1973 Yamaha RD-350

This was my first street-only motorcycle, purchased in '74 with less than 1000 miles on it. I've got a soft spot a mile wide for these bikes, and would love to find another one today. Alas, they're getting awfully scarce. From my point of view, these little bikes had it all; they were easy on the pocketbook, reliable as a stone axe, handled great, would stop on a dime, and best of all had the acceleration and top speed of a bike twice it's displacement. Mine usually fired on the first kick, the six-speed trans was smooth-as-butter, and took even two-up touring in stride. Truly a giant-killer!
I kept the bike bone-stock for a couple of years, but eventually installed expansion chambers, a lower, flatter handlebar, and re-jetted the carbs. These mods really brought the bike to life, with no discernable decrease in reliability. Always wheely-prone in 2nd gear, the bike had no trouble lofting the wheel in 3rd, after the hop-up.
Favorite memories; the early Friday morning Caterpillar Tractor Paycheck Grand Prixs. No, it's not what you think! You see, I worked the third shift. Since no banks were open at 7 in the a.m., lots of employees would hot-foot it down to a local bar which had arranged an early morning Brinks run to accommodate the Caterpillar workers. Smart move, too, as that place did a land-office business on Friday mornings! Naturally, there were a lot of bikers on the graveyard shift, and we had a semi-informal road race to the tavern every Friday morning. It was about a six mile haul, over a smooth and moderately curvy county blacktop, and I could do the trip in just under 4-1/2 minutes from punching the starter button to pressing the kill switch. I didn't often arrive first, not against competition like Kaw H-2's and Z-1's, and Honda CB-750's. But I did take the checkered flag a few times, and I was always the first under-500cc bike to arrive. And there were always bikes of twice the little RD's displacement breathing Klotz fumes! Bikes like BSA, Triumph and Yamaha 650 twins, Norton 850 twins, and H-D Sportsters.. the RD would eat them alive.

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