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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Yamaha RD 350 - Ride Review

No passion is complete without paying respects to the legends, legends who have paved the path on which we trod today, legends who have defined the horizon towards which we march today, legends who laid the foundations of performance motorcycles and performance motorcycling so strong that today we are seeing a technological renaissance of sorts, standing tall on those foundations.

Today ThrottleQuest.com came face to face to the Big Old Man of performance motorcycling in India – the Legendary, the Quintessential King – The Yamaha RD 350.

The Yamaha RD 350s are now off the Production Line, because the shift is towards 4 stroke motorcycles and we totally agree to it and support that. That means that any well maintained Yamaha RD 350 that we see on road today is basically a collector’s item and a work of passion and that makes those motorcycle even more special than they were back in their time, because it takes some serious deliberation to maintain this vintage at its levels.

The Motorcycles
Well, since the RD 350s now are basically a collector’s item, every RD 350 that we see, ride and drool on, is basically, a very personal reflection of its owner. Every motorcycle is built differently, maintained differently and tuned differently. 

Some are ported, some are stock, some have better brakes, some have better accessories, but what remains common amongst all these very individual and personal machines, is that classic raging bull soul of the Yamaha RD 350 which wants to destroy every mortal in front of it.

The Ride
Well, no matter how many miles a RD might have pulverised, if the RD is running, it would make sure that it runs like no other in that dimension of space and time. From doing a lazy 80 kmph at something around 4k rmps, all it needs a slight twist of the right wrist to launch the rider’s sorry butt to escape velocity and doing so as if it’s all part and parcel of daily existence. Doing speedo indicated 140kmph at something around 7k rpms seems so stupid, but then we have to follow the norms of safe road riding.

The stock chassis (yes I am using the phrase stock chassis because I’ve seen mods to the chassis too for the RDs), is built for the bike but I felt that it should have been also built with a purpose – the purpose of making it a better handling motorcycle because a motorcycle that fast needs a much better chassis than what’s already there. The ride quality is definitely good, but then a motorcycle of this calibre demands to be pushed to limits and beyond and trying to bank the motorcycle into corners at triple digit speeds and trying to brake hard, I could easily feel the rear going out and chassis flexing which was kinda unnerving so to speak, but once the motorcycle is out in the straight, well, it was pure dominance.

Last but not the least, something about the motorcycle’s aural statement – there were many occasions where I misunderstood the exhaust note of the RD as coming from an aftermarket free flow pipe of an in-line four, yes it sounded that good to me. Again, the exhaust not depends on the personal level of tuning that’s done, but still, the exhaust note Yamaha RD 350 is nothing like anything, specially the two stroke segment.

There are motorcycles, there are big and bigger motorcycles, and then there are RD 350s. If you are a performance motorcycle enthusiast, then let me tell you, if you haven’t got your graduation certificate signed by the Yamaha RD 350, then well, you need to go back to school.

Text and Photographs: Sajal
Motorcycle Courtesy: Anil Sharman, Sohib Solomon

Imp Note: We at Throttle Quest have carried out these tests in actual regular street conditions by professionals who are trained to conduct such tests. We at TQ do not support irregular, high speed, high risk and unsafe riding by anybody.

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Item Reviewed: Yamaha RD 350 - Ride Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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