrow steel tubing, and great brakes.
The zeitgeist of the yellow-and-black Kenny Roberts Special perfectly captures the era it represents.
An admirable score for a high-strung boy racer that was cheap enough to find its way into the hands of inexperienced racers and wrenchers.
It actually makes a better daily driver than many larger, more sedate bikes, and it definitely has better ergos than today's replica racers.
It's a great performing bike, historically significant, rare and quite iconic.
The U.S. two-stroke street bike didn't go out with a whimper.